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Death and destructive lifestyles

Mark Mardell | 16:50 UK time, Tuesday, 18 September 2007

A row over lunch has failed to sort out Poland’s opposition to a European day against the death penalty.

There are still plans for a big conference in Lisbon against the death penalty but so far there are no signs of a European Union statement to go with it. Twenty-six other justice ministers failed to persuade the Polish government round to their point of view.

Bodies like the European Union regularly hold days for this, that and the other, and mostly they are pretty uncontroversial.

The Poles don’t have the death penalty of course, and they say the day is pointless as no European country has the death penalty. But their bigger point is their insistence that it would be far more worthwhile to have a day that is opposed to "all violations of the human right to life". They accuse the EU of promoting "abortion, destructive lifestyles and euthanasia".

straw_pa203.jpgThe British justice minister and former foreign secretary Jack Straw seemed almost glad to be back in Brussels when he met the British press after this lunch. He was adamant that to hold a day against the death penalty was right and went on to praise the Portuguese, who hold the presidency, for forcing the issue.

He also said that Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty, back in the 19th Century, and that this had held even during the years of dictatorship.

You really do learn something every day in this job.

He also said: "I think the death penalty is something people have intense debates about, but abortion and euthanasia are seen as a private matter. I will make this comment about United States politics: I do not wish the United Kingdom to end up in a position where issues of conscience become a big party and partisan issue."

Who’s right, Jack or the Poles?

Listen to the full answer here... the bit missing in the middle is my interjection “Why?” which the microphone didn’t pick up.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:00 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

It is interesting that usually (not always) people who suport the death penalty are against abortion and euthanasia, and those who are against the death penalty are staunch supporters of abortion and euthanasia.

Both positions are logically and ethically untenable. Either you believe that life can be taken away in certain situations, or you believe that it's very special and should be protected in all circumstances.
Tertium non datur.

P.S. Personally I'm surprised that EU has not created yet a day against canibalism.

  • 2.
  • At 06:05 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Jack is right (never thought i'd say THAT!).

Abortion is a personal choice. If you don't agree with it, don't do it. Same with Euthanasia, if you don't agree with it or think it's wrong, don't do it. In the end it's your own choice all government can do is give you the freedom to make that choice and ensure that truly is YOUR choice.

The death penalty is not a choice, not a freedom, it is a sanction imposed on someone against their will by governments/judiciaries who have been shown to be mistaken (intentionally or unintentionally) in their judgements often enough.

The first is a private matter, the second is a public matter.

  • 3.
  • At 06:48 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Johanan Raatz wrote:

The Poles. I don't see abortion as a private matter. The reason is that it concerns fetal rights and therefore it isn't only a personal choice as more than one set of rights are involved that may conflict. Seeing whereas abortions are so much more prevalent than instances of capital punishment, Poland is right to point out that it is silly to be celebrating the complete outlawing of capital punishment while at the same time allowing far more abortions than there would be executions were capital punishment still legal there.

  • 4.
  • At 07:00 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

Death isnt a pleasant thing to talk about so why should the Polish Government waste their time?

  • 5.
  • At 07:14 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Giacomo Dorigo wrote:

To be a little more precise, it was Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who actually made his country the first state to abolish the death penalty in Europe (maybe also in the world) on 30/11/1786. Every year this day is commemorated by more or less 500 cities around the world through the "Cities for Life Day" initiative.

  • 6.
  • At 07:30 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Theresa Willerup wrote:

I applaud Poland's moral stance. We lament the death penalty while forefeiting the right to life of our elderly and unborn through condoning euthenasia (who wants to take care of old people anyway... they cost too much money and I don't have time for them right now) and abortion (the pregnancy just wasn't convenient right now...).
Even worse, criminals are at least afforded due process while the elderly and unborn have no legal protection!What a double standard! Europe should be ashamed.

go Poland! I support you 100%

Who is right? That's an easy one. The Poles of course. Since it is indeed true that no EU country has the death penalty, it is clear an initiative like this is just another stick to slap the US with.

As for the other issues, I can't say how happy I am that the Poles have the guts to actually stand up for traditional values. This whole abortion issue for instance is a crying shame for the PC establishment. So, Portugal prides itself on having abolished the death penalty first? Rather hypocritical if some 36,000 healthy fetuses are killed every year.

  • 8.
  • At 08:10 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Diogo Correia wrote:

Day by day I start thinking it's a shame we can't get Poland invited out of the European Union.

This kind of veto attitude by Poland imposing the rest of the 26 countries what they perceive as best (even meaningless things such as a no death penalty day) is getting ridiculous.

  • 9.
  • At 08:16 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Marek wrote:

Who’s right, Jack or the Poles?
1. Aborted children has no right to say anything, murderers are still alive.
2. though we dont have death penalty, police can shoot you on the street wihout taking you to the cort.
3. there's no compromise between life & death.

  • 10.
  • At 08:17 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Thomas wrote:

I think it's worth adding that once again poland was the only country which was against this day.

And once again Poland stoped 26 other countries which agreed on this day. This coutry is absolutly not willing to make any compromises.

  • 11.
  • At 08:18 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • S Britton wrote:

Jack is right. It should not be a matter of politics but a matter of conscience as to whether you believe that the death penalty is right or wrong, or that abortion is right or wrong.

In making political capital out of a matter of conscience, the Polish Government is merely inviting other member states in the EU to inflict their veto on some issues that Poland is bound to raise - and to do so without any impunity.

It has often been said of the United Kingdom, but it is now much more apt for Poland - if they do not like the EU, they can always leave it. Poland, though, is a net benficiary of EU funds.....the UK never has been.

  • 12.
  • At 08:42 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Kris Grygiel wrote:

Brave Poles, of course!
Bravo Poles for fighting with culture of death (alone, as usually)

  • 13.
  • At 08:46 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Rob wrote:


The Poles are right in that it's pointless. As the death penalty doesn't apply in Europe, the EU would do better to spend the money on something other than another self-publicizing conference.

Jack is right that issues of conscience shouldn't be party issues.

Of course the Poles are relatively religious and probably feel entirely justified in treating abortion and euthanasia as party issues. The EU almost certainly guarantees their right to think that way but doesn't want them to actually dare express such an opinion.

Meanwhile, Jack belongs to a government that wouldn't actually dream of offering free votes or referenda on matters of conscience - of which the death penalty is surely one and the membership of a bloated super-state is arguably another.

"Poland’s opposition"? Kaczynski was won the presidential election by a small margin; he enjoys support in the politically less important Polish east and in villages. He only won in one big city, and the west did not generally vote for him. Thus calling his moves "Poland's opposition" is just feeding the typical stereotype of a Pole: poor, religious, backwards.

  • 15.
  • At 09:09 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Lauren Stevens wrote:

The Poles do have a point - their country respects human life at all stages of development so it must seem quite absurd to them just to have a day against the death penalty and not, what they see as, other forms of abuse of human life.

The fact is that the EU will always be a group of nations that don't agree with each other on everything. It should stay clear of politically contentious issues and leave these up to nation states. After all, why can't individual nations have their own anti-death penalty day and allow the Poles to have their own version?

  • 16.
  • At 09:18 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Jacek Wesolowski wrote:

I'm afraid neither abortion nor euthanasia is a private matter in Poland. There are very heated disputes about both every now and then.

I think special days like this should be held on matters that all members have in common. If there was a common European stance against all violations etc., then there should be a day against violations etc. As long as there are differences within this matter, it should be "split", so that things we have in common can be promoted, and the rest can be discussed.

It seems interesting in the above context, that while the death penalty can be considered a violation etc., current Polish goverment actually promotes it. They have declared this openly several times in the last couple of years, but have been so far unable to change the law, as the death penalty is forbidden by the Polish constitution (more precisely, the document uses the term "kara cielesna", which means any punishment by the means of harm or pain to the body). Apparently, there seems to be disagreement with regard to what a violation etc. actually is.

Current Polish goverment is strongly opposed to the concepts of euthanasia and abortion.

  • 17.
  • At 09:28 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

As a supporter of Amnesty I should be supporting the EU here. But it all seems rather pointless if no country in the EU has the death penalty, and they aren't having a wider debate on human rights violations across the world.

It seems like an excuse for a jolly. To be seen doing the 'right thing', and being preachy [An EU speciality] while doing absolutely nothing to, for example , limit imports from China until they have changed their policy on judicial execution.

Ah, but that would cost money, whereas having a day of flag waving and hot air costs absolutely nothing and achieves absolutely nothing.

  • 18.
  • At 09:31 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Agnieszka wrote:

I am Polish, and I feel ashamed. Why is this governemnt bringing the country back to the late 18th century, when the 'veto culture' sunk the state and the nation for 200 years? No wonder that anybody with any brains left has left the coutry ruled by such brainless government for the UK.
Agnieszka, Cairo, Egypt

  • 19.
  • At 09:38 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ryan (an american in Warsaw) wrote:

Just my perspective:

Make sense, huh? Allow the killing of the helpless (and mostly innocent) un-born children and retarded people and then people who have fully developed consciences and directly disobey all levels of morality (from sub-conscience to plain written law) just need "rehabilitation"? Come on, thing have gotten a little twisted. I'm not saying pro-death penalty, I'm saying the people that are trusting us and need us should have more hope and security of being able to at least exist than those who have harmed us and chosen to violate others.

I disagree with the term RIP. Death is probably the most painful pain to be felt, the ripping away of the intangible thing that is yet connected to every cell of our body called life. I know some retarded (from both birth and sickness) people that I would much rather be a burden for me now and give them at least hope than cheat them out of what should be every human's natural right.

