(Trigger warning: Child abuse, abuse, genocide, sarcasm)
Pure empathy. The art of being able to fill in the other person’s shoes to an extent that the other perspective becomes completely internalised. So, let us put the very ideas of right and wrong, good and evil and other such absolutes under the scanner and routinely dissect them.
Every crime that is committed seems to exist in a Schrodingerian universe of sorts, where it is simultaneously a crime and not a crime.
Better put, they always come with justifications. A woman was violated? She was provocatively dressed and walking alone at night, can’t blame the man who did it out of predatory urges. Cultural genocide in Tibet? It’s part of the Chinese expansionist policy, whether you like it or not. The point is, irrespective of whether one agrees with the justification or not, it is always going to exist, even if only as a matter of discourse. The perpetrators will always have a defending argument.
However, there is one space within which all such defences fail. That mind numbing space where crimes are committed against children.
Was there some logic behind what happened to Baby P and Victoria Climbie? Maybe they were too noisy, or too naughty, thus provoking their respective guardians to torture and ultimately kill them? Maybe there’s some justification for what Ian Watkins did?
People who commit unspeakable crimes like this are also human, right? Then please, let us find another word to describe the rest of us. I, for one, refuse to be called human then.
We humans have gotten away with a lot. But not this. We cannot justify an existence within which children are tortured, violated or killed. Because here, there is no provocative dressing, no socio-political motive or any other preposterous debate that we are routinely good at cooking up.