Thursday, 3 June 2010

I'm a big pile of love today.

Sometimes I worry about aliens visiting this planet.

Not in a "Oh my God, they're going to enslave us and force us to work hard labour, like making great big toothbrushes for their extra large alien teeth or something" way. No, what I worry about is that one day an extra terrestrial being will float down from the clouds with a cure for cancer, or a batch of really yummy breakfast cereal made from two parts chocolate and one part awesome, and offer it free and gratis to all of mankind because we're such a swell bunch. And then somehow Mr. Outer Space will wander past a television and happen across the nightly news, and upon conclusion of the broadcast will decide that we really don't qualify under any definition of the word "swell" and promptly vamoose, leaving us either sickly or hungry or both.

You see we humans are in fact wildly stupid. And when I say "stupid" I don't mean "Awww bless look how daft we are" (Gee Note: Not that there isn't plenty of that to go around mind. I've had five of those moments already today, culminating with me lightly bonking my head on the kitchen door while trying unsuccessfully to stop a bacon sandwich falling to the ground). Instead I'm referring to the horrendous and quite frankly evil things we do to each other on a daily basis.

For example, Britain has had a bizarre couple of weeks as far as shocking news stories go. First we had the arrest of a man named Stephen Griffiths, a post grad student studying for a PHD in criminology. Now unlike most students who get nabbed for stealing traffic cones and wearing them on their head, or for trying to pick a fight with a tree after one too many pina coladas, Griffiths was arrested on suspicion of killing prostitutes. Three of them in fact, meaning that if convicted he will become the newest member of a notorious and thankfully small group of British serial killers.

The reason why this is even more appalling than your average murder is that if Griffiths is guilty then it really shows a startling level of callousness, as a student who studies crime should know better than anyone the effect these homicides would have on the victim's friends and families. And considering that when asked for his name in court he responded "The crossbow cannibal" the chances of him being found guilty seem somewhat high (Gee Note: Note to all would be criminals out there. Try to avoid nicknames that make you seem culpable for the crimes you are charged with if you want to, you know, avoid jail time. I mean if your name is Jim Williams and your in the dock being accused of a knife crime, when asked to state your name give it as "Jim Williams", not "Stabby McStabbington". It's a basic error if you do is what I'm saying).

And then yesterday a taxi driver in Cumbria went on a violent rampage through the countryside. Derrick Bird, 52, from the town of Rowrah tore up a path through the sleepy villages around that area shooting people seemingly at random. Details are still pretty sketchy but at the time of writing this 12 people are dead including Bird’s twin brother, the family solicitor, a work colleague and worst of all a father of two who apparently just happened to be standing in his garden at the wrong time. Currently 11 people are receiving treatment for injuries in hospitals with a senior doctor revealing that at least five of those had been shot in the face. Derrick Bird apparently took his own life after the turmoil, leaving in his wake 30 separate crime scenes over 25 miles.

Now predictably the first people to go on the media offensive (Gee Note: Offensive being the key word here) were the gun enthusiasts. From the smug prick who was interviewed on the BBC news report claiming that banning shotguns and rifles would be an overreaction and that if so Britain would be unable to host the Olympics in the future (Gee Note: Despite the fact that, gosh, Britain will be hosting the Olympics in 2012 including handgun shooting events even though handguns are banned in this nation. That’s what government legislation will do for you. Crazy no?), to the insane right wing bloggers all over the internet who are harping on that gun control laws simply do not work, a huge debate has erupted about the whole legal firearm issue.

Now guys, and I’m talking directly to all you out there who believe that guns are a God given right to every man, woman and child walking the face of this earth, allow me to explain something to you. The major system failure here wasn’t that Derrick Bird’s victims were unable to defend themselves because the law prohibited them from carrying weapons. The major system failure was that a taxi driver, a f***ing taxi driver mind you, was allowed to legally own a shotgun and a rifle with a telescopic lens. I mean why? We are not a nation of hunters. There aren’t any bears or wild moose wandering around the forests of Britain. In fact the only real wildlife we have here are rabbits and the occasional squirrel. So realistically when the only vermin one has to contend with can be dusted off with a well thrown rock, a shotgun seems a bit redundant don’t you think?

The thing is not that Derrick Bird lost his mind with tragic, horrible consequences. Mental illness is an unfortunate side effect of being human, a condition where our minds are evolving at a far more rapid rate than the rest of our body. We are still the same creatures that 5000 years ago were living in huts and trying to work out how to keep cows in check. Our brains haven’t changed physically at all since then, in evolutionary terms 5000 years is a blink of an eye, and yet our mental capacity has grown substantially. And because of that our psyche is a bit like a sponge. It’ll still hold water after a fashion, but it’s full of holes. So a psychotic break like the one Derrick Bird, by all accounts a decent if quiet man, suffered are in some ways unavoidable.

