Category Archives: murder

The British state places little value on lives criminally extinguished

Three men, who lodged together in a flat, allowed another man to stay with them, then beat him to death. The kind of things that prosecutors and police say about such murders shows, writes Dalrymple,

how far they have absorbed and accepted the thugs’ view of the world.

The prosecutor said:

There was no good reason to kill the victim, but they were all very drunk, and maybe that is an explanation.

Dalrymple comments:

This implies that the perpetrators might have had a good reason to kill the victim. It also accepts that extreme violence is a pharmacological effect of alcohol, which it is not—unlike, say, incoordination.

A policewoman said:

This was a brutal attack on a man outnumbered by the other three, who didn’t stand a chance to defend himself. My thoughts remain with the victim’s family. I hope the verdict brings them a sense of justice and allows them to come to terms with this tragic and senseless death.

Dalrymple comments:

Her statement implies that if the murder had been more chivalrous—two against one, say, or man to man—it would have been markedly less heinous, and therefore that it was the cowardice, not the killing, that was so reprehensible. The hope that the verdict alone would bring a sense of justice to the family was surely absurd, unless it was followed by appropriate punishment—as almost certainly it would not be.

The prosecutor and the policewoman’s remarks

show how far both have come to accept that chivalrous and sensible murders are an inevitable part of British life.

The hackneyed all-our-thoughts formula

Usman Khan

Dalrymple points out that whenever high-profile murders take place in the West,

someone in high authority is bound to say something like All our thoughts are with the victims (or the relatives of the victims).

He points out that

this is a lie, and by no means a noble one: all the high authority’s thoughts ought not to be with the victims or with the relatives of the victims. The authority ought rather to be thinking of whether there are means to prevent similar attacks in the future. It is perfectly possible to express decent condolences without resort to obvious and insincere exaggeration.

Bright young things

Ideological selective memory

Picking up a copy of the International Herald Tribune, Dalrymple alights on an article reprinted from the New York Times on the Dirty War in Argentina. It declares that

the devastation inflicted on a generation is hard to overstate,

and asserts that a large proportion of those who disappeared were

bright and idealistic young people.

Dalrymple comments:

The phrase ‘bright and idealistic young people’ should be sufficient to alert any sensible person to the likelihood that an important aspect of the story is being omitted for ideological reasons (or rather, purposes).

He notes that in pursuit of their ideals, the mistakes that some of these bright young people made included

  • armed robbery
  • widespread kidnap
  • assassination
  • random murder

By the time the army carried out its coup in 1976, Dalrymple notes,

over 3,000 people had been killed in the political violence unleashed by the young idealists. The Dirty War, terrible and unforgivable as it was, did not arise by spontaneous generation.

The part played in the Dirty War by the bright young idealists

should not be forgotten (though it almost always is), for otherwise, the wrong lessons will be learned. Amnesia would be preferable to blatantly ideological selective memory.

New ways of understanding youth

Dalrymple writes that Hermine Hug-Hellmuth was

sycophantically respectful of and grateful to Sigmund Fraud, which meant that, being the kind of man that he was, she remained in his good books. This was not the case with Freud’s daughter, Anna, who could not forgive her for having been the first to apply psychoanalysis to children, which is how she, Anna, wanted to be known. Pettiness and spite have always been the hallmarks of psychoanalysis, despite its claims to wisdom.

She was leading an arid existence, involving herself

in an arcane sect that contributed nothing to human understanding. Rather, the reverse: it erected elaborate screens of absurd theory between people and their proper self-reflection or self-examination.

She had an illegitimate elder half-sister, Antoine, who in 1906 gave birth to an illegitimate son called Rudolf. In 1924, Rudolf murdered Hermine brutally, shortly after publication of her book, Neue Wege zum Verständnis der Jugend: Psychoanalytische Vorlesungen für Eltern, Lehrer, Erzieher, Schulärzte, Kindergärtnerinnen und Fürsorgerinnen. It is hard, says Dalrymple,

to suppress a smile at the irony of it.

The tragedy of penological deflation

In 2003, Dalrymple writes, the ‘rock’ exponent Bertrand Cantat

brutally did to death the actress Marie Trintignant, with whom he was having an affair. He beat her so severely that she died not long afterwards of her head injuries. He was under the influence of alcohol and cannabis at the time.

For this terrible crime, in which there were no mitigating circumstances, Cantat

spent four years in prison, a derisory punishment.

Dalrymple asks:

If you have to serve only four years for such a crime, what punishment can a lesser, but nonetheless serious, crime attract, assuming that the principle of proportionality of punishments has still to apply?

Lupine leanings

This wild carnivorous mammal is most unfairly maligned

Dalrymple writes that he is

more kindly disposed to wolves than to rats,

on account of wolves’

obvious relationship to dogs. I would quite like to see sweet little wolf cubs gambolling in my meadow.

Besides, he says,

the penalty for killing a wolf in France is a fine of up to €150,000 and a jail sentence of up to seven years. If you must kill, kill a man. It’s easier and cheaper.

Forces beyond the criminal’s control

Dalrymple’s 2017 work

In the prison where Dalrymple works, there are at the moment

three stabbers (two of them unto death) who used precisely the same expression when describing to me what happened. ‘The knife went in,’ they said when pressed to recover their allegedly lost memories of the deed.

Dalrymple comments:

The knife went in—unguided by human hand, apparently. That the long-hated victims were sought out, and the knives carried to the scene of the crimes, was as nothing compared with the willpower possessed by the inanimate knives themselves, which determined the unfortunate outcome.

A peculiar kind of feminist populism

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-22-20-12You will not, writes Dalrymple,

be treated too severely if you kill your violent husband, even if you have made no other efforts to avoid his violence. If you put up with it for long enough, in fact, you can kill him.

Women,

apparently weak and feeble creatures, can’t be held to the same level of legal obligation as men. They are by nature victims and nothing but victims, indeed not fully responsible human beings.

The Magnanville killer

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 19.17.28

Abballa entered the home of a policeman and stabbed him to death, then slit the policeman’s wife’s throat in front of her three-year-old son

Larossi Abballa, a common petty criminal like many of his kind, had, writes Dalrymple, a weak intellect which

seized on the supposed glories of religious crime, the solution to his accumulated frustrations, resentments, and personal insignificance.

Abballa had spent two years in prison for jihadist activity,

having refused to answer the questions of his accusers because he considered them, from the great height of his moral authority, to be unbelievers and evildoers to whom no duty was owed other than to kill as many of them as possible.

While in prison he acted as an evangelist for jihad, but after his release he was, says Dalrymple,

lost to follow-up, as we doctors so elegantly put it.

Sydney sordor

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 08.04.28Dalrymple writes that the murder scenes in City of Shadows, an exhibition at Sydney’s Justice & Police Museum, are

sordid in the extreme: blood spattered on the sheets of an unmade bed in a low boarding house, that kind of thing. They speak of sordid desperation rather than of cunning, let alone of struggles with conscience. I am afraid that the murders in the trials of whose perpetrators I have given evidence have all been of this kind, as the overwhelming majority of murders are and always have been.

Dalrymple does not think

anyone looking at these pictures, however unrepresentative of their time, would feel much nostalgia for the years in which they were taken. The scale of the raw poverty was unlike anything today.

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