What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


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What Passing Bells...

...for these who die as cattle?

Laban Tall is a brilliant English blogger who specializes in chronicling the descent of his nation, once famous for civility, into violence and depravity, under the aegis of a criminal justice system that consistently puts the rights of offenders before those of victims.

Here is a recent report (he is quoting others):

"On the evening of August 23 last year...23-year-old Brent Martin, a young man who had learning disabilities and had spent nine years of his life in psychiatric hospitals, was systematically attacked, demeaned, headbutted and beaten by people whom he misguidedly believed to be his friends...That man Brent Martin never lifted an aggressive finger towards them and they did that to him until he was dead. They did that for their own sport.

"...the attack began at a bus stop when the 17-year-old [defendant # 1] bet £5 that the 16-year-old [defendant # 2]...could not knock out Brent with his right hand. The 16-year-old kissed his right fist, then his left fist before repeatedly knocking down Brent with single punches. The disabled man was then chased across the Town End Farm and Hylton Castle estates for around a mile where on at least four occasions he was attacked. Then Brent would get up, apologise to his attackers, shake their hands and...buy alcohol and cigarettes for them...

"As Brent was brutally beaten, eyewitnesses reported him shouting: 'Nah, nah, no please.' After the final murderous attack in Baxter Road the three posed for pictures...One witness described them as 'appearing to be happy from what they had done - getting a buzz out of it'. The court heard that the 17-year-old defendant later told witnesses: 'I am not going down for a muppet.'

"...Brent had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals as a teenager and had only been released into the care of his mother three months before his death. Brent had saved £3,000 during his time in hospital and in the three months since his release he had spent almost all of it. 'He was a gentle and easily-led child who thought everyone was his mate. People took advantage of him...

"On the evening of the attack he asked his sister for money so he could 'buy some drinks for the lads', warning her he would get his 'head kicked in'..."

* * * * *

Well, what can I say, except: thank God Almighty that we here in America still have the death penalty.

Not to mention so many, and such capacious, prisons.

Comments (24)

There will be no justice for Brent in this world, I fear. But his murderers will one day have to face a Judge who knows no sentiment and hands out no cheap grace. Eternal Love is terrifying, not sweet.

Rest eternal grant unto him, oh Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.

Homo Homini Lupus

Lydia - one can only hope.

It's strange. One knows about such things, of course, and one reads about them all the time. But this one hit me harder than usual. I'm not sure why.

Brent Martin is with Christ now. It is the nation he left behind that is to be pitied;

"Gordon Brown has thrown his weight behind a move to allow hospitals to take organs from dead patients without explicit consent."


No. Brent's suffering is, in a sense, eternal, even if (as we may hope and pray) he knows now the presence of Our Lord and all pain and sorrow are gone for him forever. I don't fully understand that, but I think it's true, as Auden said: "Acts of injustice done, between the rising and the setting sun, in history lie like bones, each one." And each one is unique. Evil done to another person is a different thing from this that was done to Brent. And the general rot set in in Britain is an abstraction. That this mental child could be treated in this way, apparently even before witnesses, without succor or help is the concrete evil. For evil is always concrete.

And though we aren't very often called upon to harrow our feelings by contemplating such things (and I for one am too weak to take much of it), there is an objective value in our sometimes seeing the reality as it is and knowing the passion for justice and the anger that these unspeakable murderers will not, in the human scheme, get justice--which would be the death sentence. That rage and that horror is the adequation of the intellect to the thing, the perception of truth. It is valuable in itself, and we may not even know all the ways in which it is valuable.

I have been recently trying to explain to one of my children that Christianity is not a religion you can grow out of, that it is not all sweetness and light, that it isn't just for little ones (though it is for them, too). I have no easy answers to the horror of this story. I can say only that there was One Other who was also an innocent victim and Who, in a sense that I can only begin to glimpse, bore and bears the evil done to Brent, the horror of human cruelty in all its particularity. And we believe that He will come to judge both the quick and the dead.

I know what you mean, Lydia about the spiritual value of meditating on his crucifixion, but I choose to let the very real distance that exists between Brent and myself work as a buffer against despair and bitterness.

Yet, even distance yields horror, too. Where could his murderers have gotten the idea of brutally killing an innocent, vulnerable person? The answer to that question is truly terrifying, no matter how many layers of abstraction one layers on it.

I will say it again. Brent Martin is with Christ now. Pity those he left behind.

And why didn't anybody help him? I think of all the details available and the amount of time this all went on. So people were watching this and doing nothing? Are there really _no_ police in Britain, or none who will come to that neighborhood, or what? If all the passersby are convinced of the postmodern silliness that only the police have the right to defend the innocent, why didn't anybody call them, then?

"And why didn't anybody help him?"

Right. The real horror is in the realization that there are many with Brent's blood on their hands. While collective guilt is a dangerous concept, I also think it safe this killing is part of a broad indictment against what was once Great Britian. The question is; do we have a firewall from it happening here?
I am not optimistic. Hopeful? Yes, to paraphrase Chesterton; it isn't hope until things are hopeless.

The question is; do we have a firewall from it happening here?

