Tag Archives: murder

Wes Sneijder and His Galatasaray Knives; Vicious, Malicious or Just Stupid?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Wesley Sneijder on the Taksim Square anniversary weekend - stupid or evil?

Wesley Sneijder on the Taksim Square anniversary weekend – stupid or evil?

Another of those mind-boggled moments this morning, when I saw the picture above. Is this for real? Can anyone really be so stupid, vicious or just plain wicked as to pose that tweet on this weekend, above all others? It would be crassly insensitive at any time – on the 15th anniversary weekend of the murder of Chris and Kev, it simply defies belief.

It’s not automatic simply to assume that Wesley Sneidjer – a player who, as far as I’m aware, has no particular grudge against Leeds United – is having some sort of warped go at the club or the fans. He may well simply be exhibiting a Kewell-esque level of dim stupidity, or lack of thought and understanding. In common with so many footballers, Sneijder may not be exactly overburdened with brains. Even so, this is a low and horrible thing to become involved with, at this particular time, as we prepare to pay our 15th anniversary tributes to our murdered brothers.

And the thing is – someone involved is well aware of the implications and the back story here. Footballers don’t do anything on their own beyond, in some more advanced cases, tying their own shoelaces. There’s an army of marketing people, advisers, agents, scum like that. Somebody knows all too well the effect of that tweet on the Leeds United world. They’ll also be well aware of the amusement it will afford to fans of certain clubs who view this kind of thing with sick and moronic relish. Marketing and publicity are arts without a soul or a conscience. If they can sell their product by appealing to the very worst in the malign minority, then they’ll do it – and they’ll do it knowingly – and to hell with the feelings and hurt of those directly or indirectly affected. That’s a kind of evil in itself.

All of that might make us a little more tolerant and understanding of the comparatively harmless phenomenon of mere stupidity, as exhibited that time by Chuckle Brothers Keys and Gray – or indeed by our one-time hero turned traitor and hate figure Harry Kewell. It’s just odd, don’t you feel, that this particular sort of “stupidity” generally manifests itself to the detriment and insult of Leeds United. You don’t get similar “errors of judgement” being made where Man U or Liverpool are concerned – or do you? You tell me.

And please – if anyone is of a mind to justify any of this crap by saying “Well, you lot sing about Munich” – spare me. I’ve heard it all before. It’s not even true, these days – and even if it were, that’d be no reason to heap misery on the heads of people who will be mourning this weekend, remembering loved ones who went to see a football match and never came home. You don’t visit the sins of the idiot minority upon innocent heads – not if you’ve a brain in your skull or any human compassion in your heart, you don’t. So leave it out, if you’re of a “mind” to send such rubbish in. It’ll only get binned anyway.

...turns out he didn't know.

…turns out he didn’t know

Wesley Sneidjer, unknowingly it seems from the above, has provided the ammunition for a lot of evil morons out there to make what was always going to be a hard weekend for many into something much more hurtful and upsetting yet. I hope he really is suitably contrite. An apologetic tweet was the least he could do, and the removal of the offending item is a real bonus. But the fact remains that there was full awareness somewhere behind this; people seeking to capitalise on hatred and murder. And for those all-too-well-aware smart guys behind it – well, let’s just hope that they eventually find out there’s something in Karma after all.

RIP lads. 15 years on - never forget, never forgive.

RIP lads. 15 years on – never forget, never forgive.

Murderers Don’t Execute People. Murderers MURDER People – by Rob Atkinson

Nous sommes tous Charlie

Nous sommes tous Charlie

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris earlier this week, and amidst all of the horror and the inevitable soul-searching that follows any such tragic event, an old and unwelcome misuse of terminology has reared its ugly head again and – in its own subtle and insidious way – could be set to play its part in undermining the fight against terrorism and mass murder. The word being misused is “execution”. It’s being wheeled out all over the media to refer to the acts of the cowards guilty of these foul crimes – and the danger is that, to some, it might just lend a false air of dignity and gravitas to what is more accurately just another disgusting act of terrorism. cowardice and callous rejection of all that is civilised.

