Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

29.4.15

Mourning the condemned. And condemning the dead.

Mourning the condemned.

It was 1986 all over again. The Malaysian pair got as much publicity 29 years ago but still ended up in the same place as the Bali two (actually eight) did. The academics, literati and actors were on to it as usual; one male academic had a letter in the paper yesterday describing the pair as 'inspirational' who had lived 'redemptive' lives, and ended with the academic's clich├ęd 'I weep for you ... (and) pay tribute to your courage'. Signed, emeritus professor. Meanwhile the left-wing act-persons (if that's not redundant) got up an anti-Abbott campaign, prompting the retort: "They (the actors) are ghouls preying on the wretched plight of others to peddle their demonic Abbott hatred".

Condemning the dead.

Late one night last year, a woman was defiled while still alive in a filthy back street in Brunswick, murdered in cold blood, and then dumped in mud in a field in the middle of the night. Her body was still warm.

Some, among them a priest, said she should not have been out in the middle of the night in an inner city street. (He also said she might not be dead had her faith been stronger.) Incredibly, he said this to children.

A month or so ago, a woman was attacked in a Doncaster park and murdered.

Some, among them a policeman, said women should not be out in the middle of the day in lonely parkland.

Middle of the day or middle of the night; inner city street or open parkland. It's all your fault, ladies.

Yes. There is a yawning gap in logic between these two scenarios. We mourn the condemned even while obscenely condemning victims.

*

Inevitably, the mention of capital punishment always brings on the high keening wail of the politically correct. And that's just the blokes.

Capital punishment? You must be joking! Or mad! The letter-writing academic above mentioned ' ... "anti-drug" lynching groups baying for blood and the heartless authorities denying you mercy'.

There's the key. 'Denying' mercy. It's the age of entitlement. Everyone's entitled. The condemned are entitled to mercy and if not, it's a heartless denial. No suggestion of discretion, or choices, or caution; the past doesn't matter. Consequences are an authoritarian construct.

What was Jill Meagher denied? First her dignity, then her life and after that, when she was dead, her very blamelessness.

That man who took his two-year-old and shot it with a spear gun – his own child, whose last word was probably 'Daddy' – is right now breathing Victorian air. Ditto the man who threw his four-year-old – she was looking forward to going to school the next year – off the West Gate Bridge, while his other child sat in the car and watched. Will he ever be truly alive? The other child, I mean. Having experienced that. So why should the father?

*

I spoke to a person recently who had been threatened in Sydney Road late one night a short time before Jill Meagher's murder. She confided in me that she would be happy to see such murderers removed from society, for both the good of society and the safety of individuals. Not an unreasonable opinion. Hardly a heartless 'lynching group', just a frightened individual who no longer has confidence in the law to rigorously protect her or, failing that, to apply robust consequences.

*
"As far as capital punishment goes, I'm in favour of it in some cases ... only for certain crimes ... the ones which horrify the public most, child murder and sex crimes, terrorism, drug dealing on a large scale, and the killing of police and prison staff."
- Henry Bolte, in Bolte by Bolte by Tom Prior, Craftsman Publishing, Melbourne, 1990

2 comments:

Dr. Alice said...

In 2005 my church was active in prayer and seeking clemency for Stanley Williams, a gang leader and killer who was scheduled to be executed. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor at the time, refused clemency and he was executed as scheduled.

When the committee approached me to support them I asked why there was no prayer chain for the victims. My request was not particularly well received. I don't attend that church any more.

kitchen hand said...

Churches have been hotbeds of sanctimony ever since the foot soldiers in the rear pews faded away post-Vatican.