Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: A perversion of justice

It is astounding and profoundly disturbing to hear that the "rice bomber" has had his already lenient sentence reduced.

Yang Ju-men (楊儒門) carried out a bombing campaign to force the government to change its policies. He is a criminal, and used acts of random violence in an attempt to advance a political agenda. This comes very close to most textbook definitions of "terrorist."

It is that simple.

But Yang has his coterie of passionate, vociferous supporters, and they have proven that all it takes to subvert justice in Taiwan is to scream loud and long.

The "anti-globalization" crowd that has been able to topple the law of the land is a group of misinformed students, tired old Marxists, opportunistic politicians and, of course, greedy farmers dependent on government subsidies to keep themselves in the manner to which they are accustomed.

But this inherent lack of credibility hasn't stopped them from dubbing Yang a "hero who resisted the oppression of capitalism," in an act of rhetorical ridiculousness as feeble as the attempts to link the Sept. 11 attacks to the invasion of Iraq.

This would all be fine and good if such inanities were falling on deaf ears. But it appears that they have not.

Yesterday, the Taiwan High Court reduced Yang's sentence on appeal by almost two years, explaining that Yang "hadn't meant to hurt anyone."

If he hadn't meant to hurt anyone, he wouldn't have built homemade explosive devices and planted them in 16 different locations in Taipei City. The explosive devices he built were capable of causing death and severe injury. He could have killed people, including children who might have happened across his creations.

But apparently this is of no consequence. Apparently this is acceptable, so long as such irrational, thoughtless acts are carried out in the name of a cause that attracts conspicuous political support.

The Taiwan High Court, with its ill-considered, rash decision, has invited any nutcase with a fringe political view to resort to violence in the hope of gaining popular sympathy.

That is quite an accomplishment for a day's work: The undermining of the rule of law.

But the activists protesting in front of the court, wearing their "Yang Ju-men masks," deserve an equal measure of scorn. If their cause were true and just, then why would they need to endorse the sanguinary plans of a common thug by setting him up as their champion?

Were it the case that these people had an ounce of consideration or sense -- if they were not consumed with greed -- then they would have disavowed Yang and his methods from the get-go.

They would have said that he was a misguided and possibly mentally disturbed individual whose dangerous methods could not be endorsed by any reasonable individual.

They would have acknowledged that his efforts set their agenda back substantially, and that trying to achieve a domestic political aim through civic violence was unconscionable.

But they did not. They looked at his work and said that it was acceptable.

These people are repugnant, no matter what one may think of their politics.

There is still a chance for the judiciary to prove that the law trumps populism. The Taiwan Supreme Court can overturn the decision of the High Court. It should do so.

It should ensure that those who maliciously endanger the people of this nation are punished to the full extent of the law.

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