So I couldn't really let this story pass without a mention. Today, a 20 year old has been sentenced to a minimum of 18 years for the murder of two school boys. Some extracts from the Guardian:
A habitual cannabis user was jailed for life today for the "savage and brutal murder" of two school friends, promoting calls for a public health campaign about the side effects of the drug. Tom Palmer, 20, will serve a minimum of 18 years. A habitual user of cannabis and a fan of violent horror movies, Palmer murdered the pair with a hunting knife on a leafy footpath near Wokingham, Berkshire, in September 2005.
He did not smoke on the day of the killings but told doctors he had been using the skunk form of the drug regularly in the preceding weeks. Doctors told the court the drug had "exacerbated" Palmer's anxiety and the strange auditory and visual hallucinations he reported suffering in the months before the attacks. One friend became concerned when he discovered Palmer had used one of his knives to carve swastikas into his chest. After killing the boys, Palmer called police to say two people had been "cut a little bit" before handing himself in.
Police found the two schoolboys' bloodied bodies in woods. They were lying in the foetal position with their heads so close they were almost touching. Palmer later told officers he carried out the attack after the two boys mocked him about his odd eating habits and his parents' divorce.
The jury heard that Steven and T-Wood were in a group of about 15 friends in Wokingham who would meet in the woods to drink alcohol and smoke cannabis. Palmer would sometimes video them copying stunts from the Jackass television programme, jumping into bushes and messing around. The court heard that Palmer had a fascination with knives, buying the one he killed the boys with from a local sports shop. In the days before the deaths, Palmer repeatedly watched a DVD about a serial killer who filmed himself stabbing his victims to death, the court heard.
A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Robert Ferris, who has been treating Palmer since his arrest, told the jury his patient had started to believe he was at serious risk from people who wanted to hurt him. Dr Ferris said: "I believe his state of mind at the time of the killings was not normal. This was exacerbated, but not caused, by cannabis."
Following on from my recent posts on sensational correlations, this is just the usual knee-jerk reaction that I expect from the mainstream media. The blame here is cannabis, knives, violent movies, divorce, bullying, alcohol, Jackass and the Nazis! Over at the BBC, a guardian of one of the victims provides the most interesting opinion:
Mr Pontet said: "You always warn your child about straying away from the beaten path, talking to strangers, but when it's their own friend... you do not expect someone you know and trust to kill them, apparently for no reason. "There are certain aspects of the evidence that make it very clear to me in my mind that Tom is not mad, he is bad. "There are some people who are just naturally bad. Unfortunately, we didn't realise it until it was too late."
So it seems to me that the reason that Tom Palmer killed two innocent school-boys, was not because he was under the influence of any drug or video game, but because he was a bad person (whatever that might actually mean). I've mentioned before such nice people as the Dusseldorf Vampire (who murdered for sexual pleasure) and only Tom Palmer really knows why he did it. In the end, all of the other issues look like a convenient smoke-screen for a young man about to be incarcerated for two-decades (and a government and society that has grown increasingly intolerant - despite having had over a decade of Labour control).
Finally it is funny that the latest UK TV hit, 'Skins' is almost entirely about drug-taking, sexed-up teenagers (and having lived in student halls only a couple of years ago -don't ask- this behaviour is practically the norm up and down the country and most probably the rest of the world too). The fact that one or two end up doing terrible things is just a reflection of society at large - sometimes people just want to murder, rape and abuse. You can't ban everything to try and stop it and you can't always be safe. I'm afraid, that's just life. And if you're really unhappy with it all, I suggest starting a petition to god...Go Top