Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Four Things that are not Murder

As someone who has suffered the murder of a close friend, it makes me very angry when people bandy the word about. Here are some things that are not murder:

1. The killing of soldiers in battle.

2. The execution of a person by due process of law.

3. Requested Euthanasia.

4. The killing of human being whom the killer does not believe to be a person (whether he or she is one or not.)

All these things may be wrong. They may be terribly wrong. But they are not murder, okay? The question of whether a fetus or a comatose human being is a person can be argued from now till the end of the world. But no matter what the answer is -- and it's not clear to me that the answer is necessarily the same from one fetus to the next, or from one comatose human being to the next -- it does not bear on whether the act is murder. Murder is the intentional and unsanctioned killing of a human being who is considered to be a person by the killer.

If a hunter shoots something moving in the woods, which he takes to be a deer, and it turns out to be a person, he is not a murderer. And you don't have to argue that the person was in fact a deer in order to say the act wasn't murder. People are wrong sometimes. People believe different things to be true.

Likewise, if a soldier shoots at someone he genuinely believes to be an enemy soldier, and it turns out to be a six-year-old girl, he has not committed murder. If someone aborts a two-month-old fetus, believing that fetus not to be a person, she has not committed murder. If someone disconnects life support from a human being they consider irrecoverably brain-dead, that person has not committed murder.

Those of us who have lost dear ones to murder would appreciate it if you all would stop trying to score cheap rhetorical points by pretending that those four things are equivalent to the actions whose aftermath we have suffered. Thank you.

No comments: