Sheep Who Think They’re Wolves

Lately this ridiculous blog post has made the rounds, written by some guy who was mugged, but was sure he deserved it because of his privilege.

The blog post was not a surprise to me.

Years ago, an online friend about ten years younger and from a considerably more comfortable background than mine, was ambushed at the grocery store by someone who forced her – at gun point – to go to two or three ATMs in town and withdraw the maximum allowed and give it to him.

If it had been me…

First of all, it wouldn’t have been me, because I come from a more dangerous time and place. Someone tries to kidnap you from a store, and take you, in a car to another place, you fight right there and right then, with everything you have, even if it’s just screaming your heart out. Because there’s a very good chance someone taking you away from the populated place to a deserted one ah… doesn’t have your continued survival at heart. It has been pointed out to me (several times) that I’m a paranoid woman, or at least not a naturally trusting one. We’ll say that on at least a half dozen occasions this has saved my life.

So, if it were me, I would not have gone. I’d have kicked, screamed and applied elbow to stomach. Even if someone had picked me up from the parking lot of the grocery store, I’d figure at least there were cars around. (Hint, never park in a deserted area at night/when the parking lot is not well attended.)

More likely, anyone trying that trick would end up with a knife in an inconvenient place, because I usually carry more than one knife, and if you get close enough to press a pistol against my back where no one can see it, the least I can do is ensure you sing soprano the rest of your life. (And that’s if I can’t reach your gut.)

But let’s suppose that for whatever reason (I was on crutches and had laryngitis) this happened to me. How would I feel afterwards?

Mad. Hopping mad. Furious. I’d make it my personal mission to find the bastage and end his joy in life.

How did my friend feel? Guilty.

She sent out a long rambling message to the intent that really, how bad does someone’s life need to be that they’re willing to rob strangers at gun point?

Head>desk.

Where do people learn this? This unearned guilt in anything good they have, and this bizarre belief that anyone doing anything bad had a horrible life/childhood/background.

They learn it from us. That is, they learn it from writers. Books, TV…

You’ve heard the thing about making sure your villain isn’t just a villain, right? You have to give him/her/it a reason for what they do?

Unfortunately over the years this has morphed into the more sinned against than sinning villain, into the repressed/tortured villain. Into the person who lashes out because, like a tortured dog, they can’t help it.

Humans are not dogs.

Yes, there are people who do horrible things because horrible things were done to them. What percentage of evil doers fall in that category? We don’t know. We don’t know, because if questioned, every evildoer will say that’s why they do evil. Every evil doer will angle for sympathy. “I kicked the puppy because the kitten bit me.” “I stole Bobby’s pencil, because Mike stole mine.” “I robbed the bank because I was beaten as a child.”

The problem with this is that all of us, every one here, I’d bet, knows someone who had a horrible childhood, was beaten, was kept in the cold and rain, or whatever, and has never committed a single crime. All of us know people who had a tough as heck childhood and who are strivers, good friends, honest as the day is long, loyal spouses, gentle with kittens and puppies.

To say that to be yelled at one Sunday when you’re three will cause you to commit murder is to wrong everyone who had a horrible childhood.

It’s possible that it’s true for some people. One of the things we’ve found out is that some people are more resilient than others. Some people break easy. Some people break bad. People are not widgets.

But the other thing we know – we have to know – is that not everyone who is evil is more sinned against than sinned. Not everyone who hurts others has been hurt.

Look, we’re all flawed. Laziness is part of human nature. So is greed. It’s perfectly possible for someone who is lazy and greedy to decide he’d rather rob than work. I’ve heard of it/seen it happen. And so have you. Even back in kindergarten I knew people like this, and so did you.

They rob because they can, and because no one ever stopped them/they don’t think anyone will ever stop them.

This is a reason too. It’s not a sympathetic reason, but it’s a reason. (It’s a little more sympathetic if you realize the people who never set boundaries helped in these person’s lives, while they could still have learned and become normal, nice people, did them a grave injustice.) Having people take a sadistic pleasure in their power over others, or think that others owe them a living is a motivation.

Your villains don’t need to be saints.

The problem is that the narrative of the saintly villain leaves the good people – or people who are convinced everyone else is good – strangely unprotected. Not people like me, mind you. We’re not good. Or not that good. We’re good despite our bad, if that makes sense. But people who are good because they’re good, those people will read the books and imagine that every menace out there is a villain-with-a-heart-of-gold looking for an opportunity to redeem himself. They’ll think that every wolf has the heart of a lamb. And that if they commit heinous crimes it’s society’s fault, or the fault of the person being wronged.

The problem with this is that wolves are wolves. Being a particularly compliant lamb gives nothing, except convincing the wolf his mode of life is right, and he should go on eating tasty mouton. And the next victim might not escape with just property damage.

 

470 responses to “Sheep Who Think They’re Wolves

  1. While I agree that the insistence on writing wounded villains is part of the problem, I don’t know that it’s the primary one. I’d aim that at psychology and sociology, with their insistence that violence is learned. Behaviorism is the norm. And thus everyone is to blame for the villain being villainous.

    I’m much more of an old-fashioned Calvinist than that. Cain didn’t need an example to initiate violence. Unchecked Human Depravity will get to that point on its own. It’s part of the reason I may be a Libertarian, but I am not an anarcho-capitalist. Government may be evil, but it’s a necessary one, because in D&D terms, the default alignment is Lawful Evil, and people will do whatever they think law, culture, or circumstance will get away with, unless trained NOT to do so.

    • I’ve raised kids. I don’t believe in the innate goodness of man. And I agree with you the therapeutic culture doesn’t help, but the stories we tell reinforce it.

    • Going to have to disagree on the default alignment there. In my opinion, uncivilized (in the sense of someone not being taught to be civilized) humans default to chaotic neutral for the majority. They need to be taught very young that simply doing what you want for yourself all the time is a bad idea, or else you wind up with the selfish type of people who are becoming more and more common today.

      • I’m going to disagree with the validity of alignments here. 0:)

        Most people behave well most of the time. However, that’s like saying most of the rungs of a ladder are good. A ladder may be still useful, in a pinch, if nearly half its rungs are bad, as long as they alternate with good ones. But any bad rung may be a serious problem. And all you need is three in a row for the ladder to be useless.

        Try torturing that into a moral system that consists of taking every ethical question that the best minds of humanity have broken their hearts over for millennia, misunderstanding half of it, boiling it down to game mechanics, and handing it over to the sophomoric understanding of the players and DMs (some of whom, indeed, have the excuse of being sophomores.)

        • Most people behave well most of the time.

          This is because they have been taught that behaving badly is wrong (or bad, or dangerous, etc). Until they have a few encounters with bad results from their actions, they will do or take whatever they want to, with no consideration of the consequences to themselves or others. It is only after those consequences hit home that their behavior improves.

          • Nah. Even antisocial people will behave well most of the time, chiefly because they don’t feel like behaving badly at the time.

            • Yup. It’s when “lazy” and “bad” coincide that they tend to slip a bit more.

              • I don’t know. Some days the only thing keeping me from literally cracking skulls is the fact that I’m just too lazy to bother with the work of getting away with it.

                • That’s using a fault for a good end. I do it all the time, with procrastination, sloth, and suchlike. “Sure, the world would be a better place without him, but getting the gore out of your teeth can be such a trial…”

        • Most bad people are alright, most of the time.

          As they famously point out, Hitler was personally nice to kids and puppies.

          • I feel like Shrek saying this, and I’m not really replying to Fox, here–But I do feel the need to elaborate on this, just a little.

            Evil has what I’d call “regions”, for lack of a more descriptive word: The guy who is perfectly comfortable verbally abusing female wait staff for no reason other than that he can may well restrain himself should the opportunity to rape and/or murder the girl come along. Does he get a pass because he has the restraint not to actually physically hurt her? He’s still abusing his power in a situation where he needn’t, and deriving a sick pleasure from it. Just because he isn’t wired to get off by physically harming the girl, should his conduct be excused, or deemed a lesser evil?

            The asshole is still abusing his power and quite clearly demonstrating evilness, in my book. Evil doesn’t know degree; it simply is.

            Is he less evil because he “merely” takes pleasure from causing someone non-physical, emotional pain, yet has inhibitions against actual sexual assault or murder? How’s that go, again? I’m not sure I get that.

            I’ve been told I didn’t grow up in an abusive household because my stepdad and biological father never beat us, or sexually assaulted any of us kids. However, there was enough emotional, verbal, and behavioral abuse that it warped the ever-loving hell out of all of us, in varying ways.

            Would you call what might be termed “spiritual abuse”, where you kill the spirit and self-esteem of another human being simply because you can, they are convenient, and it makes you feel better about yourself any less evil than physically harming them? How is it that we generally regard damage to the psyche as being somehow less serious than a broken bone or bruised face?

            I don’t think you can really define evil by its degree of severity; it is all damaging, just to different parts of the victim’s life. You tell someone who was subject to decades of belittling emotional and verbal abuse that “…you were lucky, he never beat/raped you…”, and you’re belittling what they went through, and saying that verbal and emotional abuse is just fine, since it never “got physical”.

            Evil is evil, period. Just because you’re an elderly woman who’s spent her life manipulating and emotionally abusing your closest relatives until one of them commits suicide, you’re not getting a pass when it comes to judgment. Maybe you didn’t actually kill or beat anyone, but you’re still an evil old bitch who deserves final justice from the creator.

            • We’re in harmony, even if we disagree on some details– or maybe the words are in the way, it can be hard to tell.

              Pratchett made a very good point– evil is treating people like things.

              I say there are greater or lesser evils, but a lot of it is details, not the body.
              I’m no less dead if I’m killed instantly than if I’m tortured, even if the evil is greater, for example; at the same time, some book once had a bad guy admitting that he’d killed a woman, but he’d never have “hurt” her in doing it. That makes sense, even though it doesn’t make murder any less evil.

              It’s two different aspects.

              • In the example given there are two evils enacted:

                The evil of depriving a person of life

                The evil of inflicting needless suffering

                As each is an evil of damning magnitude, the evil of compounding (or refusing to do so) is moot.

                • Assuming correct definition (no, I’m not going to try to establish it here!) of the second, yes.

                  It’s like the discussions of bigger values of infinity.

                  • Ummmm, yeah. I should have said “torture.” “Inflicting needless suffering” could be defined down to making the toddler wait an extra half hour before snackies.

                    Not that I haven’t known some toddlers who would define that as torture.

              • Agreed, but…

                I think that one needs to carefully avoid an ideation of evil where you think of it as having degrees; in the final analysis, there is really no difference between brutally murdering someone and driving them to suicide.

                Imagine a Nazi Endlosung where they didn’t set up death camps–And, just “limited” themselves to appropriating property, depriving the Jews of all civil and property rights, and then conducted mass sterilizations. Is that somehow a “lesser evil” than what they did do? The end result is the same–The eradication of the Jews as a people.

                Does the methodology make it “better”? Let us say that the Nazis had followed such a program–Should we have then sat in judgment on them at Nuremberg?

                Evil is evil. To start down a path where you begin classifying it by degree is a huge mistake. Mostly because when you start excusing “lesser evils”, the assholes among us start nibbling away at the boundaries, until more and more becomes acceptable.

                • Lovely. There should have been a “close italics” after “Endlosung”, but I apparently screwed that up… If Sarah could perhaps edit that in, when convenient? Pretty please?

                  • Not while on tablet. Tomorrow?

                    • As G-D said to Moses: Take two tablets and call me in the morning.

                    • Thank you, Sarah–I do so hate presenting as inept or illiterate.

                    • Wait. We can ask our illustrious hostess to fix things when we emit typos?

                      Why was I not informed?!

                    • “Why was I not informed?!”

                      Same reason the rest of us missed the boat: thought so long outside the box, we forgot where we left it! Thus, no form to be “in.” *grin*

                    • Hey, I only know because I really screwed up with a post on here, once upon a time, and our gracious hostess came to my rescue… Which I’ve taken outrageous advantage of, ever since.

                      See, Sarah? No good deed ever goes unpunished…

                      Although, I suspect that once news of this power gets out into the wild, Sarah is going to sequentially a.) get overwhelmed by us anally retentive types who also tend to breeze over proofreading of posts before posting, and then b.) be forced to set policy such that, once ya post it, it’s there for the ages. Because, if she doesn’t do that, she’ll wind up editing each and every one of our posts that we screw up.

                      ‘Tis the way of the world, I fear. And, I support her following b.), because I’d rather she write than edit our illiterate scrawls.

                      That said, I’d like to petition for the ability for we poor proofreaders to be able to do some judicious editing in whatever version of software that follows this one, and that we really need to work on an equivalent word for “scrawls” that applies to poor typewriting vs. mere handwriting…

                    • Flying Mike: it’s funnier to watch…

                • We have an elemental disagreement on if an understanding of degree is important.

                  Also, I don’t think the evil in killing off the Jews is in eliminating the race. That’s just the form that dehumanizing them took.

                  It took decades for me to realize that the common to scifi trope of “yeah, he’s a horrifically evil monster, but he’s the last of his kind! It’s so much worse to kill him than someone who is part of a bigger group!” was… well… garbage at best, and a hideous brain-virus at worse.

                  The moral value of a person is not less because you group them into a more common set….

                  • 0:)

                    If you pick up Warrior Wisewoman with a story by your truly, you will find “Among the Wastes of Time” on that very topic.

                    • On the list. (Won’t be for a while– we’re not sure if Reid is going to block funding again, so my husband could be working for no pay again all too soon.)

                    • Having observed already too many discussions about how “the GOP won’t allow a shutdown because they’ll take the blame” I am wondering whether these pundits are capable of realizing that by making such arguments, by predetermining the GOP as culpable, they are ensuring Obama will push a shutdown? They are establishing a government shut down as a win-win situation for Obama and thereby increasing the probability he will cause one.

                      Correlate this to the situations defined above, where preemptively absolving one party from responsibility increases the likelihood of their acting destructively.

                    • +1

                  • Fox, I think it would be better to put my position as that I object to assigning magnitude to evil. Evil is evil, and if your conduct is evil and your methods are kind, it’s just as bad as if you were cruel.

                    Actually, in a certain sense, I think that that concept of “extermination through sterilization” might be far more cruel than herding people into Zyklon B showers: Imagine what it would be like, living with the knowledge that you were the last of your kind, that no children of yours would ever walk this earth, while having your tormentors celebrate each and every natural death of your kind as being a step along the path to ultimate good.

                    When I contemplate that, I find it far more disturbing than what the Nazis actually did, for some reason. In one sense, it’s qualitatively different. In another, it’s exponentially more cruel. Yet, both are simultaneously and unquestionably evil, are they not?

                    When it comes to evil, I do not believe that there are things one can evaluate as being “smaller” or “greater”. Evil… Simply is. A small unnecessary cruelty to a dumb animal possesses the same quality as a horrid crime against another human, and is just as indicative of personal moral degeneracy. And, I don’t doubt but that the creator likely evaluates them the same way, equating intent for cruelty in the name of personal pleasure as being abhorrent no matter to what extent it is indulged in.

                    • That’s pretty much the premise of Guy Gavriel Kay’s novel Tigana. The country’s history is literally, magically wiped away, and the natives of that country have to live with the growing knowledge that as they die off, nobody will remember their country at all. It’s death of a culture, but as you say, it’s very true.

                      P.S. If anybody tells you that your experiences aren’t abuse because “they didn’t beat you,” tell them that if they sever a finger it isn’t serious, because it isn’t a gut wound, and see how they react.

                • “I think that one needs to carefully avoid an ideation of evil where you think of it as having degrees”

                  Except that there are exactly circumstances where you have to. Hauling a kid out of a high chair in a way that leaves bruises on the leg is not, in fact, evil, if you are doing to enable yourself to administer the Heimlich maneuver because the kid is choking. This is because letting the kid choke to death is a greater evil.

                  • Mary, I think that you’re mistaking the effect with the intent: If I jerk a child out of her high chair with the intent to cause her pain, that’s a much different thing than if I jerk her out of that chair in order to get her out of a burning house.

                    The first is evil, while the second case is quite clearly the unfortunate result of doing the necessities. You can do unintentional harm to someone without having evil intent. Which is why I hold that evil is evil, without degree or magnitude. It is a description of intent behind the act.

                • I think you just got your Womyn’s Studies Ph. D.

              • “Pratchett made a very good point– evil is treating people like things.”

                Eh, you can treat people as things without doing any evil. You’re at a crowded location and see someone you don’t want to talk to; you shuffle behind a group of people instead of a potted palm or the elevator, in which case you are treating them as a thing just as you would be treating a potted palm or the elevator as a thing.

                Evil is sacrificing a greater good to a lesser good.

                • That isn’t treating a person like a thing. That’s treating a person as a person you don’t wish to talk to.

                  Think more like the Widget Theory of human interaction.

                  • ????

                    The people you are hiding behind, as if they were potted palm, or an elevator. You seem to have missed them in that reply.

                    • ????

                      That’s treating them like a crowd.

                      Humans sometimes filling a similar role to things isn’t “treating them like things.”

                      That’s like arguing that…oh… using the same word for my hair as one would use for brown wood is dehumanizing. It’s a similarity, but it’s not treating me as a thing.

                    • How on earth can treating you identically to a thing NOT be treating you as a thing?

                      What is this “treating you like a thing” if it’s NOT treating you in the same way you would treat a thing?

                    • How on earth can treating you identically to a thing NOT be treating you as a thing?

                      It’s not identical, it’s a situation-based similarity of a single attribute that utterly ignores all the ways that they are utterly different.

                      Crowds block line of sight; plants block line of sight. Mud is brown; my hair is brown. Dealing with a similarity is not treating the things identically. (My hear most assuredly doesn’t thin out if you add water, and the cover provided by a crowd is superior to that of a plant because crowds move, thus disguising your motion.)

                      Are you seriously claiming that there’s any reason to think that a person who will hide in a crowd is likely to feel at worst slight guilt if their hiding causes the death of what they’re hiding behind, as they would with a potted plant? Of course not– because in spite of the superficial similarity, they are not treating the people as things.

                      The initial confusion on my part about your “them” is because they hiding person isn’t “treating” those in the crowd at all. Their behavior is not “towards” them, their behavior is towards the one they’re avoiding.

                      If their behavior was, say, to avoid being shot– then it would be putting other people at risk, and thus treating those in the crowd like an object; “avoiding that person’s notice” and “avoiding that person’s shots” are two different things. It’s a different form of the “guys who push little old ladies” joke.

                    • Feeling guilty is irrelevant. That is because it is not evil, not because it not treating a person as a thing. The distinction was my point.

                      How can you tell, in any given situation, whether you are treating a person as a thing, when you are treating them identically to a thing, and ignoring “all the ways that they are utterly different” — which, in fact, means ignoring that they are people?

