An Excess of Good

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I’m a bleeding heart libertarian.  Yes, I know how that sounds.  But it’s true.

Particularly when it comes to animals, plants and creatures who can’t defend themselves.  I will very carefully transplant aspen volunteers that grow too close to the foundation.  Chances are they won’t grow elsewhere, but at least they have a chance.

I spent my childhood dragging home baby birds that had fallen from the nest and sometimes having to defend them from mom who thought it was more merciful to put them out of their misery and also that I was “only prolonging their suffering.”  Since life is suffering, she was right, but I raised about 50% of them.

There are two main differences between me and bleeding heart liberals.  One, I’d never try to do it at someone else’s expense (but the fact that they do this might come from two.)  And I understand evil.

I’m just evil enough — not in practice.  My character is saved by being too lazy to do the evil I think on.  If you really upset me, I won’t go out of my way to help you.  Weirdly you’d be amazed how often that is revenge enough — that I know there is evil in the world and people who do evil.  That evil doers don’t need to be twisted, beaten or victims of society.  And that even those that are might simply have got into enjoying evil and can’t be saved no matter what you do.

My brother is liberal and at least when he was young he started by not understanding evil and therefore taking all the wrong conclusions.

I realized that today because I was thinking of an occasion in which I acted in self defense and how my brother would disapprove, because the person attacking me was homeless and drug-addled, and I’d piled on to that injustice by beating him with a dictionary.

Yes, he would literally save his pity in the circumstances for the “poor man” who would probably have raped me if I hadn’t defended myself.

This eventually led to his being very upset at George Bush for “threatening poor, mad, little North Korea” without taking in account that North Korea is poor because it’s mad and that its madness takes the form of crazed communism.  But see, they are small and powerless, so they must be the ones who need his pity.

He’s not alone.  At least in the beginning a lot of liberals become addled about morality because they can’t conceptualize evil or someone doing evil because they want to, or someone enjoying doing evil.  Therefore they look at people doing evil, from the mundane family tyrant to the dictator of North Korea and see … well… a wounded bird.  And think if only we “make that right” then evil will stop.

This is why the liberals have come up with cute things about only whites being able to be racist, and why they’ve convinced themselves they live in a white supremacy (seriously, these people have never seen a white supremacy.)  Because this explains a lot of the criminality in the black community.  (Of course so do broken families, but that goes against the leftist dogma of not being repressed and also doing whatever the hell you want without regard for your kids. Oh, and could be laid at the feet of family-destroying welfare policies, and heavens, how could liberals be guilty of anything?)

This is why they’re convinced males have “privilege” because …  well, because.  That one doesn’t make a ton of sense because criminality in women is way lower.  OTOH many women are mean in petty ways, and obviously, it’s society that’s to blame.

The problem of going down that path, unable to SEE evil or acknowledge its existence, is that it eventually turns you against the good.

Since evil will always be with us, liberals need to continually invent oppression to justify it.  And eventually they want to punish all those “oppressors” because, you know, they’re creating evil and not letting the left “heal the world.”

It’s not just that they, as Reagan said, know lots of things that just aren’t so, but that the admirable inclinations of their hearts aren’t corrected early on.  No one ever explains to them and SHOWS to them that yes, there is evil, evil without first cause and some humans are evil and almost all humans can learn to enjoy evil, as the bleeding heart liberals eventually do, too, when they’re “punishing” the “oppressors.”

Just once I’d like them to step back and realize what they’re enabling are the evil people and the dysfunctional cultures, and if they win they’ll be the first victims.

They made a desert. And they called it peace.  In this case it would be “they made hell on Earth, and they called it justice.”

166 responses to “An Excess of Good

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Some Liberals are just stupid and other Liberals are evil.

    Sadly, there are times that it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. 😦

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Can I talk about myself in relation to Total Depravity? I’m not that bright either. XD

      • Human beings are not *totally* depraved because Scripture says that people will get worse. Since they can get worse, they aren’t as bad as they can be. Therefore, they are not (yet, at least) totally depraved. Therefore, you are not *totally* depraved.

        Shall we do limited atonement next? 🙂

        • Feather Blade

          …I’m pretty sure that’s not what Total Depravity means in context, but since I’m only adjacent to Calvinists, I don’t have enough info to argue.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Nod.

