The sad case of Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, a resident of Melbourne, Australia, provides a window on current perceptions of morality. Nguyen was sentenced to death in March, 2004, after being convicted for smuggling almost 400 grams of heroin from Cambodia. He was arrested at Singapore’s Changi Airport in December, 2002, where he was in transit for Australia. Nguyen’s execution, for in Singapore, that is what happens to convicted drug felons who are caught with more than 15 grams of a controlled substance, is scheduled for Friday, December 2nd.
Not surprisingly, official Australia is up in arms over this harsh sentence, and there are even calls for sanctions against the Singaporean government. At this point, though, it appears as if the death sentence will be carried out as planned. My feelings on the matter could be called mixed.
On the one hand, given the abject failure of the War on Drugs, and noting that many other harmful substances, including certain dicey prescription drugs, cigarettes, and, of course, alcohol, are perfectly legal, it is quite difficult to justify laws against a particular category of chemical substances. Saying that, however, Singapore is a sovereign nation, its laws are well known, and just because they offend the sensibilities of foreigners is not sufficient reason to abandon them. Besides, this is by no means the first time that Singapore’s harsh methods have been decried.
In May, 1994, ex-pat American Michael Fay, was convicted of vandalizing a number of cars in Singapore. He was fined, and was supposed to be caned six times, although this was eventually reduced to four, in deference to the pleas of President Bill Clinton. At the time, there was probably more publicity about this corporal punishment story, than what is being garnered with the present case of capital punishment. As to Fay, after moving back to the US, he was arrested on drug charges in 1998.
In the Ngyuen case, calls for mercy have been pouring in, but think about this for a moment. Ngyuen said that he transported the drugs to pay off his brother’s debt to loan sharks—a drug related debt. Ironic enough for you? Furthermore, Singaporean authorities estimate that 26,000 individual heroin doses could be prepared from the stash carried by Ngyuen. Is it not likely that there could be a death or great suffering caused by one or more of these doses? What penalty would our do-gooders propose?
After all, if there are laws against drug use and trafficking, the ONLY justification is to prevent harm from coming to the drug “victims.” And, since these victims cannot be expected to be responsible for their own actions in taking the substances—based on the misguided rubrics of our womb-to-tomb paternalistic government—then the drug dealers and drug lords MUST be held responsible. Who else is there? The farmer who grew the opium poppies?
Another facet of this case is our “enlightened” society’s fixation on protecting the guilty, whether he be a drug mule run afoul of harsh laws, bloodthirsty terrorists incarcerated at Gitmo, pathetic drug-addled welfare mothers and their consorts, or child molesters, who somehow must be placed—essentially anonymously—in our communities. Meanwhile, an innocent comatose woman is purposely killed by the State; the minds of generations of youngsters are rotted out by a pop culture that idolizes miscreants from the world of sports, entertainment, and politics; and the carnage of abortion continues unabated, while Gramsci Commie puffed-up hypocrites like Hillary Clinton prattle endlessly about “the children.”
Few in Miami will forget that a young boy, Elian Gonzalez, was sent back to the worker’s paradise of Cuba, after his mother died getting him to freedom. That time, the Left’s good buddy Fidel was the perceived victim. His reward was little Elian’s loss.
Finally, let us not forget the countless, nameless casualties of vicious serial offenders, who thrive under the West’s catch and release justice system.
The fact is, there are so many truly innocent victims deserving of our charity, that I frankly cannot get too worked up about the likes of Nguyen Tuong Van.