                    • It’s not treating the crowd as anything, because nothing is done to them– or could reasonably be expected to happen.

                      How can you tell, in any given situation, whether you are treating a person as a thing, when you are treating them identically to a thing, and ignoring “all the ways that they are utterly different” — which, in fact, means ignoring that they are people?

                      For starters, you’d have to find someone who is actually treating people identically to a thing, rather than a situational similarity that isn’t actually “treating” the people in the crowd at all.

                      Using people as shields from gunfire might look similar to hiding from sight behind them, but it’s objectively different in that it’s behavior towards them vs behavior towards an entirely different person where they are not acted towards.

                      Cutting someone because you enjoy their pain: they’re an object for your gratification.
                      Cutting someone to remove the barbed arrow: They’re a life you’re trying to preserve.

                    • If one uses humans as cover, one is forced to remember that your cover may turn, point and stare, and then inquire loudly as to why you are skulking around like that. This forces one to remember one’s common humanity with one’s cover-humans, or to be punished for one’s inhumanity to man by three year olds trying to play with the funny lady.

                      If one uses rocks and trees as cover, they usually don’t do this.

                      (Unless you’re a Jew stuck in a certain chapter of the Quran, in which case you have worse troubles.)

                • An old woman (who happens to be a witch) and a priest are sitting by the road having a conversation.

                  (The conversation starts on the classic subject of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”)

                  “Sixteen!”
                  “You’ve counted sixteen?” said Oats eventually.
                  “No, but it is as good an answer as any you’ll get. And that’s what you holy men discuss is it?”
                  “Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin, for example.”
                  “And what do they think? Against it, are they?”
                  “It is not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
                  “Nope.”
                  “Pardon?”
                  There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
                  “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”
                  “No it ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
                  “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes-”
                  “But they Starts with thinking about people as things…”

                  The whole quote in context.

                  http://blog.gaiam.com/quotes/authors/terry-pratchett/58647

            • Perhaps Evil should be considered to have quantum states, similar to the distinction between Petty and Grand Larceny. Petty evil is more of a nuisance and can be generally shrugged off by a strong individual, but a prolonged, continuous exposure to it reminds of the dictum that quantity has a quality of its own.

              I expect excessive explication of evil is harmful to the principle that evil is Bad! Don’t do it!

            • “Evil doesn’t know degree; it simply is.”

              Humbug. Of course there are degrees to evil. To say otherwise is to say that there is no difference between the kidnapper and the police. Both deprive people of their fundamental right of liberty, but one does it for purely selfish reasons while the other does it for largely selfless reasons. Or depriving people of Rights isn’t evil so long as enough of us agree, and that thinking leads straight to the camps.

              It’s also shows a degree or meal cowardice. Destroying a city, killing tens of thousands of men, women, and children, is quintessentially evil, but Truman was right in ordering the bombing of Hiroshima, because he had no good options. The current stretch of relative peace is almost entirely due to the men and women who stand ready, willing, and in absolutely no way eager to commit great evil, thus deterring everyone from a slightly lesser evil. The recent instability is almost entirely due to the current ruling class ostentatiously eschewing anything they perceive as evil, letting the likes of Putin, ISIS, etc. feel free to commit evil at a scale they find appropriate.

              • Totally agree with your second paragraph. I agree with the premise of your first paragraph, but think it is a poor example.

                There are degrees of evil, in fact our justice system is set up that way. Second degree assault is evil, but not as evil as murder, therefore it is punished by some time behind bars, while murder can be punished by death. In the same vein, fourth degree assault is (in my opinion not evil, but according to the justice system it is) a considerably lesser degree of evil, and is often punished by only a fine and some ‘anger management’ classes.

                • Our entire criminal justice system is in itself an exercise in evil. Fining, imprisoning, or executing people is evil, but so is allowing predators free run in society. When you have no good choices the only right action is the lessor of the evils.

                  • Justified! I believe that is the concept we are looking for.

                    Are our actions justified by our own moral code and that of the society we find ourselves in.

                    Good and evil are moral judgements placed on actions by those who take them and by those who observe them.

                    Would you, this a general question for all, feel any guilt over killing a bear that broke into someone’s house to stop it from killed a family of 4?

                    Should we if it was a human predator?

                    • As recent grand juries have reminded us, the applicable standard is that of “what a would reasonable person would have done in that situation.”

                      Not that many Huns would pass as reasonable outside Texas.

                    • That is a fluided (non)standard indeed. As I find most people to be quite unreasonable.

                      😉

                  • You might be interested in the Catholic notion of “evil”– briefly:
                    “The morality of human acts depends on three sources: the object chosen, either a true or apparent good; the intention of the subject who acts, that is, the purpose for which the subject performs the act; and the circumstances of the act, which include its consequences.”
                    http://www.catechism.cc/articles/moral-object.htm (Much less briefly.)

                    You can’t do an evil thing for a good end, although a lesser evil may be a side-effect of a neutral or good action for a good end.

                    In the case of depriving people of rights, having the goal of “deprive of rights” would (that I can think of– “right” is a much abused word) be evil, but some rights may be deprived as a side effect (stopping what they do) of a greater good.

                    See also, I may kill someone as a side-effect of stopping them, but if I kill them to kill them that is different.

                    • Excellent and thought-provoking read.

                      I’m starting to wonder if I’m not Catholic, and just don’t know it as of yet. Every time I run into Jesuit reasoning along these lines, something resonates.

                      Combine this essay with the Judaic/Israeli concept of “purity of arms”, and I think we might be onto something that ought to be taught in basic training as a part of a “catechism of arms”.

                      Someone else alluded to it, below, but I have to agree with the idea that we do a really bad job of training and preparing people morally and mentally for these issues, and that is one reason we have such horrid problems with PTSD.

                    • You might get a lot of good out of investigating “Natural Law philosophy”– I think the logical form of stuff might be calling you.

                      You know that old “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” thing? It was supposed to be an insult because the Catholic philosophers asked so many “silly” questions (like if dog-headed humans had souls) and then tried to work them out. 😀

              • To Jeff Gauch @ 11:38 pm:

                I think you’re wrong, in that the term “evil” is a value judgment that can only be based on intent. If I have to kill a hundred thousand people in Hiroshima in order to shortstop the necessity to kill millions, I have not committed an act of evil–I am, instead, trying to save lives.

                It’s a binary state, good or evil, when you’re arguing intent alone. Results? Well, that gets a bit more complex, but that’s not really what we’re talking about, is it?

                Killing a hundred thousand people in Nanking, simply because you can, and feel the men need some sexual relief and bayonet practice? Evil.

                Killing a hundred thousand people in Hiroshima, in order to convince the people of Japan to surrender so you don’t have to kill millions in a conventional invasion? Not evil. Not a lot of fun, but also the best path out of a bad situation.

                Now, if Truman had made that decision in the face of an already agreed to surrender, and only ordered the bombing because he wanted to scare the Soviets? Different case, and clearly an act of evil.

                You start dividing evil acts into lesser and greater, and pretty soon you’re arguing that the lesser ones are somehow acceptable, and from there it becomes a very slippery slope, very quickly. “Oh, I’ll only be a little evil today…” very quickly leads to “Well, it was OK to do that, so today we’ll do this slightly more evil thing in service of the same goal…”.

                Sometime shortly after that, you find yourself doing the unimaginable. This is how we went from “Sink ships only after warning them we were going to do so and giving the crew a chance to hit the lifeboats…” to “Sink without warning and then machine-gun any survivors…”.

                • I agree with the first part of your statement, for another example, killing someone because you want to watch them choke on their own blood; oh and you would kind of like their rolex; that is evil. A soldier killing someone on the battlefield, or a person killing someone in self defense, that is not evil. I think this is where Jeff and I disagree.

                  On the other hand, I fundamentally disagree with you that there are not degrees of evil.

                  • Evil isn’t a multivariant thing–Either it is, or it isn’t. Black and white. Positive and negative.

                    Magnitude is another value of the act, entirely. You don’t get any fewer points for kicking the puppy than you do for raping the owner, in my outlook. You start assigning value to things like evil, and then the next step is tolerating what you consider “minor infractions”. Only thing is, see, that there are no “minor infractions”, mostly because you don’t know where your minor indulgences of such things will end.

                    Oh, gee… You like being cruel to children and small puppies, but have the restraint to avoid actually killing them? Good for you–You’re just “moderately evil”. Too ‘effing bad that that kid you’re tormenting was an Adolf Hitler or a Richard Speck, and because you did what you did to him, you’ve managed to activate the mental machinery that made the difference between Adolf Hitler, landscape painter and Adolf Hitler, genocidist-in-chief. Just like with any act of of good, you don’t know where your effect on things ends, and when you commit a “minor act of evil”, the gift keeps right on giving, perhaps at an exponential rate when in the right soil.

                    If it’s evil to be deliberately cruel to an animal you’re killing for dinner, it’s just the same as doing that to a human that needs killing. Should you torture your dinner, because it makes you feel good and you like the flavor of fear?

                    Evil describes the essential nature of the intent behind the act, not the size of the act itself. You can inadvertently work evil through unintended consequences, but if your intent starts out on the side of good, you’re not really morally culpable if it turns bad on you. Start from the premise of being evil, and it is your damn fault that Adolf Hitler did what he did, if he was influenced by your act. If the people who kept him out of the Vienna school of art that he tried to get into did so because he was a lousy artist, they didn’t commit evil by keeping him out–Even if letting him in would have changed his life and put him on a path of mediocrity in art. If they kept him out simply to satiate their need to keep the country bumpkin in his place… Evil. With some rather nasty consequences.

                • So an action is good because of your *intentions*. You do know where that road you’re paving goes, right?

                  “No one is the villain in their own mind” is a hoary aphorism because it’s true. The KKK, NKVD, Gestapo, and DNC were all absolutely convinced that they were doing the right and moral thing.

                  • Actually, he said it’s evil because of intentions.

                    How good an action is would be an entirely separate question– examples such as when my grandfather slit a man’s throat and shoved a pen into it to save his life (it worked, but easily could have failed–he’d taken a bite of ham which was already being bitten by a yellow jacket, and his face was swollen open), or how a cat playing with a mouse cannot be evil because it’s a cat, not a moral agent.

                    • Note, I think it’s more complicated than that, in terms of there being things which a moral agent should reasonably be expected to recognize as wrong, but that doesn’t matter for what he said vs what Jeff seems to have heard. 😀

                    • Goodness and evilness are simply matters of where you put the baseline.

                      Your grandfather example fails because a tracheotomy is only superficially similar to Assault. Even if the patient died your grandfather would have been doing good, there’s a difference between a failed tracheotomy and slitting a throat.

                      Don’t tell me that cats aren’t evil. That’s half the reason I like the buggers.

                    • Goodness and evilness are simply matters of where you put the baseline.

                      We’ve got an elemental disagreement on definition; not something that either side is likely to change.

                      Your grandfather example fails because a tracheotomy is only superficially similar to Assault.

                      “Assault” isn’t what it was being compared to.

                      It was more a matter of it having a very good chance of killing the guy– apparently sheer, dumb, Army luck managed to make him pick EXACTLY the right place– when at least in theory he may have been able to be saved otherwise, such as by putting the pen *down* his throat.
                      If that had ended up being even close to true, I’m sure the doctor would’ve mentioned it, but they didn’t know that. It was a judgement call that had a non-intentional wrong which was less than the wrong it was correcting/avoiding, and had the blessed luck to work out.

                      Figure out your intended goal, make sure you are not intending a wrong, consider the indirect wrongs you are doing or that reasonably may result, compare them to the wrongs you are trying to correct and that reasonably may result from not acting, and make a choice.

                      If there was some situation that *might* be fixed by cutting someone’s throat and sticking a pen in the hole, but it was minor– uh, avoiding dinner with the in-laws?– then the wrong done as a side-effect (major injury, risk of death, possible lifelong disability) is far less than the possible good or neutral effect. (avoiding the in-laws)
                      Now, something like… oh… “accidentally” forgetting to tie the dog up, so he runs off, so you have to go catch him instead of going over to the in-laws, so long as there wasn’t some other harm done (let’s pretend that your father in law loves being really rude, but only when you are there, and it makes everyone miserable; further assume no lies) then it would be moral.

                      The solution has to respect the moral worth of all elements, to both simplify and complicate it greatly.

                    • Interesting to notice there are some ethical issues with teaching tracheotomy techniques to first responders. It really has been and continues to be a matter of debate – sort of like the issues of who can use an Epi pen to save a life and who has to stand idly by and watch the eyes glaze over.

                      On the one hand it’s a lifesaving technique, on the other hand it’s a battery and informed consent might be assumed but hardly obtained. On the gripping hand it’s a surgical (might be a needle instead of a blade though) technique best left to surgeons. But sometimes some places it will be taught to relative lay people as a life saving technique with no substitute – when you need it you really need it..

                  • There have been discussions on the nature of evil ever since the concept of evil was identified.

                    There are arguments as to what constitutes a just war. Do you let the Holocaust continue? Do you do what it takes to stop it? At what point does what it takes to stop it become worse than the Holocaust in the first place? There are not easy answers.

                    The Daughter took part in a study of a game that involved making selections in a survival situation. There had been a wreck. There were injured and a limited supply of medicine. You only had enough to treat the injured children or the injured engineer. It was specified that the engineer would be ultimately necessary for the survival of all. While it is horrible to think of letting children who depend upon you die, to me the answer was easy. No one would survive without the engineer, so the injured children were doomed whatever your choice.

                    • Evil is easily recognized … by G-D. The rest of us are stuck having to make a best guess.

                      I prefer to not attempt to speak for Him.

                    • There’s no such thing as a just war. War is cruelty, you cannot refine it. Once you decide to go to war you have left the plane of normal ethics and the only moral action is that which ends the war in the shortest time possible. That is the true evil of the Left’s foreign policy. How many people died as a result of the “peace” movement? Not just those killed because the protests gave the North Vietnamese hope to continue the war and the killing, not just those victims among the boat people, but those who were killed in communist adventures encouraged by a weakened US, or those killed by enemies of the US who learned a lesson from the only conflict America didn’t prevail in?

                    • But there IS such a thing as a justifiable war, which occupies the same position in the affairs of nations as a justifiable homicide between individuals.

                    • Yes, there are moral reasons to make the decision, but once that decision is made you are in a completely different moral paradigm and every action should be based on ending the war as quickly as possible.

                    • every action should be based on ending the war as quickly as possible

                      Ask yourself why you engaged. Decide what constitutes an elimination of that cause. Commit to move with all due force and speed to eliminate it. Then do not leave until that is accomplished, or it becomes obvious that it will never occur.

                      “Been here XX months, whatever the state of things it’s time to go,” doesn’t cut the mustard.

                    • Yep. One of my deepest desires is to see the President, when asked about his exit strategy for the war with Iran, say “First we win, then we exit. So simple even a vile progressive can understand it. Barely.”

                    • … every action should be based on ending the war as quickly as possible“?

                      So, you are advocating surrender? It worked for Poland & France in WWII, and many advocated Britain do the same. Hitler or the King, they were still living under a tyrannical government. The Irish thought so.

                      Perhaps you need to rephrase that.

                    • The issue of just war is one that will continue to be debated. You know those bumper stickers: War is not the answer. Depends on the question.

                      I dislike the idea of sending people to die. Still, it would take a great deal to convince me that in the end anything other than fighting WWII would have been a better choice.

                      Whatever, if you do decide to send in troops you damn well better be prepared to fight to win and secure the thing. Otherwise all you have done is waste lives making a bad situation worse.

                      However stupid or destructive, Constitutionally the protesters had every right to protest.

                      Failures surrounding the handling of Vietnam abounded. The inability or unwillingness of the government to clearly explain how a communist takeover in a small Southeast Asian country could be threat to us here. Admittedly this was in part because the government was not in consensus; much of the country was war weary after WWII and Korea.

                      President Lyndon Johnson’s was not really committed to Vietnam, for he had other goals that were more important to him. It is reported that he was extremely fearful of any escalation (particularly regarding possible nuclear threat), tried to micro-manage the action and would not let the military run the military.

                      The press, while individuals may not have been for the communist’s cause, as a whole ‘remembered’ the witch hunt. (A persuasive argument can be made that, by how he handled HUAC, Sen. Joseph McCarthy may have ended up aiding the cause of the communists.) Eventually it became clear by how they reported that the networks and most of the news outlets were against involvement.

                      The public’s disinclination was furthered by the images of war that were being broadcast, and the grim spin with which it came. Unlike WWII there were no images of happy people celebrating in liberated cities after major battles were won. Just night after night of firefights and casualties somewhere in a jungle.

                    • However stupid or destructive, Constitutionally the protesters had every right to protest.

                      Small nit. The Constitution does not protect the right to be destructive when protesting. This would not fall under the description, “peacefully assemble”.

                    • YES the Consitution does not protect violent one protests. Bad wording, my fault. I used the word distructive in reaction to the argument that the protests had aided and abetted the enemy by encouraging them to continue.

          • If you read more direct reports, Hitler presented himself as nice to kids, but was awkward around them and the children did not find him charming.

            Anyway, it doesn’t matter. People are generally mixes of characterics.

            • My husband is designing a world, tolkien-in-space style.

              One of the big blocks we have to get over is that, when someone’s a bad guy, we keep trying to make them bad all the time.

              That’s ridiculous, but especially since we’re avoiding the “everyone is really just as good as the other” thing, it keeps popping up.

              • Heh. I got this from Rex Stout although He took it from Shakespeare:
                Hamlet, Act I, scene 5:

                O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
                And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;
                And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
                But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
                Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
                In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
                Yea, from the table of my memory
                I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,
                All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
                That youth and observation copied there;
                And thy commandment all alone shall live
                Within the book and volume of my brain,
                Unmix’d with baser matter: yes, by heaven!
                O most pernicious woman!
                O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
                My tables, — meet it is I set it down,
                That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
                At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark:(writes)
                So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.

                Making the villain all smiles and pleasantries while he seduces, undermines and betrays is the most realistic depiction.

                What makes a character bad is a lack of scruple, not a lack of manners.

                Unless, of course, you are crafting melodrama, in which case twirl all the mustachios at hand.

              • “I cain’t help myself! When ah go evil ah go all the way!” — John Astin, “Evil Roy Slade”

            • Incidentally, I’m awkward around kids and they tend to not find me charming. 😀
              It’s a side effect of treating them like humans. Some humans who happen to be children are fine with me, though. (Besides the ones I gave birth to.)

              • I’m awkward around kids too, but its because I need to find a better method than just stuffing them in a large canvas seabag …

                • *looks at son*

                  Unfortunately, mine is stuffed full of all the other bags I wanted to organize.

