Time to Draw the Line?
I often read or hear people say “everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs, as long as they don't attempt to force their opinions upon me,” or something to that effect. Up until now I've never really had the inclination to argue with that thought process; everyone, irrespective of their nationality, sexuality or ethnicity, should, quite rightly, be allowed the freedom to believe whatever the hell they choose to, however absurd or worthy of criticism those beliefs may be. But at what point do we draw the line? What has to happen to instigate a transformation in the leniency granted to the archaic and often preposterous ramblings of religious fundamentalists? Is cold-blooded murder enough? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Dark Reality
Recently, world news has been awash with the violently disturbing and sickening images of the death of journalist James Foley at the hands of Islamic Jihadists, and it acts as a fresh and bloodthirsty reminder of what these twisted organisations are capable of. It isn't the first, and almost certainly won't be the last of this form of brutality, but there is something quintessentially different about this latest act of savagery which troubles me deeply. We have become, as avid aficionados of social media, almost desensitised to the continuous multitude of images depicting the slaughter and brutalisation of our fellow humans. We have reached a point where we are no longer shocked or repulsed by the visual stimulus offered up by the Internet, because we are so frequently exposed to such atrocities. It's a depressing truth, and one which we should be ashamed of.
What happened to James, it appears, wasn't carried out by one of the usual suspects. This wasn't one of those stereotypical, uneducated, Islamic devotees with an impoverished and underprivileged background. No, by all accounts, this was a citizen of the United Kingdom, someone with access to a plethora of information, logic, reason, and the right to a free education. This, as I see it, is the most disturbing aspect of all.
Indoctrination: the Devil that Drives
So, what drives someone to do the unthinkable? What gives someone the urge to commit cold-blooded murder? These are the questions which have kept me awake at night, bothered me as I've pondered and analysed every possibility and eventuality, and there are, for me, only three reasonable answers which offer even the slightest hint of insight.
The first is that age old chestnut: the perpetrator had been brainwashed by religious propaganda. Upon first inspection, you'd be inclined to accept this explanation. It happens all the time, doesn't it? Wherever there are militant fundamentalist preachers spewing their hatred, there are those hanging on their every word, happy to be swept away on a tide of bitter, hate-fuelled emotion. Is that alone enough, however, to push someone to take the life of another human being, and in such brutal fashion? I, personally, am somewhat sceptical. Which brings me to the first alternative answer: it takes someone with an underlying pathological condition to commit such an atrocity. Only somebody with psychopathic tendencies would lack the empathy capable of deterring them from such an abhorrent act of savagery.
And then there's the third possibility and, for me, the one which makes the most sense. The nauseating depravity of this detestable crime is a culmination of both possibilities. Without hate-filled rants from deplorable clerics, these mentally disturbed young men would most likely go about their everyday lives – still with murder at the forefront of their minds – driven by society's condemnation of such brutality to keep their twisted fantasies to themselves.
What this current Islamic movement allows is for these savage, perverted individuals to become united. It gives them an excuse, an easy introduction to the way of life they crave. It brings hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these loathsome characters together and gives them a free pass to villainy, giving them all the motive they need to carry out the unimaginable, and then applauding them for their efforts.
So, who should be held accountable? The ones committing the crimes or the puppet-masters pulling their strings? The clerics are the ones spouting the hatred, sending their psychologically unhinged disciples out to do their dirty work, whilst they keep their hands clean and blood free in the sanctuary of their mosques. Without them, the culprits of these heinous acts would lack direction and incentive, become fragmented and disorganised. They are only unified by the agendas of their peers, and those agendas just happen to be murderous.
The old proverb goes: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. In my opinion, the same rule applies to humanity where deplorable acts are concerned. If someone lacks the inclination to do something, no amount of persuasion would be enough to change their mind; they must first possess the desire. So, based on this hypothesis, the clerics have a need to search out the most suitable candidates to carry out their bloodthirsty schemes, those who already possess a longing to kill. They must first seek out the thirsty horses.
The Lunatics are Running the Asylum
Upon reflection, I have concluded that the clerics responsible for the implementation of these horrific agendas must, themselves, be somewhat unbalanced. They appear to revel in the distress and death of those they see as adversaries, thrive upon bloodshed and suffering, whilst vindicating their actions with words from a fifteen-hundred year old book – a book which espouses their hideous nature. What worries me is that these groups are becoming larger, more insanely motivated, organised, and vicious. But with a bunch of egotistical sociopaths leading an army of deranged psychopaths, anxieties aside, I'm still not at all surprised.