What the M25 Cat Killer teaches us about the value of human life

By - Tuesday 20th February, 2018

Do we understand – morally – the difference between right and wrong?

Photo by Gfpeck, used under Creative Commons licence.

For the past three years, police have been on the hunt for a man allegedly responsible for the death and mutilation of hundreds of cats in Croydon and surrounding areas. The story resurfaced in December 2017, with cat killings in Northampton also being linked to the same perpetrator.

The outcry against the so-called ‘M25 Cat Killer’ has been loud and clear and the condemnation unanimous. Following the most recent reports and crimes in Northampton, many took to social media to express their disgust:

This cruelty has to stop and now. I am sure [that] if it was a ‘Royal’ swan the army would be dispatched. How can anyone look in the eyes of their pets and not feel ashamed of these brutal killings[?] I wish [that] the residents and authorities [would] become more aggressive.

Capital punishment’s not enough for this despicable p.o.s. sociopath; (and I say this [as] a person who opposes capital punishment.)
– @cousincat

Hey, can Britain reinstate the death penalty for this guy? I’ll set up a crowd-funding page and you’ll have record-setting tourism revenue for the week of his hanging.

The Croydon cat killings offer us a good opportunity to step back and reflect on the implications of life under what Pope Benedict XVI termed the “dictatorship of relativism”.

Almost anyone would casually agree that what the Croydon Cat Killer does is evil. But probably very few, certainly in the secular west, could tell you why what he or she did was actually evil.

In recent years, the term ‘senseless violence’ has been the choice expression of the media, celebrities and activists looking to voice their outrage in the wake of violent crimes. The term communicates disapprobation without passing any ethical judgement.

We can no longer discern between right or wrong

But why is it evil to shoot a bunch of people or to mutilate people’s cats? If pressed with these questions, most people couldn’t answer without contradicting their own relativistic views. We’ve spent the past several decades attacking our ability to discern between right and wrong, and now we no longer have the objective, common moral standard or vocabulary to express our moral judgments consistently or convincingly.

The spiral into moral incoherence begins when people are tired of being judged for their own bad behaviour and decide to attack the moral truths in light of which such behaviour is sinful.

Take abortion, for example. Did you know Croydon has one of the highest rates of repeat abortion in Britain? If our society acknowledged that killing unborn children is morally repugnant, millions would face the “inconvenience” of having to accept the fruit of their sexual activity.

We are literally getting away with murder

But if we swap the term ‘unborn child’ for the sanitised, scientific term ‘foetus’ and perpetuate the lie that foetuses somehow aren’t human, then we can literally get away with murder.

The flip side to this, however, is that by attacking what is truly good (for example, life), we lose our ability to condemn what is evil (taking a life). Morally speaking, if everything is permitted, then nothing can be banned.

According to modern moral reasoning, the M25 Cat Killer did nothing objectively wrong – inconvenient for some pet owners, sure, but nothing definitely ‘evil’. For to declare the evils of our time ‘evil’ requires us to accept that there is a moral law – and thus a moral lawgiver.

It’s rare that we ever encounter something that genuinely shocks us

The case of the M25 Cat Killer is a fascinating example of natural law at work. Because our society has allowed evils like abortion to become commonplace, it’s rare that we encounter something that genuinely shocks us. But the individuals who reacted to these crimes with such disgust could only do so by violating the convenience of moral relativism in favour of the more intuitive moral law engraved on the human heart.

Christian doctrine affirms a God-given moral order that condemns evil – whether it’s cat killing or baby killing – and praises good, whether ministering to the poor or rejoicing in marriage.

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan famously suggests that if God does not exist, ‘everything is permitted’. God does exist and everything is not permitted. Most people intuitively know this – but we’ve grown so accustomed to the evil in our midst, that it takes a psychopathic cat murderer in Croydon to shake us out of our complicity and awaken our moral sensibilities.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • Anne Giles

    I never realised that you were anti-abortion, which is legal when the foetus is under three months. I am very much in favour of a woman’s right to choose, particularly when the woman’s health is at risk. I had mine on the NHS and if your God doesn’t like it, then tough!

  • Anne Giles

    And you certainly can’t compare that with kidnapping cats and slicing their heads off in a really cruel manner, whilst getting a kick of some sort out of doing it.

  • Ian Marvin

    It’s somewhat presumptuous to claim a monopoly on morality for those who worship an invisible entity. Do you therefore consider atheists intrinsically without morals?