                • I find that for dealing with children chloroform is essential. When I told my sisters that I got far fewer requests to babysit nieces / nephews, for some reason. 😎

                  • Recordings of Blues Clues work nearly as well for the little ones. Doesn’t get you talked about near as much.

                  • Ether, much easier to get than chloroform, you can pick it up at any auto parts store.

                  • Duct tape. You’d be surprised at how infrequently I get asked to babysit.

                    • I find that what works the best is espresso and sugar, in large quantities, preferably provided just before return the child in question to parental custody…

                      I’ve never been asked to provide childcare by the same person twice, for some reason.

                    • I ran into a sandwich place in Portland whose “children stay with parents” sign read:

                      “Unaccompanied children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.”

                      😎

                    • What the f’n hell did the puppy do to the coffee shop to deserve that?

                    • “Unaccompanied children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.”

                      My vet has that same sign, only one of workers crossed out puppy and replaced it with kitten. Probably because they have cats in the office and generally a litter of kittens that available free.

                    • @ Josh

                      See, the way I figure it is that any parent foolish enough (or, desperate enough…) to think that leaving a small child in my care was a good idea probably isn’t responsible enough to have a puppy in the household. So, no puppy/kitten side order with the espresso. I’m an animal lover, see…

                      I should mention that I like my coffee strong enough to cause heart palpitations and hallucinations in the frail, and when I’m done dosing it up for small children, the sugar content is probably enough to induce diabetes in them, as well.

      • The character I use as an icon was played as a “chaotic neutral.”

        She was, inside of the group/those she liked, indistinguishable from a chaotic to neutral good character, though a bit careless.

        Outside of that group? Well, she wasn’t trying to do folks wrong, and that’s about the only reason she couldn’t be called “chaotic evil,” an alignment I simply can’t play.

        Shorter: I rather agree.

      • Nope. They’re not neutral. Neutral means they’re not self-centered. Babies are cute. Babies are beautiful. But they enter the world screaming “ME!”

        And unless they are guided, nurtured–dare I say, illuminated–to think of more than themselves, they will leave the world the same narcissist they entered it. And will innately, as a result, do anything they can get away with to achieve their self-fulfilling ends.

        Nature is self-preservation at any cost. Nurture is the act of inculcating the virtues of others to turn ‘I’ into “we.”

        • It is interesting to read of so many “retarded” kids — autism, Downs’, whatever — whose defining characteristic is sweetness and unprompted kindness.

          Leaves you pondering the true meaning of retarded, doesn’t it?


          Special-ed success: Making hope real for my son

          The news is filled with stories about how charter schools — especially Eva Moskowitz’s big, bad Success Academy network — don’t serve students with special needs. As a parent of one such child, let me tell you: This is bunk.

          Now, I’m also the co-CEO of another charter network, Achievement First, and I know how hard our special-education team at AF and other charter networks work to meet the needs of these scholars.

          But I want to tell a more personal story — about my son, Jack.

          It shows how charter schools, including Success Academy, not only serve students with special needs, but serve them well.

          Last month, Jack officially graduated from all special-education services. He’s now a full-fledged general education student.

          Why is this a big deal?

          When Jack was 3, he had poor-to-nonexistent pretend-play skills. Instead of engaging in conversation, he merely repeated what was said to him. A psychologist diagnosed Jack as having a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum, with below-average intelligence.

          When Jack was 4 and 5, he attended a special-education preschool in a class with 12 students, one teacher and two aides. Though I had taught him to read, his teachers refused to believe Jack could actually read books.

          When Jack was 5½, his neuropsychologist said he couldn’t handle a mainstream school and suggested a small specialized setting instead.

          [SNIP]

          Rather than allow these schools to limit Jack’s potential, we decided to put him in a mainstream kindergarten with special supports.

          We entered the Achievement First and Success Academy kindergarten lotteries, and Jack was lucky enough to win a spot at Success Academy Cobble Hill.

          What a world of difference: One of the first things the Success team did was to work with us to rewrite Jack’s IEP, to have him mastering all grade-level standards with CTT and other supports.

          At first, socialization and conversations were challenging for Jack. But thanks to small group instruction, speech and occupational therapy, in-school counseling and a great team of teachers, he has flourished.

          Now in second grade, Jack reads well above grade level, scores near the top of his class in math, writes with style and precision and loves science.

          He also is the sweetest child. When his best friend refused to play with a classmate at recess, Jack made a point of finding the girl afterward and suggesting they play together another time.

          When he learned that the money in the offering plate at church pays for food, clothing and shelter for people who don’t have any, he asked if he could give $1 of his $2-a-week allowance — and he smiled when putting it in the plate.

        • *looking for the ‘like’ button, here*
          Yes, indeedy, babies enter the world as self-centered, self-indulgent little animals. It’s the job of the parents, and failing parents, the larger community, to train them up into being responsible, moral human beings.

          • Not having used one of my children as a test subject, I don’t know about humans. But dogs? You want to see a miserable puppy, _don’t_ teach him the rules, _don’t_ discipline him when he does something wrong, and _don’t_ praise him when he does something right. Social animals need to know where they fit in the group and what the rules of the group are.

            • It’s too long to quote here, so I’ll have to be content with just mentioning Lt Col Dubois’s comparison of raising puppies and raising children in Starship Troopers.

  2. Sadly, this means they have to shame those of a bad background that don’t turn to evil. Otherwise the narrative falls apart.

  3. My sister-in-law’s 14-year-old son recently revealed himself as an actively dangerous sociopath because of a plan he had concocted to kill his immediate family. My father-in-law was convinced that it was due to his poor upbringing which, while it certainly didn’t help matters, wasn’t really that bad compared to others who have grown up just fine under far worse circumstances.

    After revealing himself as an animal with no ability to control his murderous impulses, he told his caseworker (he’s a ward of the state now) that the only person he wanted to talk to was my wife. When she asked what I thought about it, I reminded her what she already knew – you can’t fix sociopath and that I didn’t want the little shit thinking he had a place in our family. I also reminded her that if he ever came snooping around our family that he would disappear for good.

    Some people are just evil and there’s just no good explanation for it. Appeasing them, excusing them, or taking the blame for them completely undermines the foundation of a civilized society. Of course, this is a feature, not a bug to the cultural Marxists who have brought us to this unthinking place.

    • I’m sorry. It’s never nice when a family member is sick, and brain-sick is especially horrible.

    • Yeah. When people have vapors about an always-evil race, I note that there are always-evil people about whom one may philosophically discuss their moral responsibility — but that doesn’t influence the proper reaction to them.

      Where it may break down is — how well do sociopaths interact? Is it possible to have a culture of sociopaths where all the necessary work gets done?

      • A functioning culture of sociopaths is certainly possible. The trick is to make sure that the sociopaths feel that it’s in their best interests to “do the right thing”, so to speak.

        Kind of like the old advice about corrupt politicians…

      • I hate to say this, but there are probably more sociopaths in society than we realize: It is just that many of them have figured out how to be functional and relatively harmless to their fellow man unless provoked. They’re masked by the fact that they’ve chosen to conform, and that they really don’t have the internal motivation/goad to be random killers.

        I met a cop, once, who’d spent his “formative years” in Vietnam–Volunteered for the Army, volunteered for Airborne, volunteered for Vietnam, and kept on extending his tour over there until they made him come home. Where he signed up for the police academy, and then made a career in law enforcement. I don’t know how many people he actually killed personally over his career, but I rather suspect that it was a rather high number. When I met him, he was on his fifth or sixth “lethal force leave” while they figured out whether he’d been justified in killing a pair of armed robbers he walked in on off-duty in a Chicago suburb.

        What was interesting about him was the utter lack of effect that the shooting had had on him. Some of the other cops who knew him were sorta disturbed by him, because he just did not react at all “normally”. At. All.

        He’d walked in on a pair of idiots who were robbing a White Hen Pantry, and the other cop who’d seen the video of what happened described it as “…the single most scary thing I’ve ever seen… He just drew down on them and killed them, when they turned and pointed their guns at him, just like he was picking up a gallon of milk. Then, he goes over to the clerk, just kind of casually kicks the guns away from the crooks, asks the clerk where the phone is, and the call-in he made sounds like he was ordering a pizza, or something…”.

        The clerk spent several weeks hospitalized for stress, and the cop I’m talking about was eating the sandwich he went in for in the first place when the rest of the cops from the local department showed up to the call.

        What really spooked the guy who told me about it wasn’t really the shooting–It was the latter part of the store’s video record, where the cop who was the shooter picked his way through the blood pools to get to the sandwich cooler, picks out the sandwich he came in for, got a cup of coffee and a carton of milk, went to the counter and then walked the clerk through letting him pay for it all while they waited the 15 minutes or so for the local cops to show up. Throughout, totally flat affect, as though he killed two crooks every day as a part of his morning routine. Meanwhile, they’re laying there in pooling blood, bleeding out and doing the “funky chicken”.

        Apparently, head wounds and pneumothorax are a really nasty combo, in terms of watching someone die.

        If I said the headshrinkers were a little disturbed by this guy, I’d be understating the case. Since he was a Chicago metro cop in a suburban community when this happened, he’d come up on the “normal people” radar for the first time, and he scared the shit out of them. When the locals showed up, I guess he was leaning an arm on the counter watching the two dying guys beside him, eating his sandwich, and trying, very ineptly, to comfort the clerk. “Hey, it’s not so bad… At least they didn’t take you in back, first… I might not have been able to do much, then… These guys weren’t so smart, so you got lucky…”.

        Yeah, imagine that: You just had two guys come in with guns, demanding money and the combo to the night safe, who casually mention that you’re a pretty girl, to be working so late, and that they got really lucky finding you there for some “fun”… Then, this guy comes in, casually shoots them both like he does that every day, and then tells you pretty much what I outline above. The other cops who were there were ragging him on his “bedside manner”, and he was just like “Hey, I thought it would help her…”.

        The girl was in the hospital for about two weeks, from what the other guys were saying, and not a mark on her. Except the blood spatter, which she was close enough to get on her face.

        Probably didn’t help that, while they were waiting for the response, she asked him about medical help for the guys he shot. He looks over at them, grunts, and says something like “Meh… Waste of time, really–They’ll be dead by the time they get here for them…”. Which they were.

        I met this guy on the range, and the other cops who shot there are the ones who pointed him out to me. Talking to him, he seemed pretty normal, but… You had that sense of “this dude does not have a limit switch…”.

        You also got a very strong sense of him enjoying the act of killing other people–When the rules he’d figured out allowed it. He positively reveled in the action, when it came to gunfights and so forth with the bad guys, from what one of the other Chicago cops said.

        Unrestrained by his wanting some other things, like the respect of his family and kids, I kinda think he’d have been perfectly happy killing anyone and everyone who he considered a threat. Which might have included a significant fraction of the local population, when I come to think about it. Actually, he’d probably be happier that way than he was in everyday life, what with being unable to eliminate people he evaluated as threats. Watching what his reactions were when one of the local thug-wannabes came into the range was… Interesting. Kinda like watching a lion notice a gazelle come up to the watering hole he happens to be at.

        Honestly, I think that a major component of his not killing a bunch of people on general purpose was probably that he basically just wanted his mom to be proud of him…

        Potential maternal disappointment: Keeping some people from going on killing sprees since they were born…

        I think there is a pretty significant number of people who should be classified as sociopathic, and yet who manage to fake the funk, as it were, in order to fit into society. So long as they feel like they need to, and that they’re getting something out of it, they’re going to continue to conform to the norm. Break those self-imposed strictures, and you’re going to have some serious problems, because people like this just don’t care. About anything.

        In some very important ways, they just don’t get the “why” of the entire concept about social rules–They’re only working with what they’ve managed to puzzle through, in order to live in peace with the rest of us.

        For a practical exercise/example of this, I suspect one could probably watch what happens in St. Louis between the Bosnian community and the local blacks. That’s a situation that is just not going to end at all well…

        • Sergeant Bothari.

          Shudder.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            It’s been a while since I read the stories he was in but my memory is that Sergeant Bothari was made worse by some of his superiors (but also helped by others).

            But yes, he was a scary person.

          • Hey, Sgt. Bothari was fine, so lomg as nobody in charge of him WANTED a monster.

          • Precisely. You don’t think people like that exist, in the real world. Then, you meet one…

            Bujold has had to have had some very interesting experiences in her life, to have gotten so many things like this true-to-life. She’s one of the few authors I’ve read who consistently “read true” with characters like Bothari; The only other one I can think of, off the top of my head, is Steven Erikson.

            Anyone who’s done what I did in the Army can read his characterization of most of the Bridge Burners in the Malazan series, and recognize people and mentalities that they lived with and knew. And, how the hell he got that right, without a personal military background of any sort that I’ve been able to ascertain? I’ve got no idea, at all. Only thing I can speculate on is that he has family that’s done the Combat Engineer thing, or something similar.

            • Eamon J. Cole

              David Drake has a couple of characters in the Lt. Leary series with moral compass issues.

              He’s handled them very consistently.

              • A couple? A COUPLES?

                Tovara and Hogg, certainly. But also Adele Mundy, one of his leads.

                And I’m not entirely sure of Daniel Leary, frankly. Like many a good commander, he can be awfully cold. I think his concern over loss of crew is at least as much resentment of how the light cast on his professionalism as it is any attachment to the crew.

                I do not — repeat: DO NOT — define this as a bad attribute. In each case it is controlled and directed to useful societal ends.

                Is our primary concern that people be good or do good?

                • Eamon J. Cole

                  I was counting Tovera and Mundy, of course. Hogg is — brutally practical, but I think of a slightly different character than Tovera.

                  Leary is a commander. A particular breed that requires the ability to care about your personnel and still spend their lives like coin to win. Not that there aren’t necessarily elements of sociopathy in this.

                  As with Hogg I think the difference lies in reasoning yourself into a position by dint of necessity or inclination, and being born without the facility to weigh moral cost/benefit.

                  As to practical differences…

                  Well, exercise for the reader, as some might say.

                  • I would submit that to be a really effective commander, you almost have to be something of a sociopath. If you aren’t, you’re going to wind up as combat-ineffective in very, very short order.

                    Ordering other men to their almost certain deaths is not a job you can or should hand over to someone who is overly understanding and empathetic. And, if you do? You’re an even bigger asshole than that guy you chose him over. Sometimes charismatic sociopathic assholes have a role in life, and you should just hope that when you run into one in a command role, fate and circumstance will have their way with him.

                    On the other hand, a true sociopath isn’t going to be able to get men to follow his orders, either. One has to cultivate a certain impersonal mentality while striving to coordinate the dichotomy. This is why so many of your military leaders are nucking futs, to tell the truth. It’s a contradictory, thankless job. You have to be part Judas goat and part serial killer without scruples, in order to be able to issue the orders that will accomplish the mission–Because, you know some of your men are going to die doing it.

                    • During the American Civil War, General Grant had a reputation with the troops as being a man who didn’t care how many of their lives he had to spend to win the war. But at the same time, the men followed him because they knew that he *could* win the war, and wouldn’t stop until he did.

                      The irony, of course, was that Grant did care about the lives of his men.

                    • A local high school with a stellar drama department (they consider “really good for a high school production” as an insult) created a documentary play called Achilles in America, based on a book of the same name. The play was about PTSD in military circles, and one of the interesting bits they had in there was a series of talks from an Army psychologist, who blames the high incidence of PTSD in the military on the mechanistic training—basically, that you teach these soldiers to shoot, but you don’t get their psyches ready for the experience of killing. That’s a style of training which has been necessary, because a lot of people are not psychologically suited for killing, but the disconnect can cause a lot of problems down the road. (His suggestions involve a longer training period, a luxury we can indulge in relative peacetime.)

                      Anyway. You do not have to be a sociopath to be okay with killing, but you *do* have to have it integrated into your head—that is, you have to know ahead of time the circumstances under which you will kill, and be okay with that, or you will have problems down the road.

                    • Alan Naumann

                    • No argument with the broad premise, but as I noted, I think it’s a reasoned mindset rather than the true sociopathic lack.

                      Ties in with what B. Durbin discusses just above.

                  • *chuckle* Oh, that’s an easy one. Hogg’s your typical country farm hand/hog slaughterer. It can be looked on as a *type* of sociopath, but I’m not at all sure it really is. Features, such as “My people are Real People, everyone else are just potential threats/targets,” are shared. An uncomplicated practicality, if you will.

                    But that’s a learned thing brought on by dint of experience. Guy like that knows what matters, right and wrong, and so on. He has a moral compass, it’s just brutally straightforward and allows him to be utterly ruthless under the right conditions- and those conditions can be, err, broad. You could trust Hogg with any young-un for pretty much any length of time- intentionally harming a child is not his character. If one happens to be unfortunately downrange while he’s protecting himself and his own, well, them’s the breaks. The same cannot quite be said of his counterpart.

                    Tovera was born with a hole in her soul. If you’ve ever met someone like that in person, chances are good you’ll know without a shadow of doubt given enough time in their company (and it can be *very* short). Tovera has her own mechanism of dealing with the world, and it involves latching on to someone else who can deal with that world and who also does not mind to be carrying around a live human grenade with a terribly short but highly precise fuse. No moral compass whatsoever, just a complex set of rules and definite, focused goals. Tovera could torture an innocent child for days without affect on her personality. Killing one would be a simple mechanical exercise without any more impact than felt recoil.

                    The two start from wildly different points and reach a seemingly similar current stance. *Learned* sociopathic behaviors do not necessarily a sociopath make, though. Put another way, Hogg may rationalize an act after the fact, but it would never occur to Tovera that such was necessary.

                    • Fits my read of the characters. Oftentimes their actions may be congruent, but how they got there is worlds apart.

                    • Terry Sanders

                      In one of the latest Leary books, Adele Mundy kills a really nasty child molester. Afterwards she asks Tovera whether the death by torture of all those children bothered her. Tovera’s answer? “It bothers me because it bothers you.”

                      Maybe I read it wrong, but I got the impression that she meant something like–

                      “This bothers you. Therefore it should bother me.

                      ” It does not. Which shows just far from human I am. Which bothers me.

                      “As an idea, that is.”

                      Murderous sociopath as (mildly) tragic figure. Weird.

                • David Weber has had Honor Harrington come right out and say that she knows she’s a predator who has chosen to direct her predatory nature into protecting people from other predators.

                  • Terry Sanders

                    And in the books, Matt Helm (the beat American James Bond knockoff, as long as you ignore the Dean Martin movies) says repeatedly that the only difference between him and a mob hitman is that he gets paid less.

                    (If you get curious, read DEATH OF A CITIZEN, the first and best of them. A lovely tragedy about a quasi-sociopathic killer who tried to come home from the war. He really did…)

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Ian Fleming’s James Bond (not the movie one) didn’t see much difference between himself and mob hit men.

