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in cold blood

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Apr 11, 2008

Responding to a long series of killings by two rival families involved in the Irish drug trade, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick has come out squarely in opposition to murder and mayhem:

To kill another human being in cold blood and to regard that deed as something acceptable is a denial of the dignity not just of the victim but of the perpetrator.

True, no doubt. But mankind has agreed for centuries that murder is a crime of singular gravity. What do the bishop's words add to that understanding? Nothing. On the contrary. The banality of the sentence diminishes the force of the condemnation, making murder sound like on of many possible violations of human rights. Consider:

To use racial epithets to regard that sort of language as something acceptable is a denial of the dignity not just of the victim but of the perpetrator.

Also true, right? The use of racial epithets is wrong. But cold-blooded murder is worse, and so we ordinarily condemn it in much stronger terms.

So what might Bishop Murray have said, to accentuate (rather than soften) the tone of moral outrage? He might have observed that unrepentant murderers go to Hell.

You see, an earnest secularist can tell us when we're jeopardizing our dignity. The job of a bishop is to warn us when we're jeopardizing our souls.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 15, 2008 3:08 AM ET USA

    The joke isn't funny because it hits a little too hard. In Ireland , if you actually are convicted of cold blooded murder, not mitigated by something that might have clouded your judgement like a pint of beer, you won't have to spend much time in prison just 3-5 years. Oh, did I forget that if their was a politicall motivation for cruelly murdering your political opponent, you will get a reprieve, and apology from the government. Hey, we have easy sex offenders law too!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2008 8:49 PM ET USA

    This reads like a classic scene from an Irish drama in which the redfaced cleric, in a thick brogue, finds ways to ameliorate the murderous internecine violence amongst the Irish mob- be they IRA, Provo, local Mafia or wayward boy loving priests. As noted, there is nothing at all distinctly Catholic about this response. We must constantly demand a Catholic response to evil. We must. And the Irish were once our last great hope!

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