I watched Longford with Marie and the older kids last night. Highly recommended, but I wouldn’t let anybody under 14 watch it (disturbing theme). It’s about a devout and sincere Catholic’s efforts to get the notorious Myra Hindley paroled. The movie did a good job of presenting the problem–did Myra really repent? was her conversion to Catholicism sincere?–without trying to slant the answer.
As for me, I found Longford’s efforts on Myra’s behalf inappropriate. He had the right mental and spiritual framework: Hate the sin, love the sinner; no one is beyond redemption; judge not. But then he combined it with pride in himself and concluded that Myra’s conversion and repentance were sincere. He seemed to acknowledge that he didn’t really know for sure, but then he actively and publicly lobbied for her parole as if he were sure. In this, he was violating his own principle about judging others: he didn’t want others to judge her as the proper subject of continuing incarceration, but he was pretty comfortable judging her reformed. In this, I think he held his powers of persuasion and perception in terribly high regard, which distorted his approach to the monster Myra.
Much of his efforts to parole her centered around the fact that Britain on average paroled other murderers after only a few years (15 or so, but I can’t remember exactly). That could be, but Britain’s refusal to mete out justice to some murderers doesn’t mean it needs to ignore justice in the case of a serial murderer that molested and killed five youths. Based on the movie, that concept completely escaped Lord Longford.