            “Total Depravity” seems to mean that “we can’t chose to not sin”. We can prevent ourselves from committing some sins but can’t be sinless in the Sight Of God.

            • Human beings are “totally depraved,” as in the totality of humanity is depraved, e.g., incapable of living sinless lives. The depravity is pervasive, touching all aspects of our lives. However, we are not “utterly depraved,” where the sin is not only pervasive but at its worst; the utterly depraved are as bad as they could possibly be. (For example, Satan and his angels.)

              • Actually some Calvinists do think it means “utterly depraved’ and faced with the obvious fact that we aren’t, they devised the notion of “common grace” whereby we are kept from acting utterly depraved — but are still damned, the grace having no power to save.

            • Amsel, Matthew

              G-d is perfect. The rest of us muddle along as best we can.

            • Ah, learned something; thanks.

            • Paternal grandmother was strict Scottish Presbyterian and Scotland legal system has three possible verdicts – not guilty, guilty, and not proven. My Nan believed all legal systems should get rid of ‘not guilty’ verdict because we are all guilty of something.

              • Did you explain to her that “not guilty” in the context of a trial judgement only means, “not guilty of the crime for which the person was accused”?

              • In early modern times, people charged with capital crimes who protested their innocence often went graciously execution on the grounds they were guilty of something.

                Charles I went so far as to say he was executed because of his signing the execution warrant for Lord Strafford.

        • James Claypool

          Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as evil as they can be, it means that there is no aspect of humanity that is untainted by sin.

        • James Claypool

          Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as evil as they can be, it means that there is no aspect of humanity that is untainted by sin.

        • James Claypool

          Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as evil as they can be, it means that there is nothing in humanity that is untainted by sin.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Not Calvinist, but was exposed to Mather’s Sinners speech at a fairly early age.

          My understanding of Total Depravity is that it is about putting thing’s in proper scale in order to correctly understand the nature of salvation.

          Suppose evil could be measured, and God being Good was at 0. What if all humans are in the range of 1.0*10^14 to 1.1*10^14? Then, as far as establishing in God’s eyes whether someone is saved or not, the difference between 1.5*10^14 and 1.6*10^14 might not be particularly important.

    • Motive doesn’t help much when your head is caved in.

  2. Harry R Spitz

    Holy State or Holy Race,
    Or Holy People’s Will
    Have no truck with the senseless thing.
    Just order the guns and kill…

    • Once there was The People,
      Terror gave it birth.
      On e there was,The People,
      And it made a Hell of Earth.

      Earth arose and crushed it,
      Listen oh ye slain.
      Once there was The People,
      It shall never be agan!

      • Beat me to it.

        • The interesting thing is that, if you read “Easy as A. B. C.” Closely enough, it isn’t at all clear that Kipling doesn’t consider the future he is writing about a borderline distopia. Read the annotations of the Kipling Society site for more details. It’s as if Kipling thinks the future of the A. B. C. Is an expected overreaction to the horrors of the mob rule he forsees growing out of Progressivism and all the other idiotic ‘ism’s of his day.

          • Terry Sanders

            I always read it that way. A dystopia all the more horrid for the matter-of-fact approving tone it was described in. Like the first chapter of BRAVE NEW WORLD…

  3. That would be an interesting demographic question. “Do you believe in evil?” I can’t really think of a way to make it multiple choice, though, so as to do an online survey.

    • Not sure they don’t believe in it, just think it’s only innate in certain populations, not in everyone. Otherwise they wouldn’t be advocating a final solution for non enlightened persons.

    • Evil is…
      …it just IS.
      …innate.
      …learned.
      …situational
      …an illusion.
      …fun.

    • Yes. And I suspect people who have raised toddlers have no doubts about “innate depravity.” 😉 (One of my colleagues last night described vividly how her two year old gets into trouble just to see how far he can go and to find out if the consequences are worse than the pleasure of mischief making.)

      • Yup.
        And I think it’s an inevitable consequence of the native ability to consider the abstract (which some dummies insist that toddlers can’t do) because it’s clear that they’re able to think about what doesn’t exist *yet* and to devise tests to see if the new scheme they thought up will get them the results that they desire. (Impulse control is a different matter and takes longer.)

