Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Open justice isn't always comfortable

There have been some very  worrying comments made about the trial of Anders Behring Breivik now taking place in Oslo  [here].
It isn't right, we are being told, for this evil individual to be given the opportunity in the full glare of publicity to explain himself and give the outward appearance of being lucid in his own defence; his court appearance, some have argued could even encourage others to commit similar crimes.
But in a free society - and our freedoms and our responsibilities come ultimately from God himself -  the open process of justice is not negotiable. Yes, it may not make comfortable viewing; the defendant in this case may be able to string together a few coherent sentences in order - in his own eyes - to justify his mass killings. 
Yet his crimes, which he does not deny, speak for themselves and speak far more loudly and cogently than the banal words of  someone who is, equally undeniably, a murderous psychopath.
Yet the doubts and anxieties being expressed, mainly by commentators on the liberal left, about the advisability of a public trial in this case, are very revealing both about their own moral relativism and  their basic lack of confidence in the traditional freedoms of western society. 
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance: we should be very wary of arguments - always made with the very best of intentions - which seek to erode or suspend our freedoms. And the greatest guarantee of liberty is an open and fair judicial process.
No, the Norwegian authorities are right and should be applauded. If we believe in liberty and freedom, a few days' publicity in a  courtroom for the likes of Breivik, however repellent we find both his views and his deeds, seems a very small price to pay.
It is what distinguishes a free society from the increasing number of those who seek to destroy it.

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