...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 3157: C.I.A: Compassion In America


"This isn't about JUSTICE; it's about COMPASSION. It's not SUPPOSED to make SENSE."*

Let's be clear about one thing: regardless of any doubts about whether he actually did it or not, the release of the man convicted of exploding flight Pan-Am 103 was nothing to do with JUSTICE.

"Justice" seems to mean "people getting what they deserve". You don't need to believe in Mr God to recognise that in THIS world that's QUITE DIFFICULT to achieve.

No one, for example, "deserves" to be exploded. But there's NO WAY of setting it right again; you cannot ever have true "justice".

People in Americaland think that the Pan-Am bomber Mr Addledbastard al Megrahi, ought to have died in his prison cell. Or perhaps Americans are now SO convinced of the EVIL of the NHS that they consider it an intolerable MERCY to spare a person dying of cancer from British healthcare.

Whatever. President Barry O, Secretary of State Hillary-Billary, FBI Director Robert Mueller-Lite have all protested that letting him go was a VERY BAD THING to do.

And they are all WRONG.

They are wrong for TWO reasons: first, because what they want is VENGEANCE not JUSTICE. "You hurt us so we are going to hurt you, and hurt you WORSE". Americaland thinks of itself as the New Roman Empire (just look at all the marble they used building their Capital, or even their Capitol) and Rome was BUILT on vengeance (and marble), vengeance beyond all reason (and quite a lot of marble). If a citizen of Rome was harmed, the Roman legions turned up and OBLITERATED YOUR COUNTRY. A LOT of people think like that, and not just Americans – it's hard not to, it seems to be wired into you monkey people at an evolutionary level – but Americaland has the power to DO IT, and they DO.

And the second reason is because if there WAS any "justice" then Americaland (and I'm aware the Great Britain is not much better) would not hog a quarter of the World's resources nor cause a quarter of the World's pollution.

And then we end up with MORE revelations about the CIA practicing torture on people. Gee, the CIA turned out to be EVIL – who would have thought? But does ANYONE expect "justice" properly to be served? Are we going to see Mr Darth Cheney or Mr Donald Rums-failed even standing TRIAL let alone facing punishment for what they made happen? Is anyone going to send a cruise missile down one of THEIR chimneys? After all, that's the way America deals with torturers, isn't it?

It is the INjustice of Americaland's vast inherited wealth, and the obsessive aggression that they use to defend it, and the double standards by which they are seen judge themselves that breeds a World full of people who WANT to explode aeroplanes!

So what IS this thing called "justice"? It's sort of like "fairness" and it's sort of like "moral rightness" (whatever THAT means).

What sort of things should it be MADE of?

Restitution – giving people back what they have had taken away?

Retribution – punishing people for breaking the law whether because you believe doing badness means they deserve to receive badness or, more practically, as a disincentive against doing it again?

Rehabilitation – to make it so that bad people become good people?

(And this is all getting like 80's Dr Woo Dalek stories – you know: "Remembrance of the Revelation of the Resurrection of the Renaissance of the Retaliation of the Religion of the Daleks".)

But as I say, you cannot give someone their life BACK, so how can there be proper restitution?

The Iranians might say – MIGHT say – that the Americans blew one airliner out of the sky and had one blown out of the sky in return. An eye for an eye; an aeroplane for an aeroplane? Is THAT "justice"? Or is that TWO WRONGS making something very NOT RIGHT indeed?

So if you cannot make restitution, what about retribution?

Well, for retribution to be "just" then it has to be proportionate: the old mantra (or Gilbert & Sullivan song) "let the punishment fit the crime". But again, when a crime is SO awful, how can one person be expected to BEAR any punishment that would be "proportionate"?

So when the former Monkey-in-Chief's Ambassador of Evil, Mr Roger Bolt-thru-neck, whinges that Mr al Megrahi "only served two weeks for each person who died" you have to point out the bloody-minded STUPIDITY of his remark: what does he want? Mr al Megrahi to serve a LIFETIME for each person who died? How are you going to do THAT, then? Even if you want to KILL him, what GOOD will it do? Do you want to execute him two-hundred-and-seventy times? Will that bring a single person back?

So much for retribution, how about rehabilitation then?

Well, Mr al Megrahi is hardly likely to do it again, is he? But that's not really the point. Surely, the REAL rehabilitation is that of LIBYA. And doesn't that seem to have WORKED?

By accepting compensation, or two-point-seven billion dollars worth of "blood money", paid to the families of the victims, America and Britain accepted that we and Libya could move on. Compensation isn't about putting a crude value on someone's life; it's about drawing a line under a vendetta, ending the feud, preventing FUTURE violence and grief.

Listen to the WISE WORDS of Mr Stephen of the Glenn, who seems to have come TERRIFYINGLY close to being EXPLODED himself on several occasions!
"A nation that shows compassion finds it easier to look past the past; one that holds grudges finds it harder to let it go."
Americaland, in spite of having so little history – or perhaps BECAUSE they have so little history – just can't let it go.

So, where in this scheme of "justice" should COMPASSION fit in? Well, the answer is nowhere! SERIOUSLY, theries of justice SAY that justice has to trump compassion. Because "compassion" is giving someone something that they DON'T deserve. It is sympathy for a person in pain REGARDLESS of how deserving they are.

Compassion is about US being better people, not about the goodness or wickedness of the person on the receiving end.

Is it regrettable that people take advantage of that kindness to stage some kind of Hero's Welcome? Yes, of course it is – but that makes THEM bad people, not us. It means that the people who agreed to keep things LOW KEY are the ones who broke their promises, not the people who only did a good thing.

Is it regrettable that people sometimes people DO make behind-the-scenes deals for trade or whatever in exchange for releasing a prisoner? (Not that that DID happen here; not that that DID happen to let President Billary-Hillary rescue those journalists from North Korea; not that that DID happen to get that American nutter who swam out to Aung San Suu Kyi's house out of Burma.) Yes, because it's sordid and it undermines our trust in the people we elect to make these decisions on compassionate grounds.

Justice is usually portrayed as a LADY with a sword to indicate the FORCE of the LAW, a set of scales to indicate WEIGHING up the EVIDENCE and a blindfold to indicate IMPARTIALITY. What we usually end up with is an overburdened blind lady waving a large letter-opener about. As a METAPHOR for a justice system that seems to flail about inflicting stabbing pains on people at random, that's actually depressingly accurate.

But if we can't HAVE justice, then we have to make a choice between vengeance and compassion.

And we should choose compassion.

*Yes, I am misquoting Uncle Enyos from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the point still stands.

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