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Justice at Last

The convicted murderer of 270 lost souls, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, has died, according to news reports. The death of a human being is never a thing to cheer, but this comes as close as it gets.    al-Megrahi was the Libyan Intelligence chief who plotted the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people in the air and another 11 on the ground.  

The al-Megrahi case was a scandal from beginning to end.  If ever a person earned the death penalty, this was the guy.  But Scotland is too "civilized" to impose the punishment due, and sentenced him (in 2001, 13 years after his crime) to life imprisonment.  Only "life imprisonment" meant no such thing, as a crooked and hidden deal resulted in al-Megrahi's release eight years later, in August 2009, on the grounds that his death from cancer was imminent.   "Imminent" turned out to be the better part of three years. 

Compassion, dontcha know.  

It's unfair, sort of, to blame the usual rote and mindless pleas for "compassion" for the disgrace this episode turned into.  But it's instructive to remember that compassion was trotted out as pretext for the skullduggery actually afoot, and that the whole "life imprisonment" gig was a lie.  

Compassion per se is a virtue.  Compassion as a refuge for cruelty without consequence is worse than appalling.  We need to learn the lessons of the al-Megrahi scandal, and remember, next time, that compassion belongs with the victims, not the cut-throats.

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