Innocent Victims Are Not Always Genuine
I am responding to your query about my line concerning innocents who are not genuine. I have to start by laying out my position in regards to the way I see the world. Following on from my years of imprisonment and instruction to learn for myself I see the world as multi coloured, not black and white and certainly not green and orange. The world is an amazingly complex, intricate mix of people, events and ideas. I do not take the line that the world or N. Ireland can be summed up in a quick news bite for Sky TV. Our situation cannot be summed up in a 500 word article for a newspaper. I challenge the narratives that are about. The narrative, when I was young, was that all Roman Catholics (aka taigs) are dirty, don’t work and are generally bad people. I got rid of that stereotype a long time ago. Our need for clear discussion and debate is not helped by simplistic concepts and inadequate language, labels and communication. And that is where the term victim comes in. I do not think it is a proper term for the discussion we need to have. The term victim would appear to be simple enough i.e. someone who is hurt or killed by someone or something. That’s a pretty wide definition. There also, for me, is an intentionality in there. Someone is a victim because someone else meant to cause harm for no good reason. And that’s where my multi coloured idea comes in. The term ‘victim’ cannot accommodate all the shades of reality.
So some examples. All real. The largest mass rape occurred in Berlin in 1945 as the Russians took over the capital and decided to teach the Germans a lesson. The Russians had experienced the brutality of the Nazis as they invaded Russia. So where the women victims of a sexual crime? Victims of war? Or non-victims as far as the Russians where concerned? Did the rest of the world rush to aid and comfort these ‘victims’? In Belfast a 75 year old man is stabbed in broad daylight by a 25 year old. The knife is plunged some 10 inches into the old man. He survives. The situation changes somewhat when you know that the old man is a notorious sex offender and the young man is one of his victims from many years ago. The old man; victim or not? Many ordinary people will say is he not a genuine victim and deserves what he got. The young man, victim? Or offender in the eyes of the law? Or both?
Theoretical now. A man serves in a shop he owns and is shot dead by a terrorist. A sociable , hardworking, family man with no convictions. In reality he is a member of a terrorist group who has killed people but not yet come to police attention. Victim or not? Genuine on the surface but guilty all the same?
I contend that the word victim is inadequate to debate what has happened here in N.Irealnd. As a contrast take the word water. How many adjectives can you put in front of water? e.g. tap, drinking, sea, salt, iced, mineral, dish, sparkling, spring and so on. Quite a variety to look at the many different aspects of that substance. How much more important is it to differentiate the word victim? So what can be done to start such a process? First we could be careful with the term ‘innocent victim’. It immediately implies that there could be a guilty victim. (The dead terrorist kind?) What about using terms like primary victim, secondary, even tertiary? Occluded victim i.e. someone deliberately killed but we have an opt out clause, to not regard them as a real (primary?) victim because they have a conviction of some sort. As an ex-prisoner of the Troubles I believe the guy killing himself while blowing up other people is not a victim in the same sense as they are. He can’t be a victim because there was no intentionality from another. He was his misfortune, bad luck or whatever that killed him. He can be a very definite causality of the conflict. But not a victim. To summarise then there are many types of victim. It is a hugely complex area as we see in public debate. An agreed terminology is a long way off. Consensus will be even more difficult to achieve. In some ways victimhood may be like beauty (or ugliness); its in the eye of the beholder? And from that we find that some innocents are not regarded as genuine by particular sections of the community we live in.