The Charlie Hebdo story is everywhere at the moment, and rightly so. It’s a high-profile atrocity, the terrorists’ answer to the maxim of peaceful people everywhere that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. It is because of this context that it’s so important we get our terminology right, and don’t risk succouring the enemy by portraying its actions in an unrealistic, even flattering, light. If we are to match the pen against the sword with any hope of ultimately winning, then we have to give an appropriate name to the criminal acts we are opposing. This is not merely a matter of semantics, it’s far, far more important. As a first principle, let’s call murder precisely that. Let’s speak of cowardly attacks, let’s talk of helpless and innocent victims. Let’s not use a legal term whose meaning has been perverted far beyond its original application.

The word “execution” in a capital punishment context, refers to application of a death warrant consequent upon judicial proceedings. It is the warrant, properly speaking, that is executed – not the miscreant at the end of the rope. Whether you’re pro or anti the death penalty wherever it might still apply, you are surely aware that it is a culmination of this lengthy legal process. It is not a random killing perpetrated by a random individual or group who have accorded themselves the right to make their own rules and enforce their own penalties, without regard for law, justice or the sanctity of life, and devil take the hindmost. When we use the word “execution” in connection with events like the chilling murders in Paris, we run the very real risk of planting incorrect impressions in uncritical minds. We are in danger of depicting the thugs and terrorists as having some kind of moral or even legal force behind their heinous actions. We must not do this. Murder is murder, and should be scorned and met with horror and outrage. Any language which seems even slightly to suggest that such an action can be mentioned in the same breath as the outcome of due process must be suppressed in the interests of preserving the truth of the matter. Murderers don’t execute people. Murderers murder people.

I was listening to the radio only a little while after the attack, and a BBC Five Live reporter was talking about some video pictures from the scene in Paris, deemed too graphic to broadcast, of “a terrorist executing a policeman.” Wrong! That policeman was not executed. He was murdered, the victim of a cowardly and tawdry act that has nothing to do with civilisation, nothing to do with the judiciary or the forces of law and justice. His family have been deprived of this man, not by a legal warrant, but by a hooded coward, a murderous thug wielding an illegal weapon. That is the fact of the matter. Use of the word “execution” can only give a false, misleading and utterly unhelpful impression.

The pen is mightier than the sword – and words (even cartoons) properly used and artfully aimed, can strike home where an arsenal of missiles might fail to reach. What more graphic proof of that than the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a visceral reaction to the wounding power of high-class satire? Given that, let us not play into the enemy’s hands by dignifying their actions with the wrong words. Let their cowardly attacks be described with scorn, derision and condemnation. Let’s not succour the thugs by appearing to admit some moral compass in their grisly world of terror and intimidation.

May the victims of this cowardly and barbaric attack rest in peace. Aujourd’hui, je suis Charlie. Demain, et dans l’avenir, nous sommes tous Charlie.

Could Careless Talk Have Counted Tragically Towards the Loss of a Life? – by Rob Atkinson


It was a very mixed weekend for Leeds United fans.  On the Saturday, the team beat Middlesbrough 2-1 to enter the play-off zone and maintain their recent good run.  But on Sunday, we awoke to news that one of our number, in a coma for over a year since being attacked on a night out in Sheffield on the 11th November 2012, had sadly died without ever regaining consciousness.  And at that point I have to say “Rest In Peace” to Richard Ismail, 45 years old, known to his friends as “Moody”.  The thoughts of so many are with his family at this awful time.  All of those who will be looking for justice to be done will be relieved to hear that, since a change of law in 1996, there is no longer a year-and-a-day cut off point for a charge of murder to be brought.  There will therefore now be a murder investigation even though Mr Ismail’s death occurred over the old time limit after the attack.  It’s understood that three individuals, widely believed to be fans of Sheffield Wednesday FC, are currently out on bail pending further possible action.

Under a month before the attack on Moody, Sheffield Wednesday had met Leeds United in a Championship fixture at Hillsborough Stadium.  It was not an edifying spectacle. There were scenes of violence on the field as Wednesday’s scrum-capped central defender Miguel Llera charged around, putting in tackles that resembled various degrees of common assault.  Leeds defenders, as is their wont, gave as good as their team-mates got. In the second half, just after United’s equalising goal, a lone Leeds fan ran onto the pitch and pushed a startled Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland in the face causing him to fall and remain, shocked, on the ground.  The moron responsible went back into the crowd, but was subsequently identified and prosecuted.  Throughout the evening, both sets of fans breached the boundaries of good taste, Leeds fans taunting Wednesday manager David Jones over charges relating to alleged child abuse, of which he had been cleared years earlier.  Wednesday fans for their part gleefully mocked the Leeds support over the deaths of two Leeds fans in Istanbul in the year 2000.  It was a bad and disgusting day at the office and, sadly, it didn’t end at the final whistle.

