Question of the Day

When Is It OK to Kill?

By William Alexander

Yesterday, Ian Brady explained his murder of five children in the mid-60s as an "existentialist experience." Which seems like a pretty big leap from reading Sartre's Nausea while staring out of windows, but I suppose that's how you get away with justifying murder when you're batshit. If you're not batshit, how would you go about it? London, when is it OK to kill?

Ben: That is a hard one, isn’t it? But in self-defence, it would be OK, I guess.

Self-defence from what?
It’s OK to kill if someone’s trying to kill you.

What if it’s a toddler who's very angry and trying to kill you?
Really, if it’s me or the toddler, it’s going to be the toddler. I know that seems unfair, but yeah.

Have you ever killed someone before?
No. I’ve caused a large traffic accident, but I don’t think anyone died.

How did that happen?
I looked like I was going to let someone pull out on the road, then I changed my mind and they pulled out and… It was quite bad. But I don’t think anyone died. I hope.

You sound nervous.

Josh: If they kill a member of your family, say a mother or a father. So it’d be a revenge killing, I think.

What kind of revenge?
An eye for an eye, you know?

So, if someone steals your pencil, is that justification?
No, no, no. If someone killed my mother, then I could go and kill them. That’d be all right in my book. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it might do. I think that’s right.

Riyeka: Like a human being?

Yeah.
It’s just not.

So not even in some crazed scenario, if somebody attacked your family or you were defending your house?
No, I don’t think I could live with it. I’m pretty against killing people

Phil: It’s not.

Even in self-defence?
No, I don’t think so. Perhaps the only time it's OK to kill someone—and even this probably isn't OK—is in a war situation.

If somebody came into your house waving a gun around, you wouldn’t retaliate?
It would be the last option I would consider.

That’s a good thing.
Plus, you read in the news that these people who get burgled and shoot people end up worse off than the person who broke into the house. I wouldn’t even tread on a fly if I could help it.

What do you think about Ian Brady explaining his murder of five children as wanting to have an existential experience?
I guess Ian Brady said the same kind of thing that many other people who aren’t on the same wavelength as the rest of the human race would say. So, I think that if your perception of reality is different, you might think that it’s OK to kill someone and perhaps there’s a lot of people who’d like to see what it feels like.

That’s a little scary.
There are a lot of people who’ll try everything once. And I guess there’s always that guy who takes it to the next level. Or girl.

Yeah, let’s not be sexist about this.

Kim: I suppose it’s completely circumstantial. Like, self-defense would be the one situation that I think would be OK if your own life was being directly threatened.

What if people were taking your possessions?
No, I don’t think your possessions are necessar. They’re all replaceable.

How about in a time of war?
That’s providing a service. It’s a job, and it’s the government’s decision if you signed up for that service. It’s completely circumstantial if you’re enrolled in something like that and it’s your duty. If it was voluntary service, then that seems like that would be something you’d agree to regardless.

Previously - What Would You Get Tear Gassed for?

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