Where to begin with this one? Unfathomable. Mind-blowing. But most of all more than a touch depressing. It's an emotive subject, so I'll try the best I can to dispense with the usual cheap glib-ness and try and address the issues that have arisen following the incident.
Two men took the decision to hack a serving soldier to death on the streets of Woolwich yesterday afternoon. With a machete. It's difficult to comprehend. Like something out of a heavily sensationalised television drama. While some people are especially horrified by the fact that the victim was a serving member of our forces, I'm not sure that's particularly relevant. The killers probably think it is. They probably think they have struck a blow against our nation by savagely butchering one of it's defenders. But an attack like this on anyone, whoever they are, would have been equally sickening and repulsive.
I'm not in favour of the death penalty, personally. Never have been. There are far too many things that can go wrong. After his heinous crime, one of the men spoke about how this was 'an eye for an eye' or a 'tooth for a tooth'. He was referring to his belief that British soldiers are killing Muslims in other parts of the world on a daily basis. Certainly I have my issues with British foreign policy as many do, but I think the downright tragedy of yesterday goes some way to proving that the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth philosophy of the death penalty is in grave danger of causing more problems than it solves. Holding this view, I can't therefore change it when it is severely tested as it has been in Woolwich. Others will disagree and I can fully understand those who shout that the killers should hang, even be tortured, whatever you want to do with them. It's just not something that sits right with me. Killing people is wrong no matter what the circumstances.
What I can't understand is the way in which many people have used the events in Woolwich as an excuse to peddle some quite outrageous, racist nonsense. To blame an entire race or religion for the actions of two psychopaths is an indefensible position. If I commit a violent crime it in no way suggests that the disabled community in general is evil and dangerous. Likewise if a gay person does something despicable, we should not then start fearing for our lives whenever confronted with a homosexual. So why then are there people attacking mosques, writing graffiti on the cars of innocent people who happen to be Muslim, planning demonstrations, stirring up dim-witted organisations into so-called 'protests' against people of a certain faith or colour? It's sickening, wouldn't you say?
The truth is anyone can be a psycopath and commit a shocking crime. It is not dependent on your religion, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, nor even the colour of your underwear. Apologies, the glibness creeps in now and again even on the most serious of subjects. But the point is that everyone is responsible for their own actions. We cannot live in a world where if one person of a certain minority group acts a certain way, we then presume that all of those with that one particular aspect in common are going to act the same way. That kind of thinking takes narrow mindedness to a level I didn't think possible. Some of these people who want Muslims burned or Asians gassed or whatever it is are probably reading this now and disagreeing with every word. Which is a concept that terrifies me.
Remarkably, the killers spoke quite calmly to people around the crime scene yesterday. One said something along the lines of wanting to start a war in London, or indeed in England. We can't let them. And the only way to stop that happening is to judge these two on their own lack of merit. Treat them for what they are. Cold blooded killers with no regard for human life or for what is right and what is wrong. Not, as they claim, as some kind of representatives of the Muslim faith.