Monday, November 03, 2008

Bali bombers and the brutality of execution

Sometime in the next few days - if it hasn't already happened - Indonesia will execute three Bali bombers. They were found responsible for the deaths of 202 people in Kuta in 2002.

Australia's media always mention in the same breath that the toll included 88 Australians, but 38 Indonesians also died. The bombers were quite willing to kill their own kind for their cause.

None of this excuses execution in any circumstances. It meets brutality with brutality, and it further brutalises society. It sends the wrong message to children, to those contemplating violence, to everyone.

Australians seem to be divided on the matter, with about as many favouring execution as disfavouring it. I'm sure the results would be rather different if the polling included the fact that Indonesia also plans to kill some Australian drug traffickers - yet in an ethical world, that should make no difference.

Our Prime Minister should show leadership on this. But Kevin Rudd has been quite reticent, to his discredit.

There are many reasons to not execute. If one condoned life imprisonment, for example, those people would have a lifetime to live with their deeds, and to contemplate atonement.

If polls were conducted with sufficient consideration, people would inevitably prefer atonement to brutalisation.

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