Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saudi Justice or Abuse of Compassion 

Arab News has a story showing Saudi justice at its most compassionate, and least...just:

A mother saved the life of her son's killer in Taif's execution square when she forgave him at the last minute, the daily Al-Watan reported. As the judge was reading the ruling, all eyes were directed at the executioner. Then the mother of the murder victim walked to middle of the square and announced her forgiveness of the convicted murderer. Seeking God's reward, she granted the man a new life.
Oh what a beautiful thing when a mother has the opportunity to pardon her child's killer even as his neck enters the noose. Of course, a parent with this "right" is then also forced into the position of virtual executioner, since, as Gov. Schwarzenegger knows, to not pardon is to condemn. This renders Saudi justice personal. I'm sure Tookie's fan club is a bit bitter as they read this, wondering why Tookie's justice couldn't have had a bit of that personal Saudi touch too.

One big reason is because America doesn't want to become Saudi Arabia. There is a price to be paid when any killer can be pardoned by individuals affected by the crime, when justice is no longer the goal.

And it's kind of hard to believe the Saudis aren't starting to notice the many problems with such a system.

For instance, in a world of life insurance, can there ever be justice when a potential beneficiary can pardon the killer of the insured? Can there be justice in a society of honor killings when the parents can render the life of a murdered child worthless with a single word?

Sounds like a great place in which to be a murderer. Not so great if you need protection from one.

I don't bring this up in order to criticize the mercy of a grieving mother, for she is just doing the best she can at a time of incredible heartache. But the system that knowingly put her in that position does merit scrutiny. Real justice does not reside in the authority of the individual. While family members have the right to forgive their children's killers, they should not have the right to free them.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: