Monday, March 26, 2012

Whose Hand on the Trigger?

A man in France decided to murder seven innocent people in cold blood. Three of them were soldiers and two were children. It is widely reported that he shot an eight-year-old girl in the head at close range. A thoroughly evil bastard.

He had reasons for making these choices. What they were we can only speculate, but unless his mind was not under his control there was a process of thoughts that led to doing what he did.

What he did, let us remember, was not to express anger, or to attack symbols, but to murder children. Once that is glossed over the importance of the event is lost, and the truth is forgotten. It is possible that he murdered those children and adults as a manifestation of a diffuse hatred that he refused to address within himself.

His reasons for choosing those specific people may not have been personal, it seems more likely that they represented to him something he had chosen to hate, rather than being, themselves, the object of that hate. It’s probably similar to the motivations of the components of mobs who, when finding an excuse to rampage together, identify members of certain outgroups as legitimate targets for violence

Many commentators are too grand to get close enough to the action to see what is really happening, and so they waffle about contexts they don’t understand and attribute motivation and final responsibility to whoever it is they always attack. This is good politics, but it isn’t truth.

His choices were, naturally, influenced by those around him, by his upbringing, by the company he frequented and the people whose moral authority he gave weight to. It is perfectly possible that he was taught to hate, and that his murderous violence was irresponsibly cultivated by others. All of which places an important part of the blame, not on events and circumstances a long way off and outside his direct experience, but on the people close to him who persuaded him that he could affect those events and circumstances by murdering children.

His actions may well have been another example of belief in the magic of symbolism. Aware of but not wanting to recognise his inability to change anything real by his own actions,  he convinced himself that murdering children was such a big thing that in some way it MUST bring about the change he wanted.

The murderer is beyond answering for his actions. Some of those around him might still have to do so.

1 comment:

Longrider said...
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