After the match, the highly emotional Wednesday manager Jones, plainly trembling with anger and resentment, was asked about the condition of his goalkeeper Kirkland. Somewhat surprisingly, Jones paid little heed to this enquiry beyond acknowledging that the boy was shaken and claiming it had hindered his team from seeking a winning goal. He seemed far more concerned by the verbal abuse he had suffered, than by the physical attack on his goalkeeper.  In an unrestrained on-camera performance, he castigated the Leeds fans, comparing their behaviour to “racism”, taking Leeds manager Neil Warnock to task for praising the fans’ support of the United team and ending by saying that the Leeds fans were “vile animals.  All of them.”  Warnock seemed bemused by such an outburst, shrugging it off, doubtless aware from experience that immediately after a match is not an ideal time for rational thought and reflection.  Jones was quite specific, not to say selective in his attentions; he did not refer to the taunting of the Leeds fans by the Sheffield crowd over the Istanbul murders.

Because of the short time lapse between these shoddy events and the subsequent attack in Sheffield on Mr Ismail, the question has to arise: how much of what was said may have been in the minds of the protagonists on that fateful and ultimately tragic night?  It is understood that Richard Ismail was out for the evening with his partner, and that his clothing identified him as a Leeds United fan.  Or, let us not forget, as a “vile animal” in the minds of any Sheffield Wednesday fans daft enough, bone-headedly crazy enough, to have taken seriously what their club’s manager had said only a matter of weeks before.

Did those intemperate words still ring in the attackers’ heads?  Were they, in their own warped minds, taking action against a “vile animal”?  Did they, just possibly, feel that they were meting out some summary rough justice to a person identifiable with the fans who had taunted their own Mr Jones just the previous month?  Who knows what goes through a thug’s head as he swings into action with like-minded accomplices, encouraged at outnumbering a lone target who is on a night out with his partner?  But the question has to arise: if Mr Jones had been more circumspect in his remarks – or if, perhaps, a more decent interval had been allowed to elapse before any interview, to allow emotions to subside a little – might things not, just possibly, have turned out differently? Might this tragic episode possibly have been avoided?

It is, of course, impossible to say.  But the factors are all there for anyone looking for any kind of cause and effect scenario – just as the lesson is there to be learned about thinking before you speak, and refraining at all costs from going on camera, to an audience of millions, and saying things that are unwise; things that are far too inclusive; not, in short, the kind of things a level-headed professional really wants to be caught on the spot saying.  I remember being taken aback and more than a little shocked at the emotional vehemence of Jones’ performance in the post-match interview.  It just seemed so disproportionate, so incongruous in someone who had been a professional in football and in the sphere of social care for many years; fair enough, he’d taken dog’s abuse over a matter that should have had a line drawn under it years before. But sadly, these things happen – whenever crowds gather and alcohol has been consumed.  Sets of fans will go all out to bait each other, and they will raise the stakes in retaliation.  It’s not nice, but it’s far from unknown – and it’s part of the cross a football manager, or indeed many other professionals in different areas of public life, just have to bear.  That’s part of the reason they’re lavishly paid, part of the reason that it’s the tougher personalities that take these kind of jobs.  And really – wasn’t there some sort of support for Jones, from within the Sheffield Wednesday club?  He looked in need of it.

Still, Mr Jones didn’t appear inclined to withdraw his remarks even days later, although he did qualify them somewhat.  But by then, any possible damage had already been done. The internet was buzzing, you heard about “vile animals” everywhere. Some Leeds fans took it as a perverse badge of honour, others were more than a little annoyed and offended.  This latter group would post pictures of their cherubically cute 7 year old boy or girl in a mini Leeds shirt, asking “is this a vile animal, Mr Jones?”  Feelings ran very high for quite some time afterwards, and I can’t get out of my head the possibility that they might still have been running high enough, a few short weeks later, to have been a factor in turning what should have been a family night out into an ordeal of over a year, ending in the untimely death of a man who had done nothing wrong.

