Thou Shalt Not Kill

ramboBy A.B. Thomas

It is by no accident that man is the top of the food chain; we are the by far the most cunning, cruel and indiscriminate predators on the planet today. One of the globally accepted platitudes is that the taking of another person’s life is wrong, yet daily we observe the bending of this platitude to make the taking of life an exception. It would seem that if “WE” say that it’s alright to kill it is acceptable.  However if an individual decides to kill there will be consequences. Thankfully there is the legal system that allows the individual to hire lawyers in an attempt to excuse away the taking of a life or at least defer those consequences for an extended period of time. The question thus becomes, is the taking of another life truly a criminal act?

The sheer volume of death tolled out by the hands of others would seem to indicate that it is not in the majority of cases as long as there is a group dynamic that is seen to have legitimacy to the act. Yet this legitimacy is dependent on the perception of those around in order to maintain the nullification of the crime of taking another life. For instance, Canada’s soldiers would not be charged with murder unless it was one of their own, nor would the government of Canada be charged with “conspiracy to murder” though by sending troops to a country could be extrapolated as intent. The Western world recognizes the legitimacy of the Canadian government and as a result, if there is a loss of life on the ‘other side’ then it is unfortunate but necessary. However Hamas, though recognized by the Palestine people as legitimate, is not seen as so by Western nations. The result is they have been deemed in the West as terrorists who have no protection against prosecution if caught for their violent actions; though from their point of view, their soldiers are acting exactly as they are supposed to.

Despite the variances in point of view, soldiers could be called “Slayers” as they could like, hate, or be indifferent to taking another person’s life.  They feel bound by duty to follow the orders of those above them in rank. Slayers are not contingent on the whims of a legislative body; they can be utilized by sects, religious or cultural, to suit the group’s decisions of who has the right to live or not. Slayers exist because they are protected from prosecution not through the wording of laws, but the community they serve have decided that slayers have a purpose to extract justice when there is no other perceived recourse to under take.

The taking of another person’s life would appear to be that of a mob mentality point of view as to whether or not it is acceptable. It could also be concluded that the taking of another life is only universally seen as wrong when the decision to do so is made by an individual. The action of an individual is often seen as deviant behaviour though if they were acting as part of a group the action would be seen as having purpose. To this end there would be a branching out of the definition of taking another life from an individual perspective to “Killers” and “murderers”.

Killers are akin to the accepted slayers with a couple of shared character traits. Both see their actions as duty, whether they like, dislike or are indifferent to the actual individual whose life they have taken. Both see their actions as an extension of that duty to the exclusion of who the individual target may have or may have not done to incur the actions taken against them. The difference between killers and slayers is that in terms of slayers, there are a percentage of those who suffer mental and/or physical consequences because of their actions. Killers are able to rationalize all their actions and compartmentalize any doubts about their own actions in terms of the victim’s actions. They are methodical in their hunting, capturing, torturing (whether it be sexual, psychological, physical or a combination of the three) and killing their targets. Killers are optimum slayers only they are without the protection of others. If an individual is a killer and is caught, there is no ‘rehabilitation’ that will deter this person from seeing the crime as such. They may be shrewd enough to pull the wool over the eyes of their captors, convincing them they have changed their ways but in truth they have just altered their methodology in order to avoid capture once they are freed.

Murderers are the emotionally bound takers of life. It would be fair to say that the slayers that suffer from post traumatic syndrome, alcoholism or any other kind of abuse issues would consider themselves to be murderers rather than sanctioned killers. Murderers often act on impulse rather than assessing the situation that they are in. The types associated with the taking of another person’s life attributed to murderers are crimes of passion, vehicular manslaughter, acting under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic, stress, distress, or religious fervour. The emotional attachment could be horror at what they have done, joy at what they have done or attaching blame to another for their actions. The ‘rehabilitation’ of murderers will add ‘successes’ to the statistics of those who are doing the rehabilitation because the nature of the murderer is to be absolved of the behaviour that caused the act of taking another life. On the other side of the coin, it is murderers who will end up committing suicide because they cannot the resolve the conflict of their attitudes toward taking  a life  with the actual act of taking a life.

Is the taking of human life truly a crime? In broad terms it would seem that human life isn’t as sacred as society attempts to canonize it into being so. The wrongness of the action is only deemed as such when the uniqueness of individuality is the focus in the intent of the taking of life. The crimes of an individual though are further muddied by the legal system in order to excuse away the taking of life as not being truly wrong but errant thinking leading to unacceptable behaviour. The evidence of this are terms such as “not guilty by reason of insanity”, “Accidental manslaughter”, and the degrees of murder charges that most nations have to judge the criminality of the taking of another life. Mankind lives in a world of Utopian ideals and creates laws to reflect those Utopian ideals. Perhaps it is time to live up to those ideals; which would mean the charging of the governments and their armed forces for the crimes against humanity, doing away with the insanity plea and  with the different degrees of taking another life to one single definition. Perhaps it is time to admit that “All men are created equal” is nothing more than a tired line and amend it to “All men are created equal – as long as they have the numbers to ensure they are equal; those in the minority are royally screwed”. Fantasies of black and white while living in the shades of grey have convoluted society’s ability to function for the good of all, society so much wishes to deny the perchance of violence that attempts to make excuses for those acts of violence. We are predators; it is only by doing away with the excuses that we as a society will be able to move forward.