Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shell shock

So it appears that the British government is to seek a pardon for soldiers shot for cowardice in WWI. Parliament's granting of that pardon will presumably be a formality.

Professor Garry Sheffield of KCL has his doubts, though. He points out that a blanket pardon was refused in 1998 because it was now impossible to distinguish those who had been suffering from shell-shock from the genuine cowards and deserters, the paperwork having been long since lost. "That struck me as being true in 1998 and equally true today," he adds. I agree with that judgement. Where I do not agree is with the implication that because one cannot tell which cases are worthy of a pardon and which aren't, pardons should be granted to none of them. British legal precedent, and the presumption of innocence unless guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt would rather weigh on the side of pardoning them all, even if we know that some were guilty as charged. Defence Secretary Des Browne said "We can't be in a situation morally where we cannot redress injustices because we don't have paperwork in relation to an individual case." And he is entirely correct. Now, if he could just explain this principle to his colleague in the Home Office ...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

For UK-based digital television owners

Tonight (August 4th), BBC Four begins showing all of I Claudius nightly for two weeks. Essential viewing for those of you who don't have it on VHS or DVD.

Perhaps even more importantly, each episode will be followed by an episode of Up Pompeii, smutty '70s British comedy at its very best.

There's also a documentary on Togas on TV, to be shown before tonight's episode, and tomorrow at 23:25. Tomorrow it's just before an excellent documentary on Edward Gibbon.