                      What’s interesting is Fleming’s _The Spy Who Loved Me_ (not the movie by that name) has an American woman (civilian) as the POV character.

                      She doesn’t know who this Bond person is but watches him confront two mob bodyguard types.

                      The only difference to her (at first) between Bond and the mobsters is that she knows the mobsters are going to kill her and Bond isn’t interested in killing her.

                    • Clark E Myers

                      I suggest that neither Donald Hamilton nor the character meant it quite so literally. Like Jim Cerillo Donald Hamilton emphasizes the controlled hunt by direction justification for killing. Robert Parker addresses similar issues with both his western series and of course Spenser who can’t kill in cold blood even when Hawk says got to or Susan isn’t safe and Hawk who can and presumably could regardless of danger to Susan..

                      One of the points made in Death of a Citzen is the conversation in which one person says of a nasty character I’ll kill him and Helm says surely but at the appointed time and place. Characterization maybe? Mac flatly does not send his folks abroad in search of dragons to slay.

              • And then he has Joachim Steuben.

                • Isn’t that David Drake’s character, from Hammer’s Slammers?

                  • hence why it was in response to a post about a different David Drake series

                    • Sorry… I had difficulty tracking that reply back up to the proper posting. Apropos of nothing, I really, really hope Sarah can find a better option for this site than WordPress, one of these days. Hell, I’d be happy to contribute towards paying for the license for it, so long as it wasn’t another version of WordPress. I really, really loathe the layout of this thing, and the lack of ability to edit my posts after I screw something up…

                    • If she does, I recommend it not be Weebly. I follow a couple blogs on Weebly, and it’s not really set up to have a conversation in the comments at all. (Let alone that it assumes you’ll want to unsubscribe from comments rather than following them.)

                    • Yes, but short of having a proprietary design, everything else is worth. And I’m not spending 10k on a site design. NO.

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      Urk.

                      Nah, bitching about WP is free and tracking comments back up multi-threaded lines is good brain-training. 😐

                      10 grand? That could be going toward your engineering degree!!

                    • worse, not worth. I clearly type with a lithp.

                    • Woah, Sarah, you mean there was a Castilian in the woodpile? *runs very, very fast*

                • Who I got the distinct impression (in fact I might have read or heard it in an interview with David, but I’m not sure) that Joachim was based on someone he knew.

                  • Christopher M. Chupik

                    That doesn’t surprise me. Drake must have known a sociopath to be able to characterize them so frighteningly well.

                    • Clark E Myers

                      I wanted to kill them both. They were unquestionably right–why should they have been screwed up just because I had been?–and intellectually I knew that, but for an instant I was furious.

                      Likely enough a high pollen count that day but like some others – I hadn’t thought to associate the reaction with pollen count but I may share the sensitivity to pollen there must be something to account for it surely? – I don’t suppose Mr. Drake has to look too terribly far. There may be some similarity between Tom Kelly and Matt Helm just as there are many similarities between Matt. Helm and characters in Big Country and Smoky Valley and others. Not mob hit men.

                  • Some time back a discussion arose at Chris Byrne’s blog about which would you be more likely to survive and encounter with: a BOLO or Joachim Steuben. IIRC everyone chose the BOLO.

                • Ah, yes! Hadn’t been thinking about Joachim. What makes him an interesting character, for me, is his role in a formal military structure. Different highlights, as it were.

                  • Clark E Myers

                    White Mice (Mickey Mouse gloves) is a clear reference. There’s a story in which a principal character turns down an offer of more money and authority for joining the White Mice.

                    I do wonder, and don’t very much want to read, what the tales of White Mice who served Major Stuben might be drawn on and include – they’d no doubt include stories like the necrophiliac and the flies that Mr. Drake (and I too for my sins) thought would be a funny practical joke.

                  • Clark E Myers

                    Another wish for an editing function at least short term. Assume a correct spelling

        • The fact that they can work it out is heartening, though. They don’t use it as an excuse to go nuts.

          My vague recollection of the novel ‘Crime and Punishment’ (I was supposed to read it in high school, but couldn’t finish it) is that the protagonist does what he does essentially to prove to himself that he’s a sociopath. And then he realizes that he isn’t.

          • There are degrees and variants of sociopathy, I think. The guy I discuss above was only a sociopath in relation to people he didn’t know, didn’t like if he did know them, or who he perceived as a potential threat to him or his circle of friends and family. Within that circle, he was “off”, but he knew that, and allowed his friends and family to joke around with him, or push at him. A stranger doing that same thing, saying something similar to the razzing he got from his buddies?

            Yeah. Probably a trip to the hospital.

            This guy’s mom deserved a damn medal, because I think she was the only real reason that he didn’t turn out to be a mass murderer. She had apparently caught on to his lack of inborn behavioral limits, and spent significant time in working with him as a kid, in order to make him “safe” for other people to be around. One of the cops that was there the day I met him grew up with him, and I asked him a bunch of questions the next time I saw him. Seems that when he was younger, he was bullied a lot because other kids sensed he was “different”, somewhat autistic to a degree, and his reaction to being bullied was not at all positive–It took five adults to pull this scrawny nine year-old off the two high-school kids who finally pushed him too far.

            So, yeah… Some sociopaths will only present sociopathy with specific people and situations. Remember, Sergeant Bothari pretty much chose Aral and Cordelia, then Miles as being his moral center-givers, along with his daughter. So long as he had them to give him a set of rules and guidance to follow, he was perfectly safe for the rest of society.

            Some sociopaths can accomplish this on their own, coming to an understanding that in order to benefit from society, they have to follow the rules. But, they are only doing so via an intellectual understanding of what they’ve observed going on around them, and been told. And, if they haven’t quite got the “rules” down pat, disaster is likely to follow.

            Illustration of this is what I watched a guy I worked with do, once: We were on our way somewhere out in the country, and came up on a scene where a woman and her daughters had hit a deer, totaling her car and leaving the deer with a broken spine. While the deer was struggling with that, the women were emotional wrecks, watching: “Oh, please, can’t you do something? Anything… Please help the deer, I feel so guilty…”.

            So, my guy does what he thinks is the right thing, while I’m trying to use the radio in our truck to raise our unit to call back in for the cops and a tow truck, and what he thought the right thing to do was find a big rock and then crush the deer’s head with it.

            Yeah.

            I came back out of the truck to a scene I can’t even describe, with Mom and her three little girls freaking the hell out, and my guy standing there going “What just happened…?”

            After the whole thing was over, I spent a lot of command-directed time trying to explain to the poor bastard just why what he’d done was a Bad Thing ™. I’m morally certain that I never did quite get him to understand–It was like talking to a somewhat smarter Lenny from Of Mice and Men. He honestly just did not “get” why what he did wasn’t a good thing–“Honest, Sergeant K., I just did what the lady was asking me to do…”. He was honestly distressed and confused by the whole thing. Poor guy was just trying to help out…

            And, yeah–I made a note of the whole incident and its implications, keeping him in mind for anything I might need done which required an utter absence of squeamishness or restraint. I also made it a damn point to ensure that the rest of the leadership knew to be very careful about the wording of anything they told him to do…

            • But what he did WAS the right thing. Only thing you can do in that situation is end the animal’s suffering. It’s not pretty nor soft, but it’s merciful and RIGHT.

              • ‘Twasn’t the killing we had the issue with; it was that he did it in full view of the civilians that were there, without even warning the mom of what he was about to do. So, little Suzy, Joanne, and Jennie got to watch Bambi have her skull crushed in. Right in front of them. Took him about three-four hits with said large rock, too–Apparently, deer have a really strong survival instinct, and there was a bit of a struggle.

                The optics, as they say, were not good.

                Yeah, we got a couple of phone calls from concerned politicians who’d heard from their constituents about the sort of deranged mass murderers we were training.

                And, of course, the whole thing morphed into being my fault, for two reasons: One, he was my guy, and two, I was the highest ranking guy on the scene. I was told, and I quote the Colonel exactly, “What the hell were you thinking, leaving him alone with civilians?!?!!

                Of such things did my military career consist of. It’s a bloody wonder I ever made it to SFC, let alone managed to stay on active duty long enough to retire.

                • It’s a learned response, at 18 I expect I would have reacted pretty much exactly like that guy, with the same “huh, I just did what they asked me to?” response. It isn’t a matter of squeamishness, it is considerably less squeamishness inducing to knock a deer with a broken back in the head than it is to sit there and listen to it do the broken back baaa routine.

                  • Would you have done that in front of the mom and the three little girls? Without suggesting that mom might want to take them elsewhere whilst you did the necessary?

                    If so, that kind of gives me some slight hope that I might not have been training someone who might get my name up in bright lights on a CNN broadcast…

                    Oh, the joys of supervising the junior enlisted, sometimes. You think you’ve seen it all, and taken all possible preventative measures, and then… You find someone who comes up with something you’d have never in a million years considered needing mentioning in your operations order.

                    I mean, for the love of God, I only turned my back on that situation for less than ten-fifteen minutes while I made the radio call back to the company headquarters where the landline to garrison was at. When I returned my attention to the situation, there he was, wild-eyed and armpit-deep in blood and brain matter. I kinda wish I had a picture of what my face must have looked like, to tell the truth. It probably should have gone into the dictionary next to the phrase “dumb incredulity”. I couldn’t even muster words of profanity.

                    Like I later told the First Sergeant, “Top, would you really think you needed to caution Private Smith not to murder any wildlife with a rock in full view of God and some civilians? Seriously, would you even consider that as a potential course of events?”.

                    Apparently, I should have.

                    • Friend of mine who was a TSgt in the Air Force reported to her new base and within 24 hours found herself trying to explain to the base commander why one of her junior enlisted was arrested for running naked around his apartment complex…. cold sober.

                  • “Would you have done that in front of the mom and the three little girls? Without suggesting that mom might want to take them elsewhere whilst you did the necessary?”

                    Now, most definitely not. At 18, probably. At 16, without a doubt, it would have never entered my mind that a) they wouldn’t want to watch, and b) that they were incapable of turning and looking the other direction if they didn’t want to watch.

                    A side question; didn’t the Private or anyone else handy have a pocket knife?

                    • I did, and that’s what I was planning on using. Unfortunately, I got the order of operations wrong on the whole incident. Should have been “put the deer down, get help” vs. “get help, put the deer down”.

                      Ah, well–I’ll never make that particular mistake again. Mostly because my life won’t let something like that happen again…

        • I’m guessing there is a whole category of LEO getting nicknamed “Raylan” nowadays.

        • I’ve thought for a long time that Harry Calahan is a smart predator who knows he has to restrict himself to legit prey. He pushes it, but his real problem is that so many people imsist in looking at Hyenas and seeing Bambi.

        • Eamon J. Cole

          The reason for courtesies in society.

          I have a rant (much condensed, over time) about this. People and their rude behavior, callous driving, assumption of superior aggression — they don’t know the people they’re abusing as well as they assume.

          Some of them are inevitably going to cross the threshold where restraint and satisfaction balance and find themselves blowing rest mist outta their chests.

          Because, you’re right, there are more sociopaths (in the old definition) out there than people realize. Beyond that, there’s more people who’ve had their meters adjusted, and while they’re not sociopaths they’re far more dangerous than the average thug.

          • Yup. Most people, they pretty much “start” with the default: “Killing folks is not okay.”

            And that’s a pretty good baseline for the population to follow. It keeps things in balance, and ensures that when conflict occurs, it doesn’t get out of hand. Maybe some issues don’t get nipped in the bud before they become major problems, but most folks like a little predictability in their lives. Lose that predictability, that sense of normalcy, and things get… interesting.

            For the other set of the population, it’s more… complicated. There’s more rules, for one. Navigating the nested loops of behavior call-and-response exchanges means a *lot* of guessing. It’s not too few options, it’s rather too many, in some cases.

            “Moral compass” is an incorrect term to use for a sociopath, I think. Instead there are goals. Responses will move the sociopath towards that goal, away from it, or won’t matter either way (flip a coin). “Mother proud of me” is a valid goal, as is “doing something I enjoy,” or “helping my friend achieve his goals.” This puts all options on the table, as it were.

            Passing for normal (or following the broad social rules of society) is necessary to achieve those goals in the vast majority of cases. It isn’t a moral choice at all, really.

          • I’ve been saying for years that the only reason any of us is still alive is that we haven’t annoyed anyone enough that they think we’d be worth disrupting their lives to kill.

            Which is why I don’t think SJWs have any concept of what they are storing up for themselves.

            • Yep. And for so many folks it’s that restraint is valued more than indulgence.

              We seem to be hell-bent on changing that value-structure…

        • Interesting account and take on a particular kind of mind-set. Believe me, I am taking notes on characters like this. It reminds me of an account of an Englishman who was an operative with the French Underground, and who was an absolute stone-cold, up-close-and-personal killer during WWII. Mild, soft-spoken, and a totally law-abiding citizen before the war and after it. But during – oh, holy-hell, did he cut a swath! Cry havoc and loose the dogs of war indeed.
          I do wonder how many situational sociopaths live among us – who are perfectly content to rein it in, and live among us as normal and law-abiding human beings. I also wonder now and again, if I might be among them, when it concerns my daughter. One of the things about being a mother is discovering the ruthless tiger in you. There was a moment – quite early on – when I realized that in the protection of my daughter – I had the will to kill ruthlessly, with my bare hands, if required – and that I would sleep very comfortably afterwards.

        • So does it make me sociopathic that the cop in your example comes off as much more normal/natural to me than the stupid clerk that goes into hysterics? I mean I can understand someone who has never been around blood or people or even animals being killed getting shaky, and even having hysterics if they think that they were just about to be raped and killed. But two weeks? I KNOW people react like that, but that is a learned knowledge, I can imagine five minutes, but much longer than that and I have to keep reminding myself, “no they are not necessarily acting for attention, some people really do go into long term hysterics.”

          • I don’t know, to tell the truth. I’m with you and the cop–His actions strike me as perfectly normal, and I can completely understand why he didn’t have an issue with doing the necessities. I don’t know that I’d be able to stand there and eat a sandwich immediately afterwards, but… I also haven’t got a history of being in multiple gunfights with armed robbers, either. I think by about the third or fourth time I had been, I might be just as blase about the whole thing as he was. Don’t know, for sure.

            Now, about the clerk? Mmmm. To tell the truth, I just don’t know. Picture someone who grew up sheltered, and then took a job in a location that had a very low chance of ever being exposed to that sort of thing, and then have the joys of inner-city life wash over your own. It’s been my experience that “nice people” who have no clue and no preparation for encountering something like that can have some really weird (to folks like me) reactions. Catatonia isn’t unknown, nor is denial. It can be especially bad if there is some underlying set of psychological issues, which I’d surmise might well have been the case for a someone who reacted like that. Then, there’s also the way that some people react to psychotropics, which I’d also surmise may have been prescribed for her in the aftermath. If that was her first experience of them, and she had a bad reaction…?

            Not everyone has resiliency in the face of such trauma. There’s also the question of whether she would have reacted the same way to something else, that was equally traumatic. I had one of my medics who had the bad luck to be the first person on the scene of a really horrible accident involving children. He was never right, afterwards–Despite the fact that he was a former civilian volunteer fire department EMT who’d handled numerous similar accidents. What turned out to be the perfect shattering blow was the fact that one of the kids that had gone through the windshield happened to look just like his daughter, and the fact that he’d just lost custody to his ex-wife, the alcoholic.

            Everybody has their cleft planes, along which a blow will result in the shattering of a personality that might have absorbed ten times the hit along another axis. The only difference between that clerk and you or I might well be that we just haven’t encountered the experience that finds that fracture plane.

        • Apropos of sociopaths in “fiction:” At some point, someone collected a number of the WWII and Korean War short stories from _Boys Life Magazine_ and made them available as library anthologies. One of the stories that has stuck in my mind is about a man whose mother made him promise never, ever to pick up a rifle, because of how his father had acted in WWI and after. His CO is peeved, but gives in because thy need bodies. Fast forward to Normandy. The guy gets really mad because the Krauts are killing his buddies from behind the hedgerows and he gets in a D8 Caterpillar bulldozer and starts mowing through the hedgerows. The CO describes how the man’s face went flat, and his eyes were absolutely cold as he plowed through (and over) anyone who wouldn’t gt out of the way. At the time I didn’t think much about it, but looking back, I wonder what the author had seen or had heard from GIs and about whom.

          • David Drake had a few things to say about that in the afterword to “Hammer’s Slammers”.

          • In my mind, a story like that teeters between sociopath and rational capacity for violence, leaning toward the rational side. You’d have to know more about the individual in question, but —

            I’ve known some perfectly healthy individuals who are capable of making brutal decisions in cold rationality. They’re essential people to have around.

            Dangerous, but essential.

  4. C4C

  5. “Someone tries to kidnap you from a store, and take you, in a car to another place, you fight right there and right then, with everything you have, even if it’s just screaming your heart out. Because there’s a very good chance someone taking you away from the populated place to a deserted one ah… doesn’t have your continued survival at heart.”

    Yep.

    To what degree you cooperate with a robber is a judgment call. But the one thing you can be sure of – if he’s trying to take you someplace else, it’s not someplace that will safer for you.

    Another term for “secondary crime scene” is “where they find the body”.

    • Yup.

      I’ve heard of a woman who survived because when the man in the car pointed a gun at her, she just froze. The driver freaked and drove off when he realized she wasn’t moving and they were just hanging around.

    • A lot of people _need_ to read/watch more true crime stories, because they are so freaking naive. Some people are a little too paranoid about this stuff, but that’s probably better than wandering the world with no knowledge, no common sense, and no survival instinct.

      I suspect a similar survival instinct is behind the way 2nd-4th graders usually start reading a lot of kid-friendly mystery stories, mystery novels, and general puzzlers. Maybe all the child fascination with “true” monster and paranormal stuff, too.

      • The trouble is that a lot of people watching these stories haven’t really internalized that they are real.

        Let alone that it can really happen to them.

        I can’t watch a lot of those shows simply because I know at a fundamental level that, yes, Virginia, people are capable of doing that sort of thing. All the while presenting as “normal” people.

        I guess growing up around sociopaths does have a few advantages, although I do kind of wish I didn’t evaluate every stranger I met with “Will I ever need to kill this person…?”. I think it may be kind of off-putting, to tell the truth.

        This may be why I have trouble making friends. Also might be the cause of some of these strangers I meet telling mutual friends that I really, really spooked them, and they didn’t quite know why.

        I’m not really sure of the provenance of this particular motto, but it has resonated with me since the first time I heard it: “Be professional, be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone in the room should it become necessary…”.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Maybe also the ‘adults are either blind fools or dangerous predators’ books like, one presumes, Lemony Snickett and Hunger Games.

        Kids aren’t necessarily too stupid to put things together, or intuit certain connections.

