Woolwich Attack: Some Thoughts

Yes, it's a meat clever; and yes, that is the soldier's blood.

Two men sit in a car around 2pm in a busy street in London, near the Woolwich Barracks. They wait for someone to come out. When this happens, they knock him down with the car, with a violence showed by the damage to the vehicle as it ends against a post.

The two get out of the car and start to, literally, butcher the man alive, insulting him and shouting Islamic slogans. They are armed with a least a big knife and a meat cleaver (yes, a meat cleaver), apparently also with a machete that I have not seen in any video.

After the murder they remain there, shouting, inviting people to get near, and take photos and videos. The man with the meat cleaver, his arm and hands covered in blood, rants his Islamic slogans. They are clearly waiting for the armed police to arrive and probably shoot them. After an astonishingly long 20 minutes the armed police is there, and punctually takes both of them down. One is gravely wounded, and is transported with a helicopter to an hospital to (oh, the irony…) save his life.

Not even the stupidest, most brainwashed liberal out there can have any doubt these people were compos mentis, and will be convicted as surely as the “amen” in the church.

In saner times, they would have been condemned to death. In a case like this – an obviously premeditated murder, and a brutally cruel one at that, against a man targeted purely for being a soldier – the capital punishment is not only the expression of an elementary sense of justice, but is also very useful for the murderers, as the approaching of the punishment for their deed helps them to repent and die at peace with at least their god, hoping the real one considers it sufficient to avoid hell. They say – and I do believe – that the approaching of death concentrates the mind beautifully.

This was also what happened in, say, the Papal States. Justice required foul murders to be paid with one's life, and charity provided spiritual assistance to the very end. Who knows how many have (obviously helped by God's grace) managed to achieve a happy death at the gallows, who might otherwise not have been achieved.

Not in these disgraceful times, though. You can butcher a man you have never seen with a meat clever, and an army of social workers will be busy on you for the decades to come, the prospect of freedom one day a distant, but not unrealistic one. The social workers will, in fact, do all they can to avoid realising you are just evil; you must be mad, or at least reformable if enough employment opportunities for the likes of them (not you; them) is given.

Modern society is so scared with death that it does not want to contemplate it, not even for evil bastards like these two. The country simply removes the reality of death from its radar screen for as long as it gets. Life (all life; even the foxes' or the badgers') is one of the sacred cows of our godless societies.

Let us congratulate, then, the two bastards; who after having butchered a man alive have now the perspective of a long life, all expenses courtesy of the stupid taxpayer, whilst feeling like heroes.




Posted on May 23, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Mundabor,
    whenever I’m thinking about the death penalty, I am reminded of the words of Gandalf to Frodo about Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Let me quote:

    Frodo has just said: “I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death”.
    Gandalf answers: “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    This has always been a very strong argument, for me, against the death penalty. We just do not know, whether it will be best to kill a man or to spare his life (and we cannot give his life back once we have taken it). In principle, the death penalty is clearly justified in a number of cases, including the case you write about. These men deserve death. Justice almost requires that they die. They might even be converted by the prospect of the gallows. But then, they might also be converted by having 50 years to reflect on their deeds with God working upon them. The problem is, we do not know what will be best. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

    Now, let me say clearly that we do not disagree at all on principle:
    (1) The legitimate authority has a natural right to exercise the death penalty in a case like this.
    (2) Justice would be served by executing these despicable murderers.
    (3) Most opponents of the death penalty, being modern liberals, oppose it for gravely wrong reasons.

    But Tolkien certainly was no modern liberal. He was as traditional and as Catholic as you can imagine. And I believe he was right in having Gandalf urge caution to Frodo, just as I believe I am right in urging caution about the death penalty as a whole. It is just, it is legitimate, but it should also be very rare, as we are not the omniscient lifegiver, that is, God.

    That said, if these brutal murderers were to be hanged, I would not have any sleepless nights over them…

    • Catocon,
      I’ll take my doctrine rather from 2000 years of Caholicism up to and including Pope Pius XII, than from Gandalf.

      More in detail, I am also very fond of Tolkien, too, but I never took the famous passage you mention as against the death penalty in itself, rather against Frodo’s anger, to whom Gandalf opposes a wider view of things. I see in it a call to trust in Providence, not the breaking of a lance for the abolition of the capital punishment.

      The wise cannot see all ends, but they can, and should, act wisely. If we take the statement literally, there should never be any punishment, because we can, in fact, never see all ends, and then justice nods up watered down in an ocean of goodism.

      I also reflect in the next 50 years the man could radicalise other 50, or 500, people.

      It’s not that people in the past didn’t know the arguments you present. It’s that hey knew them.

      But by all means, let’s agree to disagree.


  2. They won’t radicalize anyone in jail, either…

  3. Mundabor,
    you write:
    “I’ll take my doctrine rather from 2000 years of Caholicism up to and including Pope Pius XII, than from Gandalf.”