For once I agree with "The Duck" (that is what the surname of the President and Prime Minister means - Mr. Kaczynski comes from Kaczki which means "duck")on a issue. The preservation of life should be equal to all especially in a "democratic" world.

2 Points more:

Democracy is for the people, all people. I believe protection of life should be preserved for all.

Also, for those who pose the question or similar question: Should have Hitler been aborted? Often the question is posed to legitimize abortion. Unfortunately for pro-choice'ers, the answer is simple. It is not the born boy named Adolf Hitler that was the problem. The problem was somewhere in his life (and every persons life that does something so-called very evil) was things were either incorrectly or lacked in: teaching, correction, discipling, and/or guiding of his life by people around him.

  • 20.
  • At 09:46 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Luís Vicente wrote:

Beeing an anti-abortion guy, I have to say, the coments above are exactly why the European politicians are so afraid of allowing the Union and it's principles to run on referendums, etc...
The continent is just filled with Kaczyńskis!
Sad indeed.

  • 21.
  • At 10:18 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Anonymous, California wrote:

Compliments Poland from across the Atlantic (and bordering the Pacific). If only more European countries--and American states, including California--were as yours, at least in this area.

How hypocritical is it to oppose the putting to death of criminals convicted of abominable crimes (at least in developed nations) while at the same time promoting a 'right to choose' [to terminate another human's life]?

Over here, less than 1% of abortions are because the lives of mothers are being threatened, and all the 'anti-abortion' laws that have been passed make an exception for these very rare case. Guessing that those statistics are about the same in Europe, and that the pro-lifers there have similar views. It is akin to animal-rights people who support abortion while getting into an uproar over animals being slaughtered for food.

Euthanasia is a stickier issue, one which largely depends on people's religious stances. This is because it depends on who you believe own the life. If you believe 'your' life is YOUR life, then it is easy to see how you would believe that you had the right to take it (the same for suicide). However, if you believe life is a gift of God, and that ultimate 'your' life is a life that God gave to you, then euthanasia (and suicide) becomes the murder of a life that you had no right to take. This is why in the West (which WAS influenced by Christianity even if much of Europe is now atheist--not secular; you can be in support of secularism and Christianity at the same time) suicide is generally illegal.

By the way, personally oppose the death penalty except for cases in which three or more people were murdered, and their murders were premeditated, if that affects readers' opinions.

  • 22.
  • At 10:24 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Andrzej wrote:

The Polish government is being hypocritical because they have expressed their support for the death penalty many times in the past. But that isn't the issue here.

The real issue is who gets to decide what qualifies as a "private matter" or as a "public interest" one. Indeed, such distinctions should themselves be debated politically.

Whatever the answer, as a Pole, I don't want anyone telling me what I am allowed to talk about and when I should better shut up. We've had enough of this attitude during decades of communism.

Perhaps abortion should be legal. But don't take away our rights to dispute such a claims.

  • 23.
  • At 10:50 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

I admire the Poles for sticking to their guns when it comes to their basic values. The contemporary Catholic position on these issues is sometimes called "the seamless web of life", that is, human life is sacred in all its phases, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. From this point of view, we should oppose the death penalty as well as abortion and euthanasia. But 'life', in the Catholic meaning of the word, has an even wider meaning and includes the conditions necessary for leading a 'full life'. This means the eradication of poverty, disease, illiteracy, and all the other injustices that prevent individuals and groups from achieving that full life. This is true Catholic teaching.

  • 24.
  • At 11:01 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Were a day of demonstration against the death penalty merely an expression of the EU populations' support for its own policy, it would make no sense at all. But taken in a wider context, it is one more America bashing exercise, a folly of utter impotence and futility, a European specialty. Europe certainly can't hope to influence China, the Chinese government regards Europe as a joke (as do I.) However, as with most everything coming out of Europe these days, by the time the faint echo reaches America, it is utterly ignored. Despite the distaste for it among many judges, clergymen, ordinary citizens, legislators, even prosecutors, the death penalty is the overwhelming will of the American people. It is law in 38 states and in Federal law. Just yesterday, one of the most important and notorious Mexican drug kingpins, a head of a crime syndicate responsible for many murders pled guilty and sang like a sparrow in and American court in exchange for the government taking the death penalty off the table for his first degree murder crimes and instead he will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole. Without the death sentence looming over his head, many criminals who will now be captured and brought to justice would have gone free. We make no apology for our laws, anyone who doesn't like it and is contemplating murder is free not to come here.

  • 25.
  • At 11:08 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Darek Pejsiaty wrote:

I am glad that Poles were against it because it is another unnecessary thing that EU came up with. The EU and its politics and bureaucracy reminds me of communist Soviet Union where you had a lot of ridiculous holidays.

Good Job Poles.

Poland's current government (will be changing soon) probably vetoed this day because Poland's current government is pro-death-penalty.

There's no real respect for life here, rather simple deference towards the Catholic church. Although it is quite odd that the Catholic church didn't vehemently respond to Kaczynski's/PiS's call to bring back the death penalty. Actually, it's not at all odd: they know who butters their bread.

As others have said: the state deciding to end someone's life, well that's a public matter and thus there is and should be much public debate and discussion regarding it. Since no judge, jury or government is ever infallible then yes, we ought to question whether it's ok for the state to occasionally execute an innocent person in the pursuit of a free and just society.

I believe that one of the big differences between abortion and the death penalty is the difference between the government making a decision about a life and you making a decision about a life. Many things we trust ourselves to do right we would never trust the government to do at all.

  • 27.
  • At 11:26 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Stepien wrote:

The Poles are right of course. To defend LIFE means to defend it at all stages. Not just when it is convenient. I love the Poles. They say what's got to be said. It wasn't that long ago when many nations thought that slavery was perfectly acceptable. They ended up all being wrong. Abortion, euthenasia, and the death penalty are wrong and not choices. Don't worry, someday this will become obvious to everyone and no one will call the Poles backward again.

To all those that think Poland is backward, I say remember that National Socialism, Marxism, and Communism were all seen as enlightened thinking by many, but are currently deplored by most. The Poles never embraced any of these ideologies even when many European countries did. Perhaps the Poles' position should be studied before it is dismissed because it contradicts one's personal convenience view of human life.

  • 28.
  • At 11:39 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • michorla wrote:

I agree with the polish stance. There is too much hypocrisy from all quarters in the EU, be it governments, politicians, judges and the media promoting it, and society as a whole accepting it.

How can we talk about being peace lovers and anti capital punishment (with which I happen to agree and applaud) on the hand, and allow extermination of human beings on the other.

As Mother Teresa said: "I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

Unfortunately people in general have difficulty in accepting the inconsistencies and contradictions in their ideologies, and thus hide behind things like "conscience". I am sure if you ask serial killers about their "conscience" tell will tell you they have a perfectly clean one.

What answer do politicians, judges, media, society etc. have to that??? If none, then we might as well live by the laws of the jungle, because "conscience" becomes completely and utterly meaningless. Is that what they really want? If not then they should stop being hypocritical.

  • 29.
  • At 11:47 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Southam wrote:

These are three issues that differ widely from each other and should not be put into the same pigeon hole. In that respect everyone is wrong in my opinion.

Euthanasia is a personal choice about ending ones own life. It is not about ridding the world of inconvenient old people and such arguments are quite simply silly. There is no European country that allows euthanasia as a method to eliminate its aged.

Abortion is trickier as the death occurs to the foetus/unborn child through no fault of its own. Abortion however occurs even in countries where it is illegal and that was the (correct) motivation for legalising the practice in certain desperate situations. This has however led to abortion on demand which, I believe was never the intention. In short it is not a personal choice but an unfortunate necessity which should probably be better controlled.

Finally, the death penalty is nothing more than state sanctioned revenge killing. I cannot see the point in a day to celebrate its demise, it is a medieval form of justice that is finished in Europe and I hope it will meet the same end in the last few remaining countries that practice this act.

  • 30.
  • At 11:52 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mateusz wrote:

At the beginning I feel obliged to excuse all of you who may get my words as an insult, but truly this kind of celebrations promoted by 26 EU countries are for me like a political masturbation. This is a game where EU stands against the American law and the Muslim countries who support that idea (as far as my knowledge is concerned, if I’m wrong I apologize. The tradition of physical punishment is even promoted in The Bible- so Jewish and Christian traditions.
Why do we, the Poles, have to say the rest of the world that we do not have the capital punishment where it is an obvious statement? If someone wants to say or celebrate obvious things let them organize ‘a having a car day’ or ‘a day against pick pocketing in the London subway’. It is ridiculous and absurd.
I really wanted Poland join EU but every time I see reactions of so called 'Western' politicians about our country it clearly show that EU was not ready for accepting us among the rest of the members...and this calling Poland Eastern-European country (sic!).
And one advice. In such debates the author should avoid the expressions like 'the Poles think'. There are 60 millions of us in the whole wide world (40 in Poland) so you may imagine we thing is more than this way presented by our 'brilliant' President.

  • 31.
  • At 12:36 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

I agree with Poland's government (not the Poles; their government represent a part of them, how big we'll see in October) when they say that this day is pointless, and a political manouveur to show how good we Europeans are.
But at the same time I feel uncomfortable reading false and superficial comments such as "Europe promoting the culture of death". Laws allowing abortion and euthanasia are always designed to reduce suffering, not to promote death. And if you choose abortion or euthanasia for yourself, it means you are desperate enough not to able to cope with life -be it yours or your potential son's.