        • Both my older children, at the crawling stage, learned NOT to try go down the stairs when they couldn’t reach the next step down. Without having to fall down the staircase to learn that lesson. They tried to reach the first step down from the top landing, and when they couldn’t backed away from it quickly, and looked down the staircase. You could see them processing the abstract thought of ‘that’s a long way down to fall’ – even though, given how things were set up, they hadn’t had the experience of a fall then.

          The dummies fail to understand that the babies they speak so lightly of very obviously have more use of their developing minds than the dummies themselves have of their own brains.

    • William O. B'Livion

      > “Do you believe in evil?” I can’t really think of a way to make
      > it multiple choice, though, so as to do an online survey.

      Do you believe in evil:
      * No, evil does not exist.
      * Evil exists only as a description of competing tactics for acquisition of power and status.
      * Yes, evil exists and is a part of every person and must be fought.
      * Yes, evil exists and is a product of inequity and will go away when we are all equal
      * Yes, evil exists and is a product of mental illness.

      • Can I choose two of the offered options.
        Evil exists and
        1) it is part of every person and must be fought.
        2) in some cases it is a product of and/or exacerbated by the condition of mental illness.

      • Swing and a miss. Sorry, I don’t agree completely with any of those answers. Maybe add:

        * Yes, evil exists.

        I don’t buy that evil only exists as a tool. I don’t buy that everyone is a little bit evil, and I don’t buy that evil is necessarily a “product” of anything.

        Yes, evil does exist in this world. Thankfully, actual evil is fairly rare. What a lot of people think of as “evil” is really just the product of ignorance and. while bad, isn’t necessarily evil. It’s just wrong.

        For example. “X”. People who are strongly against “X”, believe that “X” is morally repulsive, so they can be forgiven for believing that people who do “X” are evil. However, the people who are doing “X” like everyday man and twice on Thursdays, disagree. They think “X” is perfectly fine and moral, and who the heck are you to take away their fun anyway?

        Who’s right? Doesn’t matter. Even IF, or example “X” is something that is indeed “EVIL”, the people who do it aren’t necessarily evil people. They are ignorant! For whatever reason, they don’t believe that “X” is wrong. Perhaps it’s a moral failing of their culture. Perhaps they were taught incorrect things by their parents. Perhaps they have their wires twisted in their heads by a chemical imbalance. But to be evil, one must KNOW they are doing evil.

        The pro-“X” people might believe that the anti-“X” people are evil for trying to pass laws stopping them from doing “X”. No, following ones beliefs is not evil. Sorry “X”-ers, you can’t paint your boogey man as evil that easily.

        Who IS evil? The evil person is the one who has all the information. They KNOW “X” is evil, but they do it anyway because they WANT to do “X”. And they do it again and again. And they do it specifically to hurt others. AND THEY LIKE IT. That’s what evil is.

        Or so, that’s what I believe. Doesn’t make me right, but obviously I think I am. 🙂

        • No one can have ALL the information.

          I also disagree that to be evil one has to willfully and joyfully act in a way that you know recognize is evil.

          The greatest evil is done not by those who wish to harm others, but by those who think it is their right and responsibility to fix society, whether it wants it or not.

          • I agree that it can’t be based on intent.

            I’ve said a couple of times lately (and want to make a meme poster to plaster the world with)… No one implements an authoritarian system to force people to be BAD.

            People demanding an authoritarian system *today* are demanding it in order to do good things. Clearly, their *intent* is not evil.

            The Robber Baron or the person who is a criminal because they want to enrich themself does less total evil in the world *knowingly* than what is done haphazardly without intent, or worse, with the intent of forcing people to be *better*.

            • Which brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ observation:
              “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”

            • It can’t be based entirely on intent. But if, for instance, you help abused children escape their parents out of spiteful desire to hurt the parents, you’re still evil.

              • Doing the right thing for the wrong reason? Rather.

                Man is a clever manipulative self-interested creature, even in regards to himself, happily telling himself lies when it comes to his own motives. More often than not he ends up believing himself.

                • This is why it was a proverb that Prudence was the mother of all virtues. Unless you can tell good from evil, there is no need to the evil you can do.

