A report on domestic violence among South Asian immigrants, released last week at Toronto police headquarters, recommends that the words “honour killing” be shunned in legal and civic discourse. The rationale for the recommendation is that providing a motivation for the crime — “honour” — implies a defence for it. In support of its recommendation, the report points to occasional leniency in the judiciary toward honour-motivated killers from other cultures.
It’s true there have been many instances of honour-related judicial leniency. But such miscarriages of justice are more an indictment of the moral relativism the ideology of multiculturalism teaches, to whose blandishments judges are as susceptible as anybody else, than an argument for pretending that “honour killing” isn’t a real phenomenon.
I would recommend, on the contrary, that any killing acknowledged to have been executed in response to a perceived need to restore family or community honour not only retain the distinction in public discourse, but in law as well; and that the practical result of the distinction be a wider assignment of criminal responsibility for the killing.
Subsuming honour killings under the umbrella of domestic violence may end up punishing the individual who wields the knife or garrotte. But justice will not have been served. Punishment for honour-motivated violence should extend to those within the victim’s kinship circle who facilitate it...Ask David Menzies who's being served and protected these days. He'll tell you.