Self-defence, shooting burglars, and sexual harassment

BurglarA headline caught my eye recently: “No charges for Oklahoma teen mother who called 911 to ask permission to kill burglar“.  The story is about a woman who called police to ask if she could shoot an intruder if he entered her home. He entered; she killed him with a shotgun.  In a country where gun ownership is prevalent, and in some communities even encouraged, you would think that would be a deterrent to burglars and other intruders.  But with 215 justifiable homicides in 2009, it would seem not.

But what is a deterrent? The death penalty? Abolition of hanging in the UK didn’t appreciably increase the murder rate, and death row is overflowing in the USA.

Perhaps people living in a great environment are less inclined towards crime? The government of the Seychelles would disagree,

Fear of being caught maybe? Anecdotal evidence suggests that, rather like Norman Stanley Fletcher, imprisonment is simply viewed as an occupational hazard – and for some even an educational opportunity.

So, if there is no adequate deterrent, should we be allowed to shoot burglars – or, in the UK where we can’t own guns, perhaps politely berate them with golf club? Continue reading

Sickening cruelty

I tend not to read newspapers, and generally get my news intake from the BBC or from Sky. This means I can generally be pretty selective in my news intake, and probably get a broad appreciation of current events. 

We are, perhaps, inured to some news stories about human suffering – the stories about troops in Afghanistan, piracy in Somalia, drought in Africa, are all very sad but perhaps lack the personal impact.  I do have every sympathy for those who have lost loved ones, but through overexposure the stories don’t necessarily touch me personally.

And then, every so often, we have a story about unspeakable cruelty and some of these make me feel sick.  There was one a few months ago about a mother who drowned her toddlers in a river – young lives tragically cut short.

Yesterday the press reported the jailing of a woman who microwaved a kitten in a fit of revenge or spite.  This story made me feel physically unwell, and I cannot comprehend either the sickening cruelty shown by the woman, the hideous suffering of the kitten, or the mental anguish of the kitten’s owner.  As a cat person I feel for the latter two and know that I would possibly have wanted to knock seven shades out of the perpetrator of such an act. Hopefully, someday, karma will exact its own revenge.

In this nation of animal lovers, should I be surprised that the news stories which shock me most are about cruelty to the defenceless?