  • 32.
  • At 01:31 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Clive wrote:

This whole debate seems more about'political correctness' than anything else. North European countries seem to be imposing their views of what is 'correct' on others. They seem shocked and outraged when someone has a contrary view as if what they say is inherently right. Though the governments of these countires and the Media maintain they are liberal in reality they impose a tyranny on those who don't share their views. Just as in the USA, there are probably many in the EU who support a death penalty here, their views are not only being ignored, but treated as contemptible. It is an insult to them to waste money on such an event, as it is an insult to those countries that have the death penalty.

  • 33.
  • At 01:50 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

I’m not going to persuade pro-abortionists and pro-euthanasians to change their minds because it’s like talking to the wall. POINTLESS!

The only thing I want to say outloud is that we Poles and you, the Western Europeans, live in different worlds, two distant worlds of totally different values.

Your Western untold contempt for the unborn humans and old weak helpless men is beyond comprehension to us Poles (to the vast majority of Poles) and makes that you look like ancient barbarians in our eyes.

To make things worse, you call it “European Values”, you call it “freedom”, you call it the right to choose, don’t you?

So, my question is, is that really all that your civilization can offer to the world? Do you really choose the world where serial cynical child rapist-murderers can enjoy their lives protected by the law while little innocent helpless unborn children and the old men can be murdered at will?


Is this to be freedom you chose?

Anyway, do as you wish, Enlightened Europeans!

Meanwhile, we, dark, stupid antiquated unenlightened Poles driven by the “ancient fairy-tales” brought to the world by Jesus Christ, whom you rejected and denied so long ago, we choose the absolute imperative of life protected by the law. We choose protection of life from the conception to the natural death, protection of any human life, even the murderers’ ones.

We choose freedom to live, and make no mistake, we don’t discuss it or make any compromises about it.

(by the way, to us Poles, absolute life isolation in prison is enough to save and protect lives of others against murderers. We don’t call for capital punishment)

  • 34.
  • At 02:08 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Now maybe we should take a referendum on the death penalty. I for one have no problems with shooting someone up with poison for 1st degree murder. However, the PC brigade say we should not kill child killers and other lowlife. For me its not about the example to others but simply taking the perpetrator out of society.

  • 35.
  • At 03:45 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Tomasz Piotrowski wrote:

I have noticed that many people seem to confuse two things:

"if I am a catholic then I oppose abortion and euthanasia" - that is indeed almost always true.

However, the converse is usually _not_ true:

"if I oppose abortion and euthanasia, then I am a catholic (and probably Polish)".

I think imposing such artifical divisions are not necessary: maybe we can view the Polish government stance on the disputed issue as not necessarily representing Polish people and/or catholics only, but representing the point of view of all EU citizens that share it?

  • 36.
  • At 04:18 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Bart wrote:

Poland is right. I mean how can you applaud banning abortion when at the same time you are killing unborn children? I like Poland it seems to be the only country in the EU that has the guts to stand up for it self and not cave in to the PC crowd.
People really need to lay off Poland; I'm tired of the "if they don't like it then they should leave", "Poland is an EU welfare state" remarks. Lets face it people Poland sacrificed the most during WWII. They were the 4th largest Allied force and contributed greatly to Allied victory. What happened after the war? Western Europe got democracy and the Marshall plan while Poland (after all it done) was sold out to the Communists and put on the Stalin Plan. I think what the EU fears the most is a powerful Poland, the likes of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

  • 37.
  • At 05:30 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I'm an American and I do agree that an EU sponsered "anti-death penalty day" is pointless because no country with the death penalty is going to gives a damn about what the EU thinks about the death penalty. If a member of the EU still had the death penalty, then the EU still wouldn't be able to hold an "anti-death penalty" day because that member would just veto it. All this event does is waste money and make the EU feel morally superior to those nations which have the death penalty. I can't say I'm upset with Poland's descision considering that I'm pro-death penalty (if not their reasoning as I'm pro-choice in abortion and euthanasia, thus I'm logically consistent like comment #1 demands :) ).

jack Straw's position sounds so reasonable: If you don't like our way then do it your own way in private. However, it also sounds very similar to the argument that if one doesn't like Microsoft then one should buy Apple (or get Linux free).

Mark Mardell (partially) exposed the catch with the Microsoft position: Unfair practices make alternatives (for various reasons) difficult to use in daily practice.

The Newsnight (website) article "Crusades and Jihads in Postcolonial Times" exposes the parallel catch in Jack Straw's argument: Again "we" are the good and wise -so the "others" just have to fit in with us.

However, why can't we respect life in all its forms? Would that be because if we did it would become too threatening to the highly commercialised way we live? Perhaps we would have to contemplate the suffering caused by western lifestyles in less fortunate places -as well as what we do to ourselves. Of course Poland's attitude is politically and religiously motivated -but then so is Straw's position. Secularism is a "religion" too -which has its belief system and its morality -just like any other system. One cannot logically equate secularism with "rational" and "religion" with myth and foolishness. The "personal" is also not so easilly isolated from the "social" context in which it must operate.

I'd agree that an American style polarized politicization of morality is perhaps not the best way. However, politics seems to be the art of offering bad choices -so people will be forced to choose the (less-evil) one that you want them to choose. Surely, there are better ways of resolving differences.

In fact, as Dr S Sayyid suggests in his article, isolating the "others" point of view is only likely to make them even more radical and agressive.

I'm sure that Britian would have less of a security problem -if it had more respect for the positions of others, even its opponents.

Perhaps "diplomacy" is opposed to "politics".

  • 39.
  • At 07:33 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Matthew[#4] asks:
Death isnt a pleasant thing to talk about so why should the Polish Government waste their time?

It doesn't; it wants to talk about LIFE. Read Mark's piece again.

  • 40.
  • At 07:47 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Igor wrote:


You say there is no choice other than believing in the sanctity of life or believing this is flexible; yet your argument has a flaw - the death penalty kills actual persons, while abortion of a fetus prior to viability "kills" unborn,unconscious and dependent organisms, which can in no (rational) way be considered a person in their own right.

  • 41.
  • At 08:24 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • john newson wrote:

Oh it's all about abortion (apparently now to be lumped in with euthanasia) is it? Well, looked at from the point of view of bodily integrity, which is something vastly deeper than the concept of national integrity that so inflames politicians, foetal rights have as much value as fingernail rights. They belong to the body that owns and wholly envelops them. Ditto with euthanasia and personal death rights. The word 'rights' is a nonsense anyway - please look at the example of the man under a falling tree and consider him exercising his 'right to life'. There are no rights; only circumstances. This is why Poland is being obstructionist, and all for a mediaeval superstition. I will admit to disappointment. One had hoped for far more from Poland as a partner in the all-important EU. This has hardly been the only example of such cross-grained public behaviour from the Polish political 'establishment'.

  • 42.
  • At 08:33 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Szymon wrote:

The funny thing is that 90% of Poles define themselves as Catholic and yet the Pope has always been a strong opponent of the death penalty.

  • 43.
  • At 08:45 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Nicolas wrote:

The plight of the Polish people continues. This time its not Nazis or Communists but their very own elected leaders who lead their country away from everything it has achieved within the last 15 years. As has been mentioned earlier, this goes unsupported by the educated classes and city-dwellers. How would you feel if a bunch of rednecks was to decide about you and the course the country you live in takes in the world?

Martin from post #2: I couldn't have said it better myself. Hear hear!

Outlaw Mike from post #7: don't overestimate the US's importance. We don't care that much. Europeans find themselves surrounded by all sorts of dodgy nations and cultures, ranging from Libya to Russia. Initiatives like these are predominantly meant to have an impact in the EU's neighbourhood. Get over yourself.

And let's not kid ourselves about this Polish government: they don't have any morals. They have created some sort of twisted conservative image for themselves so they could win over a crucial part of the Polish people in the general elections. This image, however, is artificial and merely meant as a façade to hide their self-enriching corrupt activities behind.
We ought to consider sanctioning them.

  • 45.
  • At 09:19 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Beau Etman wrote:

First I would like to say the Polish are making themselves look ridicolous in the EU, instead of having a more relaxed approach towards the EU, (they are the new kid on the block) they have been arguing and screaming injustice since they were invited. I am a Dutch national and I am very proud of the rights people in my country have, for example my family agreed that if one of us is going to be a vegetable by accident or ageing we would like to sleep instead of living like a plant. The Polish have the right to live in the 19th century but don't judge the hand that feeds you.

  • 46.
  • At 10:22 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Ana wrote:

I belive that no human has the right to take another's life. And defending criminals' lifes while allowing to kill innocent is just a bit sick. I don't support either. And having a day against death penalty or against all violation to the right to live won't change a thing. I can just say as kris "Bravo Poles for fighting with culture of death" I hope that there is a way to win it...

  • 47.
  • At 10:40 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Matthew Kettle, London wrote:

I feel Poland's stance on this matter is representative of the mistake made by relentlessly expanding the European Union's borders. 15 member states was somehow tangible and the countries involved were all aware of eachother and had 'grown up' together. There was even a growing sense of a genuine European identity developing.

I am sure a lot of the Eurosceptics in all parts of Europe are rubbing their hands in glee at this impersonal and unwieldy group of countries that is now called the European Union.

Personally I consider the expansion into the former Eastern Block countries to be the biggest mistake ever made by the EU and feel it should have been decided by all the EU citizens in a referendum. This single issue was far more significant than any European Constitution could ever be. And it ultimately weakens the EU as a whole by adding fuel to the sceptics' arguments.

  • 48.
  • At 10:47 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Re: John Newson (30). Depends whether you understand "euthanasia" to mean "assisted suicide". If it means "mercy killing" of someone else, then the bodily integrity argument you so ambitiously outline doesn't really apply.

This applies to various other posts (e.g. point 2). If you object to the death penalty on the grounds that a person's inalienable rights are being violated by someone else, then you must object to euthanasia.