        When I was reading Joan Aiken as a child, I didn’t find them dark. I knew adults could pose a threat that would be difficult if not impossible for me to match. I found them inspiring, that by being clever I might be able to eke out a victory with holes in predator planning that an adult might be too lazy to consider. Failing that, what has been said here about counter predation.

        • She had good adults and bad, and IIRC the good adults were often ones who helped but still required/needed the kids to do part of the heavy lifting (see _Wolves of Willoughby Chase_ and _Midnight is a Place_).

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            My experience was different reading as a child and reading as an adult.

            As a child, I saw the bad adults as objects of fear, and the good adults did not have so much an impact on me.

            As an adult, I saw the bad adults more as objects of contempt, and the good adults were more important to my emotional reaction to the book. When I reread wolves, I want to say a few years back, I had some of the same emotional response as I’ve had meeting people here also concerned about social values.

      • For a while I was addicted to TruTV.

        I still have mental flashes of …. *tries to summarize story*
        Parents stopped for gas, mom was changing the kid in the back seat while dad went in to pay, Goblin shoves her in. Baby survived, because a guy was out walking his dog in the field where she was dumped and went over to check out why some idiot had dumped a toy doll out there… which then cried at him. She ended up with sunburn.

        Mom didn’t survive.

        Horrific but cautionary tales.

    • This.

      If someone tries to abduct you, fight like your life depends on it, because it likely does.

      • William O. B'Livion

        This is why S&W made the Lady Smith.

        The new Glock .380 isn’t to be disregarded either. Putting a couple bullets in someone’s face will generally discourage their criminal pursuits.

  6. The truly tragic part is that “forgiving” the perpetrator has the side-effect of leaving the wolves in with the sheep the SJWs claim to want to protect. This means the sheep wind up being either mutton or fresh wolves as they grow up. In judging not, lest they be judged, the “kind, forgiving” SJWs enable the evil to grow and spread.

    • Added bonus! that means the evil they are supposed to deal with continues, and so they have job security.

    • This. You coddle the wolves, you keep giving them second chances – and especially when it’s third, fourth, fifth, chances after they have already proven they are not going to change – and you might as well be there pulling the trigger yourself.

      • Sheri S. Tepper—not normally the sort of author you’d expect this sentiment from—had a situation in one of her short books where a town felt so *sorry* for this poor murderous predator of a man that their prison is quite nice, and they let him out after very short terms. Nothing’s been proven, after all, even if the vulnerable recognize and rightly fear him. Well, the protagonist thinks very little of this, and lays a trap for him which both proves his guilt and puts him in her power… very briefly, since she just figures that it’s better to kill him than fuss about it. Then she spends quite a bit of time stealing the children of the town and placing them great distances away, on the theory that a village so dumb doesn’t deserve to raise children in that stupidity.

        Like I said, Sheri S. Tepper. I guess the fact that he was a male predator who targeted females and children was enough to do that. (I really like Mavin. She’s practical.)

    • They don’t understand the concept of “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” That’s only a phrase that they throw at people when being criticized for their own behavior. No, they judge the people who they claim “created” the wolf, instead. The “useful idiots” do this because it’s what they learned, but the leaders do it because it breeds fear, which they can use to push for more intrusion of their policies and teachings (which make matters worse, which they then use to push more of their solutions, in a vicious circle).

    • Yeah, the second part of that phrase that always gets left out (and I left it out myself a lot in my younger days) is, “For with what measure you judge shall you be judged.” In other words, if you want mercy shown to you for your sins, you have to show mercy to others for theirs. This does *not* mean you don’t act *legally* to punish their *crimes*, it just means you don’t deem them subhuman or a moral null set. (Real psychopaths and sociopaths have genuine brain dysfunctions: they need to be controlled for their own and others’ safety, but they don’t deserve hatred.)

      The caveat to *that* is, of course, that we see the motes in others’ eyes far more clearly than we see the planks in our own, which is why it can be a dangerous temptation to say, “*I*’d never do that so I have no fear of punishing *you* for it as harshly as I think merited.” It can be a lot easier to be wrong about what you would or would not do when one has not been subjected to a particular trial yet. But, again, there is a difference between judging someone to be an evil person (with the usual side effect of getting to think better of oneself for not being that person, i.e. Pride) and criticizing or penalizing specific individual choices that person makes.

      (Or at least, there is a difference if you grant a difference between sin and sinner, between chooser and choice. Some people don’t, and that’s one of those basic philosophical differences you have to learn to work around.)

      • These days, harsh judgment for sins (or even neutral personal choices) you never would commit tends to be twinned with insanely easy judgment for sins you never would commit.

        So the same people who have a big problem with a woman shooting a cougar or a policeman shooting a dangerous escaping felon have no problem with a dangerous felon shooting a policeman, or a cougar killing a woman.

    • Awww, now you’re just indulging in victim-shaming.

    • Forgiveness is for after repentance and reformation– sometimes with restitution.

      I have been in several religious fights because folks want a standard of forgiveness that goes beyond Himself’s– and just happens to be rather easy, since it doesn’t require confronting anyone, or figuring out if they’ve really stopped the bad thing they did. Doesn’t even require that one be the one that was wronged.

    • Thing about forgiving the killer of a loved one that gets me?

      The sheer arrogance of it all–The forgiver is arrogating something that should only belong to God, the right to forgive someone for taking the gift of life that God gave them from another creation of his. Even when they phrase it as offering personal forgiveness alone, that just bothers me. God gave life, God alone has the prerogative to sit in judgment over the person who cut that life short. Saying you forgive the transgressor feels too much like a devaluation of the life of someone you supposedly loved and cared for.

      The very most I’d feel comfortable with doing in a situation like that is assigning the job to the creator. I’m not fit to make a judgment in such a matter.

      Which probably makes me a horrible hypocrite, because I’d be perfectly happy killing someone who killed or seriously hurt a family member of mine, while taking God’s power of life and death into my own hands. And, about the most I’d be offering up would be a heartfelt prayer that I was acting as His agency in doing so… But, somehow? Forgiveness isn’t something I could offer up on His behalf. That’s His place, not mine.

      • On forgiveness, it is perfectly possible to forgive the harm done directly to you, yet acknowledge that the consequences of the perpetrator’s actions spread beyond that.

        To take your example, should a man kill or seriously injure a family member of mine, say, I should probably forgive the pain and suffering done to *me* (eventually). It’s the Christian thing to do. The act itself, however, demands a consequence. Not even considering legal implications, that man still presents a threat to other people including other still living family members, should the murder itself not be considered for some odd reason.

        For the latter, an old priest once told me (paraphrasing), “Sometimes, folks get what’s coming to them. Sometimes you *are* what’s coming to them.”

      • Forgiveness is not the same as a pardon from consequences. You can forgive someone, but still hold them accountable for their action.

        To me forgiveness is for the aggrieved’s sake. This releases the harmed from the possibility of bitterness taking root and destroying their life. If you wait for the person who harmed you to repent before you release yourself you have surrendered control of that part of your life to them and remain in the power of the wrong they have done. Forgiving allows the injured party to heal and not to become a permanent victim.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          C. S. Lewis talked about a type of “forgiveness” that only resulted in the “offender” continuing in their same manner resulting in the “offended” getting mad again and forgiving the offender again.

          He used the example of a family member who never changes his ways because other members of the family continued to “forgive” him.

          While there are people that I can’t “forgive”, since I don’t have to deal with them anymore I work on “forgetting”.

          That is I work on refusing to dwell on “what they did to me”.

  7. I am pretty sure, Sarah, that no one learns helplessness or guilt from _me_. 😉

    • You old softy you!

    • Clark E Myers

      Agreed in this context.

      I suspect there is sometimes a desire to lay a guilt trip

      This is a story of integrity, or lack thereof. A whole battalion was presenting an entirely false front. The battalion was lying. It was engaged in fraud.
      Read more: http://www.everyjoe.com/author/tomkratman/page/2/#ixzz3KrWIzbdH

      complicated by issues such as tolerate those who do perhaps for now in hopes of making a change later

      – and yet, maybe at lower levels and so perhaps even more to be mourned or regretted or contemplated at leisure but just as necessary, forming and leading a mob to drive home that we don’t do that and we don’t tolerate those who do around here. Folks who have been part of a mob sometimes do feel guilt later.

      On an individual basis my generation calls it the the onion field lesson but with the sole exception of flight 93 policy at the highest levels on September 11 was cooperate all the way and leave it to your betters. Armed ‘Oath Keepers’ Guard Ferguson Businesses, Police Tell Them to Stop

  8. Yep, there are real sociopaths out there – and then there are the greater number who are just lazy, impulsive and have no sense of consequences.
    I was told years ago that about the most dangerous place for a woman was a parking-lot – and that when walking into such a lot to always have your keys in one hand, and to attach a small whistle to your keychain. Also – to walk briskly and decisively, and have a good sense of what was going on – and who – was around you.

    • Females are on average smaller and weaker than males, particularly the type of feral male that is a danger to them. For women a little healthy paranoia is a good thing, referred to in some circles as situational awareness. Given that a female simply by her gender presents as prey to such criminal types it behoves her to possess the means and skill to defend herself in the most effective way possible.
      There is a long standing tradition in the South that daddies will teach their daughters to shoot and when sending them out into the world see to it that a small handy pistol goes with them. It’s a common practice and I strongly suspect responsible for a greatly reduced incidence of rape in the southern states.
      Soapbox moment: there are estimated to be over 300 million firearms in private hands in the US. As a parent you can either attempt to shield your children from all of them, or by teaching kids at an early age safe gun handling protect them from any chance encounter and eliminate those relatively rare yet tragic accidents caused by the mishandling of a gun by a child. In fact, it appalls me that age appropriate gun safety is not taught at every level of public school. After all, as they say, it would be for the children.

      • Schools used to have gun clubs. Like they have Driver’s Ed for driving licenses. Of course, having “the family guns” used to be a lot more common, too, as was teaching the young-un’s to shoot as soon as they were big enough to hold the grip and old enough to grasp the rules and responsibility.

        This is how we had swearing, tearing fistfights in reaching distance of enough firepower to cause an Incident, but never a-once did any of us young fools think of picking up a gun, even when we were doing our darndest to kill each other. Thankfully, we failed.

  9. Mis-enter the PIN until the machine confiscates your card, or just break the card.
    Or decide how much money is worth your life. The robber is betting all of it.

    Criminals mainly fail at Empathy. They are Solipsistic. They are concerned with their own immediate wants and don’t see other people as people, nor recognize an abstract concept like society. This is why they can’t function in the real world, and treat other people like crap.

    Kinda like internet trolls, who don’t think about the real people on the other side of the screen, it’s just there for their entertainment.

    I know in the fantasy scenario, we all want to have something pithy to say just before we shoot the guy. But no, save the words until AFTER you’ve taken care of business.

    • There should be a duress code on your ATM card; the card works, but the ATM calls the police.

      • They have that on the security alarm for my business–it’s an access code that both lets you in and notifies the police. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t remember it under stress. Then again, I don’t think I’d remember the normal code under stress …

        • Sorry but from your comment it sounds like you don’t even know it NOW. If that is the case, you are failing yourself. You have a right to live! You have a right to fight back! Your life is valuable! LEARN THE CODE.

          In all the alarm systems I’ve used, it is a simple prefix to the normal disarm code and not a different code to memorize. PRACTICE. Don’t just enter your code from habit every time. Pause and think about which code to enter.

          Remember too, in a self defense scenario, you are fighting to GET AWAY not to subdue your attacker. ANY tactic that lets you get away is a good tactic.

          An unfortunate statistic that I’m quoting from memory is that 85% of attacks on women occur when they are loading kids into car seats or groceries into the car. Think about that when the store asks you if you’d like help getting the groceries to the car. It’s not about being a strong woman who can carry her own groceries thank you very much, it’s about having someone else there to prevent those 85% attacks. and dont’ let your kids mess about while getting in their seat. In seat, buckle in, no messing.

          zuk

          • My system is a button near the keypad. Easy to press while entering.

          • zuk, I do know the codes. Unfortunately, I also know myself. There’s fight, flight, or “stand there frozen while your IQ drains out your ears” But you’re right, practice would help overcome this.

            But a single panic button would be much easier to deal with.

            • You should contact Larry Correia. One of the things he covered, back when he was a firearms instructor, was training women _out_ of your kind of reaction.

              Larry’s not teaching, these days, but he might know how to find someone in your area who will provide that sort of training.

              • A worthwhile read for educating naifs on these issues is Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear, and it looks as though he’s got one out now for parents: Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane).

                I don’t know about the new one, but the first book is an excellent starting point for “street-proofing” friends and family who demonstrate signs that they might be too foolish/stupid/naive to live in our sadly-diminished modern society.

          • My sister is still walked to her car after work, because her ex is physically abusive and a nasty drunk besides. They also have a number she can call if she gets there and things Look Bad.

            If you are worried, ask for someone to come. Most places and people, they’ll be glad of to do it– and the stores will be delighted to avoid the kind of news that runs something like “murdered woman was kidnapped from XYZ-Mart parking lot.”

            If it’s slow enough that you don’t have a steady flow of folks in and out, you’re not hurting anything.

          • Some intelligent PIN design is in order, too– say, prefix your code with “911” if you’re designing an emergency code.

    • I know in the fantasy scenario, we all want to have something pithy to say just before we shoot the guy. But no, save the words until AFTER you’ve taken care of business.

      Egads, yes. Don’t give him a chance to surprise you while you’re talking.

      • friend of my cousin was still cursing and whatnot when the police arrived after some fine upstanding Detroit residents tried to relieve him of his car and money, and, as one group was known to shoot the victims after compliance, possibly his life.
        At “Hey buddy, got a light” he already had his hand on his pistol. So when he was “handing over his wallet”, the scum got a bit more than they planned for. Killed one, and unfortunately the other lived but was charged with murder (under those laws where if someone protects themselves from you while you commit a crime and someone dies it is the criminal’s fault)

        • Watched some of the “protests” in Portland on TV– was about ready to puke at the idiots STOPPING when people got on the freeway.

          I understand the desire not to run people over, but never, ever, EVER give up the advantage of motion to people doing something they oughtn’t, especially not if you’re in some stupid little car. They already showed a guy being interviewed get physically attacked in his car, and these idiots are stopping like there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong? Do they imagine that windows are magic barriers which cannot be busted so you can be dragged out and beaten to death?

          Keep going. Run the @#$@# over at five miles an hour, if they’re trying to stop you– but for heaven’s sake, don’t put it in park!

          Call 911 and report that there’s a mob trying to stop your car, and you fear for your life because there’s no way a really peaceful protest would be trying to stop folks’ cars.

          • Incidentally, the Mexican students who were murdered en masse by a drug cartel a couple of months ago apparently engaged in similar practices – i.e. stopping highway traffic as a form of protest.

          • after Katrina I know of someone who “ran over a few speed bumps” where there were none to hit. This took only minutes from the levy break to mobs trying to stop people leaving.

    • Keep in mind the training given to law enforcement: shoot to center mass and continue to shoot until the threat has been neutralized.

      • Not just law enforcement; every time I got / renewed my CCW in Texas that’s what the class was told. The class was also told that unarmed != deadly force inappropriate.

      • Heh. Or as a grizzled old Armored Cav E6 told me once, “shoot till your target changes shape or stops moving.”

        • The Other Sean

          If it changes shape, should you switch to silver bullets?

        • LOL… I had one of those that the powers-that-were decided to put in charge of training the drivers when we transitioned from dump trucks to Armored Personnel Carriers. What they didn’t know was about his PTSD from his time in Vietnam with the 11th ACR.

          Let’s just leave it at “He managed to pass his PTSD onwards to a new generation, in some very interesting ways…”.

          Ways that got the unit multiple Congressional Investigations that claimed we were training men how to commit war crimes, and which also caused quite a few people to go to the Chaplain with what the Chaplain later termed “moral concerns…”.

          For those of y’all with a military background and questions about “How the hell…?”, all I’m gonna say here is that a key point he made sure to pass on during training was that a tracked vehicle is a perfect tool for participating in close ground combat… Think of doing the equivalent of bayonet training with an M113, and you’ve got the gist of it.

          • “all I’m gonna say here is that a key point he made sure to pass on during training was that a tracked vehicle is a perfect tool for participating in close ground combat”

            And what immediately came to mind was, The Road To Damascus.

            • I’ve never read that one, but I probably should.

              The whole thing was actually kinda humorous, to me. What got all the sensitive “I only joined the Army for college money…” types all upset was him demonstrating the best way to run over people with the track, how to maintain momentum during an action, and the intricacies of collapsing fighting positions with a judicious pivot-steer or two on top of them. You could tell he was working through some issues when he was running the demonstrations and conducting the training. He’d been alcohol-free for many years, by then, but he fell off the wagon for a few weeks after he got back from running that training up at Wildflecken.

              From what I understand, the most traumatic thing he did with the whole thing was insist on everyone meeting the standards for proficiency, no matter how traumatic they found it. Most of my peers actually enjoyed it, but some of the more sensitive types really objected to the realism with which he approached the whole thing. Maybe the dummies he had set up for the run-throughs were a bit over the top, though–He’d included stuff from his personal experiences in Vietnam, which included kids with explosives/hand grenades. Had he just stuck with the E-type silhouettes, I think it would have been OK, but he went that extra mile and came up with a bunch of mannikins his German wife got from the department store she worked at…

              • So the issue was that he taught people how to SURVIVE, and keep their equipment intact, when they faced an enemy very similar to what we actually ended up facing?

                I can see it being creepy, but…well, like my mom told the lady who got snide about how I felt about joining the Navy after 9/11 happened, it’s the military– not a knitting club.

                • It was the mid-1980s. We were trading in the “illuterate” redneck hicks for the college boy proto-yuppies. Reality denial was in full force with a bunch of them. You really got the sense, talking to some of those guys, that they just did not fully grasp the implication of all the multi-hued earth-tone clothing and guns we’d issued them…

                  Times, they were a-changin’… I joined an army of doped-up ne’erdowells that actually managed to misplace me, as a private, during my first real field exercise. As in, they moved the unit, and left me behind out on an LP/OP, and didn’t notice that they had until they needed someone for KP duty… I can’t recall, however, any confusion at all about our ultimate purpose of killing people, breaking things, and wreaking havoc upon the infrastructure of whatever locale happened to be unfortunate enough to be hosting our activities.

                  By the time I re-enlisted four years later, we’d started to fix a bunch of that stuff, but in the fixing of it, we inadvertently changed some things that may not have been wise to change. The troops of the late 1970s and early 1980s may well have been disciplinary problems and general embarrassments to the service in a lot of ways, but I have no doubt that those dope-smoking lunatics would have fought like lions when the time came for it, and would have gone down swinging. Their replacements? I honestly had some doubts. They were certainly different, that’s for sure.

