Senseless Violence

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Senseless Violence or Zinloos Geweld (Dutch) is a term frequently used by among others the media, politicians and NGOs to define the nature of several shocking events in Belgium and the Netherlands in recent years. The term expresses the perceived senselessness of the occurred acts of violence. As such, its use is politically charged and may not reflect any unique elements of any particular crime given that label.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term "senseless violence", in the meaning used in this article, was first used in 1997 by Cees Bangma, district chief of the Dutch police unit Midden-Friesland. Before 1997 the term was merely used for excessive war violence and had a less moral connotation. Bangma used it in a letter written to the Leeuwarder Courant, a Frisian newspaper in which he made an appeal to the Dutch population to have a minute of silence for Meindert Tjoelker, who was killed on 13 September 1997. This minute was necessary "to make it clear to everyone that the Frisian society does not accept senseless violence". A wave of reactions followed, which also included a media hype. As a consequence, much more attention was spent to every similar case of violence, which led to the perception that violence was on the increase.

Criticism[edit]

The term is often criticized because it seems to say that the violence which is not categorized as senseless is legitimate. Also, it is difficult, if not impossible, to define what constitutes "senseless violence". Others point out that the term is or can be misused by right wing politicians who strive for more repressive measures against crimes.

Belgium[edit]

While there have been multiple isolated cases of fatal senseless violence in the last decade, the number of deadly incidents has surged since April 2006. The following is a non-exhaustive list of deadly incidents since 1998:

Netherlands[edit]

  • October 22, 2002: René Steegmans (beaten to death after asking respect for an elderly lady)

See also[edit]

References[edit]