Personally, I find the argument concerning the unreliability of conviction the most compelling against the death penalty, and those concerning use of limited resources as the most compelling for euthanasia. However, these are both pragmatic arguments, and don't provide the foundations for a moral crusade.

  • 49.
  • At 11:03 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Igor {#40] wrote:


You say there is no choice other than believing in the sanctity of life or believing this is flexible; yet your argument has a flaw - the death penalty kills actual persons, while abortion of a fetus prior to viability "kills" unborn,unconscious and dependent organisms, which can in no (rational) way be considered a person in their own right."

I'm sorry, but even some ancient civilisations thought is was not a case.

Till this very day, if you're born in China you're officialy ONE YEAR OLD. Abort, if you wish, but don't deny irefutatble facts of life clearly established by modern medicine.
I hope you've noticed that more and more infants considered "unconcious and dependent" only few years ago survive premature births today.
Also a well documented fact.

With almost each passing year doctors and biologists push a viability stage backward [by consensus].

Perhaps that's why many abortion advocates consider Poles "backward people"?

  • 50.
  • At 12:14 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

Martin (2) is wrong. The unborn child doesn't have a choice. With abortion it just gets terminated without it being guilty of anything. Which makes abortion worse than the death penalty.

People get to choose over their own body, but not over that of someone else. An unborn child may be inside the mother's body, it is most definately NOT PART OF the mother's body.

Funny thing is how there are masses about seeking to keep the criminals alive yet gleefully supporting killing innocents. Methinks they have their priorities screwed up.

Maybe we should have a global referendum on the death penalty: do you think serial murderers should be executed YES or NO?

Methinks 'progressives' wouldn't support having such a referendum. And nit without good reason as all their precious 'rights' would be voted away. You see, western 'progressives' are moralizing and preaching about their 'values' (ie pro abortion, pro euthanasia, anti death penalty) all the time but fail to realize the rest of the world doesn't agree with them.

Matthew (47) has a point. Perhaps it is best to split the EU in west and east. But then again, this 'weakening' as he calls it, I welcome it. The weaker the EU, the stronger the memberstates. Perhaps the EU will even collapse. That would be time for a small celebration in my house.

  • 51.
  • At 12:22 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

This is typical of this government's approach of "you are either with or against us", there is no middle ground for them.
The government has made many failed attempts to introduce the death penalty here in Poland. I find their stance against euthanasia and abortion completely hyprocritical when faced with this information.
They are a pro death party and make no bones about it.

Their stance on abortion and euthanasis is merely a political tool and shame on those of you who really believe that they feel deeply about these issues.

The fact is in Poland, the badly educated and quite poor rural population supports these issues and these are the people PiS hope to have vote for them.
Most educated and urban Poles support the constitution and do not want the death penalty.
As Catholics they also firmly oppose abortion.

The under siege outgoing government in Poland has used this day to get media attention. The fact that they are the only country in the EU supporting the death penalty, makes them an even more attractive proposition for rural Polish voters.

This is a complete publicity stunt by Lech Kaczynski and its a real shame that more of you don't reallise this.

Some of you should visit the rural areas where this government gets its support.
If they could they would put homosexuals in prison. Non white foreigners would not be allowed into the country if they could do it legally.
Jews would be ejected from the country if they could do it.
This is not my opinion, this is fact. They openly have sided with the anti-semitic priest running Radio Maryja, who wants to rid Poland of its Jews.

Wake up and see these people for what they really are.
This government is pro death penalty, racist, anti-semitic and homophobic.

This is the same government which has openly boasted it will control the national media and destroy all independent media sources. It is trying to use anti-corruption laws to invent reasons to do this currently.

This is all in the name of the Fourth Polish Republic.
Does this ring any bells for those of you who are naive enough to believe their motives are honest?

  • 52.
  • At 12:35 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Johann wrote:

I will sorry for all Poles, to have such an conservative, stone-aged government, which is against development of the society. How can they be against euthanasia, abortion, but on the other hand promote death penalties for paedophiles?? How about murderers, could they then avoid being slaughtered by the government. This remind us that the polish government has absolutely nothing in common with rest of Europe in terms of value.

  • 53.
  • At 01:31 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Paul V. Greenall, Liverpool wrote:

This is just another example of the EU trying to make itself look important and relevant, whilst failing at both.

Jack Straw may well think it is right to hold a day against the death penalty, but has he or the EU any idea what the peoples’ views are on capital punishment?

Oh silly me, I forgot, the EU does not like to ask the people, in case they get the wrong answer.

As a life long advocate of the death penalty, I say well done Poland. Its great to see some countries have the courage to tell these pompous EU twits where to go. Hopefully, the UK will do the same one day.

  • 54.
  • At 01:34 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Alex Wendt wrote:

A difference between something private and public is very thin. Poor bandits, paedophiles and murders...they're lucky because they are born and can profit from such a ban. But nobody is really interested what feels such an innocent foetus, which parents decided about killing it. So the fact if you live or not, and if your death is a public or personal matter, depends on what phase of your life you are in. If you are a small innocent foetus - your death is a private matter. If you are an adult, guilty man - we are able to defend you.

Viva la EU-hypocrisie!

  • 55.
  • At 01:35 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Why did not have a day against "all violations of the human right to life"?
Wouldn't it make some countries in EU look really bad? Perhaps those which now criticize Poland the most?
So why do We, EU citizens really need this day?

We send our national sport teams to China's Olympics knowing how the human rights are violated there.
We trade with US while they have lied about the Iraq and the unjust war is raging all over.
What did we do about Darfur?

We've just needed that day to feel better, civilized, haven't We?

  • 56.
  • At 01:59 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Stan wrote:

Old Europe is sick. I hope that the New Europe will not get infected with the moral cancer which sooner rather than latter will destroy the fabrics of the Western European society.
Good on you Poles.
All the best from Aussie land.

  • 57.
  • At 02:09 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Maggi Stephenson wrote:

Bart (post #36),I agree with you totally.

To all the arrogant ones that say they don't want Poland in the EU,
I can only reply that not all Poles
want to be among the likes of you.

It is not all about money(or have you
yet to learn this).

There is such a thing as nobility and
protecting life sure is a part of it.

As for Mark Mardell:I wonder what kind of beef you have with Poland ?
Most of your articles involving Poland begin with saing something positive about it only to finish with rubishing it.
Is it because Poland is really a fascinating teritory with really
"switched on"people?

I wonder if you have the guts to post my comment.
Not a fan.

  • 58.
  • At 02:25 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Alexei wrote:

Looks like most Pols would be quite comfortable mid-westerners and members of the religious right. They will of course be part of the past.

Western civilization is about freedom of choice, it is pointless to talk about preservation of LIFE, DEATH is part of LIFE and can create better life. Abortion and euthanasia should be available, and it should be up to an individual to decide.

Jack is right.

As for abortion: by some people's logic it would be illegal for a woman to refuse unwanted sex, since it would kill unborn life. It could be true, though shocking for us, if that was the last woman on Earth.. Religion should be practical and should not be applied universally.

  • 59.
  • At 02:25 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Federica wrote:

Yes, it is very nice to be uncompromisingly pro-life - except that, if abortion were to made illegal, the number of aborted foetuses would certainly not diminish and, in fact, more people would die through lack of medical control over a practice that would continue just as before, only illegally. Whereas abolishing the death penalty is a certain way to make sure that a few lives are saved. So, once you strip away the moral gloss, which stance is more pro-life? (Of course if abortion was illegal there would be no statistics about its real incidence, and therefore our morally righteous friends could pretend that it was not happening, just as they have done over the course of centuries).
On a less argumentative note, I find it quite wrong to mix these two issues. Whatever your opinion on abortion, it is not a good excuse to stop supporting a worthy - and totally unrelated - cause such as the abolition of the death penalty.

  • 60.
  • At 02:35 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Jelle wrote:

You know what I find funny?
-A number of people (probably all Americans) declare their support for Poland. Because they hate Europe, abortion or euthanasia or just love executing criminals.
Some Polish posters make a good case against their government's stance on these issues. It seems they don't need the help of outsiders to run their country, and Kaczynkie is just another politician.

-Some people (Americans I guess) think a day against death penalty is an attack on their own country. I think most of the Europeans will not percieve it as such. But as a reminder against tyranny and how people throughout the world are suffering under their system of 'law'. Nobody is under the assumption the Chinese will think "gosh, you're right. We're sorry". If they do, it's very welcome. And even if the chance were small it'd be great if it saved a few people from execution. But these people are only expressing their principal values.

-Opponents of abortion and euthanasia generally favor death penalty. Opponents of death penalty generally favor abortion and euthanasia. Let's just stop calling eachother hypocrits since we're all equal hypocrits and each of it justifies one 'evil' in his own words and deplores the other 'evil' in the next sentence. Keep it to yourself, and be wholesome. Throw it in another's face and you're a lying snake.

  • 61.
  • At 02:36 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Marko wrote:

Oh, poor poor western europe you were so in tune before we - stupid and agressive eastern europeans came in..I really pity you..There were no problems in EU before we came, everyone agreed on everything and everyone was so happy..people understood what EU was about, everything was so transparent, money was sensibly spent and there was not even one member state who would ever object to anything Commission would come up with..With us, you lost your European day against death penalty and nervs because we dont agree immediately on reforms which your own people later reject on referendums anyway...we also gave you nothing and all we want is that you give, give, give...You already told us once to shut up, but we still behave like we have mind of our time you should take in some slaves not slavs, they are more obidient and never object...

  • 62.
  • At 02:57 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Bojkov wrote:

The Poles are trying bravely to reverse the tide.

