Dennis Shanahan, in today’s Oz, tries hard to counter the position adopted by Labor against the Government’s apparent support for capital punishment where the Bali bombers are concerned.
He can’t, in all fairness, do so without coming out with an opinion piece damning such a stand and placing his employer in a no-win position. This latest tactic by Labor is pure politics, nothing more. It’s a fine moral standpoint to oppose capital punishment in other countries, but by criticising Howard for supporting the death penalty for the Bali bombers, Labor must surely be seen for the political opportunists they are in this instance.
In 2003, John Howard spoke to the Australian media following the sentencing of the bombers:
Good evening. I’m sure that I speak for all Australians in welcoming the guilty verdict handed down by the court in Indonesia in relation to Amrozi’s role in the murder of 88 Australians amongst a total of 202 people at Bali in October last year. Most of all I hope that this verdict provides some sense of comfort to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy and that they feel that in some way justice has been done and at least one of the people responsible for what was described by one of the trial judges as a crime against humanity as well as a crime of murder, that in some way they have been properly brought to justice.
So far as the imposition of the death penalty is concerned, it will not be the intention of the Australian Government to make any representations to the Government of Indonesia that that penalty not be carried out. I can only say again that to those of my fellow Australians who lost their loved ones in this tragedy that again their fellow Australians think of them and we are reminded of the brutality of this deed, and we are also reminded by the events of recent days that the fight against terrorism will be a long one and much time will go by before we can assume that the threat of terrorism is behind us.
[Inaudible] personally support the imposition of the death penalty…
The Indonesian court has applied it and I accept that. I respect the jurisdiction of the Indonesian court and I do not intend to make any representations that it not be carried out. If it’s the view of the Indonesian court that it be carried out, then it should be carried out. These crimes were committed in Indonesia and the law of that country must prevail. So far as the crime itself is concerned, can I add my congratulations to the police force of Indonesia for the great investigative work that was done in order to catch those responsible. They were aided by the Australian Federal Police and I congratulate the AFP on their role.
[Inaudible] father of one of the victims …
I respect his view and I imagine that some will agree with him. I imagine that many will agree with what I’ve said. Thank you.
No-where in that transcript does John Howard make the statement that he supports capital punishment. It’s implied…but not defined. In making this statement, Howard can be said to be guilty of dog-whistling, just as Labor can now be accused of doing likewise. Both parties are appealing to seperate societal sectors, both attempting to stir an issue which seems to have a lot of emotion attached to it. Personally, I don’t believe it does, or should.
I am very strongly of the view that capital punishment has a place in civilised society. The issue is not one of evolved sensibilities nor is it one of religious or social idealism. The issue revolves around the removal from society of those elements which are declared enemies of that society. I opposed the execution of Van Nguyen on the grounds that it was unwarranted. The man had not committed a heinous crime against humanity. That man had been a fool. A willing fool, but a fool none the less. He repented, he knew the wrong he’d done. A future hope for full rehabilitation existed. In the case of militant fanaticism driven by religious ideology which knowingly and willingly takes human life in a violent, uncaring and prolifigate manner, excision of such fanaticism and those who are its adherents from society is justified.
We have cancerous tumours removed from our bodies. Why then should we not have malignant elements removed from our society? Why should any society be forced to maintain the lives of those who so openly and vehemently declare their willingness to take those of others not of their own beliefs? Such individuals are vermin, and should be treated as such. Quickly, cleanly and without malice or emotion.