This page considers 'murder manuals'.
It covers -
complements discussion of online bomb-making
information, stalking and
on this site.
What is a 'murder manual'?
As the characterisation indicates, murder manuals are
primers about how to kill people. They are variously hailed
or damned as -
expression of free speech
a mechanism for jihad
basis for self-defence by 'survivalists' against an
oppressive 'new world order'
collectible for spotty insecure males
an aid for weirdos and embittered people who want to
murder ex-partners, celebrities and judges.
Murder manuals typically offer guidance on specific methods
(eg shooting, strangling, bombing) and on associated tasks
such as gaining access to the victim (eg through breaking
into a building), conducting covert surveillance of that
individual or legally finding the person's address.
Some regimes have prohibited such guides, on the basis
that maurder manuals have no legitimate uses and are instead
properly stigmatised as facilitating (even inciting) serious
illegality. Other regimes have grappled with tensions
between free speech and appropriate censorship, between
restriction of an illegal act and restricting writing
about an act, or about the circumstances in which an activity
takes place (use of pyrotechnics per se may not
be illegal whereas use of pyrotechnics to murder someone
Nations have also wrestled with questions of principle
and practice, for example regarding -
distribution of manuals in a different script or language
that escape recognition as a prohibited item
on import, sale and transmission through the post but
not on private ownership
on what are marketed as "guides for hit men"
but not on government, industry and scholarly works
regarding explosives, marksmanship, private
security protocols and surveillance.
have asked whether murder manuals are more of a media
phenomenon (and matter on which governments display their
vigilance in the 'war on terror') rather than a serious
threat to individuals and the community. Sceptics have,
for example, noted that depictions of murder are a staple
of commercial television, feature films, newspapers, books
(US and elsewhere)