Monday, June 21, 2004


Are some people just born evil? Irretrievably evil? Most of us cannot even imagine some of the things we've been seeing going on in the world. Has it been three times now (or is it more) that we've seen terrorists cut the head off a human being with a knife? What about what Saddam* did during his years as head terrorist of Iraq? Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot? For most of us our minds cannot even process that evil. We see it but it can't be and we just have to do something else to take our minds off it. In electronics it's called clipping, our minds hit a wall, we just can't go there, although perhaps with practice we can get closer than we should. Is there something different about their minds that causes them to enjoy what most us find to be horrific? It's a popular notion of late that anyone can be reasoned with, anyone can be reached, especially among the left who say we should be negotiating with the terrorists - but is that true?

There are some clues here: The Depressive and the Psychopath: At last we know why the Columbine killers did it.

Harris and Klebold would have been dismayed that Columbine was dubbed the "worst school shooting in American history." They set their sights on eclipsing the world's greatest mass murderers, but the media never saw past the choice of venue. The school setting drove analysis in precisely the wrong direction.

Harris is the challenge. He was sweet-faced and well-spoken. Adults, and even some other kids, described him as "nice." But Harris was cold, calculating, and homicidal. "Klebold was hurting inside while Harris wanted to hurt people," Fuselier says. Harris was not merely a troubled kid, the psychiatrists say, he was a psychopath.

"Psychopaths are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders," writes Dr. Robert Hare, in Without Conscience, the seminal book on the condition. (Hare is also one of the psychologists consulted by the FBI about Columbine and by Slate for this story*.) "Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised."

Sounds familiar, terrorists are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. They choose evil. They choose to hurt people. Whatever torchered reasoning they use to excuse their behavior is beside the point - Al Queda is a psychopath club not an army - and they should be treated as such.

The psychiatrists can't help speculating what might have happened if Columbine had never happened. Klebold, they agree, would never have pulled off Columbine without Harris. He might have gotten caught for some petty crime, gotten help in the process, and conceivably could have gone on to live a normal life.

Their view of Harris is more reassuring, in a certain way. Harris was not a wayward boy who could have been rescued. Harris, they believe, was irretrievable. He was a brilliant killer without a conscience, searching for the most diabolical scheme imaginable. If he had lived to adulthood and developed his murderous skills for many more years, there is no telling what he could have done. His death at Columbine may have stopped him from doing something even worse.

Harris was irretrievable.

Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, Which will not heed the voice of charmers, Charming ever so skillfully. Psalm 58:1-5

Psychopaths, like the deaf cobra, are immune to the skillful charmers (psychologists). You can talk to them, reason with them, plead with them - it makes no difference to them. They don't care. They can't. Their heart is darkness. It says "they go astray as soon as they are born" and there are people out there like that. Don't let anyone fool you, there is evil in this world, evil you cannot even imagine.

Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:43-44

And although it seems all to often evil triumphs in this world we live in and is on the increase, there is good news on the horizon.

"For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says the Lord of hosts, "That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this," Says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3

The day is coming when there will be no more evil and the wicked of this world will be burned up - ashes - just mixed with the elements of the earth - gone. It can't come soon enough.

*Good news for Saddam, btw, he might get the death penalty if he is found guilty - hope he doesn't get Johnny Cochran - he says wondering why there is a "might" and an "if" in that sentance.

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