"Secular humanism", feminism, ethic relativism and 100,000 other "isms" and social-democtrat "novelties" in social engineering have resulted in a "present tense" culture and self-centred, infantilised, consuming individuals. Everything is disposable: families, kids, spouses, fetuses, parents, traditional family model.

The handling of decision-making on the issue by top "progressive" bureaucrats/politicians is typical, and just another proof that the EU is a top-down project. If a nanny state can give a citizen everything, it can take away from him/her anything.

  • 63.
  • At 03:19 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I love the comment #33, Go MATT GO!
You are one of the few Poles with balls on this blog.
I hate to hear every time from all the rest of you that Poles do not fit in to the “Old Boys Club” of chosen 15 and that UE hand feeds us. Wake up dudes, look pass that , your OLD Club have so many more problems then worrying about Poles and their views.
Look where your overblown liberalism and let everybody do what they want attitude brought you?
Are you calling yourselves tolerant and open minded ?!
The situation resembles your response to minorities groups in your free western countries.
First you create liberal immigration laws on the pretence of humanity and then you realize that you shot yourself in the foot.

  • 64.
  • At 03:28 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • David Bannen wrote:

Excuse me but why is my money (and as a Brit it is my money) being wasted on this pointless protest. I'd rather save the money and add it to our next rebate.

  • 65.
  • At 03:34 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • B Selman wrote:

To Nicolas : quite the opposite - it is only in the last 15 years that the Polish people have been able to determine for themselves their destiny.
Subsequent to the Nazis and the Communists, it is now the Eoroliberals that are trying to force their views onto Poland, and to override the stance of its democratically elected government.

  • 66.
  • At 03:36 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Sebastian wrote:

Lets put away all this stuff about abortion and focus on the matter of celebrating no death penalty - for me this sounds at least funny - what we are suppose to do that day? Hung like bats???
I cannot believe EU came up with idea like this.

Well done Poland!

  • 67.
  • At 04:05 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Matt Nalecz wrote:

To number #47 Matthew Kettle:

Dear Sir,

Poland has been an established state in the heart of Europe since 966. You condesending attitude and total ignorance of European history are intersting qualities for a person who considers himself to be a "good european".

So it was these "established" western countries such as England, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany that gave the world centuries of colonization, the slave trade, cultural destruction and robbery, rape and the spread of disease in Latin America, the opiume trade in China, the utter destruction of Africa, which has retarted that continents development to this day. Yes, something to be very proud of.

I can say that Poland - as an obviously inferior state - could not live up to that type of glorious history.

  • 68.
  • At 04:05 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Scamp wrote:

If there was a referendum in the UK on the death penalty I'm reasonably sure there would be a majority in favour of bringing it back for certain crimes.

If there was a referendum on abortions and euthenasia the majority of Brits would vote for leaving it up to the people concerned and tell the Govt to keep it's nose out.

If there was a referendum on the new constitutional treaty then I'm also absolutely sure the Govt would loose that as well.

If there was a referendum on remaining as EU members I think there's also a reasonable chance the Govt would loose that as well.

So - we shouldn't be surprised the Govt never seeks our opinion on these issues.

  • 69.
  • At 04:27 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Yuri wrote:

Being against death penalty while supporting abortions and euthanasia is not at all as illogical as some of the comments below try to present. With regards to abortions, one has to balance the rights of the mother and the rights of the foetus. The outcome depends very much on your religious views and is by no means obvious. Do foetuses have rights at all? Do those rights amount to the right to life (that is, when does “life” actually start)? The Pope (and the Poles) will have one set of answers to these questions. People of other persuasions may beg to differ. As to euthanasia, as long as it’s performed voluntarily it cannot possibly violate the right to life (no more than suicide, you know), whereas keeping people alive against their will and making them suffer unbearable pains and emotional distress in the process can. So, it’s particularly cynical that the Poles use the language of human rights on this occasion while in reality they are motivated not by human rights by the rampant Catholic orthodoxy and bigotry that reign supreme in that country.

  • 70.
  • At 04:38 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Poland has the highest prison population in Europe over 90 thousand. Of which there is only a miniscule 900 plus murderers. Of those about 90 per cent are murders committed by people who knew each other. They do not have the level of gratuitous killing that you find say in the UK or for that matter the USA. If Poland is anti death penalty it's most likely only parroting the Churches anti abortion theories. After all the government is led by the church, as are most Poles. Poles must ask themselves, why if the church is so right, why doesn't the rest of the world follow? It doesn't and it won't, the church should abide by spiritual matters and not get involved in politics.

  • 71.
  • At 04:43 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

There is another subtle angle to the debate above and beyond the Poles wish to extend this to cover issues of euthanasia and abortion in that President Kaczynski spoke at the beginning of the year about relaunching the debate on the death penalty. The Poles may not have it at the moment but it is not so clear the ruling regime supports that approach.

I feel it is a little misguided that some of the comments claim there is no point to the day simply because no member state has the death penalty - an agreement certainly would not have been possible if any of the member states did. The purpose is to highlight the common European values we share, and to show solidarity with others across the world who oppose the death penalty, especially where it is not abolished. After all, the proposed date for the day has already been denominated World Day against the Death Penalty since 2003.

There is some irony, therefore, in the fact that such a seemingly easy win has fallen foul of internal disruptions, and that in turn has created far more publicity than it would otherwise have been able to attract.

  • 72.
  • At 04:43 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Siudol wrote:

I know it is off the topic but ..

Beau Etman from the Netherlands, If you are proud of the rights of the people in your country I couldn't be happier for you. However, spare me the condescending and patronizing statements such as “The Polish have the right to live in the 19th century but don't judge the hand that feeds you”. Your passing a judgment of this sort on people who have different views from yours is just moral snobbery.

The comment “...the hand that feeds you” is simply insulting. The historical ignorance of people like you is simply pitiful. Before you throw the difference in the standard of living between the West and the East into the discussion let me just remind you that it was the West that sold Poland and the rest of Central Europe out to the 50 year long life in shackles and poverty under the Soviets. If anything, it is the West (and that includes the Netherlands) that has now a moral obligation to redress the injustice it created by its spinelessness in Yalta.

By the way, to all those who say “If Poles don't like it in the EU they should leave”. Why should we? Is it because we dare to say what we think? If you don't like it when someone in your neighbourhood has a different opinion from yours, why don't you leave?

  • 73.
  • At 04:56 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

This argument shows yet again the flaw in the EU insitence that all countries need to agree before something as pointless as a Day against the Death Penalty.

Those countries that want it should go ahead - any that don't can stay out. If the EU was really democratic more policies would be decided on this basis.

  • 74.
  • At 05:11 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Arno wrote:

The Poles, again. 26 against 1 again and again and again....

What does Europe have to do to turn back time and kick them out of EU?

  • 75.
  • At 05:21 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • john newson wrote:

A quick rejoinder to Mathew Kettle of London, is great having a unilateralist or a group exclusivist viewpoint when you're surrounded by the good 'ol British Channel and other bits of the Atlantic, or insulated by wealth from mishaps.

Imagine yourself instead in a small eastern European country - my adopted home is Slovenia - or any other continental country. Any country in the Balkans would be a fine example. Your ideas about nationhood would then have to start from a different point of view than 'foreigners begin at Calais'.

If you will forgive this gross oversimplification of your standpoint, then you will also accept that the sea or geographical location is no longer a guarantee of territorial security.

As far as I can see that (for Britain and the rest of 'Old Europe') leaves politics and economic manoeuvres and general unremitting diplomatic persuasion as the sole viable working defences against wars of aggression - which means the EU, which has a long history of success in this area, eventually defusing rows and reconciling differences (such as a bolshy Poland) just by existing. Long may it grow.

  • 76.
  • At 06:00 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Pawel wrote:

I feel ashamed becouse of my Goverment (I'm Polish). Kaczynskis bring problems to Poland and all EUrope, hope not for long..

  • 77.
  • At 07:04 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Michal wrote:

I am Polish and I am proud of my government (at least on this issue). And I am not an uneducated redneck from the small village, but a Krakower with a PhD of the English university. Dividing Poland between "smart educated and LEFTIST" city-dwellers and stupid backward catholic country people as some commentators on this forum try to do is a myth.

  • 78.
  • At 07:24 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • jarek k. wrote:

good job Poles, it would be just another silly 'holiday'..

  • 79.
  • At 08:36 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Marcin Wiacek wrote:

Folks Please,
Pick up a world atlas, go on…, actually Google will also do...
A location in Poland most often agreed on, near the town of Torun (Yea that little know place where Copernicus worked and lived) contains the Geographical Center of Europe. Some of you, get it to your thick heads once and for all: There is NO Europe w/o Poland... END OF STORY. The sooner you learn to live with that fact, the better for you... EU w/o Poland is like Italy w/o Rome… Poland, for Europe standards, is a large country, with relatively large population (~40M, would have been ~60M if not for WWII). EU did not do Poland a big favor to invite it at all; it is more like the other way around...
Thanks for your time, Marcin

  • 80.
  • At 09:19 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Radu wrote:

In regard to an European day against death penalty, as long as the Poles themselves agree with the topic, why wouldn't Poland go merrily along with the farce of the day? What would it stand to loose if it does?

If the Poland government feels strongly enough about banning euthanasia and abortion across Europe, and they have the guts, they should take it out to EU. I doubt they have it - instead they're the self-designated clown, who's spoiling the chances of its own future initiative by antagonizing its partners, for some immediate internal political gain.

As players on an international stage, I find their performcance pitiful and short-sighted!