                  Before the “Great Yuppification”, as I came to think of it, the guys never thought twice about doing a target folder on some 12th-Century church that had one of those cute little NATO “protected cultural site” signs on it. After those guys went home to be truck drivers, you started hearing all the little quibbles from the proto-yuppies: “Sergeant K, I don’t think we’re supposed to blow this place up–It’s historic…”. To which I would just look at them like they were idiots and point out that it was also the best observation point overlooking our lines for fifteen kilometers, and if they felt like surviving the first few hours of WWIII, it might be a good idea to deny that pretty little bell tower to the Soviet artillery observers who were going to using it. Of course, the Germans thought I was some kind of Philistine–“This church… She has been here since 1179, yes? And, you want to blow it up?!?”. They really didn’t like my answer of “Well, of course… It’s the perfect OP for the Soviets. Don’t you want to kill Soviets?”.

                  In the 1970s, the MI unit up the road from us had some major problems with their troops going AWOL for drugs and other offenses. When I was in Germany in the 1980s, four people from that unit just up and disappeared, which triggered a USAEUR-wide alert and mass panic–Everyone thought that these four had been kidnapped by the Soviets. They were actually searching trains bound east, hoping to find them. You do that when four people with Top Secret clearances and who’ve been granted very high-level need-to-know access vanish from the same section.

                  Turns out, the four of them had gone AWOL in order to be at a specific beach in Florida, for the grand Solar convergence. Which was where the cops and FBI eventually located them…

                  Like I said, different. Of course, those folks were Cat I Alphas, and in MI. Weird was just… Normal.

                • Foxfier, you said it better than I could have.

                  Oh, and I found it humorous also Kirk. I can see people not finding it humorous, because really it is dead serious, or even being squeamish about it; but thinking this is BAD training and shouldn’t be taught?

                  • Same. But then I’ve always had a warped sense of humor, far back as I can tell. Also, if our military *ain’t* for breaking folks and killing things, well, we’re pretty much effed. Because when you need an army, literally, you NEED one.

                  • I found it humorous too. And I immediately thought of *ahem* St. Pancake of “Palestine.” Yes, I am a very, very warped kitten. Very warped.

                  • If it’s not creepy to teach defensive driving against being shot at, it’s not any creepier to teach defensive/offensive driving against people who are shooting at you.

                • I seem to remember we had a thread earlier in the year about how one of the reasons we seem to be getting more PTSD, etc. in our returning troops is that most of them have never been exposed to bloodshed (even the kind you encounter farming / hunting), and the training being given has been so watered down because of PC that it can’t prepare them either.

    • Notice how often the perp blames the victim? “All he needed to do was give me his wallet/watch/phone/keys/wife and I wouldn’t have had to shoot him.”

      • Yeah, total blame shifting.

        I noticed Clammy does that too.

      • Theodore Dalrymple “The Knife Went In

      • One of the most infuriating things about our modern society has been the increase in the number of scumbags’ family members who go on TV to bemoan the fact that their scumbag relative got shot down while committing a violent crime. There is a segment of our population that believes it has the privilege of committing violent crimes and its “unfair” to return upon them the violence they threaten.

        These people are simply savages.

        • He was a good kid, wanted to be a pilot (had a C average when he bothered to attend school). Never in any trouble (juvenile sheet the length of “War and Peace”). He was never in any gang (despite the neck tatoos proclaiming so).

          The truly maddening ones are the ones upset that Precious Snowflake met a violent end while committing a violent felony — and angry at the victims who refused to go along.

    • Patrick Chester

      I know in the fantasy scenario, we all want to have something pithy to say just before we shoot the guy. But no, save the words until AFTER you’ve taken care of business.

      So don’t use this:
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PreMortemOneLiner
      Use:
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BondOneLiner
      ?

    • “If you’re going to shoot… shoot. Don’t talk.”
      -Tuco “the Rat” Ramirez

      • BTW, I actually got to use that on my 4 year old. He walked up to me with his toy gun and said “I’m going to sho–” At which point I snatched the gun from his hand before he could pull the trigger then explained to him that this is a very important lesson he should always remember, delivering Tuco’s line verbatim. Gold star for anyone who knows Tuco’s other nickname. My lovely bride did not act amused… but what men must know boys must learn.

  10. I am also untrusting even when it is people I know. I can trust people to be more a-holy and less righteous. So I walk to the car with keys jingling on the back of my hands. I use operational awareness and it has saved me a few times.

  11. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    The villain’s reason for doing something may be “understandable” but he’s still the villain.

    Note, “understand” doesn’t equal “agree with”.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Got thinking about this (dangerous) and have some thoughts on it as it relates to fiction writing.

      “The Villain” is evil and while the writer can give understandable reasons for the evil he/she does, it does not change the fact that the Villain is evil.

      Then there’s the “Opponent”. The Opponent can be a person opposing the “Hero” (ie the person the readers should cheer for) but does so for reasons that aren’t actually evil.

      One example of the Opponent would be a person with different loyalties than the Hero. A French spy may oppose the British spy only because it would be better for France if he finds the McGuffin instead of the British spy finding it. In another situation, the French spy might ally with the British spy. For example, he might believe that either France or Britain getting the McGuffin is better than Russia getting the McGuffin.

      Now, there’s dangers in the “not a villain just an opponent” model as it can become a “grey goo” story.

      Barbara Hambly, in her vampire novels, uses the “he’s evil but he’s on my side” approach for the Spanish vampire Ysidro. Ysidro has to kill to survive but for reasons of his own choses to assist James Asher & Lydia Asher when James & Lydia come up against trouble. Note, Ysidro first meets James Asher when he blackmails Asher into assisting Ysidro in finding somebody who is killing vampires.

      Also, while Ysidro seems to have a “thing” for Lydia Asher, he’s not a romantic vampire as he’s done his best to make sure Lydia doesn’t think of him as a “romantic/tragic figure”.

      Final note about Hambly’s vampires, Ysidro himself has said that it takes a certain type of person to become a vampire and remain “living” as a vampire.

      The person must want to live no matter what the cost. IIRC Ysidro actually used the term “selfish” to describe that sort of person. Although he did say that Asher might willing become a vampire but only in order to kill other vampires.

      • Pitching heroes against each other is difficult but quite possible. You have to make very sure that their causes are both highly important (and so not to be sacrificed) and necessarily opposed.

        You get a razor-sharp anguish out of it. And it can be hard to fudge up a happy ending that does not make it all look like a cheat.

      • An opponent offers more complexity/ambiguity in their motivations. Consider a WWII story with James (a British protagonist), Hans & Helga (the Nazi antagonists) and Ivanna (a Russian opponent.)

        Ivanna and James share a goal of denying Hans the Maguffin Bomb, but because neither trusts the other’s government to share the secrets of the Maguffin Bomb each seeks to be the one to bring home the bacon. Add in a sizzle of sexual sportiness and you’ve plenty of motivational complexity. Especially if there is reason to suspect one of our Nazis is a less than true believer.

        Oh yeah, make everybody ambisexual and prone to think with organs ill-equipped for such uses (however magnificently equipped for other applications.)

        Call it the Good, the Bad and the Hot-to-Trotsky.

        • RES you are a bad res.

          • Au contraire — I am a very excellent res, which is not a good thing to be.

            BTW — the type of scenario I described provides part of the complexity of Witchfinder and, in other ways, of Ellis Peters’ Too Many Corpses wherein suspicions of alignments forces greater circumspection of actions. (Well, no ambisexuality — that’s for sophisticated, modern readers who think with the wrong organs.)

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              That was “One Corpse Too Many” by Ellis Peters. [Wink]

              I just loved the interplay between Hugh Beringar and Brother Cadfael especially when Hugh thinks he’s put one over Cadfael only to learn that Cadfael had put one over him. [Very Big Grin]

              • Tsk. So it was. I wonder whether the edition I read had an alternate title?

                One (of many, oh so very very many) reasons I disliked the Derek Jacobi dramatizations was that by presenting the stories out of order they totally buggered Hugh’s introduction.

        • If you ever find a plot too thin, it’s often advisable to see if you can add a separate faction, which can be either a different goal than the other factions, or a different motivation for the same goal. It helps complexify the situation nicely.

        • Wasn’t that sort of the plot from “From Russia With Love?”

      • Not to mention the whole sympathy for the devil thing. I can accept Long John Silver, but Hannibal Lecter?
        It’s just another dent in the wall.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Yep, that’s some of the basis for the “Romantic Vampire”. IE they can’t help being driven to kill people for their blood. I suspect that Barbara Hambly’s Ysidro would say “if a Vampire doesn’t want to kill people for their blood, he should go watch the sun rise”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

          • I don’t see Ysidro as evil, mostly because I don’t see him as human. He’s turned himself into another predatory species, and is no more evil than a shark or a leopard.

            That doesn’t mean I won’t kill him; living with leopards is a luxury us mortals don’t have.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              IIRC Barbara Hambly compared him to a Tiger. [Smile]

              Of course, her vampires are intelligent Tigers who know that the “cattle” can kill them if the “cattle” are aware of them.

              If a human starts hunting them, they avoid him. Letting him waste his life in the hunt because if they kill him, his death might convince others that vampires are real.

        • It’s that whole “emotions versus facts” thing. Make the character sympathetic enough and you can have readers cheering as the character casually murders every last being in the universe. Protagonist-centered morality.

          It’s something that’s always bugged me about David Eddings.

          On a related note, I’ve heard that the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ (which I’ve never watched) had intended that viewers wouldn’t like the main character. But…

        • William O. B'Livion

          but Hannibal Lecter?

          Well, he was a good cook…

    • +1

      Or be willing to stop them.

  12. Off topic but I need to say it somewhere, so might as well be here —

    I’m going to be in the US for the next six months (starting December 10th). At various times, I’ll be in upstate New York, in the western suburbs of Wheaton, IL, in Modesto, CA, and in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. If any Huns live near one of those places, I’d love to get together for a drink or a meal while I’m in the area: shoot me an email at (my first name) dot (my last name) courtesy of Gmail, and we’ll work out timing and location and so on.

    • There’s a student-run SF/Gaming convention in College Station (about an hour northwest of Houston) on March 27th-29th: Aggiecon.

      I’ll be there in my capacity as a sponsor of the Blinn Gaming Society (different school about 45 minutes away). Other Huns are, of course, welcome to participate as well.

    • I meant “the western suburbs of Chicago, specifically Wheaton, IL” above.

    • My wife and I live in Plano, a suburb of Dallas; the question will be if I’m in town when you are since she doesn’t drive.

  13. To paraphrase from _Tuck Everlasting_, “Evil just is.” It exists, some people manage to avoid it, others wallow in it, sometimes because their minds are miswired for some reason, probably more often because it feels good and it gives them everything they want. That certainly described the (mostly) guys I’ve had the misfortune to cross paths with.

    One of the things I’ve picked up from reading the LawDog, Marko Kloos, Cornered Cat and other self-defense and gun bloggers is that if you don’t stop the kid who snatches purses, he becomes the teen who knocks people down for their wallets or participates in things like the so-called polar bear hunts, and worse. Like the schoolyard bullies who quit after one bloody nose and a good black eye, back in the day when the victims were allowed to defend themselves.

    • William Newman

      “Evil just is.”

      I think it’s more of a continuum extending off in several directions from “evil.” E.g., in one direction there seem to be a fair number of people who have some actively evil tendencies but even more conspicuously are just trouble: e.g., someone who does plain damfool things like single-vehicle accidents or accidentally setting his own shelter on fire at least as often as victimizing other people. There also seems to be a separate continuum for how much people actively like causing harm to others: some evil people are evil mostly by being reasonably practical about getting stuff for themselves, not avoiding harming others but not treating that harm as a goal either, while other people are evil by getting their jollies from causing harm to others, and a third group seem to be operating on some sort of twisted zero-sum heuristic that mistreating other people should naturally tend to turn out well for them (so they are unreasonably surprised when things like habitually cheating their neighbors or associates end up bringing more problems than benefits).

      I’m not proposing those distinctions should be used to make excuses, just that distinctions can be useful when protecting oneself. Rattlesnakes and mountain lions and rabid bats and malarial mosquitoes are all dangerous because they bite you, and it’s not useful to make excuses for their bites, but if want to protect yourself effectively it can be helpful to go beyond “biting just is” to think more about the different reasons why.

      • William, I didn’t mean to imply that there is a single setting for evil, but to state that it exists. There are people (I know several personally) who do not believe in the existence of evil, and presume that everything horrible done by someone is an accident, a gross misunderstanding, or society’s fault. Even the BTK killer “must have had a good reason not to understand that he was hurting her.” (This from an otherwise nice person yet. *shakes head*)

        I’ve been fortunate that thus far all my encounters with evil behavior have been on the low end of the scale, with people more determined to be nasty than desiring to be the next Pol Pot (or BTK. Although one might have gone that far, had a jury and Old Sparky not cut his progress short.) Some were mean because mean was easy and it entertained their buddies, some got their jollies from beating up nerds, and one was working on being a real menace to society for reasons I didn’t care to ask about. Some I fought back against, some I tried to avoid, and one I ran the h-ll away from as fast as I could, just like (to borrow your analogy) using DEET vs. carrying a loaded carbine in my saddle scabbard.

  14. I remembered the FBI’s warning not to cooperate with someone who wants you to go somewhere else at weapon point when I was delivering pizza. Bad guy stepped out of the bushes in front of the house and told me to go behind the house. I said, “Huh?” and he repeated with expletive for emphasis. He looked to his right. I threw the pizza to his left and ran back for about three blocks (possibly with angelic assistance for the first block, because I’m not *that* fast). Bad guy got pizza, cheesy bread, two liter beverage, and warming bag; someone had left a coat on the ground in the alley. Yes, the assistant manager had made the required follow-up call prior to delivery.

  15. The thing is, the Liberal Left has completely misunderstood the Duty of Christian Charity (why should it be different?). The poor are given charity, and the criminal forgiveness, not because they deserve it, but because WE DON’T. Everyone (with the barely possible exceptions of a tiny number of Saints, and MY they must have been hard to live with) will need the unearned grace of God’s love to get into heaven. That is a core teaching of most Christian sects, though it has been forgotten or perverted often enough by everybody else that I suppose it’s only fair that the Proggies get a try. So we say “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, and then (if we are good Christians) we go out and forgive those who trespass against us, because we know that we too will need forgiveness.

    The Proggies twist this into the assertion that, merely by being poor, the poor have somehow earned forgiveness. This is hogwash of a fairly high and fetid order. Then they forgive the poor, as a way of asserting their own godlike qualities, which qualify them to tell the rest of us sinners what to do. And they studiously ignore the existence of God, which baffles me.

    I am an agnostic, but I see too much Art in the world to disbelieve in the Artist.

    It’s more complicated a subtle than this, but it’s also early in my morning, and I didn’t sleep well, so I’m making a hash of it.

    • Everyone needs the unearned divine grace to get to Heaven. For the forgiveness of sins, and for the preservation from sin (which then don’t need to be repented).

  16. CombatMissionary

    My wife must be related to your family, Sarah. Her dad (the most dangerous, and one of the nicest, kindest and giving men I’ve ever met) taught her exactly that about people trying to kidnap you.
    If you’re going to fight, do it where you’re at. There’s more likely people around that can call an ambulance for you if you get injured, and if you’re not injured, BONUS. But if they get you someplace else, nobody will be there to call an ambulance after they do whatever they feel like to you.

  17. But the other thing we know – we have to know – is that not everyone who is evil is more sinned against than sinned.

    This is obvious to someone who takes the time to look at it in a logical progression: If every person who is horrible, was treated more horribly than they treat others, eventually all evil would disappear, because each generation would become less evil than the previous one. And besides that, where did the evil come from to begin with?

  18. “This unearned guilt in anything good they have, and this bizarre belief that anyone doing anything bad had a horrible life/childhood/background. They learn it from us. That is, they learn it from writers. Books, TV…”

    And don’t forget the pivotal roles the government schools play in this mass indoctrination process. This kind of pathological altruism has to be carefully taught.

  19. Reading these “white privilege” sobs makes me hear the self-accusations of Soviet show trials in my mind’s ear. Replace “privilege” and “race” with “bourgeois” and “class” and it’s the same d-mn thing. “Your pardon, Comrades. I have failed to listen to the will of the workers and so misunderstood the goals of the Party. I will strive to do better,” and so on. (I’m reading _The Baba and the Comrade_ at the moment, which may have something to do with it.)

  20. Wolves are easy to deal with it’s the shepherds in life you have to watch out for.

  21. Too many people don’t get that “he’s cruel, callous and selfish” is perfectly-adequate motivation to rob others. No deeper motivations need apply, though in some cases such deeper motivations may exist. But the most common reasons for aggression against others are a lack of sympathy for others, a desire for material possessions unchecked by morality, or the active desire to harm others.

    • I recommend reading Life At the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple for those who want to put some realism in your criminal villains. Then, there is the problem that they are flat and shallow, and it’s hard to convey the disjuncture between their moral evaluations of how they are treated and their purely pragmatic treatment of their own acts.

      Though I still remember the con at which I said at a panel that the two panelists were obviously coming up with motives for murder that they might themselves resort to, and that to characterize your murderers you might want to investigate real murderers. One panelist called that — I kid you not — cheating.

    • Too many people don’t get that “he’s cruel, callous and selfish” is perfectly-adequate motivation to rob others.

      On one hand, it’s a great testimony for the revolutionary Judeo-Christian idea that all people are people– “who is my neighbor?” as the old question goes– that so many people think it’s an inborn human notion.

      On the other… *shudder* Oy. No wonder it’s such a mess, when their foundation of “what people are naturally like” is so insanely wrong.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Not to mention drugs.

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

    Maybe you did have a lousy childhood, but don’t think that entitles you to my wallet.

  23. I can’t believe someone actually excuses a robber because of privilege. Honestly, it boggles my mind. How is this any different than “victim blaming”?

    Oh yeah, it isn’t.

    Of course, I guess we should find some solace in the fact that at least someone took some responsibility on themselves for once. Too bad it was the wrong time, but still…

    • How about the SJW in Haiti who took the blame for her own RAPE?

      zuk

      • What’s bad is there are people out there who don’t comprehend why we’re annoyed by that.

        For the record, since plenty of SJWs read this blog for “ammo”, we’re annoyed because it is never the woman’s fault. Ever. While we may think there are things a woman can do to mitigate the risk, failing to do so doesn’t excuse something like that.

        There’s a difference there you guys should learn to understand.

      • She didn’t put the blame on HERSELF, she put it on WHITE MEN. None of which were even present.

        • Some people are so afraid of racism that they are afraid of disliking anything a minority does to them personally — even if it’s robbery or rape. Of course, this means they can never allow themselves to see a person who is a minority as a person, good or bad or inbetween.

