You can kill in self-defence if your life is in danger. That’s justified.
You might kill by accident. That’s manslaughter.
But if you kill because you’ve been “provoked” – an excuse being run in two recent trials – now that’s just bullshit. It’s not killing in self-defence: a dose of the verbals is not a threat to your life. It’s not an accident: if you can’t control your anger, then you need to learn how to.
Killing when provoked is not manslaughter; it’s murder. Killing while claiming “diminished responsibility” is not manslaughter; it’s murder. In both cases, the killer has to take full responsibility for what he’s done.
There is no argument for retaining in law either the “defence” of provocation, or the defence of “diminished responsibility.” Self-responsibility means taking responsibility for what you’ve consumed (no matter what your consumption might lead to), and taking responsibility for your actions – however angry you might have been.
Living in a civilised society means recognising that force must be barred from social relationships – even if you’re provoked; it means recognising the right to life, even when some arsehole makes you want to strangle them. The right to life means what it says: the right to be protected even when you’ve just pissed off someone who has a drug habit or a short fuse.
The “defences” of provocation and “diminished responsibility” reverse the order of objective law. Instead of protecting the victim it puts the slain on trial; instead of condemning the guilty it offers them a free pass and a grandstand; instead of inviting good court reporting it gives media ghouls a chance to contaminate the airwaves with grotesquery and narcissistic whining; instead of a simple trial based only on the facts, it grants defence lawyers a fortune in legal aid to run a defence based on narcissistic whining and flatulent self-delusion; and instead of reflecting good objective law it makes a mockery of law, of justice, and of the very right to life that good law is supposed to protect.
There is no argument for retaining the “defence” of provocation. None at all. Murder is murder.
“He was asking for it?” “She was asking for it?” No, you arseholes. They weren’t. Sticks and stones will break your bones, but provocation isn’t going to hurt you: Get over it. And if you can’t, if you “snap” and do your worst, then take responsibility for that instead of whining and wasting everybody’s time – while besmirching the memory of your victim.
UPDATE 1: Philip comments (thanks Philip) that those who are interested in reading more about the issue of provocation should read the Law Commission’s pretty comprehensive report released back in 2007, which concluded “that section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961 should be repealed, thereby abolishing the partial defence of provocation in New Zealand. We believe that it will be preferable for provocation to be dealt with by judges solely as a sentencing issue.” For once, I agree with the Law Commission.
UPDATE 2: Greg Edwards has started a Facebook group called Clayton Weatherston is a Murderer. He committed murder, not manslaughter. Join up now before Facebook (or the Solicitor General) closes it down as “hate speech.”
UPDATE 3: ‘Blunt’ takes on the “brainy guy defence”: