Labeling As “In-Human” Is A Get-Out

The horrifying case of baby-killer, James Howson, was highlighted today by TOB. To read more details of this case, click on the link.

Killing one’s own baby in such a hideous, apparently cold-blooded, fashion is guaranteed to diminish to minute levels any questioning of the societal causes behind Howson’s crime. It’s difficult to feel other than revulsion towards this man; the inhumanity of the crime serves to block any sympathy based on his own childhood, or adolescent, problems – even assuming there were any.

A factor society generally tends to disregard is the sheer numbers of James Howson’s that are spawned. Not all kill their baby by breaking its back, but the quantity of cold-blooded killers, or rapists, or mutilators, surfacing in our societies seems to rise remorselessly.

The hothead with a gun, robbing the convenience store, or murdering his girlfriend during a quarrel, while no less forgivable, is certainly more understandable than Howson, whose crime rates revulsion and disdain by the very nature of its incomprehensibility.

Is that, though, a reason for not attempting to comprehend what caused James Howson to commit his vile act? If we simply shrug it off as an inhuman crime, are we not, at best, emphasizing a contradiction? How can an act be inhuman, when performed by a human being?

Of course, the pedantic would argue that the very definition of “inhuman” is: ‘lacking pity, kindness, or mercy’ – attributes supposedly unique to the human race. Few, though, would dare to argue that the antonyms: piteousness, cruelty, and intolerance, are other than very human traits. One has only to view the activities of any culture on the planet to realize that. Pity, kindness, and mercy are in very short supply throughout the world today.

So we can’t wash our hands of the James Howson’s by categorizing them as, in some way, less than human. Yet this is exactly how society deals with these people. In the more barbaric nations they are killed, then forgotten. In ‘civilized’ society they’re locked away for years, and forgotten.

No-one, it seems, makes any serious attempt to a) discover what caused Howson to commit his crime, and b) question how James Howson may have been prevented from becoming a cold-blooded baby killer.

Isn’t it time we did?

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4 Replies to “Labeling As “In-Human” Is A Get-Out”

  1. I took a while to post on this, RJA, as I find it so sickening, I can hardly get my head around it.
    This little child was not thriving, she hadn’t developed in any way and had the body of a 6 month old.
    My big question is why was no one looking out for her welfare? Surely her grandparents noticed? Neighbours? aunts, uncles? Were there no social workers checking up? Well-baby visits? She fell through the cracks and this monster (who we just know was abused himself) was allowed to torture her before her merciful release.
    ‘He showed no remorse’ this is always remarked on as if these monsters were capable of it.
    Why should he? is always my interior response, he’s a monster. I would be more horrified if he did. If he were a fully sentient human being.
    What is the answer?
    Who knows.
    We should all care as you say.

  2. This news article has really saddened me, in addition to the horror and disgust that I expect most people would feel over this story.

    Firstly because in the UK, we are supposed to have a network of social services which should stop this from happening – a government white paper called “Every Child Matters” came out of a really unpleasant killing of a child called Victoria Klimbie (, wherein various authorities (schools, social services, hospitals) were authorised to share information if a child was seen to be in danger – given that “The judge also detailed other occasions in the weeks leading up to the murder in December last year when Howson “cruelly and deliberately assaulted Amy”, leaving her with multiple fractures to her arms and legs”, the hospital should *automatically* have referred them to social services, and that level of injury should have had her taken away from her parents until they knew that it was safe (given that children are removed for far less, this is not an extraordinary course of action). They failed her.

    But secondly, that there are more people coming through the system who will behave in the same way. I have a friend who works in our local council, on the Special Educational Needs team – this team includes working with children who are in care as well as those with disabilities. My friend can detail a number of children in care, currently aged 12 or 13 who will be like James Howson in 10 years time. They will currently attack animals and younger children (pressing charges is very difficult when the assailant is a minor), and don’t understand, even when punished, or talked to by psychologists etc, that what they are doing is wrong. At age 16, children who have been taken into care are no longer the responsibility of the local authority, and, apart from passing their details on to the police to keep an eye on, unless they have committed a prosicutable crime (which James hadn’t: “The court heard how Howson had a troubled history and had been violent towards women when he was young, yet he had no previous convictions.”), there is nothing anyone can do (i.e. no legal recourse or paid for assistance) but watch them walk away. The support system fails them.

    And it will happen again and again and again.

  3. As a PS to this (for anyone reading through the archives, particularly if they don’t follow the UK news) – this is not an isolated event:

    A 17 month old baby died in August 2007 following abuse that lasted at least a year (“His mother, who is now 27, told her GP in September 2006 that her son “bruises easily” and she was worried she might be accused of hurting him.”)

    Social Services did indeed, end up launching an enquiry into the child, however “On 2 August 2007 police announced they were dropping an investigation into allegations of child abuse they had launched the previous December.
    Baby P’s mother was elated and told social workers she would go home to hug her son and bake cakes.
    The next morning he was dead.”

    And today, we learn that a social worker had raised concerns about the procedures in the local council responsible six months before the boy died.

    She has since been gagged:
    “Haringey Council has issued an injunction against Ms Kemal so that she cannot talk directly about the case or anything to do with “child protection matters”.
    She is now pursuing a claim of constructive dismissal from the council.”

    This is the same council where Victoria Climbie (apologies for the misspelling in my post above) was allowed to be abused and killed through the inaction of the council.

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