  • 81.
  • At 09:43 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Scott wrote:

You can argue about abortion till everyone is blue in the face - and it's an emotive issue so people do - there is no answer to question of does life begin at conception, birth or some fuzzy point in between. The key point here though is that the EU countries work together on what they agree on and not on what they don't. And the problem is that one country, Poland, is stopping the EU promoting a policy they all agree on, to push its views on something they they don't - If countries did this all the time - nothing would every happen.

  • 82.
  • At 11:11 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • S Britton wrote:

Re: number 79

Without Poland there is indeed no Europe. However, without Poland the European Union can get along very nicely thank you, as it does without Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Belarus, Ukraine, Vatican City State, Moldova, and Russia. So if the Polish Government don't like the EU, they can always join the EEA, or EFTA or go it alone. The rest of the EU really wouldn't miss Poland. Or spending its money there.

  • 83.
  • At 11:54 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Amuro wrote:

I think both Jack and the Polish government are right. Yes its pointless, but no death penalty isn't comparable to euthanasia/abortion which are private matters.

Anyway what I'm personally wondering though is how many people here are agreeing with the Polish government for the sake of disagreeing with the majority of the EU.

Also I like to point out to post #33. that both sides of abortion and euthanasia debate can be really stubborn about their views. Saying that trying to convince pro side is like talking to a wall is quite hypocritical because the opposite is also true.

Furthermore to all the Eastern Europeans here preaching about the "Western Betrayal" I like to point out that only France, U.K. and U.S. should be blamed the other western countries have little say in the matter.

  • 84.
  • At 11:55 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Dariusz.Rak wrote:

Why do EU officials think they are right and must show to all 'barbarian' countries (as 38 US-states, as Japan, as South Korea, as Taiwan, as Singapur etc.)
that they should remove the capital punishment for murderers and stop be 'barabarians' ?

In USA during 20 years long proccess of re-establishing the death penalty in 38 states, there was decreasing index of homicide. After about 20 years the index appeared as nearly 2 times lower then in 1981.

Yes, I know, every leftist ideologist says that there is not ... any correlation between rigorous punishment and dettering from crime.
Why are there still rigorous punishment for some offence in the penal statue-book ?
Why have Japan homicide index and crimes index got lower level then EU indexes ? There are similiar conditions in the countries: long nations history, no 'wild' capitalism, no culture mixing in nations.

The topic about 'the ducks' and foe propaganda against Kaczynski's government is an another story.

It's sad to see that there is the one (politicall correct) EU way of thinking and the one way of EU propaganda doing. It remains me the soviet times with the one (only legitimated) way of thinking.

Do you know that 80% of Polish mass-media still crticizes the Kaczynski's government ?
It's long history about the influence on politics making by post-communist secret service functionaries. The Red Mafia which entwined the politicians, the business and the media.
In 1992 there was the first try of destroying the bad influence on politics. Now, there is the more effective try. It's not the end it's a proccess.

  • 85.
  • At 01:04 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ziggy wrote:

1) Why do we need a day of celebration for something which we do not do anyway? That is just stupid and wasts $$.

2) Since when EU makes moral choices for member states? I was under impresion that EU was economic and political union not MORALITY enforcer.

3) Why everytime Poland is Oposing something whole Western Europe wants it out of EU? You call that democracy? Till now Poland veto only EU-Russian energy pact (and if we would not EU would sold us out). And this stupid celebration. We did not veto your new constitution even when we were the bigest loosers with it. How come France or UK are not the eveil ones? France veto more stuff than Poland. And UK dose not need to veto anything becouse EU never makes any rules that UK is oposing. They give UK always some compromise which gov. can sell to Brits.

  • 86.
  • At 02:34 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

There is something viscerally pleasing about a criminal who committed heinous murders being executed. Perhaps it's the certainty that he or she will never have an opportunity to do it again or maybe it's just the closure. It's society's way of saying the world will be better off if you don't exist. Prehaps executions will deter at least some would be murderers, perhaps they won't but it's nice to think that they just might, nobody really knows one way or the other for sure no matter what some sociologists say.

Europe, you have some people in prison who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered two little girls I think in Belgium and while they may not have a high quality of life in prison, they will have some life, life they denied to those little girls. It's something you will all have to live with as long as they are alive. I'm glad I don't have to, had they done it here, they'd be on death row right now if they hadn't been executed already. BTW, even in states where there is no death penalty on the books, prisoners have their own code of justice and would execute them for society if the law in a particular state doesn't allow for it. Americans find a way of getting the job way or another.

  • 87.
  • At 03:01 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Richard, Hertfordshire wrote:

Maybe S Britton needs to learn some simple economics and stop being so myopic. EU expansion ultimately drives ALL EU economies. Yes there will be huge grants going to the new ascension countries, but in the long run, we all benefit, especially those EU based companies using better road networks. We must not forget these are the same companies that we in the west invest in, the same ones that supply our products, the same ones who employ us.

On the subject itself, why shouldn't Poland disagree? Or should the EU just be a a nodding dog club?

Debate is fundamental to a democratic society; sometimes it means we won't all agree. And when that happens we must all respect each others motivations so we don't make the same mistakes of history.

  • 88.
  • At 06:43 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Liz wrote:

The Polish people are correct on their stance about Euthanasia and Abortion. But those are seperate issues that should be taken up with the EU at a DIFFERENT time. The "issue" at hand was the celebration of the abolishment of the death penalty, and Poland should not have dissallowed it based on unrelated concepts. I think Poland has been pushing its power within the EU, and should compromise and allow its culture to absorb EU policies and attitudes and NOT keep veto-ing everything "just because they can".

As for Poland and the EU - well, Poland needs the EU and the opposite is true as well. Still, that doesn't mean that Poland should make herself the boss and push its will upon the other 20-some countries.

  • 89.
  • At 07:07 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Igor wrote:

Re: Mirek no. 49

"I'm sorry, but even some ancient civilisations thought is was not a case.

Till this very day, if you're born in China you're officialy ONE YEAR OLD."

The reason for this is that the Chinese never got around to really using the concept of zero as a starting point and has nothing to do with what you are implying (which I suppose is that the Chinese count gestation into a persons life).
As far as viability is concerned, it is indeed an artificial limit prone to change; that's why the only clearly defined and indeed widely used limit (check your passport) is your birth, ie the moment that you become a separate being and begin the process of socialization and interaction with the world around you and that is why abortion is not killing - you can hardly kill something which has never fully lived.

  • 90.
  • At 07:48 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"The fact that they are the only country in the EU supporting the death penalty, makes them an even more attractive proposition for rural Polish voters."

I'm by no means Kaczynski Bros., enthusiast and, as political analyst I don't take sides, but I haven't noticed Law and Justice Party runing for a reelection on the platform of restoring death penalty, let alone throwing out Jews and punishing homosexualism. There is a small, gingoistic party in Poland (LPR) which could be accused of being sympathetic to such moves, but it's been marginalized and it's almost universally resented.

Nota bene, this debate is not about this or that Polish party being hypocritical, etc., but about a merit
of protecting life in all circumstances versus taking it away in some. Try and address the topic.

BTW. I've noticed that nobody so far have pointed out to an issue of defence wars (or even pre-emptive strikes), which most people would justify, but which clearly involve killing people, sometimes in very nasty ways.

  • 91.
  • At 08:01 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"A number of people (probably all Americans) declare their support for Poland. Because they hate Europe, abortion or euthanasia or just love executing criminals." [#60]

Or, perhaps, just because they think that protecting unrealized life full of wonderful potential has more value than protecting life verifiably
(court evidence) wasted?

Because I don't like to think that they do that simply because they don't hate Americans as much as you do. :-)

  • 92.
  • At 08:42 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

At 05:11 PM on 19 Sep 2007, Arno wrote:
The Poles, again. 26 against 1 again and again and again....

What does Europe have to do to turn back time and kick them out of EU?

Support putinesqe Russia's policies and its president's attempts to restore Soviet Union.

That would probably do the trick.

BTW. It would work as well vis a vis Bulgaria, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia and similar assorted, unsavory EU members, for 50 years enslaved thanks to to enlightened Old Europe's cowardiss.

  • 93.
  • At 10:01 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Lucas wrote:

Poland shows once again that it is the Texas of Europe. In some cases it is good that they weaken the German/British/French monopoly on power but usually they do it for all the wrong reasons.

Opposition to abortion is not as much a question of conscience as Straw put it but a question of ignorance. Late term abortion - when the fetus starts having relevant human features - is severely limited in Europe and is generally only allowed when there a risk of the mother dying. The vast majority of abortions are of early stage embryos - blastocysts which are just a bunch of cells. And the 'potential human being' argument is one of ignorance. Almost every cell in your body is a potential human being. Every time you scratch your nose, you have committed a Holocaust of potential human beings.

Still, they shouldn't waste time on "the death penalty day". Not because of some irrational religious agenda but simply because it is a pointless waste of money.

  • 94.
  • At 10:25 AM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jan Szaławiła wrote:

The Polish govt. is right on the issue. There should be a European day against all forms of killing of all people, not just the hard-core murderers and such, if anything. In addition, when at the same time some countries seem to facilitate killing innocent humans, the weak or the unborn, it makes a very bad impression. I, too, would not subscribe to the policy of protection of the dangerous murderers while making it easier to kill the weak and innocent. All human life should be protected, unless Europe goes back to its nazi past when some humans were officially not-quite-humans and it was legal to kill them.

Erm, sorry -but I a little confused.....

Were we not told earlier (by the great world leader Bush himself) that we should welcome Poland as part of the "new" Europe -which represented the way forward much better than backward "old" Europe?

So why are we currently hearing that Poland is an old fashioned, "backward", country that (like Britain?) should leave the EU?

