"They didn't deserve this."
Is anybody else heartily sick of seeing and hearing this phrase in connection with horrific crimes?
From a story about the death of Charles Augustine, Kathy Augustine's former husband, whose body is now being exhumed to see if Chaz Higgs may have been responsible for his death, too:
"It would be irresponsible of me not to look into the option that he (Higgs) played a part in my father's death," Greg Augustine said. "He (Charles Augustine) was a good guy and he didn't deserve that."As opposed to all those stroke patients in the intensive-care unit who do deserve to be injected with lethal drugs by their nurses?
From a story about a San Antonio high-school teacher murdered in her home:
"I just hope that they catch whoever did this. She didn't deserve this," [her principal] said.As opposed to all those women who do deserve to shot in the head at their kitchen tables?
From a story about the murder and kidnapping of a teenager in Tennessee:
"This is a fifteen year old kid, he didn't deserve to die like he died, and be thrown out somewhere like a doll, he didn't deserve that," [a neighbor] said.As opposed to all those older people who do deserve such treatment?
And, finally, from a story about the murders at the Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania:
"This is a horrendous, horrific incident for the Amish community. They're solid citizens in the community. They're good people. They didn't deserve this. No one deserves this," State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said.No one deserves this.
Because otherwise, I might have thought you believed that there's some community out there that does deserve to have its children slaughtered.
Yes, okay, I know: I live in a country that still practices the death penalty and that's just broken its last ties to the Geneva Convention. I live in a country that officially believes that some people do deserve death by lethal injection, while other people do deserve to be tortured. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that ordinary citizens on the street use this kind of rhetoric, too.
And to be fair, my Google news search of this phrase also turned up an instance in a story about a father killed by a gang in East London:
“They are a very nice family, very quiet. He didn’t bother anyone and certainly didn’t deserve this. He was a good Christian man.”So it's not just the States.
But is there anybody else out there who thinks that the moment we say that someone doesn't deserve something, we're implying that someone else does? Who suspects that implying that anyone deserves to be brutally slaughtered maybe means that we're thinking a little too much like the slaughterers?
Don't mind me. I'm just a liberal.
What I keep coming back to, although it may sound quaint and entirely irrelevant to these real-world horrors, is the conversation between Frodo and Gandalf about Gollum in "The Shadow of the Past" chapter of The Lord of the Rings:
"I am sorry," said Frodo. "But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum."Oh, but that's fantasy. Which isn't real.
"You have not seen him," Gandalf broke in.
"No, and I don't want to," said Frodo. "I can't understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is just as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death."
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
More's the pity.