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      Not at all – to the contrary, we all have morals and a moral conscience because we all have the same moral Creator!

      The above isn’t saying people are good or bad. It’s making the case for *why* we are moral beings :)

  • Michael Swadling

    Great article good to read something challenging,controversial and important. Morality is something not discussed enough and interesting to see it with a local angle.

    • Elizabeth

      Northampton is local? News to me! ;)

  • M. Stone

    “We can no longer discern between right or wrong” most of us can, but there are people who choose not to do the right thing.
    To use (kill and mutilate) living beings to satisfy your needs is evil.
    The term “cat killer” is real clickbait.

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      Hey Maren :)

      Out of interest, how do you discern between right or wrong? And why do you think these concepts arose and are so deeply embedded in us?

      Is killing and mutilating living beings to satisfying your needs “evil” at all times (i.e. objectively evil) or just evil to you personally (i.e. subjectively evil)?

      Sorry for all the questions – but it’s always good to hear how people arrive at their conclusions.

      • M. Stone

        To kill is evil at all times. The only exceptions are in self-defence or to protect someone (lawful killings). How could mutilation and killing not be evil when you satisfy your sexual urges and you want to ease the bad feeling of your own inadequacy?

        To do the right thing means you do not hurt anyone with your deed.

    • meatybreath

      Oh yes, desperate people need to exploit others in order to get their chance in the limelight. Funny how society works, because if I understand humanity right, this pathetic exploitation of murdered animals will get nothing but despisal from the public.

  • Anne Giles

    A film I would recomment, Jonny, is “The Magdalen Sisters”. Young girls who had had babies out of wedlock being imprisoned and beaten by cruel Catholic nuns, who killed the babies anyway.

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      I’ll check it out, Anne!

      The point of the piece is less ‘this is good and this bad’ or, by extension, nuns = bad, young unwed mothers = good.

      Rather, I want to point to why these moral concepts exist (even if we ascribe them to different actions/events/people/behaviours) and why we feel them so deeply. :)

  • blath8@googlemail.com

    And on a tangent, if we choose to prevent our pets suffering with incurable conditions and “put them out of their misery” as the phrase goes, is that evil? It’s still killing them if you choose to see it that way. And by extension, why are we happy to allow humans to go on suffering with incurable, debilitating conditions and not allow them to choose death? What a mixed up world we live in – great article Jonny :-)

  • meatybreath

    This religious attack on people for daring to live according to the law of this secular country, is repugnant, but then again, religion has NO hold on the state as it once did. This article is like reading something written by any religious zealot from any other religion. It needed to exploit the murders of animals by a serial killer, to make the usual whining point against abortion. Religion does not make rules anymore, nor does it tell anyone else what to think, feel, believe, or do. Religion is a personal affair, and the laws of this country take precedence over what any holy eager beaver thinks. Animal killing is illegal. Serial killing of animals is illegal. Stealing animals is illegal. Scaring the public is illegal. Abortion is legal in many countries, including the UK. So welcome to the world of lawful living, where laws are made by humans, and we try to conform. The days of laws being made by the likes of any kind of imaginary god are over. The whole joke of an argument in this Westboro Baptist style article is pointless. Why is abortion so evil? Exactly, there is no way of explaining it, other than to bring in the hallucination in white robes. Why don’t people try to really BE real christians, and instead of preaching and dictating, and worst of all, using the deaths of innocent animals and their owners’ pain for their religious propaganda? It’s exactly because of aggressive religious attacks that people are so disgusted by having to deal with anyone who is religious. Aborting is legal, deal with it. Serial killing of cats is illegal. Deal with it.

  • Elizabeth

    Hmmm. Not really convinced about this, Jonny.

    The work of the cat killer has been prolific. It has been condemned. It involves the senseless killing of pets and wildlife. He (or perhaps they) is not getting his main gratification out of the killing or mutilation of victims. It appears that he is getting his kicks from committing a crime without being caught and by seeing the effect of these acts on the owners and the general public.

    Yet you conflate this with that of abortion – legal in this country, carried out with consent, often undertaken after much soul-searching and consideration of all the options and the consequences?

    You are welcome to your views and to your God to guide you. Many of us live perfectly fulfilling, moral lives without.

  • NeilB

    A very thought provoking article . Thank you.

    Bad people will do bad things, sometimes good people will do bad things, even if it is legal, as in the case of abortion, and many lesser deeds.

    Legality is not the same as Morality (except perhaps under Sharia law).