Murder most foul
The murder last week of Keane Mulready-Woods, the 17-year-old from Drogheda, has understandably drawn many comments. Some speak of the manner of his killing as an “unacceptable level of violence.” Some point to this age as making it particularly horrifying.
Acknowledging the reactions, we need to go further.
To say that it is an unacceptable level of violence could leave the impression that there is an acceptable level of violence. The tragedy of his death at the age of 17 points to the unfulfilled life taken away. But the killing of a person of 27, or 77, however the killing is inflicted, is no less terrible.
While there may be a hierarchy of emotional revulsion at different such crimes, and of sentences imposed by the justice system, there is no killing which is less reprehensible than another. The manner in which his killing was carried out indicates a level of twistedness and cruelty in the perpetrators which is difficult to comprehend. There is, however, no destruction of a human life which is less reprehensible than another.
In deploring one such death, we must never suggest that any other taking of human life is less deplorable.
We hear statistics about the killing of women; every one of these is entirely wrong. We must not imply that the killing of a man is less wrong. There were 57 male victims (77%) and 17 female victims (23%) of homicide recorded in 2018 in Ireland, according to data from An Garda Síochána. A man is three times as likely to be a victim of homicide as a woman. Revulsion at the murder of a woman is entirely right. It must not be suggested that the killing of any woman or man any age is less to be deplored, even if that person has done things which might seem to suggest that she or he “deserved” it.
We need a seamless ethic of respect for all human life with no exceptions. The housing crisis, and the poverty which leads hundreds of people to queue for food parcels every week or for a hot meal each day – these are just as much symptoms of the failure to ensure respect for every one of our people in this country. The introduction of legal abortion here last year, the “medical procedure which is intended to end the life of a foetus” as termination of pregnancy is defined in law, is a tragic symptom of a loss of respect for all human life, instead of legislating to honour and respect the life of both mother and child.
To me it seems a logical consequence of respect for all human lives without exception to say that “sports” in which the means of victory is the infliction of pain or injury on another must also be questioned. Injury and death can occur in any sport, but in most it is accidental and unintended. However accomplished a participant may be in a sport where victory is attained specifically through damage to another person, I cannot see such activities as sport, nor as an acceptable way of providing an outlet for aggression.
Whether in political wars or drug wars, this pledge of a mother and/or father to every other mother and father puts it clearly:
I will not raise my precious child to kill your precious child.
And if it is within my power
I will not hand over my beloved child to others
to kill your beloved child
or to learn how to kill the one you cherish.