I don’t know if Mr Jones’ thoughts have run along these lines, or – if they have – whether he’s admitted to himself that he could have applied a little more self-control, been a little less all-embracingly condemnatory of ALL Leeds United fans – every one of them. Because, in saying something like that, you just never know what notion you might plant in the pea-brain of some self-righteous moron who wants then to take revenge. And from there, it’s impossible to say what might happen.  All we know is what did happen, and we know what was said – so publicly – just a short time before.  Whether there was a relationship between the one and the other will be impossible to prove – but the sad fact is that there could have been.  And if that doesn’t make the case for a bit more thought about the timing and content of these emotional post-match interviews, then I don’t know what does.   It is now being speculated that the forthcoming meeting of the two clubs at Hillsborough in January – a game that will also be live on Sky TV – will be played out in an atmosphere even uglier than last year’s malevolent brew – if such a thing were possible.  Given Jones’ currently-precarious position at Sheffield Wednesday, it’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty whether he will still be in his job by then. Perhaps it really would be for the best if he’s gone.

What seems clear enough to me is that, when considering what led up to Mr Ismail’s tragic fate, it’s not possible to view David Jones’ heat-of-the-moment remarks purely in isolation.  You throw a stone, and out spread the ripples, inevitably, unstoppably. If you speak on camera to thousands or millions, it behoves you to keep a check on what you say, and to bear in mind that your words will be interpreted in a variety of different ways, by a variety of different people, some more literal-minded than others.  And, given that – when there’s a rabble out there eager to be roused – it’s just not worth the risk to let off steam to that extent.  An event like Moody’s death puts starkly into context issues such as name-calling and the temporary catharsis offered by a hasty rant on camera.  Maybe, in time, Mr Jones and others can reflect on the implications of what was said and what was done in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Richard Ismail “Moody” 1968-2013    RIP  MOT

Istanbul “Front Runner” for Euro 2020 Semis and Final – are UEFA Stark, Staring Mad? – by Rob Atkinson

Turkish Fans "Demonstrating Their Cultural Uniqueness"

Turkish Fans “Demonstrating Their Cultural Uniqueness”

As if eager to demonstrate once and for all that they are out-of-touch, irresponsible, lacking in judgement and foolhardy to the point of actual insanity – it would appear that UEFA are genuinely considering Istanbul as a host city for the semi-finals and final of the Euro 2020 Championships.  Our beloved FA, itself a body which has frequently demonstrated its own lack of fitness to run a piss-up in a brewery, stated today that it believes Istanbul is the “front runner” and main rival to Wembley’s own bid.  Istanbul lost out to Tokyo in its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, after all.  FA General Secretary Alex Horne said: “We’ve taken some soundings, there’s a sympathy for Turkey and it does feel like they are the front-runners.  We get the politics around Istanbul, having not got the Olympics.”



Well, forgive me, but I don’t “get” this at all.  Turkey has just about the most horrific history of football violence it’s possible to imagine.  Istanbul in particular is home to Galatasaray, whose fans’ party piece is to raise banners when “welcoming” visiting teams to the airport or to their bear-pit of a stadium, the banners bearing the warm and comforting message of “Welcome to Hell”.  Other touching signs of friendship and bonhomie include mimed throat-slitting actions performed en masse.  Sadly, these ugly manifestations of Turkish culture have been shown to be no mere gestures.  In the spring of 2000, two Leeds United fans – Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight – were brutally attacked and murdered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Ali Umit Demir and three other men were arrested for the killings, and Demir was jailed but released for retrial after a successful appeal.  When the four men first appeared in court, they were cheered by members of the public, Demir being described as a “patriot” by residents of Istanbul.

More than 13 years on, it is still unclear whether Demir will ever face an appropriate penalty for his admitted crime of stabbing Mr Loftus and Mr Speight.  Over the time since these tragic killings, fans of Turkish clubs have continued to disgrace themselves on numerous occasions with acts of violence and displays of hostility which UEFA have consistently failed to address, despite the alacrity with which they deal with lesser offences elsewhere.  It has been reported that certain UEFA officials regard knife-carrying and its concomitant perils as “part of the culture” in Turkey, and this may partly explain their casual attitude towards what goes on there – but it certainly does not excuse it.

