Thursday 20 August 2009

Days when I'm proud to be Scots

So, we released Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi yesterday. For the purposes of this note, let's simply assume that Megrahi was guilty as charged. Let's ignore the fact that the evidence in the case was clearly murky, and appears to have been manipulated by intelligence agencies, and by bribing witnesses. Let's ignore that al Megrahi consistently denied guilt.

A man has killed - in an appalling masacre - two hundred and seventy innocent people. Now he is in prison, in a land far from his home and family, and he is dying. Does he deserve to be released? No. Should he be released on compassionate grounds? That depends on whether those holding him have compassion.

Compassion is not deserved. Compassion is an act of grace, of mercy. An eye for an eye - justice, revenge, the law of vengeance, the obsessive levelling of scores - not only leaves everyone blind. It leaves everyone impoverished. It leaves a world devoid of moral values to look up to.

But Scotland isn't like that. Scotland has mercy, and compassion. Our government has grace. And so, we let him go: to go home to die, amongst his kin. Were he ten times as guilty, this would still have been the right thing to do.

On days like this I am proud to be Scots.

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