Society can halt these futile acts
News of yet another "punishment" shooting underlines the gravity of the situation in Northern Ireland where paramilitary-style shootings or beatings are taking place regularly on our streets every week.
In Derry a man of 42 was shot in the leg "by appointment" during a paramilitary attack. This "punishment" is bad enough, but there is something darkly bizarre about someone turning up by appointment to be beaten or shot.
The sheer volume of such incidents is deeply worrying. The latest statistics show that during the past year there have been nearly 80 such attacks throughout Northern Ireland, and that the figures are on the increase.
These are incidents which the public must take very seriously, even if some people are tempted reluctantly to tolerate them because they belong to the murky world of the paramilitaries and other wrong-doers.
However, the public should realise that such attacks are an affront to any civilised society, and that all such incidents should be condemned because otherwise we are handing over the maintenance of law and order to civilian thugs who impose their barbaric will on the people.
It is incumbent on everyone to resist such tyranny at the point of a gun or of a club wielded by an anonymous paramilitary criminal.
The police need more help in dealing with this, and it will require widespread co-operation from members of all strands of our society.
This includes parents who must do all in their power to keep their young people in check, as well as community leaders and many others who have a vested interest in standing up to the paramilitaries who pollute our society.
This is not an easy task, and it requires courage to confront those who believe that power comes from a club or a gun.
Sooner or later the penny must drop, but it has taken the paramilitaries a long time to realise that violence is ultimately self-defeating.
This needs to percolate to all the paramilitary rank and file.
The old order has changed, and the traditional culture of people not co-operating with the police is something which belongs to the past.
There is absolutely no place in our society for punishment beatings or shootings, and the sooner the perpetrators are made to realise this, the better it will be for our entire society.