First of all, it does happen here. It happens here often. How many homeless men have been savagely beaten and/or set on fire in the United States in the past few years? How many gay men have been set upon and murdered? Did you not see the amateur video of women being surrounded and molested in Central Park, broad daylight, during a parade, by mobs of young men, while nobody, including the cops, did anything to stop it? I could go on and on. Pointing self-righteous fingers at England is laughable.
And this is nothing new. Maybe some of you have seen the Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange, or have read the Anthony Burgess novel of which the film is a translation? The capacity for sadist mob and/or gang violence, particularly against the weak and defenseless, is an unfortunately prevalent human trait, it would seem. Look at our nation's history of lynchings.

The capacity for sadist mob and/or gang violence, particularly against the weak and defenseless, is an unfortunately prevalent human trait, it would seem.

That is unquestionably true, but this one seems to go well beyond mob violence. These despicables cultivated a relationship with this young man, got him to buy them drinks over a period of time, let him think they were his friends, and then beat him to death for fun.

This isn't ordinary mob violence. This is straight from the heart of Hell.

This is straight from the heart of Hell

Precisely the reason for the quote of W. Owen at the top...

I agree with Zippy. And they were letting him get up, pretending to be friendly to him, and having him buy them drinks (and _apologize_ to them) repeatedly during the course of beating him to death. Then beginning it again. It's beyond thought that this could go on without being stopped. Where was everybody?

The resignation of the British public and media is revealing. They've already accepted "no go" zones for their police and register little resistance to the codification of speech and thought control. Last spring a man reported the beating of his brother (permanantly crippled) at the local stationhouse and was promptly arrested for the "hate crime" of referring to the attackers, as "Pakis".

"Cool Britannia" made for such a nice sounding coffin.

Thanks for the compliments - it's just a pity that there are so many UK stories like that to feature. This is the fourth such case inside two years.

Laban, this just keeps niggling at me: Are we to infer from this story that a bunch of otherwise uninvolved people stood around for this whole period of time while this horror was going on and didn't even call the police? I mean, don't people have telephones over there, or what? (Okay, that question was facetious.) But seriously, why the paralysis of the bystanders? Or do the police just not come to that neighborhood when they are called?

I follow Laban's Blog. I share that sense of watching a society in steep decline. I would go so far as to say that I think that the moral decline of Britain, not so much of its people, but of its political and cultural elites, will be a source of division between the US and Britain in the years to come. I go to the US regularly, and, although only as a visitor, I am struck by how civilised a place it is. When I visit, I realise that it is us who are in the wilderness, we are the deviants, and, thank God, the truth is still out there.

Update to this story. A third lowlife has just been convicted of Brent's murder.


With regard to bystanders, if a bystander did wade in, and happened to live to tell the tale, the police would more than likely arrest the bystander for assaulting a minor or something like that. One cannot say a thing to anyone under 17 without either putting their life or their freedom on the line. Minor's rights trump every thing else here in Blighty.

Heck, if someone actually successfully defends himself against an attack like that, he'll be looking at a possible jail sentence for daring to take the law into his own hands.

Laban (if I may) - we here in the U.S. still take the prize for murder. But the U.K. now surpasses us in other categories of crime - an amazing turnaround in a very short time. The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Dept of Justice publishes a report on this which might interest you, if you haven't already seen it: "Crime and Justice in the United States
and in England and Wales."


Well worth a look.

James G., yeah, I figured that. It's a liberal shibboleth that only the police are allowed to defend anyone from anything. Very bizarre. But I figured, since this took place over such a long period of time, someone could have brought the police into the picture. That's why I wondered if maybe they neglected to come when called to this neighborhood. Even from the crassest perspective, it would have cost the State less money to send a few bobbies over to prevent this than to go through the tedious process of prosecuting it.


Having seen some news footage of the area where this took place, it seems to be a typical edge of town council estate with a lot of open spaces where mischief can be got up to out of sight. The problem is that normal decent people have to a large extent abandoned communal, public spaces to the criminals and sociopaths, hence the lack of intervention. The police seem to get very agitated with anyone who does intervene in a crime scene, and often discourage them before and after the fact.

On the subject of the police, even if someone did witness this directly, I have a feeling, based on my own experiences of trying to get the cops out, that they would question the caller pedantically and sceptically, dismiss it as a 'scuffle between youths', and make a vague promise to 'send someone over' at an unspecified time.

Re the US/UK crime comparison, my impression is that while murder/crime figures are higher in the US, they are far more concentrated in certain urban areas, while ours are spread over a wide area. A consequence perhaps of letting petty thugs grow to Capone size in their own tiny minds and removing societal and cultural or religious constraints - along with proper fit punishment - while replacing previous norms with absolutely nothing.

I would also recommend Laban's blog. I follow it myself and also post on the Guardian's Comment is Free website on many of the same threads as him, under a different name from this one. I'll post here when the 'people' who killed Brent are sentenced. Don't hold your breath for any real severity. Regards all.

The three have now been sentenced. The ringleader will serve at least 22 years.


Nevermind - many thanks for your report. That is cold comfort, but I guess cold comfort is all that one could hope for, here.

You might pass this news on to Laban Tall, in case he might miss it otherwise.

Nevermind: never mind. I sent him a message myself.

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