Previous posts in this discussion:
PostJapan Executes Doomsday Cult Leader, 6 Others (from Noah Rich) (John Eipper, USA, 07/09/18 9:20 am)
Noah Rich writes:
Dear John (and rest of WAISworld),
Hello! It's been a while! I've been doing more lurking as of late, so I haven't sent a WAIS post in a while, but on this topic I was too curious to get some comments on.
This past weekend in Japan all the major newspapers had the same headline, "Aum Cult Leader behind Sarin Gas Attacks Executed."
This past weekend Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Asahara, and six other top members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult in Japan were executed. It came after about 20 years since their capture and 5-12 years since their sentences were given.
The most shocking news facts to me, and to many of my friends, as foreign residents in Japan, were not the executions themselves, but rather the means of execution. All seven of them were hanged to death. Brutal.
I read 13(!) different articles this past weekend, a mix of both the papers printed for English readers and Japanese natives, none of which mentioned even a sentence about the fact they were hanged. I am sure that in the United States there would be (at least a little) backlash to the prospect of hanging someone as a means of capital punishment. If I remember correctly, the last person hanged in the USA was in 1994, the year I was born!
As of now, only Washington and New Hampshire even permit hanging as a means of execution. It is highly unlikely they would ever return to it, though.
So what does the WAISWorld think? Is this as big of a shock to others as it was for me to hear? Or is there a reason anybody knows why there is basically no dialogue going on about hanging here?
JE comments: The sarin gas attacks in Tokyo happened in 1995--the same year as the Oklahoma City bombing. This is a lifetime ago for our youthful friend in Japan, Noah Rich. What surprises me about the executions is not that they were carried out by hanging, but that they would put all seven to death at the same time. Even though I knew Japan still practices capital punishment, en masse executions don't seem fitting for such an advanced and polite society.
Hanging is certainly barbaric--but are the "humane" execution methods any less so?
[A memory overload this morning shut down the WAIS website, hence today's late start. My apologies.]
"Hurrying the Apocalypse": Aum Shinrikyo Doomsday Cult (from Gary Moore)
(John Eipper, USA
07/09/18 3:52 PM)
Gary Moore writes:
Thanks to Noah Rich (9 July) for reminding of Japan's execution July 6 of the 7 leaders of
Aum Shinrikyo, the Tokyo subway terrorists far back in 1995.
The 28 people they
killed in two separate sarin attacks, plus other murders, should not overshadow
the thousands they injured, in cases gravely, and the fact that they hoped to kill
and injure tens of thousands or millions. The Aum Shinrikyo "doomsday cult,"
as the headlines put it, enshrined a persistent riddle in millenarian or lapsarian
collectives that turn violent, a riddle sometimes called "hurrying the apocalypse."
The full lapsarian archetype (without the additional hurrying) is that our present moment
in history is a corrupted exception (the Lapse, however long), caused by the demonic
intervention of overwhelming evil, which has whisked away our former, natural state
of peace and plenty--though ahead is the third stage or dialectical synthesis, when good
will return with irresistible force, smash evil, and once more bring peace and plenty,
this time forever. Sarcastically referenced as this might sound, the riddle is why some
groups aren't content to wait for the promised apocalypse, but think they will lend a hand
to divine power by jumping the gun, and wreaking the kinds of havoc that divine retribution
is going to be doing soon anyway. This would surely seem a veil for hatred or rage in certain
kinds of groups (On October 22, 1844. for example, when the Millerites gathered nationwide
for The End, they never dreamed of hurting anybody--even when it all fell flat).
Charles Manson's followers wrote "Pigs" on a wall above their carnage because they were seeking
to look as if they were murderous black radicals, in hopes of starting a global race war that would
leave Charlie as default king. Japan's version, Aum Shinrikyo, had similar hopes to consume the
world entire in chaos, whereupon leader Shoko Asahara (and thanks to Noah for including his real
name) would also be the default survivor-king. The religious component is optional. Many anarchists
and nihilists of the Haymarket and bomb-throwing days were consumed with a will to destroy,
which they glossed under concern for the working class and promises of return to ancient lost grace, if the corrupt capitalist lapse could just be cleared away. This scarcely meant the capitalists were angels,
but that delusion was not likely to provide much alternative.
And as to the final act on July 6, if Jim Jones of Jonestown had been caught after everybody else was dead,
would there be discussion about whether he should be hanged?
JE comments: If we speak in purely theological terms, aren't most religions of the "lapsarian" type? Look no further than the foundational narrative of Christianity, The Fall. If so, the Japanese committed a blunder by executing the Aum Shinrikyo clan. Permanent imprisonment doesn't create martyrs. Nor does killing millenarians work as a deterrent.