Friday, May 27, 2005

The Australian Dilemma

The New York Times, like innumerable other sources, reported on an Indonesian court's conviction of a young Australian woman, Schapelle Corby, for drug smuggling. The court could have sentenced her to death or life imprisonment, but instead they sentenced her to 20 years in prison. Her offense was having nine pounds of marijuana found in her luggage when she flew into Bali. She claims to know nothing about it, speculating that crooked baggage handlers in Australia may have put it in her luggage.

Indonesia, of course, is a corrupt, backward Muslim country. Despite a very large population and wealth in natural resources, it survives largely on the charity of modern countries and on tourism, much of it from Australia.

Ms. Corby has been in jail in this backward Muslim country for about seven months already. Now they intend to keep her in prison for another 20 years, which would likely prove to be a life sentence. While initially slow to respond, the Australian government and the opposition party are attempting to help her, possibly through a prisoner exchange that would bring her back to Australia.

Some elements of the Australian press and some academic legal experts, infected with the same corrupt moral relativism that characterizes their counterparts in the U.S., take the side of Indonesia. According to them, she's probably guilty, and Australians wouldn't tolerate Indonesian outrage if one of their citizens had been convicted of a crime in Australia.

Hogwash. Even if she's guilty, the sentence is excessive by any modern standard. Beyond that, permitting a young female citizen to be imprisoned in a Muslim jail in a primitive country should be intolerable to a civilized country like Australia.

The Australian government should do everything they can diplomatically to get her out of Indonesia. If that doesn't work, and soon, they should go get her. They probably won't, but they should.


Blogger hexacontium said...

You should check your sources. Bali is not muslim but mostly hindusitic. And no, not every muslim country is backward.

10:12 AM, May 27, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'm with Tom on this.

And Hexacontium, Bali is part of Indonesia which is to a muslim country, a muslim country that refuses to acknowledge that they have an Al Queada problem.

A muslim country that basically destroyed East Timor so much that it will take ten years of U.S. and Australian protection just to bring them to subpoverty level.

Besides, he didn't say all muslim countries were backwards and corrupt just this one, just this one.


10:22 AM, May 27, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Hexacontium, according to the latest data in the World Factbook, Indonesia is "Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1%." Bali itself is mostly Hindu, of an odd sort, and that doesn't change the situation.

And yes, every Muslim country I can think of is backward, certainly by the advanced cultural standards of the West, which certainly includes Australia. Maybe you have one example to the contrary. If so, I'd be interested in which you think it is.

After the tremendous support Australia gave Indonesia after the tsunami, I'd expect them to at least turn this young woman over to Australia to be dealt with under Australian law.

11:29 AM, May 27, 2005  
Anonymous AHS MilBlogger said...

I fear that she is going to be just another pawn in the stuggle for "stability". Truth is not the first victim of war - moral clarity is. Rather than taking the hard right, governments will usually balk at confronting evil regimes in hope of other concessions. This reminds me of the Ralph Peters essay Stability: America's Enemy.

4:18 PM, May 27, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin from PK said...

Oh c'mon, Tom. Tell us what you really think of Muslims.

Yikes. Talk about moral relativism...

8:35 PM, May 27, 2005  
Blogger Pikkel Weezel said...

Another country full of savages

11:12 PM, May 27, 2005  
Blogger Pikkel Weezel said...

Muslims are awful, if you say otherwise, you are not being truthful.

11:13 PM, May 27, 2005  
Blogger Abraham said...

I remember right after 9/11 a lady sent me an E-mail and in it said something like this: "We should bomb 'them' to kingdom come." I sent back and asked, "Bomb who?" and that was the last comment she ever made about 'tit-for-tat.' I would be careful about saying what you really do not know. That is to say, the circumstances are what you must have read or heard or what she or her spokesperson said. There are two sides to each problem and so often one side delivers a knock out punch without checking the other side first.

5:25 AM, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Hi, Kevin. I have to say you're using the term "moral relativism" incorrectly. Nothing I said about Muslim countries being backward has anything to do with "moral relativisim."

"Moral relativism" is a corrupt intellectual process often employed by pseudo-intellectual lefties to illustrate their individual superiority and the awful failings they see in their own country or culture. Here are a few good examples of what it really is:

--The 911 murderers had legitimate grievances, and we should try to do better so they don't get mad at us again.

--Palestinian terrorists who murder innocent people are oppressed and depressed because some of "their" land is occupied, plus those nasty Israelis keep trying to defend themselves.

--Australians shouldn't be outraged about the imprisonment of a young Australian woman in Indonesia because they wouldn't want Indonesians mad at them if the situation were reversed.

I say again, Hogwash.

By the way, I'm still waiting for Hexacontium, or anyone else, to give me an example of a Muslim country that isn't backward.

6:50 AM, May 28, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin from PK said...

Hey, Tom. Glad to be back home?

I don't believe I used "moral relativism" wrong. At least not according to : "Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice."

