Violence is a terrible way to regulate relationships—terrible not just for the victims, but also for the perpetrators, who generally find harming or killing abhorrent, often carrying the trauma with them for a long time afterward.
War can be incomparably thrilling and generate extraordinarily deep relationships that are uniquely rewarding and impossible to duplicate in civilian life.
We see much the same cycle of killing in the Islamic State executions of Western captives and Western bombing of people believed to be affiliates or supporters of that group.
Before that, there was 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks, leading to further retaliatory attacks against Western civilians, and so on.
For the killers, the background to the blasphemous cartoons was the humiliation and violence Americans committed against Abu Ghraib prisoners, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, drone killings of Muslims, and so on.
Cherif Kouachi spoke in the past about wanting to go to Iraq to fight Americans because he considered what was happening over there to be torture.
But this trend is scant solace for those killed by perpetrators who still believe that they must use violence to make their relationships right.
The moral motives of some people, like the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski or Anders Behring Breivik, who committed mass murder in Norway in 2011, are crazy—few or no others recognize their moral ideals.
Most authorities and the general public judged that husbands had near absolute authority over their wives, including the moral and legal right to demand sex whenever they pleased and to use violence to enforce that right.
What was thought to be morally natural and legitimate then is now judged to be morally wrong and criminal.