No Leeds United fan and, for that matter, no Manchester United fan needs any instruction about the atmosphere and the dangers of following football in Istanbul. Personal experiences of fans from both clubs leave little room for doubt that it’s a place to visit and roam around in only with extreme reticence and caution.  The idea of masses of fans from different nations adding their high-spirits and nationalistic fervour to the cocktail of hatred and overt hostility which is so much a part of the fabric of Istanbul – it’s just too horrible to contemplate.  You’d have thought that even a pea-brained UEFA pen-pusher could have accumulated enough evidence, both anecdotal and empirical, to realise this.  But no.  Self-satisfaction and pompous idiocy rules in the corridors of UEFA, and they will seemingly be willing to compound their laxity of recent years in failing to deal with what has happened there, by a whole new level of crass stupidity in contemplating taking a major Championships to a murderous pit.

It is to be hoped that wiser counsel – if any should exist in the game’s higher authorities – will prevail, and some safer place will be found.  The idea of awarding the final stages of a prestigious tournament to Istanbul is a bit like inviting an arsonists’ self-help group to organise a bonfire in a petrol dump – only more so.  If the madmen of UEFA have their way in this, the consequences could be dire; you only have to ask the Man United fans ill-treated by the local police, or the Leeds fans who, heart-sick at their bereavement of the night before, turned their backs at the start of the match against Galatasaray, because that club had failed, along with UEFA, to postpone the game, or even to order that black armbands should be worn.

It may be that one day Istanbul will be a fit place for civilised football fans to visit, and maybe even for a tournament to be held. But that day is not yet, it won’t be here by 2020 and it won’t be for many more years after that.  Most sensible football fans would confirm that.  Now we just have to find a way to persuade the fools in UEFA, and in our own FA, what their own eyes and ears should have told them long ago.

Capital Punishment – It’s Not Quite As Simple As It Seems

ImageIn the wake of recent atrocities abroad, and our own tragedies here in the UK, we can sadly reflect that the gap in between these appalling stories seems to grow ever shorter, as we look ahead gloomily and wonder: whatever next? That the proliferation of different types of news media is quite probably giving a skewed picture of how common these calamities are, is pretty cold comfort. Bad things are happening out there, all the time it would seem, and the world doesn’t feel a particularly safe place to be.

Another effect of rolling 24-hour news stations and the exponential growth of social media is that, as fast as the information comes out to the public, so we – the recipients of all the bad news – are able to give our own instant reactions. All too often this will take the shape of lurid demands for death to be answered with death; the calls for a return of capital punishment grow more vociferous with every awful case that hits the headlines. Facebook pages will see a rash of images, prominently featuring the symbolic noose and demanding support for the view that the latest culprit should face the ultimate penalty. Feelings run high; the anti-hangers are just as passionately convinced as those who shout “Bring back the rope”, and the debate waxes hot and emotive.

Perhaps the most emotive argument put by the pro-hanging brigade runs as follows: If it were your son or daughter who was the victim of the latest murder or rape – wouldn’t you want the culprit to pay with his or her life? My answer to that tends to be an honest “yes”. If my daughter were to become a tragic statistic, I’d certainly want to kill the perpetrator myself; I believe this to be a normal human reaction. But it is also the reason why the relatives of victims don’t sit in judgement of those accused, and aren’t responsible for deciding the penalty that the law shall hand down. Justice requires dispassionate and impartial appraisal of the facts and circumstances, something that would surely be beyond the ken of anybody personally involved or actually bereaved.

I’ve tried, when defending my anti-capital punishment stance, to explain this distinction, but I’m usually accused of fudging the issue. But what if we were to put the opposite or reciprocal situation? Imagine this. Your son or daughter is accused of a murder, and the evidence against them is incontrovertible. You see them convicted, you watch in horror from the courtroom as the judge dons the black cap and pronounces sentence of death upon your flesh and blood. You, a lifelong proponent of capital punishment, a vociferous campaigner for the retention of the rope, see your offspring led, terrified and weeping, down to the cells to embark upon the wait that will end with a walk to the gallows.

Time goes by. Legal avenues of appeal are exhausted; pleas for clemency are entered, to no avail. Justice must take its course. You’re on record as enthusiastically backing the death penalty; you’ve written strongly-worded letters in the past to the quality press, emphasising the folly of removing this ultimate sanction, this absolute deterrent. Now your own child’s options have run out, and they will be put to death early tomorrow.

