January 22, 2004

Killing Without Dehumanizing I

Michael Williams has a somewhat disturbing post on the subject of dehumanizing in order to kill. I think that he's adopting an easy way out that has wide negative implications for social policy.

I think that it should not be easy to kill. I belong to a faith that takes the commandment against murder very seriously. But at the same time it is not a pacifist faith (though our current bishop, God bless him, gets very close). One thing that it would be very much against is the idea of dehumanization. Yes, Saddam Hussein is a child of God, yes Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot all were children of God and special to Him.

That doesn't mean that they didn't need a bullet to their brain as soon as possible to limit the horrific damage they were bent on, and ultimately succeeded at, doing. What it does mean is that killing is ultimately a horrible moral choice and that you should look very hard at alternatives to doing the equivalent of taking a baseball bat to one of God's priceless artworks because if you could have got around the problem without killing, without destroying that priceless handiwork, and you chose destruction over an alternative, he's going to be mad.

Each of us, however, has a personal duty to preserve ourselves. We have a duty to preserve our families because we too, are just as priceless, just as precious in the eyes of God. And if someone comes into my house with death on his mind, I'll take up that duty of defense without forgetting the enormous value of what I destroy by baseball bat, knife or shotgun. I'm not killing a "goblin" as Michael Williams thinks of it. I'm destroying something priceless to preserve something priceless that I'm specifically responsible for, myself. And spiritually, civilized men should be prepared to do such things. Dehumanization just makes it too easy for others to fashion rationalizations for aggressive killing. To a certain extent, it disarms us and makes us more receptive to the calls of demagogues and haters.

Posted by TMLutas at January 22, 2004 11:40 AM