Category Archives: murderers

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.

Enfeebled England

Sinking further into moral squalor

Why is Britain so lacking in moral confidence? (In this, it is only the worst case of a malaise in the West.) Dalrymple points to the expansion of tertiary education, especially in non-technical subjects. He notes that large numbers of people

have been educated in injustice and grievance studies, which have had for their effect the dissolution of a sense of human beings as agents rather than victimised vectors of forces.

If murderers and other violent criminals behave in the way that they do,

it must be (sociology, psychology, and criminology teach) because of social forces beyond their control. Hence it is unjust to inflict punishment upon them. Punishment can only be justified where a man is a free agent and could have done otherwise; since he is never a free agent and could never have done otherwise, punishment is never justified. Millions now believe this.

Pusillanimity in the face of violent crime

Kitsch radicalism

‘The photo that adorns a thousand tea-towels, watch faces, boxes of fudge, covers of exercise books, and other products of radical kitsch. Che started as a murderer and ended as Mickey Mouse.’

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?

Jargon that passes for science

Dalrymple writes that he has given evidence in cases

in which various psychiatrists have sought to explain (or is it excuse?) murderers because of their difficult childhoods, poor upbringing, bad education, and so forth.

He has watched

relatives of victims foully done to death squirm with pain and disgust as feeble exculpations of the culprits are offered in the language not so much of science as of jargon.

An all-round bad egg

Dalrymple writes that John Donald Merrett, when a young man, shot his mother dead and forged her cheques. He lived to kill another day: his wife and mother-in-law, more than a quarter of a century later. He made a living as a smuggler and swindler.

Why we read and re-read the doctor-essayist

Dalrymple is identified by an acute English journalist (also a skilled and powerful debater), Peter Hitchens, as

one of the greatest men of our age [second item in Hitchens’s 6th August 2017 column in the UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday].

For decades, Hitchens reminds us, Dalrymple

worked in a major British jail, listening to the excuses and self-justifications of people who had done terrible things to others, and to themselves.

Refusing to follow fashion,

and genuinely concerned for these often very sad characters, he treated them as adults, urging them to take responsibility for their actions instead of offering excuses for them. Many, who had come to despise authority, were glad to be up against someone they could not easily fool.

Hitchens’s guess is that many of those Dalrymple treated

benefited greatly from his tough-minded approach. He didn’t fill them with pills or substitute one drug for another. His observations of the way heroin abusers feign terrible discomfort, after arriving in prison and being deprived of their drug, is both funny and a badly needed corrective to conventional wisdom.

All this, Hitchens notes, is to be found in the Dalrymple collection The Knife Went In (2017).

The title, a quotation from an actual murderer, is an example of the way such people refuse to admit they had any part in the crimes they commit. The knife somehow got there and went into the victim, by itself. It is a series of short, gripping real-life stories in which he recounts his experiences with our broken, lying penal system with its fake prison sentences and its ridiculous form-filling as a substitute for action.

The book is mainly about prisons and crime, but, says Hitchens,

it tells a deep truth about the sort of society we have become. It is one in which almost nobody is, or wants to be, responsible for anything.

Hitchens concludes:

A future historian, a century hence, will learn more about 21st-century Britain from this book than from any official document.

Laxity of the criminal justice system

Dalrymple points out that the murder of a policeman by Karim Cheurfi, a Muslim terrorist, on the Champs-Elysées is another illustration of

the laxity of the French (and British) criminal justice system — a laxity which demonstrates a corrosive lack of cultural self-confidence.

An article in the Paris newspaper the Monde, Dalrymple notes,

said that the case of Cheurfi was bound to reignite debate on the ‘laxity’ (sic) of the French criminal justice system. It is symptomatic of the problem that the word laxity appeared as ‘laxity’, as though juridical negligence were a wild allegation, a figment of someone’s febrile imagination.

Dalrymple notes that people like Cheurfi

view themselves as victims rather than as perpetrators. According to an acquaintance, Cheurfi believed that the police had ruined his life because they had been instrumental in the long imprisonment that had left him unable to marry or have children at the usual age. After all, at the time, he had only stolen a car with a gun in his possession, and if the police had left him alone, no one would have been hurt.

Education of a medical student

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 18.49.35A few weeks ago, writes Dalrymple,

I had a medical student attached to me.

The first patient they saw together was

a young man brought to the hospital by the police with the blood of his girlfriend, whom he had just stabbed to death, still on his shoes. She had taunted him, he said, about his inferior performance as a lover compared with her last such, one of many, whom she had then telephoned to ask him to come and ‘sex her up’ because he — the murderer — was not up to it.

The patient, being a man

conditioned to believe by an over-sexualised culture that sexual performance was the only real measure of a human being, resorted to the kitchen knife and stabbed her not once, not twice, but thrice. Thereafter, he had called the police and taken the pills.

As the patient told his story, Dalrymple looked at his medical student,

an intelligent, sheltered young man (as young men ought to be). He learned more about human nature in that 10 minutes than in all the rest of his life put together. He aged, or perhaps I should say matured, visibly as he listened.

In the afternoon, they saw a man

who had strangled his girlfriend in her parents’ house, also in an access of jealousy.

Not for the medical student any longer

the shallow pieties of the sexual revolution.

Certain unfortunate consequences of stress

Inactivity; lassitude; moderate activity; tiredness; fatigue; exhaustion;

Stress curve: inactivity; lassitude; collecting social security; moderate activity; drug-dealing; vigorous activity; living off the earnings of kuffar prostitutes; tiredness; drug-taking; fatigue; robbery and violence; exhaustion; breakdown; running amok; mass murder; suicide bombing; 7,000 houris in Jannah

The mother of two of the mass murderers in the 2013 Paris attacks said she was sure that the son who blew himself up with explosives in his vest did not intend to kill anyone and acted in the way he did only because of stress. She thus, writes Dalrymple,

demonstrated how far she had assimilated to contemporary Western culture from her native Algerian, and how well she understood it.

Her statement

combines two important modern tropes: that stress excuses all, and that irrespective of someone’s actual conduct, however terrible it may be, there subsists within him a core of goodness that is more real than the superficial badness, such as taking part in mass murder.

It is true, says Dalrymple, that

most of us are not at our best when we are plagued by anxiety and frustration, when we have a hundred things that claim our attention, when we are worried for our jobs, children, careers, and so forth.

However,

most of us are also aware that if we excuse our ill-behaviour on these grounds (as we all tend to do initially whenever we know that we have behaved badly), there is no end to that ill-behaviour.

Most of us, Dalrymple points out, have, strangely enough,

found it comparatively easy to avoid killing other people.

A stressful life, to be sure, but 7,000 virgins are waiting in Paradise

A stressful life, to be sure, but 7,000 virgins are waiting in Paradise

We have found that we are able, at the end of the day, to avoid

wearing garments full of explosives, however severe our stress.

None of us, Dalrymple surmises, has ever said,

I feel so stressed today that I want to put on a jacket of high explosives and blow myself up near, at, or in a restaurant or a café or a football stadium or a concert venue.

Indeed, says Dalrymple,

most of us would think that to dress up in explosives was a sign of a rather severe moral defect that went quite deeper than a response to the stress of the moment.