Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney, 17 January 2000

 

I see that Mike Tyson finally arrived yesterday by Concorde to prepare for a boxing match in a couple of week’s time.  It was only by the Home Secretary intervening that he was allowed to enter the country.   Apparently, a convicted foreign national who has served more than 12 months in prison can only be allowed into Britain if “exceptional compassionate circumstances” apply.  And Jack Straw has decided to be “compassionate”.  Not actually to Mike Tyson, but to all the small businesses that stand to lose money if the fight does not take place.  For Mike Tyson was convicted of the rape of an eighteen year old girl in 1991 and went to prison.  Various pressure groups are campaigning to have Mr Straw’s decision reversed, and Tyson sent home.

 

And I also see that Myra Hindley, one of the Moors Murderers, has been receiving treatment for a potentially fatal brain condition in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.  The hospital’s administrative director said there had been a "number of representations" from the public who objected to the child killer receiving treatment.

 

Although both of these cases have many strands, I wonder if there is a common thread that runs through them both.  Mike Tyson and Myra Hindley were convicted of contemptible crimes.  No one can condone their terrible deeds.  Their prison sentences are richly deserved.  But the reaction of pressure groups and individuals to Mike Tyson’s arrival, and the claims of some that Myra Hindley should not receive medical treatment, both seek to heap further punishment on top of the sentences already meted out.  Vindictiveness is at work here, and there is no place for that in a just, civilised, democratic and – yes! – Christian country like ours.

 

Seventeen days ago, the world celebrated two thousand years of Christianity, and one of the overwhelming themes in Christ’s teaching is justice.  Justice tempered with Mercy.  For one of the other great themes of Christianity is forgiveness.  The prayer that Jesus taught says forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 

Now, we are not the ones “trespassed against” by Tyson or Hindley, so we are not directly in a position to forgive them.  But we can see that both justice and mercy are exercised in their cases.

 

Jesus said, Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.  [Mat.7:1-2]

 

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