The release of Robert Latimer is one of those events that illustrate the tension between justice and mercy, a tension that in Catholic teaching places a higher emphasis on mercy than on justice.
Yet the Latimer case strains that emphasis on mercy for several reasons, the first being that the Saskatchewan farmer remains unrepentant for what he did.
Latimer killed his disabled daughter Tracy, who was born with cerebral palsy and at the age of 12 couldn't talk or walk and had the mental ability of an infant.
Instead of 25 years, he got 10. Now, after seven, he's getting out, still unrepentant, and his supporters still maintaining he got a raw deal as they fight for an overturning of his sentence.
This is mercy carried to absurd lengths, in complete disregard to the many other Tracy Latimers in this country who become more vulnerable with each development in the doctrine of mercy run wild
Those who favour mercy assume that Robert Latimer is the only person worthy of consideration, yet mercy, solely directed toward Latimer, necessarily entails diverting it from the disabled, whom this case leaves in a more precarious position.
Just as the deliberate killing of Terri Schiavo in the U.S. has eased public opposition to "mercy starvation," one senses that there will be broader tolerance the next time someone in Canada "mercifully ends the life" of a loved one they felt didn't have a life worth living.
In effect, decisions such as this one are helping to cement in place a new two-tier legal system: one for people who are disabled and don't benefit from the full extent of the law, and one for those who aren't.
Holding Latimer to the original sentence would have done a better job of sending the message that all Canadians' lives are worth protecting, including those of the disabled.
In the end, between justice and mercy, it's pretty clear which one is losing out.
Now they expand their horizons internationally, finding sympathetic kin abroad in places.
It ends with an ironic and tragic yet comic dopey platitude
Perhaps if he would have quipped, sadder Budweiser, that could be swallowed but the word "wiser" just doesn't do it.
My 2004-05 tour expanded to 14 nations. My former warm welcome turned frigid. U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, kidnappings, torture, election rigging, wiretapping, and political and economic chicanery caused shocking contrast.
Europeans saw through the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell-Rice litany of lies about WMD's, atomic bombs, staged terrorism "alerts," New Orleans' hurricane fiasco, and the sick Terry Schiavo spectacle. Most (88 percent) now viewed my country as the world's No. 1 aggressor and "terrorist." Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, then England replaced pro-American regimes. Saddam Hussein's staged trial didn't alter the picture.
New Zealand and Australia ousted pro-American regimes. Japan and South Korea rejected pro-U.S. parties. I returned home, sadder but wiser.