It’s been said by religious fanatics and humanitarians that “murder represents a fractured element of our social contract.” To that I ask, “What contract?” Because everywhere I look I see violence. Nature is violent. It is brute. And as human beings there is no questioning the fact that we are comparatively, if not exceedingly, as violent as any creature of the wild. Despite our capacity to rationalize our thoughts and emotions, we are just as insensitive too when it comes to placing a value on life. The mere fact that we categorize it in such a manner (i.e., “the value of life”) denotes there has been and possibly always will be some measure of expectation to be met in order to be deemed and treated as a member of the “human family.”  The million dollar question then becomes who or what defines these expectations? Is it Jesus? Buddha? Muhammad?  Or simply the whims of power? Personally, I’d be more inclined to go with the latter. Because of the former, all have historically proven to be social instruments used to maintain the interests of the powerful. Has not religion, like politics, prompted war the world over and for all eternity placed an authority over our lives and thus our behavior? Has not al-Queda proclaimed jihad to oust the imperialist clutches of the West from their lands? That said, it is easy to make an argument that religion is politics. Thus, the murder that comes of it-irrespective of the faith one chooses-serves to heighten the point in context that, as human beings, life becomes expendable where it fails to comport with that which has been made socially acceptable or politically correct. Needless to say, this has been accomplished throughout history to present times by mere exercise of power. Morality, then, can be posited as an outgrowth of political manipulations which manifest, for example, the previous mention of who will be labeled the murderer opposed to the conqueror.  Often, I put in perspective the contradictions that come of this. For instance, circumstances as they are with me having suffered conviction for first-degree murder have compelled me to recognize the irony in being labeled a murderer opposed to say a prison guard who is a former war veteran or active soldier having returned from a tour of duty. For those who have seen actual combat, while at war they were faced with the possibility, if not the reality, of murdering people for ideals I call into question when gauging their level of understanding and culpability in the larceny and deceptive acquisitions of war.  Some do and readily admit no shame or guilt in partaking in the plundering of other countries so as to maintain their (as well as America’s wealthy) financial standing. Then there are those who have been put to sleep with the lullabies-America the just, America the great, free, and so on and so forth. The former having acknowledged and admitted to his larceny, you would think would also recognize what can rightfully be characterized as his “murder for hire” by the U.S. government, which is an inhumane act. Yet, as with the latter, they have returned home proud and often, though not always, unaffected only to have the audacity to condemn those of us in prison that have killed like them with either larceny or conviction at heart.  Despite the reality that both the prisoner/murderer and the guard/soldier have deprived humankind of life, the latter has been relieved of any sense of wrongdoing because his actions were taken in an effort to maintain and further the political ambitions of the powerful elite. Thus he is awarded handsomely with medals and given a pension for his malice. If taken captive, however, he will be treated like a common criminal. And where he may stand charged with war crimes, he is usually slapped on the wrist.   Case in point, in 2005 Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich led a Marine squad on a death raid that ended with the murder of 24 unarmed, innocent Iraqi women and children. Of the seven Marines charged with murder, they would all eventually be acquitted or had their charges dropped. Here, we can rest assured that in the eyes of the jury they stood before political manipulations worked as if magic to deem them as members of the conqueror’s group under extreme pressures of war attempting to carry out their patriotic duty. This effectively cast upon them the guise of mere patriots fighting for freedom and democracy. Had this jury been composed of members of the afflicted community, the outcome would have unquestionably been different. Sgt. Wuterich, on the other hand, would be the only one to suffer conviction-a maximum of three months in prison for dereliction of duty for telling his charges to shoot first and ask questions later-for ordering the murder of 24 unarmed women and children.  Needless to say, it is exactly the opposite for those of us who bare the label of murderer or lunatic or what have you. We, inevitably, become the scapegoats of society’s manipulated conscience which has directed it to condemn us not because of the gravity to which our actions reflect in depriving one of life, but rather on account of our lack of power in the struggle to define what acts of violence will or will not be deemed beneficial for society. In other words, the actions of the murderer, despite them having mirrored the conqueror’s, are without merit simply on account of the fact his larceny and conviction does not fit into the scheme of preserving (in the strict sense) the interests of America’s ruling class. Therefore, our larceny and conviction (i.e., our objectives) must be criminalized and made to appear as self-serving and thus inconsiderate of the overall economic and social well-being of society at large; while that of the conqueror’s is deemed beneficial given the exploits and spoils that accompany successful warfare. Needless to say, the conqueror of Iraq is just as guilty of a crime as the man who stands convicted of murder. The solider need only be captured at war to prove the point in context.

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