I said in my post the other day that I hoped that Libya wouldn't go over the top in its welcome to Abdelbasset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi when he was set free and returned to Libya. Of course that was always going to be a forlorn hope. The scenes of saltires waving, cheering and the parading of Megrahi on tv meeting Gadaffi and his relatives was cringeworthy, sickening and, sadly, entirely predictable.
Having said that, I still hold to my point of view that it was correct to send Megrahi home to die. If it's a matter of policy that people with 3 months or less to die are released, then the only thing that should be taken into consideration is the safety of the public. The Libyan Government deserves all the criticism it's getting for the way it's handled this. Gadaffi is clearly enjoying his time in the spotlight, trying to implicate everyone from Gordon Brown to Prince Andrew as he wields his wooden spoon. It's pretty vile stuff.
I watched Kenny MacAskill's statement the other day and found its length and its sermon like tone distasteful to say the least. He really didn't need to go on for the best part of half an hour. I got an absolute pasting from Jeff for a tweet that I made in response to what I felt was MacAskill overegging the pudding about Scottish people were a compassionate people. I tend to think that human beings are generally compassionate, regardless of their nationality. Here's Jeff's comment and my reply so you can judge for yourself:
"Caron momenarily lost leave of her senses with this Tweet: "two things shocked me - trying to drag UK Govt down with him and making out Scots have monopoly on humanity"
A monopoly on humanity? What on earth are you talking about? It's all the more bizarre given that Caron actually agrees with the decision taken by the Justice Minister" said Jeff
"As you know, I think he made the right decision, but the process has been tainted by the leaks, the delays and the decision to visit Megrahi in prison which, to be honest, I don't think was adequately explained today.
I feel as well that he could have made his statement in half, a quarter, even of the half hour it took him.
I don't feel that it was necessary for him to slag off the UK Government for not participating in the transfer application consulting he did. Given the rest of the stuff he was saying, that sounds like it wasn't a goer anyway. No doubt if they had participated, he'd have found fault with what they said.
I wondered if I had been a little harsh in my tweet, which had come at the end of a very long sermon, sorry, statement, but then I looked at it again:
"In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity.
"It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people.
I tend to view humanity as being a defining characteristic of human beings, not just those who happened to be fortunate enough to have been born north of the border.
I read MacAskill's quote out to my husband without telling him that you'd slagged his wife off in public and asked him for his opinion. He is probably the fairest person in the world and he said he felt Scotland was mentioned too many times in that sentence.
I feel that it's quite a dangerous thing if we think that just because we're Scottish we're somehow better than everyone else. I'm really proud to be Scottish, I love this country and missed it to the point of despair when I didn't live here for 11 horrid years - but lovely though the Scottish people generally are, we're no more human than the French, or Canadians, or the people from Papua New Guinea or wherever.
You may not agree with me, but I wanted to put my side of the story."
August 20, 2009 9:00 PM
Another part of MacAskill's statement that made me gag was the bit where he'd clearly been at the dictionary of religious cliches:
“However, Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die."
I don't believe in a "higher power" anyway, certainly not one who goes around handing out nasty diseases as punishment, but I know a guy who does. Kelvin's response to this part of MacAskill's statement was absolutely spot on.
"The notion of a God who skips about the world deciding who does and who does not get cancer is horrible. That kind of thing gives religion a bad name.
There is no God worth believing in who is so capricious."
Kenny MacAskill is taking a whole load of pain at the moment. Some of it, though understandable, is unjustified. Robert Mueller's letter is completely over the top. I can't imagine for a second that any potential terrorist will think that the Scottish judicial system is soft on them. The Americans don't understand the concept of compassionate release because they don't have it over there. I think the US penal system is way too harsh in so many ways, particularly in the way it treats vulnerable people, so I don't think we should take his criticisms too much to heart.
Where MacAskill does deserve criticism is his handling of the process. Scott at Love and Garbage did all the research and wrote this post in response to MacAskill's statement to show that there was in fact no reason for MacAskill to meet Megrahi.
I think that MacAskill may well eventually pay for making the right decision with his job. With a bit of thought, he could have avoided that. It's clear to me that by his actions he has fuelled the suggestions of deals which I doubt exist and has brought the integrity of his decision into question. In turn, that has done some unnecessary damage to Scotland's standing in the world. For that, he should take the consequences.