At home, you’re up at seven after no sleep. You can’t eat anything. You can’t meet the eyes of your family; they know your views from a lifetime of theoretical but heated discussion. Now that the reality you never foresaw is here, there is no appetite to go over those old arguments again. The clock draws closer to eight o’clock. There is a priest in the cell with your child, trying as best he can to ease these final moments, to give the comfort that you’re barred from providing. As the clock strikes eight, you know that there is a sudden burst of activity, your offspring ordered to bolt down a measure of rum, then arms and legs pinioned, a hood jerked over their head and assisted, blindly stumbling, into the neighbouring execution chamber. Within seconds, the trap has opened; your precious son or daughter has plummeted downwards to a sickening jerk as their life is snuffed out at the behest of the law. Your child is dead.

In your silent living room, you join together with your grief-stricken, heartbroken family, seeking such comfort as you can give each other as the awful reality sinks in. You look at each other, and you see the real victims of capital punishment, of so-called judicial execution. You have just embarked on a life-sentence of mourning one of your own family; killed by the state in the name of justice, condemning you and the rest of your kin, who have done nothing wrong, to years of misery and bitterness. You will live with the effects of this sentence, your miscreant son or daughter is beyond all that, and right now their body is being recovered by the functionaries who saw sentence of death carried out.

Anybody who supports the return of capital punishment should do themselves a favour; think about it in these terms. It’s beyond unlikely that you might ever be called upon to deliver a vigilante-type summary justice to someone who has harmed your son or daughter. But in a country regressive enough to have a law to enable the state to kill, it would always be possible that the alternative scenario could become a shocking reality for you and yours. If you really think you could accept it, as the price of a principle you hold sincerely – then go ahead and campaign away, post those images of a noose on Facebook, demand death for someone you’ll never know. You have more resolve than I could muster.

But I honestly beg leave to doubt it. I frankly defy anyone to say that they could accept becoming a collateral victim of capital punishment, bereaved by the law, forced to live out their own guiltless life in the knowledge that their country killed their child.

Capital punishment is no easy answer. It is a barbaric, horrific and out-dated relic, tainted by the nightmare grisly ceremony of the whole process, something incongruous to a modern society and rightly consigned to the dustbin of history. It must never return.

Boston Marathon Atrocity

I couldn’t take this in when I first heard.  I was at a play rehearsal, and when my mate told me – may the Higher Powers forgive me – I thought he was telling me some sick joke.  He said he didn’t joke about things like that and I thought, no, of course you don’t, who does?   Who that’s in any way human could make something like this up?  Then again, who actually perpetrates a horror like this?  But it’s a fact, somebody has most likely planned and compassed the death and maiming of people who were just out to take part in a joyous event, innocent people who have done no harm, random victims of someone’s cowardly determination to inflict pain suffering and death on fellow human beings.  It defies comprehension.

I say “most likely” because – as I write – there remains a shred of possibility that this wasn’t a terrorist attack.  But it seems almost certain that a terrorist attack it will have been, that yet again shadowy figures have decided to take human life to make some esoteric point.

There’s no point calling these people animals.  Animals don’t do this; it’s the sort of uncivilised behaviour confined to – supposedly – the most civilised species on the planet. Only “intelligent”, “cultured”, “civilised” Man does this.  Only Man has the tools; only Man has the urge to slaughter his fellow beings on such a gross scale, for reasons that don’t stack up against the primal need to eat and survive.  Man is a predator, like so many other animals.  But Man alone kills for reasons of sport, culture, ideology.  It’s a sickness not shared by other predators, and that means that a tiger or a lion or anything else that kills to eat has a nobility that we sometimes call savage, but is in reality a whole hell of a lot more noble and understandable than the base and repulsive urges that drive members or our species to visit these horrors upon each other.  Go figure.  Really, we owe the rest of the Animal Kingdom a massive apology for every time any of us has ever called some depraved human killer “an animal”.  It’s the most ironically insulting and groundless snub we could deliver to other species who conduct themselves in a far more admirable manner than we “civilised humans” do.

Sorry, I’m rambling on because I’m shocked, disgusted and ashamed.  Who knows what we will find out in the next few days as this situation develops, but it seems certain that lives have been lost, and other lives will be changed irrevocably; and no-one affected was given any choice in the matter, nor any chance to escape the fate wished upon them by anonymous cowards.

