EDITORIAL – Lessons from 9/11
The major remembrance this past week was the event of 9/11 that changed the way the world did its airline business.
That momentous event also changed the way the world regarded its security, for since then we have faced the war on terror frontally and we have confronted the forces of terror and suicide bombings and other like events with a new realization that the world won’t ever be again what it used to be.
The sheer effrontery of hijacking planes and using them to attack the citadel of capitalism was mind-boggling, to say the least.
And even though it did not fully succeed, the evil and criminally designed plot ended the lives of almost 3 000 innocent people doing nothing more than going about their daily business for the improvement of themselves and the overall betterment of their fellow men.
The response has been a severe tightening of security procedures for air travel, something which affected us as a tourist destination in the run-up to the 2001 winter season.
Those security procedures have remained in place and have helped to thwart other individual, smaller-scale attempts at terror, even though suicide bombers have managed to carry out some dastardly acts.
Countries everywhere have struggled with how to deal with these lawbreakers who deliberately and aggressively seek to use the freedom of our open societies to carry out their evil designs.
The same problem exists at the local and regional levels in relation to the very serious and disruptive criminal behaviour associated with the illegal drugs trade, and the violence and brutal killings which seem so much a part of the package of that pernicious evil.
A state has many weapons at its disposal for the deliberate evil-doers in society. The establishment of the gun courts, harsh and offence-specific penalties and even states of emergency with the inevitable suspension of some of the freedom and openness of the society are but a few; but even so, there are limits to which the state will not go.
Torture of suspects or other people detained by the authorities is totally unacceptable, and the courts have been quick to so declare, even in the face of the most severe challenge by those so inclined to use the weapons of terror to force their opinions down our throats.
At the same time, those who would wreck or destroy the society or try to wreck the foundations of the society must be reminded that the law is mightier than the gun or knife, and that its arm is long and can be uncompromisingly severe on those whose evil plans are subjected to the scrutiny of a fair trial in an open court.
The lesson for all of us, friend and foe of the law alike, is that our openness and freedom is not a licence to rob, rape and loot; nor is it an avenue for the propagation and incitement to plan stratagems for the ruination of the society at large.
It is true that the law is tolerant of the rights and freedoms of all falling within its compass, even when they transgress and wantonly break the law, but that must not be mistaken for weakness.
One of the messages of the 9/11 atrocity is that when deviant behaviour raises its ugly head, then we must reply not in similar manner to those who dare defy the law, but rather by using the dignity of the law to reinforce the message that all who live within our borders are free to live within the law.
But at the same time, they must be in no doubt that the full force of the law is the mightiest in the land.