Friday, May 3

The Protocols of the Elders of Europe

If only these protocols were a hoax. Alas, no--the Council of Europe commisars have outdone themselves again. Not content to have abolished the death penalty for run-of-the-mill serial baby killers and homicidal cannibals, the Council today took the extraordinary measure of abolishing the death penalty even in times of war and "exceptional circumstances." In other words, if this law had been in effect in WWII and the Allies had captured Hitler alive, Europe would have had to live with the knowledge of his morally malodorous presence among them for decades. If fate were particularly cruel, we might to this day be subjected to frivolous lawsuits from prison by a senile ex-Fuhrer complaining about lumpy mattresses, Jewish guards, and a lack of painting supplies. That's moral progress for you. More tediously predictable moral hectoring follows:

"The Council of Europe was already proud to have banished the death penalty in peacetime on a continent where more than 800 million people live," said Walter Schwimmer, secretary-general of the council, which works to promote democracy and human rights.

Needless to say, I don't recall this decision being put to the citizens of the individual nations of Europe or even being a matter of much debate in the legislatures of the signatory nations. The Council can hardly be expected to sully itself with that sort of simple-minded "democracy" or with defining "human rights" in accordance with the consensus of the little people, not when there is an amorphous philosophical ideal to be imposed!

Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, abolishes capital punishment even in cases of war, imminent threat of war or "exceptional circumstances".

I'm sure that "exceptional circumstances" is a term of art, but if it isn't covered by times of peace, war, or imminent war, then I have no idea what it could mean. Maybe it means "even Israeli Prime Ministers." Which could be considered progress. Sort of.

"Protocol No. 13 opens the way to abolishing this barbaric punishment in all circumstances. We hope that this will be a decisive step towards a universal abolition of the death penalty and we shall spare no effort in achieving this," Schwimmer said.

We shall spare no effort in achieving this? Except capital punishment, you mean.