          So they relieve the cognitive dissonance by hating themselves, or hating white fatcats who were nowhere near the place.This is not good for their minds or hearts and will slowly drive them crazy; but it allows them to stay pure according to their social group’s harsh and fickle standards.

        • That’s just how evil we white men are. We can cause a woman to be raped without even being there.

          We don’t even realize how awful we are sometimes.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I’m thinking of Robert Fisk, who famously stated after being beating by an Afghan mob that he understood them, and if he were them, he’d be beating him too.

  24. If bad circumstances justifies bad behaviour, then no credit accrues to those who overcome the bad circumstances of their origins.

    Because if a person deserves to be admired for overcoming their bad circumstances, then a person who succumbs to their circumstances deserves to be condemned, and we must not condemn people except those nasty judgemental conservatives who imagine that people are capable of rising above their circumstances.

    The flip side of “no villains” is that there are no heroes and all is reduced to grey goo.

  25. I think this story by John C Wright may have a bearing on this issue.

    http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/11/idle-thoughts/

  26. Eamon J. Cole

    It has been pointed out to me (several times) that I’m a paranoid woman, or at least not a naturally trusting one.

    Doesn’t seem paranoid to me. More a case of open eyes, I’d think.

    I do have a trusting and innocent ( 😐 ) nature. So I consciously consider the danger I know is there (I said trusting, not naive).

    When I have occasion to teach, I take the concept a bit further:
    You need to prepare your mind, in advance. And you need to bolster your will, in extremis. If an attacker attempts to take you elsewhere, accept that you may die. If you fight, you may die. But if you comply, you may die horribly. Get it out there on the table, in the open. Deal with it.

    Then fight to live until you are dead.

    The goal is to survive, but barring that go to your reward knowing you left a battered corpse covered in your attackers blood, with their skin beneath your nails, their testicles ripped free and scattered on the ground and a hunk of their flesh between your teeth. Know the police can follow the smeared blood trail to your attacker’s whimpering form cowering in a corner cradling broken fingers and blowing bubbles of blood past fractured teeth.

    Rest comfortably with the knowledge that whatever happened you DID NOT SUBMIT!

    And let somebody else bemoan the fallen innocence of our wretched criminal, they can carry the guilt for the thug’s struggles.

    Far as you and I are concerned, that !#@*$& had it coming.

  27. Paranoid? People ARE out to get you. It’s a sin against the good folks who will try to help you to NOT try to take care of yourself.

    This means that yes, I do sometimes stand near the exit of the grocery store playing with my phone until the guy who parked the big, windowless van next to my minivan, followed me into the store, was at the end of half the isles I went to and grabbed a quick item at the twenty-or-less isle when I started checking out either leaves or there’s a big group of people also headed out with full carts.

    It means that the sweet WalMart kid who popped up to offer to help me load the bricks I’d bought almost got a cart in the gut. 😀

    It means that I “reorganize my purse” when I’m on a late night walk and I sense motion where there shouldn’t be motion.

    • Consider that carrying a 2 lb. can of tomatoes* in a plastic shopping bag in your dominant hand is not a bad idea. You might even find a reusable net bag worth the trouble of carrying to & from the store.

      *Or alternate of your preference.

      • Problem is that I never get little enough to have my hands free. I do keep something I can chuck pretty close, but my aim is terrible and, frankly, a really big guy is going to be largely out of my range. If I get close enough to take out a knee, he can get my head– and that’s assuming no active attacks on his part before that point.

      • iirc, in ‘Smiley’s People’, one woman who realizes she’s being followed each day starts carrying a cast iron skillet (I think…) in her large purse. It comes in handy when the guy following her finally attacks her.

        Unfortunately, she’s being followed by *two* men that day…

        • There is a British martial art (Bartitsu) form utilizing a brolly. Having fenced and knowing a little about single stick fighting, I can see a well-constructed umbrella being a very handy thing.

          I recommend visiting real-self-defense[DOT]com/unbreakable-umbrella/ for more video and shopping/pricing purposes. Apparently they are suppliers to the Philippine Secret Service.

          Mind, a true tactical brolly should have a carbon-fibre cover and stiletto or taser in the handle …

          • Most famous practitioner: Sherlock Holmes.

          • Clark E Myers

            Sword canes, umbrellas and other such, I have red oak staff with a well tempered 1095 blade but it’s a deliberate joke for cons and ren fairs the staff IS the weapon, are a mandatory 1 year in jail in CA and other jurisdictions. Notice in CA it’s possession – don’t loan anybody your sword cane to use as a walking stick.

      • If trying that suggestion, I would get some sort of cloth bag, as I don’t trust the plastic ones to hold up to the force used.

      • She is a small gal, I recommend her chucking something a little lighter… around 158 grains.

  28. Free plot bunny, to a good home:

    A major event occurs in the backstory, one that many characters experience (for all practical purposes) in the same way. Later, they describe it as a formative experience, except they all describe it as forming them differently.

    • Not quite related to this, except that it’s an example of a character allowing an event to form him in a different-than-normal fashion:

      In one Fantastic Four comic I read (and I realize this could have been retconned over the years), Doctor Doom hated Reed Richards because Reed had caused him to get a small scar beneath his eye while they were in college (Doom had been the utter pretty-boy back when, and he considered Reed had ruined him).

      • Not retconned — part of the original origin, although it may have been an detail provided only after many years/issues. That is to say, it was stated that Victor blamed Reed for his horrible disfigurement and it may have been a hundred or so issues before the nature of that disfigurement was revealed. For some reason I think it likely to have been during Roy Thomas’s or John Byrne’s tenure on the book. It seems the kind of detail either would like.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        No, no, no. Dr. Doom is really an angry internet blogger who somehow turns into metal and dresses in a green towel for some reason.

        Stop laughing! I’m serious, and so are the makers of the new FF movie! 😉

      • “Doctor Doom hated Reed Richards because Reed had caused him to get a small scar beneath his eye while they were in college”

        To quote another super-villain, “Where I come from, a lab partnership is a sacred trust.”

  29. And the next victim might not escape with just property damage.

    Sarah, do NOT read the comments here for the sake of your blood pressure, but it supports a lot of what you’rew riting.

    Short version, “oh the guy who tried to forcibly enter the house was just a poor, innocent, drunk college kid who tried to get into the wrong house… at 4AM… and forced his way inside in a fight long enough that they were already on the phone with 9-1-1 after assuming that it was a friend since it’s 4AM and they’re beating on the door….”

    http://gunssavelives.net/self-defense/video-washington-mother-shoots-home-invader-to-defend-four-young-children/

    • Eamon J. Cole

      Drunk “boy” (*rollseyes*) trying to shove his way into a house? A house with (actual) children?

      Maybe he shouldn’t be drinking, if he cannot behave rationally under the influence.

      Dude’s lucky, some mistakes you only get to make once.

    • Actually most of the commenters had common sense, but what I found interesting is that all of the ones who didn’t pointed out that the “boy” was drunk and claimed that this was deliberately omitted from the article. Unless the article has been edited to add that fact later, this makes me assume either a) all the negative commenters are one commenter under multiple screen names or b) the original negative commenter had reading comprehension problems and the subsequent negative commenters didn’t bother to read the article at all, they just read the comments and took the statements by those defending the side they were predisposed to as the truth.

  30. The “One Bad Day” theory is a prominent part of Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. It’s confirmed by one character, but denied by *everyone* else in a rather spectacular fashion.

    Javier Grillo-Marxuach was talking about why he went the route he did with his ‘The Middleman’ comic book and TV series. He mentioned that if you met with a TV exec and said that you had a story with a vampire trying to drink someone’s blood, then the TV exec would want to know the vampire’s backstory and why it was motivated to try and drink blood. The response, of course, should be, “It’s a vampire. It’s what they do.” But it’s the rage now to try and make sympathetic bad guys with sympathetic backstories. He didn’t care all that much for the idea.

  31. Given that Dr. Fallon http://abcnews.go.com/Health/scientist-related-killers-learns-psychopaths-brain/story?id=21029246 exists, I don’t see much if any reason to cut people slack because of bad brain wiring either. If any one psychopath can learn to behave well enough to get on in society, then the rest can’t use that as an excuse not to.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Have you read Dan Well’s “I Am Not A Serial Killer”?

      While it’s fiction, in it a young man (early teens) has decided that he’s a potential serial killer so after studying serial killers has developed “rules” to prevent himself to becoming one.

      What’s fun is that he has to deal with an apparent serial killer in his home town.

    • Dr. Fallon is an idiot, and a horrible scientist, to boot. If you go by what is reported in the press, that is–I can’t get my hands on his actual papers, not having the access I’d need to really evaluate what he’s done. So, what I am saying here is based on the reports by the media, which probably means I’m totally wrong…

      He’s found a similarity between patterns in his brain and those of people who evidence criminal behavior, and he somehow manages to turn that into an entire thesis about something that is essentially meaningless. Great–We know he’s found something. Maybe. Question is, does it really mean anything?

      Thing is, he’s examined a bunch of people in a particular set, and found that they have common features. From that, he extrapolates to “This is why criminals are criminals…”, which tells us precisely… What?

      He’s established that the MRI images from his brain match the ones he has discovered while researching criminal behavior, but he hasn’t compared his findings to the general population at large. It’s the same syndrome as in much of behavioral research, in that they only research the anomalies, and then never compare the results of their research with the general population. Without some idea of what “normal” really is, it’s pretty much useless to base wide generalizations on the people you have examined–Who are, by definition, not normal: They are the ones who’ve sought out or been forced to seek help by an outside agency. Without a comparison to everyone else that hasn’t been selected in that manner, you really cannot make any sort of inference as to the nature of the thing you’ve discovered by studying them.

      Some of what he says makes sense, but I think he’s gone way too far out on a limb that he’s constructed out of wishful thinking. Consider: He’s researched the minds of the serial killers that we’ve caught, which is a specific sub-set of the population of serial killers. How about examining the idea that many criminal researchers and law enforcement officers have, which is that there are serial killers out there that we don’t catch, who are sane and competent enough at their avocation that they are essentially invisible to us?

      The most he should be asserting is that he’s found commonality in the MRI results from the population of captured serial killers. He can’t know whether or not that same feature is present in the likely population of successful serial killers that haven’t been apprehended, now can he? Nor does he know the prevalence of that sort of MRI feature in the general population, because the requisite work hasn’t been done.

      Like most of the soft sciences, the argument made simply isn’t sufficiently falsifiable or clearly thought-out. They find one point of correlation, and build a castle on top of it, only later to find that the entire edifice collapses when examined in the light of new evidence that inevitably comes along.

      • Nicely said.

        Additional issues include that this bush of research tends to redefine the word to mean something like “doesn’t express empathy the way I want.” Thus if you’re willing to do your job for the improvement of all– surgeon, CEO, etc– you lack empathy. It’s not that you’re acting on principle or anything, it’s that you don’t really understand what the other person is going through…..

        • William O. B'Livion

          And of course when you want a bunch of guys to jump out the ass end of an airplane on the other side of the planet and kill a bunch of people they’ve never met “in cold blood” if possible, well then you kind want certain traits.

      • William O. B'Livion

        I’ve watched a couple of his speeches (try ted.org), and it’s more than just MRIs. If I recall he’s been given blinded brains (meaning he does not know their source) and has been able to look at the structure and sort them.

        He readily admits that he’s got many of the sociopathic traits and things could have turned out very differently.

        • Yeah… See, the thing that’s stopping me from taking any of that stuff seriously is that it’s basically modernized phrenology. And, his sample population is seriously skewed–How do we know that the captured serial killers and so forth that he’s identified don’t have more in common with the general population than they do with the truly successful criminal?

          Thing is, we only have the dumb or crazy-enough-to-be-obvious in custody. The successful ones, by definition, aren’t caught, or even identified.

          One of the Reserve guys that was with us in Iraq helping to set up the Iraqi police force was an investigator working for one of the Carolina’s state investigative force (I forget the actual state/organization), and he’d been working on a regional multi-state task force working on missing persons, serial killers, and cold cases, trying to make some sense of the whole thing. What he found the most disturbing, and what disturbed the hell out of me when he relayed it to me, was that they’d decided, based on careful statistical analysis, that there were probably active serial killers out there that they hadn’t even identified, based on the proliferation of dead bodies they had. With modern transportation, it’s all too easy for someone to get picked up by one of these guys in state “A”, get driven in his truck to state “B”, murdered, and then have the body dumped in state “C”. By the time they find the remains, which isn’t at all easy in rural areas, most of the evidence is gone, and there’s no way of figuring out who might have done the deed.

          Number of these guys who are not even coming up on the radar? Maybe as low as 15 of them are active at any one time, and perhaps as high as several hundred. They just don’t know–The analysis shows that there is a higher percentage of missing people out there than there should be, and that’s all they know. Plus, when they do manage to find the bodies, the victims are obviously not people who wandered into the woods and had heart attacks or something innocuous. They are naked, identifying parts are missing, and they’re usually concealed. A dedicated, careful guy who kept changing his MO could get away without even being detected for a long, long time.

          Which goes back to my point: What the hell do their brains look like? We don’t even know who the hell they are, in order to identify them, so by only including the really aberrant ones that Dr. Fallon has been working with, we might be setting ourselves up to miss the killers that are truly dangerous.

          All I see when I see his work is modernized phrenology, to tell the truth. He’s basically just enumerating and counting the bumps on the inside of the skull, is all.

          And, until you actually know the content of all that neuronal traffic, you just aren’t going to know what the hell is going on there.

          • Some of those missing might be living off the grid, more are probably dead by stupid or were false identities in the first place… but that still leaves a large chunk, and that’s not counting those who kill in ways that don’t get noticed. Say, maybe, drug overdose? “Hiking accidents”?

            • No, I thought the same thing and said so. Apparently, they’ve managed to do something with the statistical analysis that somehow indicates that X number of these missing people are probably serial killer victims. I gather that an awful lot of number-crunching went on, along with a huge amount of data-gathering. But, since they can’t actually prove things, the data is all close-hold while they figure out what to do.

              My big takeaway from talking to him was that if you know where your loved ones are at, and how they died, you’re a lot luckier than a huge number of people. He wasn’t one of the analysts that came up with this stuff, just one of the investigators who’d worked with the task force. The scariest thing for him was when they applied a filter to some of the numbers they had, and all of a sudden, a huge number of what they’d thought were disconnected “they just up and died somehow” incidents were suddenly connected and illuminated as being probable victims of serial killers.

              Something about the statistical probability of someone who “just died” vs. by someone’s active agency. I’m probably not explaining this very well, but the way they’d come up with that sort of thing was by analyzing “normal” deaths in those demographics: Each statistical cohort should have had X number of deaths due to illness, Y number to suicide, Z due to accidents, and so forth. What they were finding was that specific groups, predominantly young attractive women or teenage boys working or living within a certain distance of major interstate highways had a much higher incidence of “going missing” and occasionally being found as Jane Doe corpses several states away. Based on the numbers from areas located further away from the interstates, there were way, way too many of that set of people going missing. They were able to figure out that something was going on, and that the most likely explanation was that they were dealing with a whole sub-class of “super serial killers” that hadn’t been identified.

              A major part of the problem is that, all too often, these people are written off as having “run away” from something. It’s apparently an unusual family that persists in following up, particularly when you start looking at people from the lower socioeconomic strata. From what he was saying, if you go into your average middle-class community, it’s pretty unusual for people to just disappear. Out in the trailer parks, however…? Apparently, one of the ways the researchers had verified their numbers was by sending him and other investigators out to actually do some surveys.

              What he ran into just freaked him out, because he found that there were a huge number of missing people that the families knew about, but that had never come up on the law enforcement radar, because the low-level authorities were refusing to investigate. “Oh, Susie Jo? She’s probably run off with that blackjack dealer she was dating awhile back… You’ll hear from her in a month or two…”. Turned out, once he got Susie Jo into the database, she’d been found as a Jane Doe four states away, dumped in a swamp near a rest stop. Since she’d never been reported missing, officially… You get the picture. A lot of these families just don’t have the pull, or the evidence to convince the cops that their loved one is legitimately missing. Little Miss Middle Class, or Little Miss Upper Class, on the other hand? Mom and Dad have some pull, and know how to work the system. And, then there’s the “Pretty White Girl Syndrome”, where the minority girls that go missing aren’t even reported on the news.

              Hell, there were two-three bodies found within the last year or two around here, that still haven’t been identified. Migrant farm workers? Missing elderly? Who the hell knows–You go wandering into a wilderness area, and things happen. I was shocked as hell to find out that the Forest Service and National Parks people around here find an average of around ten-fifteen abandoned cars in the National Forest and Parks every year, on average, and can’t figure out what the hell happened to the people who were driving them.

              After talking with this guy, I’m profoundly grateful that I know where my dead are, to be honest. There are a whole lot of people in this country that have not one damn clue where their loved ones are, or even if they’re alive.

              • It probably won’t make you feel any better, but an awful lot of that is “there’s a difference– it must be serial killers!”

                Those instances that I actually know personally make me doubt that assumption, although I doubt neither your summary of it nor how honest they were about it, and in fact “assume wrong-doing of the sort I investigate” is what I WANT the guys looking into Unknown Situations to do.

                I’m familiar with the abandoned cars in Okanogan. They’re not a mystery to the locals, those are the cars that illegals used and needed to abandon. Bet that there’s a high correlation between those and “all occupants of the other vehicle fled the scene” accidents. (Drive like an idiot, get in an accident, flee the scene.)

                Pretty girls and young men with an opportunity to leave on an impulse are going to be more likely to take it– and some of them area going to end up dead.

              • I’m not sure where you are, but only 10-15 abandoned cars with no evidence of drivers seems ridiculously low to me. The big explanation is illegals, and in areas where they are common (like where I grew up) the numbers of abandoned cars are exponentially higher in my experience; but even here where there are very few illegals 10-15 with no owners or drivers info, would seem low.

                • While I really like the guys who look for bad guys to not discount ANY possible routes out of hand, at a minimum the previously totaled vehicles would almost *have* to be removed from “victim of serial killer” groups. Ditto those vehicles that failed emissions testing in areas where it costs money to get rid of them. (When I was stationed in California the junk yards charged you a couple of hundred dollars to take your vehicle, which they then harvested for parts.)

                  • No, these aren’t typical cars belonging to illegals. Those they can identify pretty easily, and are really familiar with. These are cars that are abandoned at trailheads and so forth for no explicable reason and at unusual times for an illegal to be doing it. I think the 15 or so number may be statewide, or all Eastern Washington. I know I was shocked to hear how casual they are about it, too–Some of these cars go straight into the wrecking yard system without a hell of a lot of investigation, and I know at least one of them was only tagged as belonging to a missing person when someone put the number into the system when they went to crush it, and found that it was flagged as belonging to a girl who went missing down in California the fall before they found it. Her parents came up here and were looking for any sign of her, with no luck. And, this was not a girl who would have been likely to be up here in the late fall, either–It just did not match her likely actions, in any way. They were having a hell of a time getting anyone to take them seriously about her being a missing person in the first place.