              • As TS Eliot observed: The last temptation was the greatest Treason, to do the right deed for the wrong reason.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            There is something to be said for Sir Pterry’s “treating people as things”. Covers one-on-one things like theft, murder, and rape and scales up efficiently to the “people as widgets” idiocies of statists everywhere.

          • yes, sometimes he just promises hope and change…

        • Ignorance removes guilt only to the extent that a reasonably prudent man, making a reasonable effort, would not know the thing he is ignorant of.

      • After reading the responses to William’s comment (at least as of the posting of THIS comment), and comparing some of them to the suggestion by writers that the antagonist of a story never thinks of himself as evil, I wanted to point out:

        I seldom see mention of the “casual” evildoer. That person who is not necessarily even a psychopath, but just doesn’t CARE if what he does hurts others. He’s in things only for himself, and if the neighbor’s dog is making too much noise, he just kills it. Doesn’t make any attempt to get the owner to correct the dog, just removes the problem. He doesn’t even have to do evil things in the furtherance of some grand plan, he just takes care of whatever business he feels like, and goes on about his day. In some ways, that’s a version of evil more chilling than someone who is bent on, say, revenge, and is willing to do anything to get it.

        • That makes me think of neighbors who just call the city or county instead of asking their neighbor what’s up or if they need help.

          Neighbor has trash piling up? You’ve got a choice… go over and say, hey, I noticed that stuff is falling behind. Are you okay? Is everything going well? Is there anything I can do to help? OR Call the city and get them fined and the problem taken care of.

          It’s all choices.

        • Covered well in M. Scott Peck’s book,
          People of the Lie
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Scott_Peck#People_of_the_Lie
          First published in 1983, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil (ISBN 0 7126 1857 0) followed on from Peck’s first book. Peck describes the stories of several people who came to him whom he found particularly resistant to any form of help. He came to think of them as evil and goes on to describe the characteristics of evil in psychological terms, proposing that it could become a psychiatric diagnosis.

    • I still remember an interesting online discussion of atheists and Christians where all the atheists, who were conservatives, mildly agreed that while they of course did not asset to the theological aspects, the doctrine of Original Sin grasped something important about human nature.

  4. > The problem of going down that path, unable to SEE evil or acknowledge its existence, is that it eventually turns you against the good.
    Precisely right, and it is an old truth. In Jewish tradition it is phrased as “He who becomes compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.” Maimonides phrased it in the 12th century as “compassion towards the wicked is cruelty to all beings.”

    • ETA: Yes, it is a slightly different take, but they are intimately related. And both are evident among the modern left.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I recall a seeing an allegedly Chinese saying of kindness towards an enemy is cruelty towards oneself.

    • A very concrete and limited example… “forgiving” a murderer who is let out of jail and goes on to murder others.

      (Longer answer on that *particular* thing… on second thought, shorter answer… circumstances matter.)

      • Happy to forgive him – doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be shot like a mad dog if caught in the act, or locked the hell up.

      • Lots of “fun” in untangling forgive– not punish for an action– and forgive– not hate them.

        • Yes. Or rather, untangling punishment or payment on the part of the person who transgressed and the emotion and mental state of the person transgressed against.

          Like all of those people who think they have to be angry before they can discipline their children. Or those who have to remain in a state of seething fury toward an abusive parent or they view letting that anger go as a statement that what was done wasn’t wrong.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Or the claim that one can’t punish someone and love them at the same time.

            Or that enabling someone in a self-destructive trap is the only way of loving them as a Christian should.

            Or appealing to me to treat someone as I would want to be treated in their circumstances, without allowing for the possibility that how I would want to be treated in those circumstances is quite a bit crueler than would be practical.

    • The caveat is that that is exactly the same as “I’m tolerant of anything but intolerance” which means that people who believe different things need to be destroyed.

      • No, it’s not the same thing – though it could devolve into it IF you ally it with relativism.

        • Once you have decided that people with other viewpoints not only are objectively wrong but also cruel and uncaring it follows directly. By being tolerant of the cruel you are being compassionate to them and thus cruel to the victims who fill the roll of compassionate.

          Doesn’t mean its right overall but its a direct follow in that mindset. Not certain how to really square the circle between two sides using not only different but diametrically opposed word and action definitions.

          • Huh?
            You took “compassion towards the wicked is cruelty to all beings” to “I’m tolerant of anything but intolerance” – which fails logically – and now … something perpendicular to both? And try to square that circle?