Is "old" Europe really more progressive than "new" Europe? Should PIP and UKIP join forces (PUKIP?) -uniting "old" and "new" in a revolutionary (or is it reactionary) walk out?

Or is Bush right -and "new" Europe really is the only way forward left..... but then towards what exactly?

Pleae help!

"Lost in Cyberspace"
Planet Earth (Perhape)

  • 96.
  • At 04:31 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Marcin Wiacek wrote:

RE #82
I'm a polak married to a polka living in Canada, and I'm a happy/proud Liberal. I hate my dad's love for Bush and conservatives in general (most polaks >45y are conservative RCs and Bush Lovers, but in 15-20 years no one will remember that). However I have to disagree with you on your uneducated view that EU could afford not to include Poland. The fact of the matter is that with the exception of Russia, countries that you listed (I wish them well), putting it plainly, are simply not strategically and immediately relevant to the future and well being of EU as Poland is, and always will be. Please read some thing, anything, other that just angry western press. Poland was and always will be The Crossroads of Europe. We have paid dearly for that in the past. Now comes time to benefit from what just 70 years ago was considered unfortunate bad luck. I have no time for the current Polish government and the one that will replace it. What I do know, is that Poland brings new blood to EU, and new blood is always good, even though short term, it may not seem like that. In time Poland will mellow, and change to match the west in its ways of self indulgence.
Western Europe should be for ever grateful to Poland for stopping the Bolshevism from spreading to the west, nice when some one does your dirty work for you.

  • 97.
  • At 06:29 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Michal Necasek wrote:

Don't be so hard on the Poles. History has been hard enough on them.

It is clear from reading many Polish posters' views that they are suffering from a national inferiority complex. They have enemies in the East (Russia) and in the West (Germany). No one has ever helped them. They feel they have been denied national greatness that they richly deserve. They proudly point out examples of centuries old Polish achievements because... well, probably they have nothing more recent to point to.

Poles can't trust any of their neighbours, they have to fight for their own interests because no one else will do that for them. Who cares if they lose a few friends or make some enemies in the process.

Americans are Poland's best friends, and it's clear why. They never attacked or betrayed Poland. Never mind this might in large part be because most Americans couldn't find Poland on the map if their life depended on it.

Some nations are trying to get away from petty 19-century nationalism and look into the bright, if a bit too warm future... others haven't gotten that far yet. They will, eventually.

  • 98.
  • At 07:42 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • carlo wrote:

I enjoy very much that Polland, regardless of the items they are submitting, are breaking without any fear and any inferiority complex the dictats and the pressions are coming from EU. Tired to listen that we must adjust to this or that policy of the EU in matters that do not belong to the politics and not even to the democracy like morals and life related decisions. People who are promoving abortion and euthanasia and homosexuality are the ideal MPs of EU parliament but Mr. Buttiglione who is respecting all this kind of persons but he has said what is the best for the society has been expelled from the parliament. If there is a meter to say what is right and what is wrong in the EU means that there are some teachers and guides who are defining this meter. Who are these teachers and these guides? What is their qualification? What do they know about the reallity of man? They are preaching Human Rights but of which Humans? Death penalty is given today in such a way that they may not suffer too much . Have you ever seen any video of how a baby is killed during an abortion surgery? The bigger mined field in the world are the womb of the mothers were not millions but billions of humans are mutilated and killed. It seems that to be faithful to Europe we must follow as ducks and sheeps all the liberties of Holland and Belgium. They are always very careful not to be seconds in introducing the laws who are against the nature of man the last the tolerance of pedophilia. They are the guides and teacher of Europe. And curiouse thing the EU parliament is situated in Bruxelles. Everyday the fighting is increasing between the teachers of Bruxelles and the teachers of Rome. thanks Polland that is using the same weapons of Bruxelles in this fight. Rome will never surrender but She cannot compell anybody with any law. The only consolation is to know by sure that She is preserving what is the good for the Human Kind

  • 99.
  • At 09:51 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

I would like to address the points made in posts 77 and 90.

Simply this day was blocked by the Polish government to create publicity for their election campaign. There was no other reason.

I am referring to the unconditional support given to Father Tadeusz Rydzyk by the J. Kaczynski, after there were calls for him to be replaced a senior Polish Cardinal and friend of Pope John Paul II. There is no Pole who can deny Rydzyk is anti-semitic. racist or indeed homophobic. I also refer to the offical policy of PiS (the ruling party), that homosexuality is a disease.

To the poster #77. You need to study the demographic facts. PiS, LPR and other extreme parties have the majority of their support from the rural population.
All major cities in Poland, with the exception of Krakow do not support PiS. I invite you to check the results of the last election. Most Poles view themselves as being right of centre.

I am a Conservative with many conservative friends. For me PiS gives responsible, conservative democrats like myself a bad name.

To support my claim that the free media is being suppressed by this government.

The leading journalist Tomasz Lis was fired from the independent TV station Polsat yesterday. He was openly critical of PiS and has been replaced with a jornalist who is known for her sympathy for the government. This is the result of extreme political pressure on the owner of this station.

This leaves only one free and indendent TV stattion in Poland.

For me these issues are more important than wasting tax payers money celebrating anti death penalty day.

  • 100.
  • At 11:17 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Re #82
and just to corroborate your point:

"As far as we are concerned," a Putin advisor teased the editorial staff at Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland's most prestigious dailies, "Warsaw is just the third stop on the Moscow to Berlin railway." [BBC]

  • 101.
  • At 11:18 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Simon B. wrote:

Why the Poles are wrong at two levels:

1: Even if they were right on the principal argument, why is it that individual cases cannot be discussed in isolation? By their token, a conference to stop the war in the Congo should never be held - instead if there were to be a conference it should be about abolishing wars in general (a worthy proposition, but ...).

2:On the arguements themselves - there is a fundamental difference between the two issues. The death penalty is decided by organised society (expressed by the state), whereas the other two are decided by persons directly concerned (a mother, or someone wishing to die). Debating how a state should behave itself (through laws) is a different issue from deciding what restrictions the state should impose on individuals (I am not saying that the state should not impose on individuals - murder or theft is illegal - but that the decision is of a different nature).

I have of course my views on euthanasia and abortion but this is not the question - the question is whether the Poles are justified in opposing such a conference on the grounds that they do. I think Jack Straw is right.

PS: And, by the way, euthanasia is not about killing old people. It is about giving people the right to end their life in strictly circumscribed situations.

  • 102.
  • At 11:27 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Excuse me, this is to corroborate the point made in #96 {# correction]

"As far as we are concerned," a Putin advisor teased the editorial staff at Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland's most prestigious dailies, "Warsaw is just the third stop on the Moscow to Berlin railway."

  • 103.
  • At 11:38 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"Americans are Poland's best friends, and it's clear why. They never attacked or betrayed Poland. Never mind this might in large part be because most Americans couldn't find Poland on the map if their life depended on it." [#97]

Americans can find Poland on the map
[that's where a part of Nazi Germany used to be], at least FDR could when he helped Stalin and Churchil to sell that country to the Soviets at Yalta.
Poles DO remember that, and yet they trust Americans more than "Old Europeans", perhaps because they remember what kind of "help"they can historically count on from their neighbours, not to mention such "big military powers" like France. Moreover, they've also seen in a recent past that it took United States to stop massacres in Bosnia (heart of Europe!) when Old Europeans did nothing to prevent it.

So don't be surprised if Poles are cynical as to what kind of real help they can count on from EU if the push comes to shove.

  • 104.
  • At 11:55 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"The leading journalist Tomasz Lis was fired from the independent TV station Polsat yesterday. He was openly critical of PiS" [#99]

I'm sorry, but any journalist who cannot maintain even APPEARENCES of impartiality and is openly critical of something and is openly promoting something else is immediately taken off the air by any reputable and credible Western TV station.

It's happened in US (e.g. Dan Rather fired by CBS); it's just happened in Germany.

  • 105.
  • At 01:03 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Michal wrote:

John (post 99),

From what you say, I can see you are a Civic Platform (PO) supporter. You call yourself "responsible" conservative, but PO ceased to be a conservative party after departure of Jan Rokita (I could argue it never was). Now, PO is purely a liberal party, for which the public support will inevitably wane as the liberal party will never have high support in Poland. Moreover, they are clearly aiming for the coalition with the post-communists (LiD), which is the best deterrent for voters who value moral and ethic values. The real conservative-liberals (social conservative, economic liberals) support UPR, which in the forthcoming elections will be a part of a wider coalition called LPR (old LPR+UPR+PR). My hope is that after the polls, they will form a coalition government with PiS and continue the reforms of the current government; this time more vigorously as they will not have the baggage of the populist Self-Defence party, which hopefully will not reach the 5% vote threshold.

  • 106.
  • At 07:20 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

@ Mirek Kondracki (103):

Dan Rather wasn't fired because he criticized the government. He was fired because it was conclusively proven he deliberately tried to smear mr Bush by introduced documents that turned out to be forgeries.

  • 107.
  • At 04:18 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Well-done Poland...
Sky is the limit how hypocritical EU is in this matter.
By the way, there are many members that follow like little lambs behind big wolves, not having their own opinion.
People, please support good ideas, but stand up against stupidity.

  • 108.
  • At 11:52 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Mirek Kondracki (103):
Dan Rather wasn't fired because he criticized the government. He was fired because it was conclusively proven he deliberately tried to smear mr Bush by introduced documents that turned out to be forgeries.[#106]

Correct, except he did that within a framework of his long-time patently obvious campaign to denigrate Bush Administration and cause its defeat in 2004 election.

Just as "Newsweek" did when in an effort to do the same, it published completely unsubstantiated "evidence" that Gitmo guards had flushed copies of Quran down the toilet. The evidence, if you recall, "Newsweek" had to resenfully rectract.
[I turned out that Quran had been indeed flushed down the toilet, but by prisoners themselves, as a protest.]

