Murder

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Murder is when one person kills another person on purpose. It is only called "murder" when it is against the law. If a person does something that makes someone else die, it is often known as manslaughter or homicide. This is true if it was an accident. Sometimes, a death caused by someone else may not be a crime. For example, in some situations, killing may be self-defense. A person who commits murder is called a murderer.

The legal definition of "murder" and "manslaughter" may be different in different countries, and is very much argued on: for example, killing in war is not usually called "murder" by those who take place in the war. Killing in self defense (if people being attacked kill someone who is attacking them) is not usually "murder".

Assassination[change | change source]

"Assassination" is a word which means murdering someone for a reason. The word is most used when the person who was killed was a famous celebrity or was a person involved in politics. The people who carry out assassinations are called "assassins" or "Hit-men". An assassin may murder someone for political reasons, for money, or for other reasons, such as favors owed and revenge.

The word "Assassin" comes from Hashshashin,[1] a Muslim group that was active in the Middle East from the 8th to the 14th centuries. This secret society killed people for political and religious reasons.[2] It is thought that the assassins were under the influence of hashish and opium during their killings or during their training. The word assassin comes from either hashashim, the influence of the drugs, or hassansin, after their leader, Hassan-i Sabbah.

The first use of the word "assassination" in a book is The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1605).[3][4]

Cover-ups[change | change source]

Hiding a human death is thought to be very bad - almost as bad as homicide itself. One of the reasons Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein are said to have committed crimes against humanity is mass graves that were found in Bosnia and Iraq, which contained many people who opposed them. Today some people continue to deny that Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and political opponents in his death camps during World War II - this is called Holocaust denial, which is illegal in several European countries. Cover ups are frequent in the mafia and other organized crimes.

Probably the worst cases of mass death in living memory are the Rwandan Genocide and The Killing Fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge; each of killed approximately half of the population.

Related pages[change | change source]

Blurry impression of the murder of Inejiro Asanuma by Otoya Yamaguchi, October 1960

References[change | change source]

  1. American Speech - McCarthy, Kevin M. Volume 48, pp. 77-83
  2. Secret Societies Handbook, Michael Bradley, Cassell Illustrated, 2005. ISBN 978-1844034161
  3. "Assassination". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, second edition, 1989
  4. Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, Seth Lerer, 2007