Friday, January 16, 2009

The Atheist/Agnostic Bus.

It is easy to portray Christians as fanatical and intolerant, for there are always some who must play the martyr and react to provocation. For christian bus driver Ron Heather, the much hyped 'atheist bus' campaign was so much of a shock and horror that he refused to perform his contractual duties and drive a bus with an atheist advertisement. Mr. Heather is, in my opinion, letting the side down and providing evidence to those who claim that Christianity is intolerant of other beliefs and opinions.

For his part, Mr. Heather probably feels that the 'atheist bus' is just another example of religion being under attack in Britain. This is a sentiment often expressed by Christians. The 'atheist bus' campaign should, however, be seen as a reaction by atheists who feel that they are under attack from Christianity and that society is, at large, against them. The atheist bus campaign was, after all, provoked by a bus advertising the christian faith and a website promising eternal torment in hell for those who don't believe. Christians and atheists have, therefore, much in common and should realise that neither probably have the truth about the position of religion in society.

While I personally dislike the fact that public buses are privately run and plastered in advertising, atheist or not, couldn't we, as Christians, stop being constantly offended and intolerant of others expressing their beliefs and lifestyles? We are part of a fallen world and much, including many of our own actions, will not be to our liking. If we are to take offense, lets take offense at something really bad. Something the bible often speaks out against, such as hatred against our fellow human beings, ill treament of the weak in society, or the love of money.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Piracy and Taking Responsibility.

That piracy is an international crime with universal jurisdiction is well established in law.(1) This means that any nation has the right to criminalise piracy and prosecute offenders, no matter where the crime is committed.

There is therefore nothing in international law that prevents the nations patrolling the coast of East Africa and Somalia to capture and prosecute pirates. This includes Denmark, which has sent the pride of its navy, the HDMS Absolon, to the area.

Twice the Absolon has taken pirates captive. First, in September 2008, when it let them go,(2) and now in January 2009, where the government is trying to pass them on the Netherlands. The reason for letting the pirates go is that there isn't jurisdiction in Danish law to prosecute the pirates.(3) This problem could easily be remedied, but the majority of the Danish parliament is at present unwilling to change the law.(4)

Although international law may not be perfect in dealing with piracy,(5) the real problem is political rather than legal. If Somali pirates are taken to Denmark for trial, Denmark will probably have to house these people for life. Whether the individuals are convicted or not, Denmark will, most likely, be unable to return them to Somalia or any other country. Either the local authorities, or lack thereof, will not accept suspected pirates, or there will be a substantial risk that they will be subject to torture, or inhuman treatment, if returned to their country of origin. Denmark is commited to not extraditing individuals where there is such a risk.

Capture and prosecution of pirates is, therefore, problematic, but what kind of government runs away from its commitment to combat piracy, and is unwilling take the consequences of standing up to principle? While other countries may also be shirking their responsibility to deal with the problem,(6) the failure of the Danish government to act does not reflect well on Denmark.


1) See, for example, the Princeton Principles of Universal Jurisdiction,
2) Danmark løslader ti pirater,
3) Minister opgiver at retsforfølge pirater,
4) Absalon må løslade pirater,
5) See, for example, this comment by Eugene Kontorovich, associate professor, Northwestern University School of Law, at
6) The British Foreign Office has, for example, advised the British Navy not to detain pirates. See: Pirates can claim UK asylum,