Sunday, 22 July 2012

Can Murder be Justified?

by Salma Rana
police line, murder, economics for teens, economics for teenagers, teenage economist, teen economist
This question may seem rather straightforward and you may initially find yourself leaning towards ‘No, murder cannot be justified’ because all in all, it is not acceptable to take away someone else’s chance at life. Right?  However, when you look at the bigger picture you find that it is more complicated than that because of the various degrees to murder and really, what is classified as murder and what makes it justified? 


Killing animals, war and capital punishment are murderous situations but they have happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future and seem to be completely justified by many.

The headline “No charge for father who killed daughter's rapist”  has been around in the media for the past few weeks and has definitely raised some interesting issues concerning ethics and human rights.
village, texas, economics for teens, economics for teenagers, teenage economist, teen economist 
The father and daughter are left anonymous in order to protect their identities. A quick overview of the case is that, on June 9th, a Texas dad found his five year old daughter being sexually assaulted by a rapist, and consequently beat the attacker to death. The father was not charged and, although investigated for homicide, the jury were very quick to come to this conclusion.

The fact that they were very quick in deciding this ultimately questions, as extreme as it sounds, whether murder can ever be justified.

I have a relativist view of this and personally think that in this case, it can.

Everyone has their own rights, but I believe that because and when the attacker raped an innocent young girl -and could have potentially killed her- he lost those rights.   

While some are concerned about the fact that a killer is let off, they may not be aware of the full circumstances. Put yourself in the father's position. You hear that your daughter has been abducted and then you follow her screams, only to find her being treated in the worst possible way imaginable. Do you just stand there and wait for the police to arrive or do you do everything in your power to get your daughter away from the man? The answer seems straight forward, and it is.

Some say that the father could have just taken his daughter and left, but then that would leave the rapist free to commit similar crimes. So while he beat up the attacker, in a fit of rage- he did, in affect, protect potential future victims.

What I think to be one of the most important factors and greatly justified the homicide was that he didn't mean or want the attacker to die. He even called the police himself when the realised that the man was dying. He then arranged an ambulance. 

"I need help. This guy is dying on me... oh my god... I'm going to try to load him up on the truck and take him to the hospital." He sobbed into the phone. 

I do not think that the rights of the rapist are relevant anymore because on top of the injuries left on the five-year old girl, we need to consider her mental health. Now this experience has probably tainted her life and left her quite distressed, when once she would have felt completely safe. She will need time to recover. Moreover, the father himself did not mean to kill the attacker and therefore will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he did.

It seems that war, animal testing and capital punishment are just as justified as this case. In fact, this case may be even more justified because the three above are cases where murder has been completely intentional whereas (and reiterating this) the father did not intend to commit murder. And looking back, capital punishment is seen as a form of self- defense because you are protecting “the people” and in this case the father has also protected “the people”.

So, what to do think? Can murder ever be justified? Was is ethical and acceptable for the father not to be charged, at all? And what makes murder acceptable? 

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4 comments:

  1. Very interesting article, and it raises some important ethical questions. However, what do you think about the idea that justifying some kinds of murder could allow murderers and antisocial people to believe that actually, they can justify their actions in some way, too? I'm saying this to spark off some sort of philosophical debate :)

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  2. Thank you! :)
    That's a really really good point and ultimately a disadvantage for cancelling out the death penalty. I think that no one has the right to decide if someone lives or not but then if this works in the favour of murderers and they can come up with an excuse to justify their actions- this would create more problems and it is better to take the murder out of the equation.

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  3. Brilliant article, Salma! But in response to John's point, haven't most murderers justified their actions in their heads anyway? I've just checked out the stats for UK criminals re-offending, and the figure is about 26%. So doesn't this just suggest that murderers and other criminals seem to have justified their actions to themselves already?

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  4. I agree and have mixed feelings on both sides. I think that if I personally was in the act of a shooting and someone was holding a gun at my face and I had a gun I wouldn't think about murder I would think about staying safe and staying alive so I would probably shoot.

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