What, if any, should be the skeptical approach to the recent decision by Jack Straw to deny parole to Ronnie Biggs?
The government's decision is reported here.
On one hand, Nick Cohen is highly critical of the decision, seeing in it another sad example of the government's gesture-ridden decision-making. In short, he is skeptical about the government's stance.
On the other hand, Joan Smith in The Independent, is critical of the sentimentality that she sees attending this matter, and she compares the sympathy which the decision may elicit with the hard evidence of what Biggs and his gang actually did, and what they were prepared to do.
Both Nick Cohen and Joan Smith are being skeptical, but they differ fundamentally.
My own thoughts are mixed.
I am generally skeptical of penal policy and of populist decision-making; but I am also skeptical of those who celebrate dangerous people as folk heroes.
In my view, prison is in general an expensive way of making bad people worse and it entrenches criminality in society; but I also believe serious crime has to be dealt with in a hard-headed and clear-eyed way.
Instinctively I supported Nick Cohen on Ronnie Biggs, but I really did find Joan Smith's article a difficult counter-challenge.
I wonder what other skeptics think about this issue...