Sunday, August 10, 2003

It's not about race, it's about consistency

NZPols has taken John Howard to task for his inconsistent stance on the death penalty (thinking its OK to kill the Bali Bomber, but not OK to kill David Hicks). But in the comments section, two well-known Kiwi bloggers are accusing her of "playing the race card".

NZPols could have chosen her words more carefully, but this issue is not about race - it is about consistency. If you are committed to any universal scheme of ethics, and you think that the death penalty is immoral, then it follows that it is immoral whether the victim is Australian or Indonesian.

Now, you could argue that Howard is in fact not commited to universalism, but I suspect that if you ask him pointy questions about ethics, he'll strenuously deny that he is any sort of relativist or particularist. And more importantly, you can bet your arse that he'd change his tune on "respecting Indonesian law" if that law said that you could kill Australians with impunity...

Sorry, but in this case, Howard is simply being a hypocrite. If Australians deserve to be protected from the death penalty, then so do Indonesians. It's as simple as that.