Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The New York Times identifies Vaclav Havel as "a playwright and a humanist first", even though his faith is well known. Bias? What bias? Despite that over simplification, the article Exit Havel, to Muted Applause From Czechs is worth the read. This section caught my attention.

When he first came to office, for example, he gave amnesty to a large portion of Czechoslovakia's prison population, ordinary prisoners and political prisoners alike. The move was consistent with the concept of a fresh start for a new democracy, and with Mr. Havel's own years as a prisoner. But he has continued to issue presidential pardons — of a woman who murdered her own child, for example — without explaining them, and that has alienated many Czechs.

One family has even filed suit with the United Nations, alleging that Mr. Havel's pardon of a drunken driver who killed their son was a violation of their human rights.

Two things strike me, first the obvious comparison with G.W. Bush's unblemished record of pardons while Governor of Texas. The second is that mercy always scandalizes those who feel no need for it.

Thanks to Sainteros for pointing out the article.

- Peace

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