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Life Lines: Tolerance Is A Double-Edged Sword

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Victoria Sarne

By Victoria Sarne

We are all fallible as human beings and learning to be tolerant of some differences in character or actions is necessary for harmonious living. But the other side of this sword is weakness if it allows aberrant behaviour. Specifically, to me, these are the uses and abuses of power in any of its forms – political, legal, social sexual. Also, the loss of liberty as we understand it in the Western world and often these days the absurd notion that perpetrators of evil or wrong-doing are as deserving of equal rights as innocent victims. Political correctness gone mad.

Let me add a disclaimer here because I am going to refer to a specific headline in The Tribune of February 11, for Peter Young’s column. Firstly, I have great respect for Mr Young. I like reading his erudite and informed opinions, and that may not have been his choice of header or it may have been worded exactly so to grab attention. It certainly got mine. Secondly, this is not a political rant for either the right or left of that spectrum, nor a legal one, merely my personal viewpoint about a new set of ‘values’ Western societies seem to have adopted and I hesitate to call them values because it seems we have lost our ability to determine exactly what they should be or discern right from wrong. Too many shades of grey (and I don’t mean the Fifty Shades) pervading our lives and blurring important lines for the orderly functioning of society.

The headline in question which jumped off the page and lit a fire under me, is this: “What comes first – a terrorist’s rights or the public safety?” In my wordsmith eyes “terrorist’s rights” is an oxymoron. To me, they are mutually exclusive. How can those two words even sit side by side in the same sentence? And yet this is how our world now functions. While we were sleeping, others were working at deconstructing ethical and moral boundaries, perhaps with good intentions at the outset, fair play and all that, innocent until proved guilty, but we all know where those well-meant paving stones lead. Surely that rare commodity, common sense, needs to be applied. Are we still asleep, unaware that our apathy is the only encouragement needed by ill-intentioned disruptors to carry on their destructive work?

As far as I am concerned, convicted terrorists waived their rights to everything life offers in a civil society the minute they committed their first act. No second chances. No opportunities for parole at any time. As Mr Young explained in that column when he referred to two specific attacks in London, my home town, the perpetrator of the recent knife attack had been released a few days before committing this crime and was allegedly “being watched”. How ridiculous does this sound to your ears? To mine I heard that old refrain “the law is an ass”. This “watching” is supposed to reassure us that it is an adequate safeguard. Well, it failed not only on that occasion but on others.

Why are these terrorists being released in the UK having served only half of their sentences? Which elected or appointed idiots came up with this as any kind of justice for the victims or their loved ones left behind to grieve a senseless loss? Are they so callous and deliberately uncaring of the ramifications of letting these people out? Are they unaware in the larger picture that society is losing the benefit of innocent and productive civilians, the very people they were authorised to protect and serve.

This is not about democracy. Historically, the best solution so far that anyone seems to have come up with for running an orderly society, nor is about methods of punishment - to hang or not to hang, to spend huge sums of money on keeping criminals watered and fed in prison institutions. It’s about weighing the risks, analysing situations and consequences and exercising objective judgement. If the statistics show – and they do – that terrorists are rarely, if ever reformed where are the sane heads to ensure that the nation they are charged to keep secure with a reasonable expectation of freedom, safety and happiness, are in fact able to fulfill that expectation. If the laws need changing, change them and do it now. Although this may sound a little glib, when I was a child I was taught “do the crime, you do the time”. Very simple and applicable to all situations big or small. An orderly society to benefit the majority needs to adhere to “right” and “wrong”. When did it become a bad thing to abandon all too frequently, responsibility for our actions?

As you will have noticed, I have no pity and no sympathy for terrorists, but I have everything to give that my heart and mind can hold in love and respect for fellow citizens of the world and their right to a secure and peaceful existence. We need to say – in the words spoken in a very old movie, “Network”: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore”, and then see that it is done.

• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at victoria.conversations@gmail.com, visit lifelineswritingservice.com, or call 467-1178.

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