Partisanship has no place in genuine journalistic reports.
If one can't help it, one should write a column instead, with the writer's political symphaties and affiliations clearly indentified.

  • 109.
  • At 03:15 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Oskar wrote:

In this one case, unusually, the Poles are in the right. Clearly saying that abortion and euthenasia are private matters is a political decision.

  • 110.
  • At 01:08 PM on 26 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

Is it just me or is anybody else puzzled by the reference to "destructive lifestyles"? What, exactly, is that meant to mean?

  • 111.
  • At 10:12 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Alistair Mitchell wrote:

It is not true that no other European country has the death penalty. Belarus still regularly makes use of capital punishment and Russia's "abolition" is tenuous in only taking the for a of a moratorium, which is technically due to expire in 3 years.
The total abolition of the death penalty is something which we should be proud of as Europeans. Killing your citizens is a primitive, brutal, ineffective and incredibly hypocritical act. How can you maintain your moral superiority over a murderer when your response is to murder him? An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. Thankfully the majority of us have progressed beyond such barbarity.

  • 112.
  • At 11:36 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Abortion and euthanasia are/ought to be private matters. The state should have no interest in these issues.

The death penalty - as are all elements of the justice system - is an issue that can only be sanctioned and executed by the state.

But why do all the bien pensants here assume that the 'European value' of abolishing the death penalty is a good thing? I'd gladly wager my £100 pounds to anyone's £10 that in a fair and open referedum, a majority of the British people would vote for the re-introduction of capital punishment.

But that, surely our betters would say, would be taking democracy too far....

  • 113.
  • At 11:08 AM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Gordon McStraun wrote:

#1 Mike.

It is perfectly consistent to support the death penalty and revile abortion.
In the first case you are killing the guilty, in the second case you are killing the innocent.

  • 114.
  • At 11:52 AM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

As an aetheist I believe in the individuals right of choice so will cop out of commenting directly on this issue.
But I will back the Poles for having the guts to stand up for what they believe in and annoying the EU.
I think it's called democracy, something that is clearly lacking in Europe at the moment.

  • 115.
  • At 12:21 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Nigel Baldwin wrote:

Irrespective of how many pieces of legislative lavatory paper many may wish to enact banning abortion, the disposal of unwanted pregnancies will still take place. Only then, it would be done either in back alleys illegally, or (for those who could afford it) abroad in a more liberal country. So, if abortion can't be made to disappear, it can at least be lessened through proper sex education.

As for the death penalty, it can be banished by statute from Europe. People convicted of murder but subsequently found innocent, such as Angela Cannings, have every right to thank God that it has been.

  • 116.
  • At 01:33 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Steve Marlborough wrote:

Jack Straw, and indeed, the Polish government are right on this issue. It is a waste of a day, and on fuel.

However, this does NOT MAKE the Polish government right on other issues. See comment 51.

I've lived in Poland for 7 years and read papers and watch tv in addition to working here. In my humble opinion, I think I know rather well the Polish mentality - that is, untrustful of the 'west' and its intentions. The country is divided into 2 camps: those with young, free, individualistic brains, and those who willingly swallow everything that TVP, Radio Maryja and the President throws at them.

Most of the young, free-thinking, pro-choice people have left(but some would like to come back as long as the ducks aren't in power) as the government basically shames Poland internationally. The others, who voted (almost entirely in Eastern Poland, or Poland B as they call it) are adherents to a Poland of chastity, obeyance to the Church on all matters, but at the same time support the death penalty. Please not e that Kaczynski had to play down his advocacy of the death penalty. The number of murders here is miniscule compared to Britain.

A lot of Poles, but NOT ALL I must state, are indeed anti-semitic, racist, deeply homophobic and deeply nationalistic, thinking that Poland is the best nation since sliced bread. It isn't..but it's still got morals, which is something that Britain is sadly lacking in. Family, children and culture are still vitally important here, and I support that. That's one good reason for living here.

Fortunately, I know that the youth of Poland are its future, and they care deeply about their country's reputation. I am sure that they can make proper decisions and help to make Poland a more tolerant country for gays and lesbians, people from foreign countries with darker skin, jews and those of other religious convictions.

  • 117.
  • At 01:35 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Angus wrote:

Hold on, has anybody clocked the fact that the Poles actually LOST this fight? They were able to scupper the thing at EU level - because the EU requires unaninimity - but the whole thing went ahead anyway under the auspices of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Europe's human rights watchdog, where only a majority was needed (46 to 1, as it happened). In fact, abolition in Europe is really down to this wider body: Russia, for example, suspended executions in 1996 in order to get into the Council of Europe. State killing is just as wrong in Moscow or Kiev or Tbilisi as it is in London or Paris.

  • 118.
  • At 01:53 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Olly wrote:

This is typical of the Poles. They still live in the past (hatred of the Germans etc).

  • 119.
  • At 02:00 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Does anyone find it strange that Catholic values are being held up as virtuous as 'a way of preserving life'?

Are we forgetting the fact that this is the same Catholic church that condoned 2000 years of regligious warfare in the name of Christendom and turned it's face from bigotry and genocide as well as holding back technological development of the modern world? Whose bishops and upper echelons walk in finery and robes which could feed nations?

Poland should be careful to choose which masts it nails it's colours to, they may find it becomes the wrong one. The Polish people are hard working and have a bright future, but if they want to set an example to the EU and the world and push Polands image as being superior they must take stock of the past, look to the future and bring something new to the table rather than recycling the rhetoric of the previous centuries. It's easy to veto other peoples ideas but it is much harder to visualise something original.

  • 120.
  • At 02:04 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • stanczyk wrote:

Abortion is *not* a private matter. It involves at least two persons. Except one doesn't have a chance to speak up and is traeted as a comodity, read blob.
Similarly with euthansia. I don't see the problem here at all. You can commit suicide any time you want (thought it is wrong) but why do you want to give doctors right to do it for you. I tell you that big insurence companies will one day use it against you. And it will fire back. One day you will see olders running away or being afraid to be brought to the hospitals because some things will be done againt their will. What kind of freedom is that?

Have a happy eugenics Europe !!

  • 121.
  • At 04:11 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Tom Baldyga wrote:

I believe Polands courageous stance on this issue brings to light the hypocracy among the so-called "socially enlightened" countries in the EU. The countries that make up the EU are overwhelming Christian in culture yet they see nothing wrong in violating every human beings right to life by allowing abortion and euthenasia to be socailly accceptable ways of dealing with the "inconvenience" of human life.
Poland knows full well how its neighbors have historically trampled over every human dignity regarding human life and they now have the backbone to challenge these arrogant powers.
Thank God there is still one sane country left in Europe!

  • 122.
  • At 04:34 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • A Good Thinker wrote:

This wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that the Soviet Union supported these 'other forms of death', e.g. abortion, and euthanasia that the Poles are so furious to do away with, would it??

So isn't any lasting, or even tacit support for these seen as aggravating by Poles who wish to put further ground between themselves and their Communist past??

Mind you, the Soviets had the death penalty too. No doubt many Polish freedom fighters were executed on the grounds of 'terrorism', or 'treason'...

  • 123.
  • At 05:12 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Will Stevenson wrote:

I can see many Poles' posts here, with words of critisizm towards their own country. I can't understand that. I reckon Poland has been brave enough to point out Western relative values and overwhelming political correctness. I would be proud of that. I'am against capital punishment myself, but the situation has become sth of a paradox here. Killing people in the prenatal stage of growth is believed to be a matter of "personal choise", excluded from public discussion, whereas capital punishment is regarded as violation of human rights. What human rights define circumstances that indicate whether you can kill a human or not?
I think Poland's respect for human's life should not be a subject of cynical remarks. I'm glad there is a country in Europe that wants to preserve high moral standards, not being afraid to say it out loud. Anyway, we all seemed to believe in those standards in the old days. Has it become a "personal choice" now?

  • 124.
  • At 05:29 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Dimitry wrote:

About comment no 20: Vincent! You did not understand Polish position on abortion: Poles are against abortion as well as their President Kaczynski.

  • 125.
  • At 07:12 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • C Green wrote:

Keeping a person alive who wants to die because s/he's suffering is not "respect for life", but simply inhuman. I am human. I support euthanasia. Because euthanasia is love.

Forcing a woman to keep a foetus she doesn't want is abhorrent. It is not "respect for life" but "hatred of women". Nobody hates women better than religious biggots, desperate to impose their intolerance on others for the sheer elation of power. I am a woman and an atheist. I support the right of women to decide over their own bodies. I deny the right of others to impose their views on my body.

Killing a person judicially is not only archaic but confuses penalty with crime. It also permits the killing of innocent people as history has showed us time and time again. I can understand the human urge to kill someone who has committed a horrible crime. I cannot understand how the State can kill in cold blood. I support without reservation the universal abolition of the death penalty.

  • 126.
  • At 12:36 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Aldo wrote:

Paradoxically "conservatives" incline to greater individual responsibility & lesser state intervention, EXCEPT for abortion, euthanasia, & judicial execution, matters for which their inclinations are reversed.

On the other hand, "liberals" incline to the opposite.

Seems Europe has learned from its bloody history.

  • 127.
  • At 05:58 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Dina wrote:

There are obviously two sides to this story, both valid. My question would be: What are the implicatons for the EU, if its members were split over this issue? In other words, why is it necessary for us to have concensus? Will failure to agree create subsequent problems or conflict? I'm sure the EU members don't agree on EVERYTHING. Do they HAVE TO AGREE on this point?

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