Is Murder Wrong?

Murder is wrong. Isn’t it.

Isn’t it.

We accept as fact that murder is wrong. But why? And what exactly is murder?

Murder can be defined as killing someone by plan. You might hit a jaywalker and kill her, but that’s not murder because you didn’t plan it. It’s usually not even criminal.

We accept as fact that
murder is wrong.
But why?

But why is killing someone by plan murder?

Because everyone deserves to live out their life.

But why does everyone deserve to live out their life?

Just about this point you realize that you are dealing with Russian dolls. Each one you look inside contains another, in infinite regress. Each time you answer one question, you can ask “why” after the answer.

In the end, murder is wrong because we say so.

In war, few of us consider the death of soldiers in battle as murder, but the fact is, such deaths are only 10% of deaths from war. What should we call the others? Collateral damage? How is it possible that a ratio of 9:1 can be called collateral damage? Shouldn’t they be honored and commemorated with statues at the civic center, like the soldiers? Are the deaths of those 90% terrorism, or murder?

90% of war deaths
are civilian non-combatants.

Terrorism is murder, right? After all, the victims have done nothing to deserve to be killed, and have had no legal trial. But then, in our continuous wars, at least from WWII on, the US purposely killed non-military civilians in far greater numbers than combatants. Yes, purposely. Why do we not consider ourselves a terrorist nation?

OK. Back to the question.

The real answer is that murder is wrong because the moral compass that guides all of us says so. Those who murder have lost their moral compass, or never had it.

All the world’s religions have tried to claim authorship of this moral rule, but the fact is, moral behavior is totally independent of religious beliefs. Religion, in fact, has led to far more murder than has the absence of religion. The Abrahamic religions rely on a series of old books that say it’s quite OK to murder in certain cases. They are wrong. By definition, nothing can justify murder.

Ancient religious books say
murder is justified in certain cases.
They are wrong.
Nothing can justify murder.

These “permitted” cases are clearly wrong according to the moral compass that guides all humans, regardless of what the old books say. The recent Paris cartoonist murders are a case in point. The murderers were Muslim hotheads who objected to cartoons that pointed out contradictions and wrongs in their own behavior. Because they “insulted Islam”, they claimed. The chances are great that they knew little about Islam.

The killers showed no such objection to cartoons pointing out the vile attitude of goons and right wing politicians who target Muslims living in Paris ghetto slums—which I suppose “insulted neo-Nazism”, or le Pen radicalism. Were they even aware that the cartoonists had defended Muslims? Did they ever tell the cartoonists what they thought before they murdered them?

How very close their situation is to that of lots of inner city African-Americans, who are routinely murdered by the police, stalked by neo-Nazi and other kinds of racist goons, and despised by those who imagine every black American to be lazy and morally deficient, all the while perpetuating the conditions that maintain inequality.

Were the Muslim murderers
of Paris cartoonists aware
that their victims
had been their defenders?

The white US public would have a reaction similar to that of the Parisians should a handful of radical African-Americans shoot up some newspaper or broadcasting company. Could this happen? Well, a handful of Chinese-American thugs machine-gunned all the customers in a San Francisco Chinatown restaurant in 1977. Black militants in the seventies armed themselves and perpetrated a number of terrible crimes. I guess it could happen today. Assault weapons are readily available to everyone, after all.

Still, such things seem unlikely in the US today, even though the conditions that led to them in the past have not been fixed. Improved somewhat, perhaps. We should be thankful that today’s African-Americans have not become radicals determined to right obvious wrongs by murdering some of the people who routinely insult them.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The mention of collateral damage ie the killing of civilians reminded me of the 60000 + innocent men women and children killed in the London Blitz by the Germans between October 1940 and June 1941, which was sometimes referred to in the USA as the phony war as they were at that time not involved. I think it fair to say that the Luftwaffe murdered them..


    • What brought WWII to a close was our carpet bombing of civilians, with who knows how many deaths. That’s why we can’t say that terrorism is targeting of non-combatant civilians.


  2. Yes but as we won we were allowed to write the history/records to show what jolly good chaps we all were.

    It makes it too easy being on the winnng side all the time


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