    Me too! I do not take any doctrine from Gandalf, however wise… 😉

    I should have made clearer that I do not necessarily urge abolishment of the death penalty, just caution in its application. You are right, the wise are to exercise their judgement, and sometimes this judgement may be the death penalty. No disagreement from me on this issue. I am not opposed to the death penalty on principle. (“Calm down, good sir, I’m not Mark Shea…” ;))

    But… when someone was executed in the Papal States in earlier centuries, this decision was made by someone who understood what death is, and which spiritual consequences this might have. He was a rather sound Catholic. But if we look at the situation today: Are those who make these decisions really wise? Do they even understand what their judgement really means? Not just materially, but spiritually? Do they even take into account the likelihood of salvation versus damnation? Do they even think on this basis? Your judge in the Papal States did. Tolkien/Gandalf did as well. If the situation would have been otherwise, if it had been warranted, no doubt Gandalf would not have hesitated to execute Gollum. Nor would I object to him doing it.

    The problem I have with the modern application of the death penalty is not the principle. Of course it is legitimate and acceptable to execute a murderer (and I might, depending on the circumstances, say the same about some rapists). It is the application of the principle by people who do not even know what death means, and who are most certainly not wise, that is the problem. Nobody can see all ends. But they do not even see a few of them. They would not know when to execute and when to spare. The modern system of “justice” knows neither justice nor mercy.

    We have no difference on doctrine. As I stated before, it is a natural right of the state to execute certain types of criminals. This is constant teaching of the Church, universal and ordinary magisterium. We might have to agree to disagree on two prudential judgements:
    (1) How often it is wise to apply the death penalty.
    (2) Whether we can trust the wisdom and judgement of those in charge of deciding those matters if and when the death penalty is “on the books”.

    • ah yes, the right laws presuppose the right structures and ways of thinking. But at the same time, the right laws form the good thinking, and create the wise men. I never tire to say that the laws of one generation are the morality of the following one.

      In practice, a government seriously intentioned to reintroduce the death penalty would take care – again, if it is serious – that things are done properly. I dare to think most proponents of the capital punishment are Christians nowadays, so the one would go with the other.

      I also note in the Papal state the capital punishment was applied far more selectively than, say, in Dickens’ England, where a receiver of stolen goods like Fagin would easily, in Dickens’ words, “swing”. The Papal States applied the punishment, in general, for wilful murder, as the supreme offence made to God with the killing of one life meant the forfeiture of the highest possession of the offender, his life. Very mild by the standard of the times; but, like Gandalf, very wise.


  4. radjalemagnifique


    I’m also a science fiction fan and in the 1970’s we’ve got the French translation of Robert Sheckley’s novel “The Status Civilization” (1960) under the French title “Oméga”.

    Oméga is a far away planet. Once a month, a spaceship from Earth brings there the most horrible criminals, with no hope to ever come back to Earth. From the very moment the criminals put their feet on Oméga they have to try to survive ; nothing had been given to them, not even a piece of bread (or may be just a piece of bread, I don’t remember).

    On this inhospitable planet only the most wicked and the most brutal individuals survive, they betray each other and they slaughter each other in the most abject way.

    Since I read this, I think this could be an alternative to death penalty. Technically it’s feasible.

    Radja le Magnifique

  5. Mundabor,
    “But at the same time, the right laws form the good thinking, and create the wise men.”
    This is generally true if we mean the whole of the laws, the total system. One single law, like the death penalty, will not do anything in this regard. There is no evidence at all that the existence of the death penalty in many US States has contributed to the law courts taking into account the state of the offender’s soul.

    As to the religion of modern proponents of the death penalty: In Germany, about two thirds of the population do in fact favor the death penalty. I seem to remember similar numbers for Britain. The people are for it, but there is hardly any trace of Christianity in their thinking. If we were to return to sanity in other sections of the law, such as abolishment of the “death penalty” for the Unborn, we might start to get some of the needed perspective, and then re-introduction of the death penalty would probably come all by itself, as part of a return to normal Christian law, and in a sane and restrained way. But until then I think it unwise to push for it.

    To give a totally different perspective on it: Chesterton once wrote that he was in favor of the death penalty only if it were executed spontaneously, by the people, because in this case there might be some chance of the real criminals getting hanged…
    There might be something to that idea… 😉

    • I think the death penalty in the US is generally idiotic, with an utterly absurd legal system allowing one to remain 10 of fifteen years in the death row and – if memory serve – only one part of the death sentences being carried out in the end. So this cannot be the example.

      As you say, also in Italy the vast majority of the population favours capital punishment, though we have nothing of the “fry them well” mentality you mention. But again, by us Catholic sanity is still more widespread, albeit in an undercurrent way.

      This generation is probably, as a whole, rotten beyond repair. Whoever want to improve on it (and be it with the Capital Punishment) would have to accompany a reform of the laws with a reform of the rest.

      I take your point of it being unwise to push for something that might foster wrong feelings, but again where I come from there is no such danger so this is not my perspective.

      In Mundabor’s England 😉 you’d have a series of measures going in parallel: capital punishment, Catholicism as state religion, solid Catechesis even in schools, law and order taken seriously, personal responsibility as fundamental tenet of convivence.

      Give me 30 years ;), and I’d reshape the country… but even so, yes one would need time and the present generation to die.


  6. What struck me most about seeing this on TV in the U.S. was the fresh blood on his hands… and his “apology” to women for letting them see this… while saying that in his country they must see such things. This minion conjured up all the sex appeal of the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who now has a healthy following of young women. Disturbing, beyond belief. It proves murder has its attractive side and is capable, on its own, to gather converts.

    • It is a well-known phenomenon that brutal murderers attract a certain type of woman who are either fascinated by violence or love the “troubled soul”. This is another of the infinite reasons why convicted people should not be allowed physical contact with people outside of jail.


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