No cause is worth this.  No religion is worth this.  Nothing is worth the tiniest fraction of the suffering that has been caused.  We need to get over ourselves as a species.  We’re all here for a short span only, and nothing is more important than being alive, and making the most of every moment we’re here.  For all we know, this is our only existence, at any time in the vast span of Creation; we’ve waited billions of years to be alive, and we’ll be gone after a century, give or take, and then there’ll be billions more years when we’re not here.  And yet people regard this rare and precious phenomenon of life so cheaply, so casually, that they presume to deprive others of it, for some pathetic creed or notion that they wish to impose on others, and devil take the hindmost.  The arrogance and ignorance of that just beats the hell out of me.

I know I’ll dream tonight about the pictures I’ve seen.  I know that I feel guiltily glad it’s someone else torn and tattered, or dead – and not me or anybody I love.  I don’t want it to happen to anybody, but Hell, I don’t want it to happen to me or mine.  That’s my human selfishness, and I can’t deny it – but how much more selfish do you have to be to actually plot and do something like this?  My mind is boggling at that.

I wish the dead peace, the injured the best recovery they can have, the bereaved what comfort and support they can get.  And I wish the rescue and medical services the strength and resolve they will need.  For those who did it – I wish some sense of perspective so that they can see how awful is the thing they’ve done, instead of living in some cloud-cuckoo mindset where they feel it’s in any way justified.  Don’t call them animals.  They’re nothing so dignified.  They’re the most despicable, wretched kind of human being, and you can’t say worse than that.

Mini-rant #2 – Why “Execution-style Killings” Are Anything But

“Execution-style Killing”. It’s one of those chilling news-story phrases that are fairly frequently-used, lazily, thoughtlessly and as a knee-jerk response it would seem, by habit-driven journos or unmotivated sub-editors. But this one is deeply, deeply inappropriate, offensive and misleading.

The fact is that the killings thus referred to are almost invariably visited upon one or more unfortunate individuals who have transgressed the code of some or other criminal organisation. These common gangs evidently consider that they have the right to make their own rules and enforce their own penalties, without regard for law. justice or the sanctity of life, and devil take the hindmost.

That “sanctity of life” thing is important. Law is a creation of Humankind, as to a lesser extent are the concepts of justice and ethics. But life being sacred, that’s just a fact, an absolute given, arising out of the sheer rarity of sentient existence. We’re all brief sparks of being in the awful immensity of time and space. For all we know, each of us has waited billions of years for our one chance at life, and when our infinitesimal span is done, then there’ll be innumerable further billions of years during which we shall not exist. Life is an unbelievably rare and precious gift, and to take it from someone – anyone – is the ultimate crime.

For me, this crime of killing encompasses all taking of human life, even what the various authorities down the centuries have been pleased to call “judicial killing”, or execution; the death penalty. That’s a subject for another day, but you catch my drift – I’m not in favour. The best that can be said of judicial execution is that, however flawed and misguided – even barbaric – the legal process might be, it is at least there, in some shape or form.

ImageThis cannot be said of the criminal act of summary murder, and it is grievously deceptive to use quasi-legal terms in referring to it. “Execution” in the judicial context refers not to the miscreant at the end of the rope, but to the legal warrant issued in consequence of their conviction for some awful crime. So the fact that someone has been tied up and shot in the back of the head, or beheaded live on some middle-eastern TV channel, or however they might be dispatched, does not lend itself to the description “execution-style”. No legal process is involved, no judicial warrant is issued and there is no conformity to the ideals of justice as developed over thousands of years. What we have instead is a tawdry, common murder.

This is not just an exercise in semantics. The common practice of referring to common killing in this way involves a danger of lending a spurious air of legitimacy to what is just a sordid crime. A lot of these self-styled armies, movements and groups desire nothing more than the appearance of justification for their actions. To aid and abet this desire, in any way at all, is inimical to justice, civilisation and the interests of those who are in danger of winding up victims of murder, dressed up in whatever disguise of necessity or expediency.

Murder is murder. Killing is killing. Let’s call them exactly what they are, and dispense with any false trappings of acceptability. If we are to lend the killers, the common, criminal killers, any vestige of respectability then we must, at least in some measure, share in the blame for the atrocities that – thus encouraged – they will continue to perpetrate.