Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lex Talionis

The Old Testament has many passages that I, inspired as I am by humanism, have difficulti in reconciling with the concept of a loving God. However, it has always bothered me when critics use the 'eye for an eye' principle, prescribed by God in the book of Exodus, as an example of the vengefulness of God.

Exodus 21,23-25, which reads: "But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise," (NIV) is all about proportionality, not vengeance.

I was therefore quite pleased when I came across this passage by Professor Schabas:

"It is surely a general principle of criminal law that penalties must be proportionate to the crime. This was expressed in ancient times by the maxim 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth', or lex talionis, a concept that more recently is understood (or rather misunderstood) as one of retributive justice."*

*W. Schabas, "International law and the death penalty: reflecting or promoting change?", in Capital Punishment: Strategies for Abolition (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 45.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Danish Election.

Denmark is electing a new Parliament today. The right-wing government of the Liberals and Conservatives thought they could maintain their parliamentary majority in an election held now and called the election only 2 1/2 years into the election period.

I am sad to say their confidence is well founded. The opinion polls indicate a close election, which is usual in denmark, but the government and its supporting party, the far right Danish People's Party, are leading in most opinion polls.

The New Alliance, a new neo-liberal breakaway party from the Social-Liberal Party, have dominated the media coverage of the campaign. Media attention is however only positive if you have a strong political narrative, which New Alliance doesn't have. Their representation in parliament looks set to be 4 or 5 seats.

The largest increase in parliamentary seats looks likely to go to the Socialist People's Party, who according to the polls will double their representation from 11 to 22 MP's. Unfortunately this increase is unlikely to give the left an overall majority and we can look forward to another 4 (or 2 1/2) years of Liberal/Conservative government.

The first exist poll is due in 8 minutes!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Socialist Journalist, Right-Wing Politician.

Interesting comment here by Lone Kühlmann in friday's Information (Danish Newspaper), on the phenomenon in Danish politics of famous journalist becoming candidates for right wing political parties. This is a particularly interesting trend, because the political right has for years complained of the left wing bias of the Danish media, in particularly 'left-wing mercenaries' of the state owned Danmarks Radio (DR).

Kühlmann doesn't answer her own question as to why journalist, previously accused of producing socialist propaganda, join right wing parties. One reader, L.Nielsen, quotes French King Henry IV in his/her comment: "Paris is well worth a mass". While oppertunism may be an explanation, it is not a particularly convincing one.

A mystery indeed!