Cruelty Seems To Know No Bounds

I saw this cover of Time Magazine for the edition of August 9, 2010. Needless to say, I was horrified. In fact, I can say I felt a certain queasiness if not a mild nausea in looking at such a graphic display of mutilation. I find it incomprehensible how anyone under any circumstances could possibly arrive at any reasoning which could in any way justify such a horrific act of cruelty. The brutality, the mercilessness, the grotesqueness of such an action goes so far beyond the limits of the supposed crime, I realize that I am faced with a thought process so different, so foreign to my own experience; my initial reaction is to first recoil in terror. This is quickly followed by an almost overwhelming desire to strike down the perpetrators; to grab them by the throats and choke the life out of them. My reaction is visceral, primordial, and animal.

However my anger does dissipate and I am filled with a sadness, a hopelessness at the extent of our short sightedness, our pettiness and our blindness. We as humans have such a tremendous capacity for kindness and a sometimes inexhaustible penchant for viciousness.

The Time article describes how this woman’s offense was to run away from her husband’s house. She explained that her in-laws beat her and treated her like a slave. If she hadn’t fled, she would have died. The local Taliban commander, her judge, was unyielding and the sentence carried out involved her own brother holding her down while her husband cut off first her ears then her nose.

This didn’t happen 10 years ago when the Taliban were in power; it happened last year in 2009.

But, all this took place in Afghanistan, a country fighting a war against a group well noted for an ideology of cruelty.

James Byrd

In Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998, 3 white men gave a ride to James Byrd Jr., an African-American but instead of taking him home, they took him to a remote area and beat him unconscious. They then tied him by the ankles to their pickup truck and dragged him for 3 miles. He died when his body hit a culvert and both the right arm and head were severed. A subsequent autopsy suggested the man had been alive throughout his 3 mile ordeal.

2 of the three white men were known white supremacists and are now under sentence of death. The 3rd, the driver received the lesser sentence of life in prison.

I forget when I first saw this story but I remember reading it with a feeling of utter disbelief. Nobody could possibly be that cruel.


What else?

I suppose that I could go on and on with various examples, from the simple, 1 or 2 people, all the way up to the Nazi’s and their cruelty transported to a national level. Whatever the number of examples, I would return to an idea someone presented years ago in asking the question of just what progress has the human race made in the past 2,000 years. Yes, we have cable TV but are we really any better?

“When cruelty is inflicted on innocent people, it discredits whatever cause.”
– Ronald Reagan (American 40th US President (1981- 89), 1911-2004)

Click HERE to read more columns by William Belle. 

References

Time Magazine: cover photo
http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20100809,00.html

Time Magazine: Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban
By Aryn Baker Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2007238,00.html

Wikipedia: Taliban
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban

Wikipedia: Murder of James Byrd, Jr.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Byrd,_Jr.

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