The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s another kind of violence. The sensible kind. Everybody talks about senseless violence, but I can’t get a decent conversation going about sensible?

Here are a list of sensible reasons to kill people:

“He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

“No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

“I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the wood chipper and use his remains as fertilizer. Sensible, tidy, and entirely green.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?”

“Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only sensible response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”

“I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you were angry. You were right.

Of course these days, sensible reasons include killing people just because they don’t look like you or live in the wrong neighborhood. I’m sure those murderers think they had no choice either. That’s the problem with two kinds of violence. Some people take it seriously.

Thank you Roberta for finding the perfect song for this post!

Categories: Crime and Cops, justice, Law, Marilyn Armstrong, Sayings and Platitudes

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20 replies

  1. I once bought a book based on the title — “If I Had Killed Him When I Met Him I’d Be Out Of Jail By Now”, and unfortunately can’t remember the author at the moment. It will come to me later as all things eventually do, but it had nothing at all to do with murder, just an attention grabbing title. the phrase “senseless violence” always reminds me of that book. Ah, yes, Sharon McComb I think! anyway, I’ve always wondered why they call violence of any type senseless. Maybe it makes some crazy kind of sense to sick people but to me, crazy as I am, it has never made sense. Good post, and I loved the toons!


    • I actually think they just use those cliches because they are easy and mindless. Most reporters are so pressed for time, they don’t have time for serious writing. Also most stations don’t give reporters enough time to do anything but “rip and read.” It hasn’t improved the quality of news.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seems like the only news they report around here is the sensational stuff. Used to be better than that but lately it’s just all bad and even worse. Do people really like that stuff?


  2. Garry is right. It is a stupid expression because all violence is senseless.


  3. Sensible violence? Is that like “justifiable homicide”? That’s when when a person kills someone intentionally, but does so for a “justifiable” reason. Does that mean it’s “sensible violence?”


  4. Thanks for explaining this phrase. I think it’s meant in opposite to violence brought by war. Nearly similar to non lethal weapons, which als can cause horrible injuries. xx Michael


    • Indeed it might be, but I think it is a senseless phrase used without thought or intent. I doubt anyone thinks about what the words they use on the news mean. I often think they have standard scripts. Fill in the name of the event, add some video footage and voila! News du jour. It’s like “breaking news.” It used to mean something. Now? It’s ALL breaking news.


  5. It’s spot on Marilyn. What is sensible violence????


  6. Oh Marilyn, you have such a way with words. Your article reminded me of this song from the musical, Chicago:


  7. you know, i never have thought about this phrase in this way and you are spot on

    Liked by 1 person

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