Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Makes Genocide So Heinous?

What's worse? Killing 100,000 people of a race numbering in the millions or killing the very last person of another race (for instance, European invaders killed the last Tasmanian man)? Most would undoubtedly claim that killing 100,000 of a plentiful race would be far worse than killing the last of another.

This then makes it wholly apparent that it is not the cleansing of one particular race that makes it so despicable but the act of murder itself, especially when it involves multitudes. So why all this talk of genocide in the world? Why not just call it murder?

In the same way, today's society seems determined to distinguish "hate" crimes from "non-hate" crimes. This would seem to discount the "awfulness" of someone murdered under the mere guise of "non-hate".

Another corollary to this line of thinking is how many view and respect other living things. Some just have a deep-seated respect for life in general, with seemingly no caveats. But what about mosquitoes? Or deadly bacteria and parasites? Hmm? At this point is it not sufficiently obvious that we are very arbitrary in choosing which life to respect and conserve? It is very anthropocentric but understood as we strive to better our odds. Hence the reason we seek to eradicate deadly pathogens and bacteria and parasites and so on and so forth.

But what puzzles me is how arbitrary it gets with other living things. For instance, if we hold dear particular species, certainly we make every effort to conserve those struggling to survive. But others we hold dear (or deer if you prefer) that happen to be plentiful, we show little or no inhibition in killing them more or less indiscriminately*

This seems to suggest that it is not the killing that makes it so bad, rather it is the eradication of the species or race. Which further suggests we care less about one particular animal and more about the perpetuation of the species or race itself. In which case, perhaps it SHOULD BE a lesser crime to extinguish 100,000 human beings of a plentiful race than to have killed the last remaining Tasmanian?


*Why do we hold deer, among many creatures, so close to our hearts when they are struggling to survive, but kill them indiscriminately when they become a nuisance? Why not do the same thing with humans? Well, perhaps we DO just that? Might this be the purpose of WAR? The question is, WHO gets to determine which is the nuisance among us?

Hmm.....I guess it depends on whom you ask?

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