Moral Mazes

I was listening to The Moral Maze on the way back from an abortive trip to Brent Cross to purchase a man-bag (don’t ask). The topic was whether or not the police should have a shoot to kill policy after the killing of the Brazilian man on the Tube last week. This is daft for any number of reasons – the police shoot to stop, rather than kill. The implication was that there had been a change to police policy, which I don’t think is the case.

The first guest was a woman from an organisation I’ve never heard of called Peace Direct, called Cilla Elworthy. She instantly went into a spiel about how the police should not have shot the innocent Brazilian man in the head, but should instead have shot him in the legs or used a stun gun. Suggesting that a criminal can be shot in the legs to disable them reveals ignorance about the nature of gunshot wounds. A bullet in the leg can easily sever an artery and kill – unlike in the movies, there’s no safe way to disable someone by firing a bullet into them. I’m no expert, but I think a Taser to the head can kill you just as well as a bullet. In addition, most explosives used by terrorists are unstable. Sending a powerful electric current through such a substance is probably not a good idea – any schoolboy explosives expert can tell you that Semtex is actually detonated using an electric charge. After a discussion about self defence, Elworthy argued that suicide bombers aren’t psychopaths, but simply desperate people driven to such measures by the actions of the West.

This sort of pronouncement is a handy shorthand these days. It stands for “I’m a cretino-Leftist who’s unable to deal with the reality of death-cults, organised crime and psychotic lunatics who persuade gullible young people to blow themselves up in front of civilians”. If I had been there, I would have asked her why the Tube isn’t bombed every week by anguished Tibetans, Aboriginal Australians, Chileans and representatives from just about every African country. The West has treated all of these people abominably, yet they fail entirely to explode themselves in public. According to Elsworthy, they would be perfectly justified in so doing – yet they don’t. I’d love to know why she thinks this is the case.

Anyway, that sentence was quite enough for me to file her up there with the Livingstones, Tonges and Galloways. A further guest started ranting about Israel and the death squads that apparently prowl around there. No, not that sort, the Israeli sort. As usual, any guest with a crumb of sanity was ignored and the lunatics were eagerly questioned, possibly to see what sort of bonkers pronouncement they’d come out with next.

An aside – there should be a name for the Tourette’s like syndrome that forces all cretino-leftists to complain uncontrollably about Israel even (or especially) when the topic has absolutely nothing to do with this rather piddly country. It’s like a sort of mental bingo for me, ticking off the little steps they take before launching into yet another ill-informed and hate-filled rant.

7 thoughts on “Moral Mazes”

  1. When I heard that the police had killed the ‘suspected terrorist’ or a ‘person with strong links to the attempted bombings’ I thought it was reasonable that they shot him repeatedly.

    When I found out they had watched him leave his flat, get on a bus and walk to the underground… then shot him *7* times in the head. Surely they could have challenged him before he got there?

    Also, a gunshot to the head doesn’t always result in death, unless you are playing Counter-Strike.

  2. I agree – but this is philosophical bartering. Any armed policeman knows that his actions are likely to kill someone and takes his aim with that in mind. If you are shooting to stop someone, and that someone is a suicide bomber, than you will have to kill them.

    If you start going on about intent, you’re on the slippery slope to Catholic Double Effect loopholes and so forth.

    My point is that I don’t think this is a change in police policy – they can and do shoot to kill when that’s the only way to stop someone killing other people.

  3. Yes but we are talking about intent. Police officers are trained to shoot at areas which are less likely to cause death. Head shots always cause death. A truncheon can kill someone but the use of police truncheons isn’t *intended* to kill.

  4. I didn’t make my point clear, I think. There’s no such thing as shooting to disable. A shot in the leg can sever an artery, a shot to the torso can destroy internal organs. A bullet, no matter where it is aimed, can kill you. This isn’t the movies.

    Admittedly, if you’re shot in the head, you’re going to die. But at least you’ll die quickly, not slowly by massive blood loss, shock or peritonitis when your intestines are ruptured.

  5. The shoot to kill policy actually is a change in police policy. Armed policemen are always trained to aim for the body as (a) it is less likely to be fatal, and more importantly (b) it is a much larger target, and is therefore easier to hit, and there is less likelihood of hitting somoene else. The shoot to kill policy requires the gunshot to be to the head, repeatedly, as this is the only way of stopping suicide bombers from setting off their explosives-the brain synapses are shut off straight away-dead people can still set off bombs as a reflex if their heads are not blown off. As such, shooting to kill, rather than disable or to stop, is the *only* sensible thing to do with suicide bombers-anything else is pointless.

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