Sunday, 31 December 2006

Saddam Hussein

So Saddam Hussein was executed yesterday. I have my reservations about the trial itself and the fairness of it, although I wouldn't expect him to be found innocent of course. Whatever the outcome of the trial though, no society that wishes to consider itself civilised has any business condemning people to death. We are responsible for this really - the government hasn't been very vocal in its criticism of course, but apart from that, we generally have a policy of not turning prisoners over to countries where they may face execution. I believe that he was being held by the Americans, but in an ideal world we may have at least tried to influence them.

Objections to the death penalty aside, no good can come from this. A life in prison would have been a 'worse' punishment for him and wouldn't have turned him into a martyr. Also, there's bound to be knowledge that he had which has gone with him to his grave that we've lost - locations of graves, who helped him in certain crimes, and so on. Killing him is an act of vengeance rather than justice, just like every other execution.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Church and State

Hello, and sorry for the lack of posts recently. Normal service has been resumed.

The separation of church and state should be one of the fundamental objectives of anyone who supports democracy, so we should all take note when something happens that works against this goal. I noticed this story today about a couple of Christians campaining against homosexuals who have just received an out of court settlement from the police after getting into trouble for calling 'homosexual practice' morally wrong.

The article does not give a few key details, such as where the couple wanted the leaflets displayed. We can assume that it was a council property though, hence them asking Wyre Borough Council permission. It is therefore completely correct that the council refused, since it is not their place to help any church distribute its propaganda. The leaflets that the couples were objecting to were simply informing gay people of their rights, and were therefore exactly the sort of thing that the council should be distributing.

Let's leave aside for a moment the fact that the views of these people is bigoted, unpleasant, and down to some deeply objectionable beliefs. What we should be concerned with is the fact that they felt that they had to 'counter' a leaflet explaining someones rights with one containing their bigotry, which doesn't help anyone at all. Even worse, they expected facilities run by the council (and therefore at the tax payers expense) to aid them and their religion. This is fundamentally wrong, and the council were correct to refuse. I would argue that the police involvement went too far since free speech is important, and this ended-up being counter-productive. However unfair this may have been though, the state has no business distributing religious propaganda. I would encourage anyone living in Fleetwood to remind the council of this.