Again with the beheadings.
I’m not surprised. Hopefully we’ll preserve our collective outrage over this, but I suspect this kind of thing’s already becoming blasé in our jaded and media-saturated culture.
Amid all the outrage expressed in the blogosphere and on social media, I’ve noticed a theme that needs correcting if we’re going to keep the right perspective. My fellow conservatives often express their fury with epithets like “animals” and “subhuman scum” when they refer to the evil men who saw off non-muslim heads in the name of a “merciful Allah.” It’s understandable to use those labels, but it’s not right because it lets these evil muslims off the hook for their actions. We feel anger when we find out about these slaughters precisely because these evil men are more than just animals. They’re people, and that means they know better.
When a cougar mauls a child, we hunt it down and kill it without much passion because it’s a dumb animal with no sense of morality. Young children, dementia sufferers, and certain insane people can’t distinguish between right and wrong, so we don’t hold them to a high moral standard. But when grown men shoot fleeing children in the back or saw off the heads of helpless civilians, they earn our undying enmity because they know they’re committing evil and they do it anyway. Evil acts can’t be waved away with a concerned expression and a sadly-spoken “oh, that’s just sick.” People choose to do evil things, and some choose to do great evil. They aren’t all insane, they haven’t all been browbeaten into it, and they aren’t all merely misguided. People commit evil, for which they deserve punishment.
For you left-leaning readers who feel uncomfortable with arguments based on right and wrong, think of this from a legal perspective. The Model Penal Code (which forms the basis for many states’ criminal codes) breaks down most crimes into four categories, asking whether the perpetrator committed the crime negligently, recklessly, knowingly, or purposefully. If a man fires a gun through a flimsy backstop in his backyard and the bullet accidentally kills his neighbor’s child, we’ll likely prosecute him for negligent homicide. But we hold him less culpable than the man who recklessly fires his gun into the air and kills the child playing in her yard two streets over. Worse still is the man who fires his rifle over a crowd of children, knowing he’ll probably kill someone. Worst of all is the man who fires a bullet into a fleeing child’s back for the purpose of killing her. Even our legal system emphasizes degrees of culpability and the importance of the perpetrator’s state of mind. It’s about as close to moral condemnation as our relativistic legal system ever gets.
The moral approach and our inherent sense of right and wrong provides the strongest foundation for holding these evil muslims responsible as people who consciously choose to do evil, but you might find the legal approach more comfortable. Either way, intentions count for a lot.
I continue to try extra hard not to understate the depths that these men have sunk to. I don’t call them animals or subhuman scum; these muslim death cultists are evil, and that’s why I’ll smile when they die violent and painful deaths.
I hope you’ll do the same.
5/24/13 Update: The Brits have become men without chests. We’re headed down the same road, sadly.