            “Compassion towards the wicked is cruelty to all beings” is an aphorism saying that being compassionate towards a cruel person isn’t real compassion because it ignores justice for those who were harmed.

            “Tolerant of anything but intolerance” is a bit of magical thinking trying to say that the ultimate virtue is letting everyone do their own thing, no matter what. It’s used to justify all sorts of hedonism and a lot of violence against people who don’t accept the turning of the world on its head.

            While someone who believed the second *might* use the first to justify their idiocy, it doesn’t equate the two to a rational person. Even then, any connection between the two has to ignore morality to be anything other than wackadoo.

            So, if you ignore morality, and simply say that anyone who is intolerant is “wicked”, then you get the first from the second (or vice versa). (Real morality is ignored by psychotics and moral relativists.)

            • This was aimed more at the phrase “He who becomes compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.” All that is done is to define compassionate is the “tolerant” viewpoints and cruel is the “intolerant” viewpoints.

              There are multiple different cultures and languages here. And unlike trying to discern German from French or Portugese from Spanish, or even Spain Spanish from Mexican Spanish, most of the words are identical but the meanings can be diametrically opposite.

              The lack of a shared morality is the problem. For the older school of religious or classic morality, wickedness means someone harming another intentionally. Think the bandits that roughed up the samaritan. Giving aid and shelter to them is cruel to everyone else. But today wicked has been redefined by a large strata of society. To them, wicked comes not from merely what you do, but what you think.

              For examples, To almost anyone, beating someone to death who had never touched or directly threatened you with a sign is a wicked act. But to someone that has widely defined the definition of wicked to be anyone that could harm me by their vote not being the same as mine or who sees not being given special attention (pronouns and such) as harm, it is justified. And compassion defined down to any interaction other than to harm or hector. Commerce, work, school, etc.

              This is why someone with the mindset of the depraved currently in power can very easily use these same words as their defense and until you look into it it can be a very compelling argument (See that recent poll on political correctness. Even as a majority opposed political correctness, a significant subset of them supported hate speech laws and similar. Hate speech policing is nothing but political correctness under law as it is used.)

              Yes, this is because of the widespread use of moral relativity but it’s not far from the dominant moral level of the country. Not saying that is the intent of the phrase or how we would like to interpret it, but unless we are all on the same page it’s a lot of hot air going past each other.

        • When does anyone ever say that and not mean the other?

      • The “not tolerant of intolerance” thing pisses me off so much. Because basically it is used to excuse hating anyone who doesn’t agree with the proper things. And it’s based on perverting the meaning of the word “tolerance” so that tolerance can only mean “agree with the right things.”

        NO ONE is required to agree with intolerance! But you DO have to “tolerate” it, because tolerance itself can only ONLY apply to those things that you don’t actually like.

        Sort of the same way that free speech ONLY applies to speech that is objectionable. Because no one needs their accepted speech protected.

        No one needs their *accepted* ideas or practices “tolerated”.

        Either concept only exists *at all* in the presence of disagreement.

      • Patrick Chester

        They’re just saying they’re intolerant bigots who are trying to excuse their actions by claiming their victims are the bad ones.

  5. Charity and compassion are the gifts you give of yourself to others. Being ‘generous’ with *other people’s* money and time is not a virtue, it is simply envy and greed in fancy dress.

    • It’s also a way to purchase social capital with other people’s money. It’s that fellow praying aloud in the temple, raising his hands and shouting to the heavens, “Thank you Lord, that I’m not like that unfeeling monster over there! I have forced the government to fund widows and orphans. Look at my dedication and my compassion and how great I am!”

      The regard of others *is* a reward all of it’s own. No amount of explaining that one is only public about their “charity” in order to encourage others to give by shaming them changes a single part of that.

      • “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward.”

        • “Send me money, send me green
          Heaven you will meet
          Make a contribution
          And you’ll get the better seat
          Bow to Leper Messiah”
          Metallica-Leper Messiah, from Master of Puppets (1986)

      • Compassion versus idiot compassion.

    • Voting for taxes on someone else to send bureaucrats to take care of others is the charitable equivalent of “Cheap Grace”.

