Now, a psychiatrist can always say that "the defendant had a predisposition to a disassociative state when under stress and that he was in such a state when he killed his son in law."1Notwithstanding the fact that he began by stabbing the person in a fit of anger, and then continued doing it after his son in law had fallen down. These were not "blows struck in anger," but sheer premeditated actions of giving in to the joy of primeval bloodlust.
And that is how one could agree with the statement that the law about murder is a mess. It was therefore necessary to reframe it in such a manner with the minimum of loopholes to make sure any future example of impulsive or premeditated homicide does not know that it can get away with murder by invoking the plea of "it was provocation, my lord, "
First of all, we have to see the difference between murder- planning out and killing a person with malice aforethought, and manslaughter, killing of a person in "hot blood," keeping into view, "the limits of human frailty," Murder meant that you looked at the methods of getting rid of one particularly obnoxious person and waited for the time and the opportunity to send him to his forefathers. Manslaughter meant that you had no intention of dispatching that particular human specimen, but he provoked you continuously, incessantly, intolerably, unremittingly, verbatim and seriatim, until it was beyond the normal tolerance level of you, who happen to be a sane, sober and somewhat sombre pillar of society. So you killed him but you were not in your right senses at that moment. One pleads not guilty my lord.
This pleading of manslaughter instead of murder began to be clearly demarcated in the 17th and 18th century, when people resorted to the use of weapons to assert their rights, which they thought had been infringed upon by some upstart who did not know better. There were also plenty of opportunities to get rid of your opponents, by challenging them to duels and then dispatch them in a very honourable and conventionally accepted way. Any sort of matter of honour or any insult, where real or insinuated could be wiped out by pistols or swords at dawn. This wholesale killing of innocent lambs to the slaughter went on until dueling was outlawed, and it was made a hanging offense.
Murder was also a hanging offense. There had to be a clear distinction between premeditated and well calculated murder and manslaughter under provocation. And that could make all the difference between life and death.
Defects in the law of provocation.
So, in the 17th century, the doctrine of provocation meant that the circumstances of killing someone happened to be extenuating. It touched upon a matter of honour, (possibly adultery, which no red-blooded man could condone unless he wanted to be jeered at by his peers.) There needed to be some mitigation of reckoned punishment, because the killing was done in a moment of anger. They were considered less reprehensible, and could only come under the name of manslaughter and not murder. Yet, killing a person in cold blood on a dueling field, hours after the challenge had taken place , and the blood had had time to cool down, and better thought and sense prevail, can only be termed "murder." But the social code of honour of that time demanded that one retrieve his