Something that has annoyed me a lot lately is the ongoing googlyness that certain people are reduced to when faced with a sociopath, hooligan or just a brat who shows some human sensitivity.
Throughout history we have had bad guys. The Roman Empire had Julius Caesar. There was Genghis Khan. Then Adolf Hitler centuries later and Osama Bin Laden. Problem is that human beings like to be able to categorise their monsters and do not like to think of evil people as capable of being in any way “fluffy”.
An example would be when you realise that Hitler had a wife and a pet dog. My God!!! The Fuhrer had a woof woof and a significant other? Then you see that despite Julius Caesar’s various unpleasant behaviour throughout his career as a soldier, politician and later Emperor; it is recorded that he was heartbroken when he realised Brutus was involved in his assassination and at that point stopped fighting, sat still and let them kill him.
The recent TV show SPARTACUS had season 4 (or season 3.5 if you're a SPARTACUS geek) with a young Julius Caesar and a borderline psychotic Marcus Crassus. However both had sympathetic qualities. Caesar had compassion and bravery. Crassus was tender hearted and tried to be a good father. However they were also grade A bastards with Caesar gleefully crucifying captured prisoners personally, and Crassus firing flaming ballistas upon his own men...because it was strategically logical as a lot of the slave army were also in the line of fire
The way that twats the world over attempt to deal with this jarring juxtaposition of good vs evil is to say something like “ah, but he was only putting that on to pretend”.
We like our villains like our burgers. Predictable. So it’s easier to believe that Osama Bin Laden only had SO MANY children simply to preserve his evil bloodline. Similarly the average Chav who says to the judge prior to sentencing for murder by knife attack “I am so sorry for what I did”…is probably fibbing just to get sympathy and a lesser sentence.
No one likes to believe that people we metaphorically spit on from a great, moral height could EVER attain or be born with emotions and feelings that we ourselves consider worthy. If you read the awesome Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, the character of Lecter is so frightening because he DOES have sympathetic traits. He is intelligent (terrifyingly so), charismatic, hates “discourtesy”, keeps his word and is socially delightful amongst many other positive qualities. Everyone’s worst nightmare. A serial killer and cannibal who is not superficially charming to hide his monstrous side BUT is genuinely like that BUT happens to like killing people and eating them.
We all see Jimmy Saville’s actions on Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops with different eyes now. He looked like a nonce anyway, but retrospective viewings show him as a dirty old ephebophile who was only being nice to kids to find young teenage girls to ravish with his sweaty hands. Another way of looking at it was that maybe he genuinely DID like kids, but also happened to like shagging underage girls. It’s an argument that pisses a lot of people off as they prefer to simply see him as 100% evil and won’t debate the issue.
The ridiculous rules around racism in the UK are now tailor made to turn anyone caught using the N Word or the P Word into swastika-adorned thugs of the highest new order. Doesn’t matter if you meant it as a joke or if you burn crosses and wear pointy white hoods. You are a monster for ONE racist remark, regardless of how you may have meant what you said.
A trick tried by defence lawyers and barristers in the UK is to say prior to sentencing that their client is “very sorry”. They may also get the guilty one to stand up and say that he/ she is “very sorry” and that they “deeply regret” beating that old man into a coma for his pension money. They might add that their girlfriend Sharon is expecting another baby and that they are starting a new job on Monday. Most of the time this is undiluted pigswill BUT there might just occasionally be someone who does regret what they did.
Simon Harwood was a police officer. He made the mistake in a riot, of pushing obstructive, petulant, drunken idiot Ian Tomlinson too hard to make him move out of the way. Tomlinson died 20 minutes later and Harwood’s career was over the next day. He spent over a year waiting for trial and when it finally came he stated in court in tears that he would never have gone near Tomlinson had he known that the man was ill and in generally bad physical shape. He was acquitted of manslaughter (and rightly so) but still lost his job as the Metropolitan Police care more for public opinion than looking after their officers. Very few people felt sorry for him though. They simply demonised him for things such as not having his Police number visible when he was filmed pushing Tomlinson (deemed deliberate so he couldn’t be identified), that his face was covered (same reason) and that he had previous history for violent behaviour (NONE of which had been proved). It was beyond most people’s intelligence to step back and say “hey, maybe the guy IS sorry for pushing Tomlinson and is possibly heartbroken that the guy died. The push was borne of frustration and was not meant to end a man’s life”. But…predicatably…it’s easier to simply see the guy as mindless thug than any of those things.
We need to realise that hooligans and thugs and killers and rapists have normal lives and that this in not some staggeringly unique fluke. The movie and book The Godfather were meant to show the horrors of the Italian Mafia in America. Unfortunately because of the expensive clothes, nice houses and the positive emotions on display by the gangsters (such as loyalty, friendship and love) the majority of people thought “these gangsters are different. It’s the others that suck. These are gentlemen who just happen to kill people”. This was shown decades later in the wonderful Sopranos TV show where Tony Soprano would kill a traitor with his bare hands (who was crying and pleading for his life) and then go to pick his daughter up from college, who he loved very much. Sympathetic qualities in monsters have always been something that intrigues humankind.
At the end of the day we need to realise this very simple statement.
He might be sorry. He might read Shakespeare sonnets. He might love his mum. He might give money to charity. He might, after all, be a really nice guy…BUT he killed/ robbed/ hurt someone deliberately. That means he’s a shitbag and has to pay for it.
We ALL have sympathetic qualities. Monsters only exist in the minds of small children and the mentally ill. It’s erring from them that means you need to be punished.
Having them is NOT mitigation for being a cunt.
Having them is NOT mitigation for being a cunt.