But what is totally avoidable is the whole argument that guns shouldn’t be blamed because some guy went nuts and caused carnage with one. Simply because it’s an incredibly stupid debate. As mentioned above, people have always and will always lose their minds. It happens. No use pretending it doesn’t. Hopefully it will never happen to ourselves or to someone we love, but the chances are somebody reading this right now will be affected by a breakdown at some point in their lives. It’s just the way things are. When this happens to some poor soul the chances are they’ll either hurt themselves or others. Now if you can access guns rather easily, what are the chances that in this loon state the result will be fatal? I’m guessing it’s an almost certainty. However replace that gun with, oh I don’t know, a cucumber and the odds of mass destruction become significantly reduced. And yes if you’re determined to kill in cold blood and have the resources to do so you will. But people who snap aren’t Columbo style evil geniuses. They are broken people, unable to rationalise what they do. Take away their gun and, whatever happens, there’ll be a lot less blood shed.

With all that being said, to America now with a quick survey. How would you deal with a friend if you were convinced they had been possessed by the Devil? Would you A) Call the police? B) Call a priest? C) Call the Winchester boys and hope to goodness Sam’s not having one of his melodramatic days? D) Cut off their face, cut out their heart while they’re still breathing, and leave them to bleed to death while you calmly throw their organs in to a fire in order to make sure evil doesn’t consume the rest of the world?

Guess, if you can, where this is going (Gee Note: Spoiler alert. No one becomes possessed in the new Sex and The City movie. Which is a shame really, as a gruesome death is really what that film needs). Well for those who chose option A, obviously you haven’t been paying attention. If you chose option D then congratulations, you’ve just won yourself a limited edition I Saw Elvis In The Woods novelty coin*.

Meet Jarrod Wyatt, a 26 year old MMA fighter, who is accused of killing friend and training partner Taylor Powell. Apparently a mutual friend had been drinking tea spiked with hallucinogenic mushrooms with the two of them and left to pick up supplies. When he arrived back he discovered Wyatt naked, covered in blood, standing over Powell’s body. The friend became even more alarmed when he noticed a single eyeball lying on the floor. Police were soon called and discovered that Powell’s body was a complete mess, missing his tongue, heart, and other vital organs. According to the autopsy report the coroner determined that Powell had been alive when Wyatt started to cut out his heart. Wyatt later threw the heart in to a fire because he believed that Powell might still be alive and that “he needed to stop the devil”.

Which is appalling. But here’s the thing. Wyatt’s lawyer hasn’t tried to prove that Powell really was possessed by the devil, which at least would be something. Instead he has claimed diminished responsibility because Wyatt was as high as a kite at the time. So rather than admit that as a trained cage fighter Wyatt is potentially a lethal weapon in his own right, and that he brutally murdered and tortured another human being, it’s all the fault of the drugs. Which they’re not as keen to mention Wyatt intentionally and willingly took.

And then, oh then, we have Julien Barreaux, a 20 year old video game player from Cambrai, France. Barreaux had been playing Counter-Strike online when a player identified only as Mikhael killed his character. Which is, like, totally the whole point of the game. So Barreaux, using detective skills that would rival Poirot (Gee Note: Alright so Poirot isn’t French. He’s Belgian. But I couldn’t think of a French detective outside of Inspectors Clouseau and Gadget. Neither of which would help illustrate the point. Both of which make me laugh however. Ah inept French policemen. Comedy gold I tells you) he spent the next seven months trying to locate Mikhael in the real world. Which he did. Barreaux then knocked on his door, and promptly plunged a knife in his chest when answered, missing his heart by an inch. Arrested within the hour he told police he “wanted to see his rival wiped out for killing off his character”. He was later sentenced to two years in jail for causing grievous bodily harm. Of course the media in France has jumped on the old familiar bandwagon of how video games are evil, completely relieving the responsibility from the messed up individual who takes a game so seriously he’s willing to murder for it. See? These games breed violence and horror and are slowly turning our kids in to psychopaths.

Well no. No they’re not. For a start Barreaux was 20, hardly a kid, and sure as hell old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. And also the difference between fantasy and reality. Secondly if someone is willing to PLUNGE A KNIFE INTO SOMEONE’S CHEST WHO THEY’VE NEVER MET then, um, I hate to break this to you but they’re already a psychopath, whether or not they play videogames.

So. There we have it. A man who’s studied exactly how much hurt and pain taking someone’s life can cause, and does it anyway seemingly without a care. A group of people who would argue that folks should be allowed to have weapons when they serve no purpose other than to hurt and maim other people. A man who will try and get out of facing the full repercussions for cutting his own friends heart out because he was stupid enough to expose himself to mind bending narcotics. And a media that would rather blame a recreational activity for a man’s injury rather than the lunatic who actually inflicted it.

Yeah, I wouldn’t blame that alien if he got the hell out of here as quickly as possible.
After all we’re probably not worth it.

*Not really.

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