Mercy For A Mass Murderer?

by Chris Bodenner

Chuck Colson sparked a flurry of commentary over his insistence that Scotland "made a mockery of justice" when it released the Lockerbie bomber back to Libya. He writes:

Surely there are appropriate ways to show mercy -- even to a terminally ill mass murderer: Scotland could have given him palliative medical care, could have allowed family visits, or even arranged for family to stay with al-Megrahi during his last days. In his essay, "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," Christian writer C. S. Lewis argued that we ought to punish people for no other purpose than just deserts, and in so doing, we recognize that humans are free moral agents, responsible for our actions. That's why Lewis wrote, "To be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we 'ought to have known better,' is to be treated as a human person made in God's image."

One commenter counters:

While I think I somewhat understand the sentiments involved, this act by Scotland is what the Bible calls Grace. A wonderful opportunity to show to a Muslim country that the God of the Bible is different than the God of the Koran. Not eye-for-eye tooth-for-tooth justice, but undeserved grace for one man who (according to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill) has already had a death verdict "that [...] has been brought upon to him by a higher power." MacAskill recognizes that vengeance is the business of the Almighty who will repay injustice (Rom 12:19).

Yes, the festivities in Libya are totally inappropriate, but the actions of the Scottish government reflect the teachings of Jesus. What a testimony! And isn't it then very interesting that most critique comes from a nation that calls itself Christian? A nation that has lost the right to lecture others about justice since Guantanamo Bay! [...] It is not about what the person or nation receiving the mercy does with it, it is about the one giving it.

Personally, I'm with Colson. But the commenter raises some interesting points, namely the last one. And it's always worth recalling that one of our most openly Christian presidents, W., was the least compassionate governor in the history of the United States - at least if you go by the number of executions.

Update: Turns out Scotland's "compassion" may have actually been a deal for oil.