Admiral Byng deserves better from THE NOVASCOTIAN

I was surprised to "Meet the real Edward Cornwallis" in The NovaScotian (11 March 2012). In his zeal to caste shame upon Edward Cornwallis, Jon Tattrie exploits the failure of a British fleet to relieve the garrison at Minorca and the subsequent "arrest and execution of Admiral John Byng". Voltaire portrayed the matter more brilliantly and far more accurately in his satirical novel, "Candide": The Admiral was shot "Because he did not put a sufficient number of his fellow creatures to death."

Admiral John Byng (and Edward Cornwallis) were caught in what we would now call a "catch-22". Incompetent superiors and politics were the true villains, and they needed a scapegoat to placate public hysteria. Having been found guilty for not wasting the lives of his men, Admiral Byng received the mandatory sentence of death.

Voltaire would not be surprised that we are still beset by the same old problems; public hysteria, politics, and mandatory sentencing.