                    Hell, look at the Marizela Perez case over in Seattle. She’s Michele Malkin’s niece or something, and just up and vanished out of the U-District one day. They’ve got video of her at a Safeway back in 2011, and that’s it. Nothing else.

                    Want to know what’s really horrifying about that case? How many other girls matching her description there are that have gone missing under similar circumstances, with no sign of any of them showing up. I was talking to someone the other day about the case, and he told me that the local Asian community (meaning all of the PNW) is quietly freaking out, because we’re up to something like a dozen of similar cases over the last five years, and they think there are more. And, the only one that briefly came up on the radar was Marizela, thanks to her famous Auntie that was able to get some traction in the media. The cops just don’t take these cases seriously, at all. Unless the victim has witnesses see her abduction, or there is clear evidence of something nefarious going on, it just doesn’t get law enforcement or media attention. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of women in these communities who do take off, and then show up later as having just gone walkies. But, something is sure as hell going on, because there are a bunch of them that are never seen or heard from again. Ever. The numbers are startling, when you see them all added up.

                    • The cops are unlikely to point this out, because there’s no proof… but we ARE a known slavery center, import-wise; I don’t see why we wouldn’t also be an outport slavery center. I know there have been rings broken up in this area. Gangs, usually, same ones that work with all the other crimes.

                    • The “girl gone missing in California” plus her vehicle being found in Washington screams illegals, by the way, just the sort that have pot farms up here.

                      Junking the car without running it through the system violates at least two laws, by the way. Not that I doubt that it happened, just makes me think that there might be more official, organized issues rather than serial killers involved. (although with substantial bodycounts)

              • Interesting. This runs counter to the people who claim we have no privacy and that the government is tracking us at all times.

                • We only wish they did, when it comes to the missing. Your usual white-bread middle and upper class types never notice this stuff, but when you go out into the migrant community, or the various other “lower strata”, it gets amazingly bad, amazingly fast. I had no idea how much trouble the families have even convincing the authorities that there’s a damn problem with a lot of these missing people until it happened to an acquaintance of mine’s family member. It took damn near 90 days before they even got the girl officially listed, and since the cops are convinced she “went back to Mexico…”, not a damn thing has been done besides put her info into a database. The girl doesn’t speak Spanish, has zero ties to Mexico, and was so focused on communicating with her family that she was on her phone to them if she was five minutes late coming home from school or her job. She got on the phone to tell them she was coming home late one night after work, and then the only thing they found was her car out in the parking lot of her job. It didn’t look like she ever got to it, and that’s the last thing they’ve seen or heard of her in over six years. I hate to say it, but if she were a white girl from a “good family”, a hell of a lot more would likely have been done. As it is, in her case? Hardly any notice has been taken.

                  • If she was an adult, unless there were known medical issues– it’s likely the cops couldn’t do anything. I know those “good family” folks I know who didn’t have known issues who’ve gone missing can’t be filed as missing, because they have no objective reason to believe they didn’t just buzz off.

                    My cousin’s mother in law had some kind of psychic break where she didn’t recognize her husband, and went missing. They couldn’t do anything at all, even though her husband reported her missing and she’d had odd behavior before that. (Pretty, middle class wife, both boys in fancy military units, well off husband.)

                    It does vary by state, but depending on what laws there are to protect individual freedom– it’s the same issue as the mental health cases. You’ve got to have evidence before you can set the cops on someone’s trail.

                    • Yeah, that’s pretty much what they were told, too. She’s not a minor, she’s an adult, she can do what she wants. So, despite all the evidence you’ve mustered, we’re not looking for her, or even putting her in the database.

                      That cop from the Carolinas mentioned that this sort of thing was the biggest problem they had with trying to figure things out–There were a lot of subjects that were “Jane Does” who were found, but they had absolutely nothing with which to work a lot of the time, trying to ID them. One of the things he said that he thought would help things out would be for the laws to be loosened up with regard to this.

                      One thing is for certain: Something is happening to these missing people, and they’re not like the puppy your dad told you was “going to the farm”. You say “White Slavery” these days, and people just laugh at you. But, it’s happening.

                    • Problem: why should your relatives be able to sic the police on you on their say-so that you’re missing?

                      How much should the police spend on what would turn out to frequently be the families being twerps?

                      Some sort of a private organization would work, kind of like how the Red Cross helps service members (and their family) get things taken care of; they’d have to interact with the police with listing of all the John Doe and the vehicles found, but by being private they’d avoid the harassment angle of the police looking for people who just tried to escape their family/friends/whatever, and they’d be able to do information sharing without the organizational issues that always show up.

                      If there’d been an official means for my grandmother to throw a fit about my dad not writing her when he was drafted to the Army, she’d have used it; instead she only had the Red Cross, which– while it still got him chewed out by his drill camp guy– was no where near as easily abused nor as official as “family reported him missing.” (As best I can tell, Dad figured that he had better things to do. She didn’t agree.)

                    • 🙂 I shouldn’t be smiling.

                      I received one of those Red Cross messages my first Med Cruise in the Navy.

                      Oopsy.

                    • If it’s far enough back, it’s funny!

                    • I have a cousin whose crazy father kept getting her hauled back by saying she was missing. (She had moved out.)

                    • The obvious abuse that comes to my mind is that it makes it so that people can never escape a poisonous situation if those they leave can effectively follow them everywhere and inform the community that their family is terribly worried and horrible person isn’t even letting them know she’s alive, and that’s before probable abuses of the “well… I’m not supposed to tell you this, but your daughter in in Exton, Ystate” type. Abusive groups would be especially prone to using this.

                      IIRC, there have been some honor killings where the girls ran away to try to get help… and were hauled right back to the “loving arms” of their family.

                    • “Problem: why should your relatives be able to sic the police on you on their say-so that you’re missing?”

                      Yes, how many people avoid their family because they don’t want to talk to them? Their mom insulted their boyfriend (and possibly they think their mom had reason, but don’t want to admit it) and they don’t want to talk to her again. Or their husband slapped them around so when they got off work they left their car parked in the lot and caught a bus out of town.

                    • Hopefully part of the whole “missing persons” SOP includes this sentence:

                      If located, determine why the person left before contacting relatives.

            • Here’s an article with some interesting stuff on serial killers:
              http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-03/your-nude-selfies-will-never-be-safe

  32. Unfortunately there is a small factor within our society that helps. Robert Lindsay a pastor (Baptist Church of Jerusalem) listed once that the Middle East had a shame society in contrast we have a guilt society. My wife is in a lot of pain (Now in Hospice with good drugs so it’s much less now) and has always been a good person. I doubt if she even stole a candy bar, kept wondering what she had done to deserve all the pain she had. I don’t know how many times I had to tell her it’s not punishment, that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I’m not sure she got it yet. She’s not the first person I’ve heard with the opinion that if you’re good, nothing bad will happen to you.

    • Tell her to read Job?

      Dunno. It’s a problem.

    • Birthday girl

      The bible tells a different story. In there, it’s more like the more good you are, the more bad happens to you … ref. Job and Jesus.

      • OK, this is totally not my business. Please ignore if nothing looks helpful. Obviously things are pretty severe if your wife is in Hospice. She (and you) are the pros and I am the amateur on this.

        Some other traditional viewpoints on pain, since she still struggles with seeing it as punishment:

        Pain and misfortune are like Moses and Israel going into the desert. We meet God there.

        Pain is like Jesus going into the desert. There are trials and temptations, but we can pray a lot. With Him we can beat the trials and come out stronger. A lot of particularly good people seem to suffer bad things at the end of their lives for just this reason – so they can “level up.”

        Pain is like Jesus on the Cross and Paul in Colossians 1:24. We can offer it up to God and use it as a prayer for other people. Often, really giving people can really focus on this and be cheered up.

        Pain is like being with the martyrs. If we can glorify God despite the suffering, it is a big victory in Him. There is a cloud of heavenly witnesses watching the spiritual race, and cheering us on. Being an athlete hurts.

    • OK, this is totally not my business. Please ignore if nothing looks helpful. Obviously things are pretty severe if your wife is in Hospice.

      Here are things that might help your wife dealing with pain, since she still struggles with seeing it as punishment:

      Pain and misfortune are like Moses and Israel going into the desert. We meet God there.

      Pain is like Jesus going into the desert. There are trials and temptations, but we can pray a lot. With Him we can beat the trials and come out stronger. A lot of particularly good people seem to suffer bad things at the end of their lives for just this reason – so they can “level up.”

      Pain is like Jesus on the Cross and Paul in Colossians 1:24. We can offer it up to God and use it as a prayer for other people. Often, really giving people can really focus on this and be cheered up.

      Pain is like being with the martyrs. If we can glorify God despite the suffering, it is a big victory in Him. There is a cloud of heavenly witnesses watching the spiritual race, and cheering us on. Being an athlete hurts.

    • This past couple of years my health took me uncomfortable places that I would not have ever chosen.

      I went into the process having already, for various reasons, come to the conclusion that I am not in control, and nothing I do will put me in complete control. This is neither a perfect or perfectable world. Things happen that have nothing to do with your inherent goodness or rightness. Lord knows, there were times I wished it did. (Although, on reflection, I would probably be on the loosing end of that proposition.)

      I have read in The Book of Psalms: He brings rain on the good and the evil. I have had to conclud that drought will also comes to both. The real proof of one’s character is what you do when faced by whatever comes along. I pray that He will pour out grace, mercy and the peace that passes all understanding on you and yours.

      • “The rain it falls upon the just
        And on the unjust fella’.
        But mostly on the just because
        The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.” Author unknown.

      • No argument from me on anything anyone has said. The last five months have been ‘interesting’ in the Chinese concept of curse. We have had more things go wrong than in forty-five years of marriage. Inside that, were three broken bones, blindness, diagnosis of terminal cancer, radiation of optic nerves; insect infestation with no known cause, electric loss twice with it blowing the new refrigerator, sewer line clog and probably a couple more I forgot. It just keeps piling on. Funny thing is that about a month or less before this started, I had a thought out of the blue, “You’ve had problems handling stress before. Be prepared to have even more.” It was so unusual a thought that I remembered it. Heedless to say, I keep a close watch on my emotions and have tempered. The warning was appropriate. I don’t understand the why of all of this and I may be Christian; but, I don’t think any of this is related to faith. One exception- Job. But Job’s message to me is that sometimes life sucks and placing blame is foolish. I have to agree with CACS, “Things happen that have nothing to do with your inherent goodness or rightness.” I am going to regret the loss of my life partner though. I find I can do a lot as long as I keep it third person. Thank you for listening, I don’t think there is any other blog site that would understand; because, you are readers and writers. Odds understand life, I think.

  33. Ehh…. Evil exists yes. If you deny that it does, you deny that good can exist.

    That said, that word gets over-used, misapplied and thrown about rather carelessly at a disgusting rate.

  34. This whole “the criminal is the victim” mentality is old. I remember many years ago (at least 20) seeing a movie on TV where this liberal woman was peddling a “soft touch” in handling criminals. Then she was mugged. And then, after some “soul searching” gave a TV interview about her mugging where she basically opened with there being two victims.

    If it had been a book there would have been a new hole in the opposite wall from where I sat.

    It’s one thing to figure out your villains enough that they are justified from their point of view. However, we don’t have to agree with their point of view, nor consider it valid. The villain can still be a villain, still be a bad guy, even if he doesn’t think he is.

  35. Hmm. I wonder if this explains some of the Loki fans I’ve seen.

    • No, that’s explained by the “evil is sexy” factor where the smoking-hot evil dude gets all the fangirls. For a lesser variety, try looking up “Draco in leather pants” on TV Tropes…

      • That makes sense. I never did get all the Snape and Draco love myself.

        • I find Draco a more interesting character than Harry & co because there are hints of real depth to him. And Snape is a complex and interesting character, too. Neither are nice *people*, but they’re interesting characters, and both (not to mention Malfoy Senior) were played by smoking-hot actors (well, Draco’s actor not so much as a kid but by the last movie? Yeah. And the actor for Malfoy Senior… there’s a reason the character quickly acquired the nickname “Luscious” Malfoy despite being a nasty, arrogant piece of work)

      • Yeah, Tom Hiddleston is indeed a smoking-hot evil dude. And I can love Loki as a character, because he’s very well-written and performed. But I would most certainly *not* want to meet him in real life. Freaking agent of chaos.

    • Booger, response ended up down below. Just search for “dreamboat eyes blue as laser beams shot through sapphires.”

  36. I think that’s at least partly because the guy who plays Loki is a genuinely nice person. (As are a lot of villain character actors.)

    Then there’s Mr. Wright’s summary:
    Just because he is a Bad Boy and rebel who plays by his own rules but is tormented by inner demons and has dreamboat eyes blue as laser beams shot through sapphires?

    • So you are saying that I need … colored contact lenses?

      • For some women, yes.

        I found Loki creepy as heck, but I have a mild mom-crush on both some of the fanfiction versions and the actor himself.

        • If you want to have a Mom crush on Loki check out Matantei Roki Ragnarok. Loki has been banished for no apparent reason by the All-seeing Father to Japan — forced to take the form of a child — where he starts a detective agency. (Thor follows later with Mjölnir disguised as a Bokken.)

          Mythicaldetectivelokiragnar.jpg

    • I’ve heard that you want the genuinely nice people to play the villains because otherwise they stay in character all the time.

      • *gets the giggles*

      • Honestly, there’s that and– well, last I heard Mr. Robinson, AKA Garak and that psycho kid-killer from the Dirty Harry movie, was still getting death threats for his role in the Dirty Harry movie. (Scorpio, wasn’t it?)

        They explained it as, basically, he was in character the whole time. He didn’t “wink” at the audience, he was busy totally selling the character.

        • Poor guy. I guess he could take it as a twisted compliment to his acting.

          • I once played Rachel Lynde in a musical version of Anne of Green Gables (not the licensed one; one written by a friend of mine who hated the licensed one and went to the trouble of getting permission to stage her own.) There’s a line—”Well, you didn’t pick her for her looks, that’s sure and certain,”—that I delivered just a little bit differently on opening night, just straight to heartless insult. And it was as though the temperature of the theater dropped. I could FEEL them hate me. And I LOVED it, because it was such a sense of power.

      • Housemate loves watching the Nikita tv series, and he tells me that the reason why they picked this guy to play the resident nerd is BECAUSE he’s a nerd of the first order. As in ‘arrested for hacking crimes RL.’

        http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0822155/

        According to Housemate, half the time they don’t bother to write him lines and just let him slip the leash. Some of the stuff he says after they’ve yelled ‘cut’ they decide to put in.

    • I think it’s because to some extent, Hiddleston played Loki as a hilarious, snarky smartass a lot of people could identify with. (He would be MY pick if I had to pick someone to play Raistlin Majere in a live-action movie because of how he portrays Loki.)

      …OT, but there’s a scene in a book I want to do a short fancomic of. Raistlin is talking to a kender, trying to get her to turn back to the life of goodness and light. Raistlin. Because what the kender does in the story utterly rattles him, the evil ambitious mage. The whole scene is poignant, sweet and funny, all in one go.

      • He would be MY pick if I had to pick someone to play Raistlin Majere in a live-action movie because of how he portrays Loki.

        Oooooh! I wanna see!

        Also, told husband, got an ENTHUSIASTIC “I’d go for that! Where do I pay?”

        And that scene sounds awesome. 😀

        • Seriously, in my DREAMS. Q_Q

          The scene is from the Dragons of the Hourglass Mage book.

          I admit being somewhat torn between a CG animated movie for Dragonlance and a live action one. Given the quality of movies now it’s certainly possible.

          • Hiddleston originally read for the role of Thor.

            He worked with Branagh before, in Wallander. He recently played Coriolanus on stage, Prince Hall in a recent mini-series production of those plays, and is currently playing the lead in a biography of … Hank Williams????

            Well, I guess somebody’s got to do those jobs Americans aren’t willing to do.
            http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1089991/

            • Yes, but all considered, I think he makes a much, much better Loki.

              Well, I guess somebody’s got to do those jobs Americans aren’t willing to do.
              Including the role of Thor? ^^; Chris Hemsworth and his brothers are from Australia (just in case you didn’t know.)

              I had a Hetalia-ish moment while watching the movies, especially in the second Thor movie, the more snarky Englishman needling the rough and tumble Australian.

              • Well, I guess somebody’s got to do those jobs Americans aren’t willing to do.

                Including the role of Thor?

                Since Thor is not an American, whereas Hank Williams is, probably not.

  37. Just putting this out there, paranoia does not equal situational awareness.

    http://www.llapgoch.org.uk is not actually a valid defence (UK Spelling) strategy.

    😉

  38. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Celebrate diversity; support your local gallows and hangman’s association.

  39. Now THAT was FUNNY!

  40. How come these wusses let the dregs of society plunder them? Can’t WE plunder them just as well? Lord knows a lot of us could use the money…

  41. Pingback: Blogs Roundup | DaddyBear's Den

  42. Kirk et al – ref sociopaths – the operative term is “controlled sociopath”.
    Those are the ones as you said, who have learned or taught themselves to operate within a society’s structure/rules, and do so as long as a situation does not become so intolerant as to give them leave to disregard said rules.
    But if their world goes bad; the wife and/or kids die or are injured through the carelessness of others; an overbearing .gov cog ruins them; etc… or something as “simple” as a terminal disease. Someone with nothing left to lose HAS nothing left to lose.
    The old “some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them(only for the moment)” is now the fallback decision point.
    And for some people, that General had the correct idea; for them that’s pretty much a normal way to live their life. His problem was only that most other people(thankfully, I suppose) don’t want to have to consider the ramification of his remark.

    • [I]f their world goes bad …
      You have a film or television or comicbook series which becomes fantastically popular.

      Possibly starring Charles Bronson, or perhaps Christian Bale, Edward Woodward, Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson (possibly directed by Sam Raimi) or maybe even a group of such types, acting together as A Team.

      Definitely NOT starring Thomas Jane, with John Travolta as his nemesis.

  43. This might have already been said. If it has, count this as another “vote” for the actual source of the issue put forth by the OP.

    Imo, it started with the moral equivalence idiocy that’s already very well entrenched within so much of our education dogma.

    An early goal for the mass education socialists was to work the system around to where if they wanted children to believe that snow is black, then by gum and golly, they’d damned well believe it was black once the school got done with them.

  44. From REPO MAN, just because no one else threw it out there:

    Duke: The lights are growing dim, Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.

    Otto: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.