Professor Norman Kember, the Christian pacifist campaigner who was held captive in Iraq and released by the actions of our troops there, is apparently making a statement today on whether he and his two surviving colleagues will give evidence at the trial of their captors.
UPDATE: Kember's statement is reported here. In my interview I commented on the vanity that it displays. Professor Kember was notoriously tardy and graceless in thanking his rescuers, and the statement that he and his fellow hostages do not wish for any retribution on their captors is of a piece with that behaviour. The workings of a criminal justice system are not about Professor Kember, whose opinions are no more relevant to the sentence for a crime than are, say, those of a bereaved parent who demands vengeance against the murderer of a child. I am, as it happens, opposed in principle to the death penalty, even for a murderer of the standard of Saddam Hussein. But Professor Kember's conduct - if he does indeed decline to testify - amounts to obstruction of justice. In Christian tradition, there is a place for pacifist witness by the Amish and other denominations who interpret their calling as a personal vocation; Professor Kember's type of religious pacifism, which amounts to decrying the institutions of constitutional democracy while being the direct beneficiary of them, is worthy of no respect, however.
My following comment will appear ungracious (and I did not say it on air) but I reflect with satisfaction that it is Professor Kember and not I who has demeaned the quality of his debate. When you see a man in his mid-70s who combs his hair elaborately from the back to disguise his baldness, you cannot but draw an inference that his self-respect is not equal to his self-absorption. That quality, I feel, nicely exemplifies the public witness of the empty and strutting figure of Professor Norman Kember.