I detect a general sense of relief in Northumberland, this morning (Saturday 10th July), at the news that the fugitive gunman Raoul Moat died in the night having shot himself in the head after a six-hour standoff with a posse of armed police. Rothbury is only 15 miles from here, and my neighbour's parents live there. I also experienced a sense of relief; from tension, and uncertainty; even from a trace of apprehension, for, though Moat had broken into only uninhabited houses, and had refrained from shooting strangers who were not also policemen, there was the faint possibility that he might change.
Then I brought myself up with a jolt. It is grotesque to accept the death of that poor man as a benefit to my peace of mind. The police might legitimately experience relief, as they were all declared targets; and his badly wounded ex-girlfriend could certainly feel safer, even if she regrets the price that is paid. But I was ashamed at my selfish response.
Had I forgotten the intense anger that possesses a man when he thinks he is up against a hostile and unjust system? Balance and judgement are lost, risks are under-assessed, long-term benefits forgotten. The pounding adrenalin fuels only the hypertrophied ego, fighting for its very existence against the million-headed imaginary demon that is 'The State'. I have been there; I have felt that there could be circumstances when I could kill a policeman. I thank my stars that I was never in those circumstances.
It is salutary to consider the change in world-view from the chubby but cheerful 3-year-old Moat pictured in the press. No doubt then, as now, Moat was striving to gain the approval of those few people who really mattered to him. Don't we all? We read of a loved and well cared for man with a girl friend some 10 years ago. We see a picture of a proud father 7 years ago. Not really a 'bad man', but "quand on l'attaque il se defend". No real change from the 3-year-old boy, still hoping for the approval that matters. Perhaps he had too few dads and too many step-dads; too much 'satisfaction' from being 'hard'. Steroids have been mentioned, and a tendency to loose control after drinking. Finally the unsupportable blow of losing his girlfriend to another man.
The sad story is excellently summarized by 'The Independent'.
Occidentis, MORPETH, UK.