Professor Lindsey, the "academic legal expert" you charged with moral relativism, is an aknowledged expert in Indonesian law and had
offered to assist the defense. His critique of the defense's performance was based on legal, not moral, principles. And he absolutely has not taken "the side of Indonesia."

Lindsey also happens to be an expert on Islam, particularly as practiced in that part of the world. He has few peers when it comes to the confluence of Islam and the Indonesian legal system.

10:34 AM, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, after pondering that definition, moral relativism still seems to leave one in the position of believing that nothing is intrinsically good or bad, permitting even the most evil deeds to be explained away when it suits one's purpose. My examples are still valid, even classic, uses of moral relativism.

Looking at your reference, I see even Lindsey talking about the corruption of the Indonesian legal system.

None of this, however, is the point. Australia must, in one way or another, free this young woman. The Australian people rightly demand it, and PM Howard will pay a price if he can't get it done. As he should.

11:21 AM, May 28, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin from PK said...

I must disagree that your examples are valid.

According to them (the alleged moral relativists), she's probably guilty, and Australians wouldn't tolerate Indonesian outrage if one of their citizens had been convicted of a crime in Australia.

The statements about her probable guilt are based on the evidence and arguments made in the actual trial. And Lindsey has criticized her defense team's legal strategy. Obviously that means his public statements are based on his legal judgement, not on issues of morality. How you get "moral relativity" out of that, I don't know.

The charge that Australians would be outraged by Indonesian meddling in an Australian court case is absolutely valid. It's not a moral judgement. It's a solid observation of human behavior. Remove "Australia" and "Indonesia" and plug in any other two sovereign nations and it'd be the exact same, very real phenomenon.

Also, if you do a little research on it, you'll find that most Australian legal experts blame the Indonesian legal system's problems not on Islam, but rather on it's former dictator who deliberately set up a disfunctional court system so that it would never challenge his rule. Occam's Razor seems to favor this explanation over your proffered one of it being an inherent property of Indonesia being dominated by Islam. It's not like there is a lack of non-Islamic dictatorships in which we find the exact same emasculation of the judiciary for patently self-serving reasons.

12:08 PM, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, "morality" per se isn't the issue. But I have to say, I certainly agree with your last sentence.

12:22 PM, May 28, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin from PK said...

Initially I was of two competing opinions on this case. On the one hand the sentence struck me as wildly out of proportion to the crime... an injustice, if you will. At the same time I found it hard to feel sorry for this woman. It takes a certain degree of arrogance to travel to a foreign country, commit a crime and expect not to be held to the standards of that nation. The classic movie Midnight Express sprung to mind as a good parallel example.

BTW, when I was much younger and much more foolish, I'd hatched a plan after coming home from 5 months in France to go back with a buddy and smuggle hashish out of Morocco with the help of a Moroccan political dissident I'd befriended in France.

Not long after coming home, my buddy and I along with our boss went to see Midnight Express. The very next day we decided there was no way in hell we were going to follow thru with the drug smuggling plan. LOL - anyone who has seen Midnight Express will understand why we arrived at that sage decision.

Back to the case at hand... The more I've dug around online, trying to hold my own with Tom here, the more compelling I find suggestions that Ms. Corby may well have been the blissfully unaware victim of Australian drug smugglers that she had never met. The circumstantial evidence for that argument is not unsubstantial.

Hopefully, upon appeal, some of the apparent flaws in her defense teams persentation can be fixed and a fuller picture of the truth of this case might be more readily apparent.

1:32 PM, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Anastasia said...

Gaoling the 'religious' inspiration of the Bali Bombing for less than three years (Bashir) is a total joke in comparison to 4 kg of marijuana, especially when no proper forensic investigation took place. If a person arrived in the United States or Australia with a 4kg bag - that wasn't detected by customs in the originating country (our customs here in Australia detect chemical drugs in jars- amphetamines etc- that mysteriously 'appeared' at the destination a full forensic investigation of the bag would take place, you wouldn't see police with their bare hands all over the bag,as was the case in Bali.

In a Muslim country, only Muslim males are treated fairly, any other female (Muslim or non muslim) or tourist is an 'Infidel'.

8:41 AM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger Anastasia said...

In addition to the above. Currently here in Australia we've been bombarded with reports of pathetic airport security. In many cases police have investigated and passed on their reports to the federal government only for the federal government to turn a blind eye. Illicit 'trafficking' (of drugs, weapons, etc) apparently has been a concern for the last nine years, but it took Schapelle Corby's case to get this out into the open here, but even so, such evidence couldn't be used (wasn't accepted) as evidence.

On the very same day Corby was flying out to Bali, a shipment of other illegal drugs were 'handled' by airport baggage handlers. This is known within Australia.

Corby had to board at Brisbane and stop at Sydney to catch an adjoining flight to Bali. Many think that the bag was destined to arrive in Sydney but someone 'missed' it. Either way, customs at airports apparently have 'sniffer' dogs but it's funny how a bag (it was a large bag) couldn't be sniffed out, but our customs can catch people who have 100 speed tablets in their bags.

In light of post Sept 11, Australia's airport security is a joke.

8:50 AM, May 31, 2005  

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