February 27, 2004

Society to Blame for Cult's Gas Attack?!

Chizuo Matsumoto, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan who is better known as Shoko Asahara, received a death sentence Friday for multiple murders carried out by his followers, the vilest of which were sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

I am not a supporter of the death sentence, however an editorial in a left-of-center Japanese newspaper bemoaning the so-called faults in society that led to the murders of 27 people, and the injuring of thousands of others, enraged me.

So what if he had a rough life? So what if he was nearly blind? So what if he was a butt-ugly guy who needed guru status and mindwashed followers to feel loved? The bottom line is he is a paranoid sociopathic nutbar, which doesn't excuse him from responsibility for his actions.

Societies have always had disaffected elements -- people who just don't fit in. There is nothing "society" could have done differently that would have somehow magically prevented the formation of the cult.

Where does this liberal guilt come from? He made choices he was responsible for. They were horrific ones. His followers made choices -- stupid ones. How does that make society to blame?

I rode those subways. I knew people who ended up in hospital, and while nobody that I knew personally was seriously injured, I hear a few victims are still in comas nearly ten years later.

I feel not one inkling of responsibility for the actions of this mass murderer and his followers. What sane, logical person could?

What I did feel, when I used to see his followers dancing and chanting outside train stations in the area where I lived, was a shiver of unease crawling down my spine. If society was in any way to blame, it was for not stepping in earlier and shutting down his operation.

If society was in any way to blame, it was for being too liberal and too accepting.

That's a scary statement, but that's the real question here. Where does society draw the line?

Posted by Paul at February 27, 2004 08:26 PM