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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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Terminal Condition - Monday, August 24, 2009 at 00:13


Terminal Condition:

The Pan Am Bomber, or Our Moral Sense?

David C. Stolinsky, MD
Aug. 24, 2009

Bomber of Pan Am 103, who murdered all 259 on board as well as 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, is released on “compassionate” grounds by British authorities because he has “terminal” prostate cancer. He is greeted as a hero in Libya. He served eight years of a “life” sentence, or 11 days for each victim.
News item

Young woman gives birth to baby girl on sidewalk, aided by a passerby, after British authorities refuse to send an ambulance. She was told to walk to the hospital because she had “nine months to arrange for a lift.”
News item

He who is kind to the cruel will in the end be cruel to the kind.

If one wanted to illustrate what went wrong with liberalism, these three items would do the job admirably. The deliberate murderer of 270 innocent human beings should have been executed. But the British are too “advanced” for such “barbarity,” so instead he received a “life” sentence. One might assume that a life sentence means that the criminal will die in prison. One would be wrong.

The Scottish justice secretary explained the decision to release the bomber:

Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed, but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown.

Justice for whom? Compassion for whom? Mercy for whom?

·         Is it justice when a mass murderer is punished with 11 days’ imprisonment for each victim? Or is it a mockery of justice?

·         Is it compassion when the terrible suffering of the victims’ relatives and friends is ignored? Is it compassion when every day, for the rest of their lives, they remember receiving their loved one shipped home in a box, while the murderer spends his days among family and admirers?

·         Is it mercy when future terrorists and murderers are told, in effect, “Go right ahead with your crimes − we’ll treat you with mercy.” Is this mercy for the future victims, or is it cold indifference?

Of the victims, 180 were American, including 35 Syracuse University students. And speaking of compassion and mercy, consider this account of the victims’ last moments:

When the cockpit broke off, tornado-force winds tore through the fuselage, tearing clothes off passengers and turning insecurely fixed items like food and drink trolleys into lethal objects. Because of the sudden change in air pressure, the gases inside the passengers' bodies would have expanded to four times their normal volume, causing their lungs to swell and then collapse. People and objects not fixed down would have been blown out of the aircraft into the −46°C (−50.8 F) outside air, their 31,000-foot (9,400 m) fall lasting about two minutes. Some passengers remained attached to the fuselage by their seat belts, crashing in Lockerbie strapped to their seats.

Although the passengers would have lost consciousness through lack of oxygen, forensic examiners believe some of them might have regained consciousness as they fell toward oxygen-rich lower altitudes. [Emphasis added.]

Is that compassionate and merciful enough for you?

Besides, what is “terminal”? It used to mean that the patient was actually dying. Now it means expected to die in six months, or perhaps longer. But doctors are often wrong in their predictions. Prostate cancer is often slow-growing, and it often responds to nontoxic hormonal therapy. I will be fascinated to see how long the murderer actually lives.

News reports of the mass murderer’s release added this tidbit:

Libya has the largest proven oil reserves of any country in Africa, much of it still untapped, and British firms including BP and Shell have signed major exploration deals in the country in recent years.

It is possible that factors other than “compassion” and “mercy” affected the decision to release the bomber. Some people − especially politicians − have a revolting ability to mask the basest motives in the loftiest verbiage.

A Libyan lawyer who worked on the case remarked:

Britain and Scotland will grow in the eyes of the Arab states.

Don’t bet on it. Appeasement may bring temporary financial or political benefits. But beneath the smiles lurks deep contempt. If a nation is too weak to protect the lives of its citizens, how can it be relied on to protect their rights, or the rights of others? How can it be depended on to stand up for its principles...if any?

No, Britain shrank in the eyes of the Arab world. Respect may coexist with fear. But respect cannot coexist with contempt − and that is precisely what the British action will evoke.

But not all Brits are soft-hearted. When it comes to the National Health Service, strict adherence to rules still prevails. If a pregnant woman hasn’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, she can lie on the sidewalk to give birth.

If the baby girl had had difficulty breathing, she would have died there on the sidewalk. And if her mother had had a postpartum hemorrhage, she would have died there as well. Still, they would have had “universal coverage” − with six feet of dirt.

And if the mother and her baby had died there on the cold concrete, think of the money the state would have saved. No laboratory tests. No x-rays. No operations. No medicines. No nursing homes. No old-age pensions. Indeed, the Final Solution to the health-care problem.

This would be an example of the Natasha Richardson treatment: If you wait long enough before you bring the patient to the hospital, you won’t have to pay for expensive care − or any care at all. Now that’s really “cost-effective.”

Nor is the birth on the sidewalk an isolated incident. Search Google for “British National Health Service rationing,” and you get 1,210,000 hits, including one titled, “Patients forced to live in agony after NHS refuses to pay for painkilling injections.” Not surgery, mind you − injections.

The contrast is striking: Compassion for the mass murderer, but none for the mother or her baby, and none for patients suffering in pain. How typical. But how depressing. The moral compass isn’t broken − it’s reversed. The needle points south. And unless we replace it with a genuine compass, that is the direction our nation, and our civilization, will be headed.

A Danish American friend of mine was a little boy when the British marched into Copenhagen, liberating the Danes from five years of Nazi tyranny. Field Marshal Montgomery’s troops were preceded by a pipe band, and for all his life, my friend will associate that sound with freedom.

Growing up, I too learned to love the sound of bagpipes. Movies taught me to associate it with the approach of rescuers. To me, Scotland was symbolized by the stirring strains of “Scotland the Brave.” But no more. Now sadder lyrics speak to me of Scotland:

Better loved ye cannot be
Will ye no come back again?

The same sad song may well describe Western civilization. Courage is replaced by compliance, principles are replaced by expediency, justice is replaced by false compassion, religion is replaced by feel-good mush, and muscle is replaced by flab.

We will no longer be responsible individuals, but merely a socialized, homogenized, standardized, synchronized, demasculinized, dehumanized mass that is unable to stand up for its own rights, much less for the rights of others. We must not let that happen.

Note that I did not mention the murderer’s name. It would be wrong to do so without also mentioning the names of all 270 victims, the names of their bereaved relatives and friends, as well as all the children the victims never had, and all the people they never were able to influence. This is impossible, so let the murderer’s name be forgotten. But let us always remember his crime and our feeble response to it.

Thanks to Lance Wolstrup for the account of the liberation of Denmark. Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at