Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong? Hmm…certainly, the murder of civilians for political statement did not begin with 911… I have killed – in self defense. The first time my greatest fear was not of being killed, but having to kill someone else. Then I got used to it…

A policeman-friend, who has seen way too many butchered corpses, exhaled a puff of cigar smoke through a mischievous smile as he plaintively lamented that killings in Philadelphia were down this year.

 “I hope they pick up,” said the Crime Scenes Investigator, “I need the overtime.”


And there you have it. Since Cain killed Abel there has been something in it for everybody. Killing is big business…Really big business.

Like the business of religion, police, lawyers, courts, prisons, armaments, writers, news, security, war, drama, medicine, psychology, social work, engineering, architecture, politics, Wall Street, shipping, transportation, fuel, energy, jobs…

Even marriage. Indeed, after 50 years of marriage my parents never had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder yes, but divorce never.

But of course!

Indeed. Killing is of biblical proportions.

Everyone knows the beautiful story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. How this noble father led his child to the slaughter; how Isaac meekly submitted; how the farce went on till the lad was bound and laid on the altar, and how G-d then stopped the murder, and blessed the intending murderer for his willingness to commit the crime.

Meanwhile the world’s greatest dramas are about sex, violence and death. Especially Shakespeare. At the same time, try to recall that nearly all monster stories depend for their success on Jack killing the Giant, Beowulf, or St. George slaying the Dragon, or Harry Potter triumphing over the basilisk…

It’s a major part of world history that men are trying to kill each other. It’s just one slaughter after the other. We talk about it, but no one’s really listening.

It’s like I used to exhort – to deaf ears — to my kids’ teachers every year. Take your elementary school students to a slaughter house. So they will see and appreciate how their hamburgers are viscerally butchered piece by piece. It’ll either scare them straight into becoming vegans, or cause them to be very very appreciative that many of G-d’s creatures have to die so we can eat and live.

They may even come to realize that behind every act of killing, there is a fundamental disrespect for life itself. In other words, as the generals always sigh over the massive carnage on the burning killing fields: Regrettable, but necessary.

Hmm… We all live on death.

It may even help these growing minds to better grasp its immensity and power over us. Put it in conjunction with all the news of wanton killings in movie theaters and post offices and Navy Yards, and high schools, as well as around the world with car bombs killing hundreds on their way to work, or a Kenyan shopping mall for not wearing full burkas… and they may become enlightened that life is life, and killing is just a part of man’s contribution to life.

We seem to forget that creation came before death.

We also seem to forget that everything that happens is a matter of chance, opportunity and necessity.

Then again, maybe kids will even start re-thinking that there must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind. That everything isn’t a necessity, a chance for opportunity.

Then again, probably not.

Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. We are all capable of horrendous evil. And in times of war, politics, religious fervor and what not, we commit them. And exacerbating the woes is government.

After all, as long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private individuals will occasionally kill theirs.

Look, the murder of civilians for political statement did not just begin on September 11, 2001.

So what do we do? I mean, about Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, most of sub-Sahara Africa as well as that cabal of American enemies — especially when America is often its own worst enemy. Everywhere there is man or beast there is killing and slaughter.

There is a popular refrain in the Mideast concerning the billion or so Arabs and most of their Muslim countries where no religion is tolerated except Islam, and Israel where mosques, churches and temple abound alongside synagogues: If the Arab world would lay down its rifles there would be no more war; if Israel would lay down its armaments there would be no more Israel.

Hmm… Which one is good for business?

The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong – and no argument or excuse, no matter how deeply believed, can ever make it right. – no matter how convicted you believe you are absolutely right. No religion on earth condones the killing of innocent people; no faith tradition tolerates the random killing of our brothers and sisters.

On the other hand there are those other institutions like countries, governments and public policies. In other words, the politics that man invented. And bad institutions can make good people do bad things.

I mean, haven’t you noticed that Patriots and chauvinists always talk of dying for their country and rarely of killing for their country.

Indeed, we are a product of our environment. The trouble is there is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. This brings to mind that old French saying that: He who has a partner has a master.

When humans behave murderously, such as inflicting senseless slaughter of innocents in warfare, we like to blame it on some dark, animalistic instinct. But perhaps it merely comes down to the yin and yang of our contradictory nature; that killing is the way we are meant to be. It’s in our DNA. Our biology. From our genesis — whether you believe it is only 6,000 years or 6 million – it has manifested. Man has always been competitive, violent and territorial.

However, I must agree, as I recently read, that our genes are not simply triggers. No one is hardwired to commit murder or any other crime. Our actions are always the result of stupendously complex gene-environment interactions, and environment is likely to remain the more important influence by far.

What it seems to come down to isn’t that the nature of humans is either good or evil.  That is too simple. The fact is we are biological mechanisms and we adjust behavior to environmental pressure. The question researchers are still pondering is whether humans are the only biological entities on earth that engage in unnecessary killing of fellow humans, as well as in torture. And experience pleasure and gratification from it. This would truly set us apart from the standard biological model.

The trouble is that we are dealing with ordinary people – like you and me — who have taken the responsibility of killing our own because we think we are right. We positively think we are serving the interests of our people. And we are not going to give that up easily, just because somebody shows up and tells us it is wrong.

And here I must make two confessions:

I am convicted with capital punishment. I know it doesn’t stop killing. It hasn’t so far, has it? And once again: Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?

I am convoluted here. Indeed, it takes two to make a murder. There are born victims, born to have their throats cut, as the cut-throats are born to be hanged.

I also realize that murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim. And on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness. It is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.

And as tortured as I may be – and perhaps because of the economics in incarcerating the bastard for life, as well as enabling him to relish another sunrise – I say hang him high. That is after he anxiously dangles in prison under his imminent doom for about 7 years.


My other confession – which I won’t over expose at this time – is that I have been forced to kill in self defense in meshugga spots like West Africa, badlands of Philadelphia, as well as in an inanity of racial insanity in erstwhile days of Chicago.

The first time, I discovered, as psychologists have found with soldiers in their first conflict, that my greatest fear was not of being killed, but having to kill someone else. In other words: killing is wrong.

But in time I got used to it. Even felt gratified. And eventually I think that in some deep dark recess, I sort of liked it.

And that’s the crux, isn’t it? People have gotten used to killing. Almost inured. And they sort of like it. I sometimes compare it to unhappiness. That is, not knowing what we want and killing ourselves and others to get it.


Someone once told me that every minute a murder occurs. So I don’t want to waste any more of your time. I know you want to go back to work.

I’ll just leave you with this thought:

When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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