Monday, June 01, 2009

Another religious nutball with a weapon. One dead, one wounded.

The initial reports indicated that two US Army recruiters had been hit by an attacker during a random act of violence.

None of that seems to be the case. The two soldiers killed were, in fact, fresh out of boot camp and had returned to the station which recruited them as a part of a US Army scheme known as the Hometown Recruiting Assistance Program. It brings new soldiers, having just completed their Initial Entry Training (boot camp), back to their hometowns to assist the full-time recruiters and to talk to the social group from which they came.

I'm quite certain that many will find that a little repugnant. I'm also certain that those who do so will be unable to produce a service record from any armed force. So be it. Service in the armed forces of most industrialized western countries is voluntary, at least in terms of compulsion to enter, so whether you have served or not is of little consequence save for the fact that those of us who have possess a greater insight into some of the less obvious internal workings.

That's not what this is actually about, however. What it's about is that two young people, dutifully going about their business, were attacked by yet another violent nutball allegedly using his religion as motivation for his actions. In the end, 24-year old Private William Long, lay dead on the floor alongside a wounded 18-year old Private Quinton Ezeagwula.

I strongly doubt there is any organized constituency for whom the individual who perpetrated this act can legitimately claim to be serving. It came out of nowhere without a prelude of threats. Nevertheless, police are suggesting it was a targeted attack - the recruiting office and its occupants being the targets.

If the suspect in custody, once Carlos Bledsoe, and now, having converted to Islam, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (the interpretation of that name suggests he sees himself in a special position) is guilty of this, and if he truly is using his adopted religion as the motive for murder then it's time a secular court sent a message.

Anyone using their religion, regardless of what it is, as an excuse to shield their behaviour, instead of being able to steer that excuse to mitigate guilt or sentence, should have their sentence extended and the use of religion as an excuse treated as an aggravating factor.

Religion is supposed to be about "souls". Beyond that, it has very little merit. If an individual drags their religion into souless murder they should be made to pay a greater price.

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