Thursday, April 30, 2015


                                               (Moir's cartoon from today's Sydney Morning Herald)

My opposition to the Death Penalty is absolute.

No one will soon forget that the Australian Federal Police under Mick Keelty AO APM were told, by the father of one of the mules in attempt to shelter his son, about the planned drug run and that the AFP tipped off the Indonesians, fully cognisant that Indonesia had the death penalty for such a drug crime whereas Australia, should their apprehension be delayed till their return here, did not. What political sanction, if any, was involved is something I can't stop thinking about.

John Howard was the then Prime Minister. Philip Ruddock was then attorney general. Today's SMH reminds us that the subsequent Labor government, with Brendan O'Connor as Minster for Home Affairs, in 2010 included Australia's opposition to the death penalty in his ministerial directive to the AFP. Mr Ruddock, now in opposition - you remember Mr Ruddock, he who called a boy in asylum detection "it" - found this instruction "very problematic".

What the Herald draws our attention to is that in 2014 the Conservatives (now back in power under Mr Abbott after the most deceitful campaign I can remember, and I'm no spring chicken, and the most partisan stance from Murdoch I can remember, and neither is he) Justice Minister Michael Keenan issued a new ministerial directive (to the AFP) which removed that instruction.

To the debate at hand - the DEATH PENALTY - there is a wonderful essay by James Hogan in John Menadue's blog, Pearls and Irritations.

Hogan references George Orwell's essay A Hanging, his witnessing of the hanging in Burma of a Hindu prisoner sentenced to death.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to
destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to
avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of
cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying; he
was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working
– bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues
forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be
growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air
with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the
grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned
even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together,
seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two
minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one
world less. 


David said...

That passage from Orwell is seminal (I didn't know it). Also see, if you haven't already, Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing (part of the Dekalog sequence but, like the others, standing by itself), which begins with a brutal murder but still ends up making you feel sick to the pit of your stomach that someone should take the murderer's life.

wanderer said...

Thanks David. When I emerge from a surfeit of Great War/Gallipoli/Capital Punishment/General Slaughter I'll seek to out, though I need no convincing.