Imagine that the entire planet is one large listening audience, and any day now you might hear a caffeinated disc jockey on a global frequency spew something like this: “Whoa, people, we got a whack death thing going down out there. Iraq, the Middle East, Phoenix, Arizona…are we on a red-hot summer killing spree or what? Well, here’s some music to shake your buns and load your guns. For you people who seem to be digging the homicide vibe on the ground and in the air…here are the Doors with “The End.”
Distasteful? Tell me about it. Or rather, tell those for whom no amount of death and injury seems to be too much.
Last week you had to get past the coverage of killing overseas to find out about the killing in Phoenix. Phoenix is being terrorized by at least two serial killers who have killed 11 people, striking after dark. Residents in that city are staying home. And many are buying guns and practicing at target ranges. Because the answer to gun death is always more guns, right?
The victims in Phoenix appear to be chosen at random, and include men and women of all ages. So it is the killing of humans without a rational reason or an agenda, homicide for homicide’s sake. The killing in the Middle East right now is viewed differently. Why?
Because there’s a political history to what is happening in the Middle East? Because there is a deep religious basis to what is happening in the Middle East? Because in the 21st century rational human beings should be allowed to have a dispute over real estate that logically and understandably escalates, on a cyclical basis, to the firing of missiles and the dropping of bombs from airplanes on men, women and children? Do you accept all that?
I’m seeking a discussion that has nothing to do with sides. I want to talk about a simple concept: That there can be a thing or an idea or piece of land that is worth the life of a child. I’m asking for clarity on that notion, which I presently do not accept.
I’m positing that madness is just madness when the only difference between mental cases in Phoenix taking lives randomly and the parties in the Middle East taking lives “as a response” or “in defense” is “background” and “history.” I’m also confused because the spark on this recent cycle of death is supposedly the abduction of two soldiers, and the death toll from the follow-up on this is already in the hundreds.
But then, of late, we’ve been setting the bar for rational killing in Iraq. Again, importantly, the homicide in Iraq – our killing of people there – is sanctioned. These murders in Phoenix, hell, they’re just crazy, illogical, and not capable of being understood. The police must stop those murders. Right away. Sooner, I’m guessing, than we stop putting US troops into harm’s way in Iraq or continue ordering troops to kill the “enemy.”
Whenever we’re trying to make the taking of human life look rational, language is always there to help. For example, there seems to be a difference between killing men, women and children with bombs from sophisticated fighter planes and tanks and killing men, women and children using crude ground methods. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that those deploying the crude ground methods are “terrorists.” Just as those fighting for any established cause and putting bullets into humans are “soldiers,” and those putting bullets into humans randomly on the streets of Phoenix are “killers.”
Naïve? You bet. I’ll happily take that hit. Color me pink as a baby who hasn’t yet learned the realities of life on this planet. But how can it possibly serve humanity to yield to the notion that homicide has colors, shades and degrees of rightness? Killing is killing. Death is death. And the planet is in fact one large listening audience. What is confounding is why so many want and need to make life itself an opera of blood.