Disturbing stories

The news last week was so full of upsetting and disturbing stories…of course there are always disturbing stories and the fact that we have been in Iraq for over 5 years with no real end in sight has been continually disturbing.

The story that disturbed me the most last week, though, was the story about the decapitation on the Greyhound bus in Canada. This article gave this brief overview of this story:

Police in Winnipeg said Thursday they do not know what triggered a vicious attack on a Greyhound bus the night before that led to the beheading of a passenger.

Witnesses say a man was stabbed to death and then decapitated in what appears to be a random act of violence on board the bus that was en route to Winnipeg late Wednesday.

There are also allegations from some witnesses the attacker committed cannibalism before leaping from a bus window and being arrested.

I did a blog search to see what other bloggers were saying about the story. From the Edmonton Sun newspaper,

Vincent Augert, a newspaper distribution supervisor, said he last spoke to accused killer Vince Weiguang Li in mid-July when he requested days off work. He delivered papers for about eight months.

and they basically went on to say that his employer considered him a model employee and how shocked they were to hear about him doing this. It was said that on Monday he pretty much dropped off the face of the earth…he didn’t deliver papers and he didn’t tell his wife where he was going.

One blogger started a discussion about capital punishment. Since Canada has repealed the death penalty, it will not be considered in this case. Myself, I’m firmly against the death penalty and confess that there are certain cases where my discomfort with a crime makes me question my stance. But then even in cases like this one where we are certain of the perpetrator, executing him will not bring back the victim. I firmly believe too that having the perpetrator live for years knowing what s/he did would be more than a punishment then death. And I like what David Chandler says in his writing on the death penalty:

They have come to realize that capital punishment does not serve the best interests of society. It is an irreversible penalty meted out by a fallible, sometimes capricious process that is not, and can never be, applied equitably and without error. It works more harshly against the poor, the dark skinned, and the damaged than against the sometimes greater evils of the rich and powerful. It denies the sacredness of human life, it precludes the opportunity for redemption, and it perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Murder is just the tip of the iceberg of a violent society. The narrow focus of capital punishment diverts our attention from the systemic evils that permeate our society at all levels. Rather than venting our anger on the few, let us work to melt the entire iceberg of violence. “

And it seems very possible that Mr. Li had some type of mental illness…obviously he had something going on for him to do what he did. I always like Amnesty International for providing information about peace and justice related issues. They have a great (and long) report on the execution of mentally ill in the United States. It’s very interesting and well worth perusing. From the beginning of the report was a good quote from the parent of a young murder victim:

I cannot believe that capital punishment is a solution — to abolish murder by murdering, an endless chain of murdering. When I heard that my daughter’s murderer was not to be executed, my first reaction was immense relief from an additional torment: the usual catastrophe, breeding more catastrophe, was to be stopped — it might be possible to turn the bad into good. I felt with this man, the victim of a terrible sickness, of a demon over which he had no control, might even help to establish the reasons that caused his insanity and to find a cure for it…
Mother of 19-year-old murder victim, California, November 1960

So, we’ll see what goes on with the Greyhound case, but as per my usual habit, I will leave with a video and song that will inspire peace…Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens:

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