I really don't get this…

From the BBC news site

“Defence secretary John Reid is “keeping an open mind” about whether a World War I soldier shot for cowardice should be pardoned, the High Court has been told.”

How can someone be shot for ‘cowardice’???? Apparently the bloke in question refused to fight, was court marshaled, and then executed. The case hangs on whether or not he was shell-shocked.

I’m really really troubled by a world in which someone can be shot for choosing not to kill. I appreciate that the middle of a war is probably not the best place to decide that, but to force someone to fight seems just as barbaric as shooting people in the first place.

I don’t know what he reasoning was, or if he was actually up for a scrap but was indeed shell-shocked. Either way, the lack of a pardon now seems sick in the extreme. That his family were punished by having his pension taken away so they ended up homeless is another injustice.

I’m often amazed at how far the world has come in the last century. Even in the last 10 years. A documentary on last night charted the relationship between the emergence of pop culture in the 50s and the changing attitudes to sex, drugs and gender politics. Some of the thoughts and ideas that were common place in the 60s and 70s seem so bizarre now. Others seem quite attractive. The huge leaps forward in terms of equality for women, gay rights, racial integration etc. are counterbalanced by the way the world has been divided up by the growth of a consumer culture and a transnational business model where entire countries are turned into sweatshops. I doubt the concept of fair-trade was much of an issue back then (though apparently the Salvation Army started a fair trade match factory in London in response to the dreadful treatment of match-makers by Bryant and May in the late 1800s, paying them four times as much and changing the work to protect their health).

Some things about the modern world are frightening – gun crime, the massive rise in teenage pregnancy and STIs, etc. – but on the whole, I’d rather be here now than there then. I’m a modern at heart. I don’t want to live in world where women are oppressed, black people are enslaved and people who refuse to fight in wars are executed. Sadly, all three things still exist. There’s still work to be done.

SoundtrackCathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’ (a really really lovely album – it’s a strange world where Charlotte Church’s crap attempt at being a popstar results in top 10 hits, but Cathy hasn’t got a deal… Buy this, and feel smug that you’re one of the chosen.)

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