Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is the newly-released-from-prison Lockerbie bomber whose act of terrorism killed hundreds in 1988. He was recently released on “compassionate grounds” because he has prostate cancer and will likely die within months.
This quotation is of particular interest:
[Scottish] Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Megrahi, dying from cancer, faced a sentence “imposed by a higher power”.
Here’s a little more context for that quotation from another source:
Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against our people and those from many other lands. The pain and suffering will remain forever. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive.
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.
hoverFrog is disturbed by this. It makes it sound like cancer is God’s punishment for Al-Megrahi’s crime. Is that fair to say? hoverFrog doesn’t think so:
I have two issues with his choice of words that really disgust me.
1. As a representative of Parliament MacAskill stands at the highest power in the land, in accordance with the wishes of the people. By deferring his judgment to any sort of higher power is to diminish his role in government and to ignore the wishes of the people. These are the principles for which he has been granted power in government. If he doesn’t want to live up to them then he should resign.
2. What does this say about cancer sufferers the world over? Are we to believe that some few are actually being punished by God for some crime? Are the families and friends of cancer sufferers left to wonder what their loved ones did to deserve this fate? What an awful thing even to imply.
I don’t think anything disrespectful was implied by MacAskill. Still, while it may sound like pretty rhetoric that could appeal to religious people, it is really an irresponsible thing to say. Besides the notion that no one “gave” al-Megrahi cancer at all, bringing God into this lessens the severity of the punishment handed down from his government.