  6. Is it any more complicated (she says, before introducing a very complicated issue) than some people believing in original sin and other people believing that every sin originates outside of the self?

    Children have to be taught, supposedly, taught to be afraid of strangers, taught to lie, taught to be self-centered, taught to steal what isn’t theirs, taught to be unkind… because without that teaching we’d reside in Eden and be without sin at all. AND most of that teaching (clearly) is imposed by the economy by want and need, by the climate (new thing, that), and imposed by progress (ironic thing, that) so that if only we can return to that State of Nature everyone would return to our completely sinless state of being.

    Okay, so that’s about how I understood what Sarah said anyway… whatever evil there is HAS to be external and everything external is oppression. Which isn’t an understanding of evil, but a misunderstanding.

    And it’s the only possible way to understand the concept of communist anarchy. Just imagine! All want or need is a thing of the past. There is no longer any external force that makes us be something other than our natural selves and BOOM paradise breaks out all over, just because of course it does.

    • It’s a toxic combination of the Noble Savage and Locke’s “tabula rasa.” Locke meant that all people are born with certain gifts and abilities just by being born, and that it is how they are raised that determines your life’s outcome, not “noble blood” or “peasant blood.” And of course people took that, added it to Rousseau, and sailed off the deep end.

      • It’s interesting just how *angry* some people get at the concept of original sin.

        • Well of course – because acknowledging the reality, the existence of sin means having to look at yourself and know, absolutely that you- your very own, personal, well-meaning self has the capacity to do evil, just as one has the capacity to do great good. In the Lutheran liturgy, we confess – ‘we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.’
          To know, and accept that you are just as capable of one as the other is a difficult thing to internalize for people. But knowing and accepting it, is in a little way an armor against being drawn, unwittingly, into committing evil.

          • Yes… a little armor.

            When a person understands evil rightly, understands that we’re not personally “good” and certainly understands that one can *intend* good and do evil anyway, it’s a little armor, just a little, and a reminder to look at yourself with the understanding that you just might be guilty of doing something purposefully or by accident that was a bad thing to do.

            I desire to do good. So… lets do this program to help the poor. (As an example.) How often EVER do people come along then and say, our desire was to do good, now lets examine this and find out if we DID good or not?

            Roads to Hell, etc.

            I saw a video of Naomi Klein (iirc) ranting about some, geez, I think it was Milton Friedman or a similar group/person talking about unintended consequences, that people attempt to Do Good and it has bad results. She insisted (and she’s supposed to have been a “Big Thinker”) that one does good by intending to do good. I remember this *specifically*… that one DID good by INTENDING to do good. She was proving, at least in her own mind, that it was impossible to intend to do good and have unintended and destructive consequences.

            It’s so obviously not at all true that I couldn’t imagine why she’d even say it. Why not argue that the particular thing involved, the consequences, either weren’t bad or weren’t caused by the program? But no, one does good by intending to do good.

            And the only thing left at that point is… who is served? If one does good *for one’s self* by intending to do good for others? Well, that I’ll agree with entirely. The do-gooders have served their own selves and done good for their own selves. In that case, the fact that one’s pet project undermined the client population’s self worth or family stability or whatever certainly doesn’t make any difference and can’t be cited as a negative unintended consequence.

          • It’s armor against evil because (if truly believed) it’s armor against hubris. So very much of what is evil is wrapped up in PRIDE.

          • It’s the same as Lawdog’s Monster essay.

            Human life is a series of choices. Some are simple. Many are not. But recognizing that all are capable of causing harm, and to do it does not require a villain but someone who made a choice, often thinking it was the less bad option with given information. Beliefs, and definitions.

      • The Noble Savage business was toxic enough on its own. From it we get the Left’s enduring and dangerous fascination with the uncivilized, the violent, and the dirty.

        *spit*

    • No, it is no more complicated than that, but one can have the understanding without the religious overtones. Whether it be “original sin” or “man is a wild animal”, or “you can’t change human nature”, the insight is the same. Humans are what they are. You can change many things — language, culture, laws and societies. And a great deal of human behavior comes from such things. But the ultimate conceit of totalitarian societies is that you can change human nature, that you can make “the new Soviet man”, ‘the Ubermensch”, the “tame” human, the Eloi.

      One of my favorite fiction works (paraphrased from memory), says something like “Evil always have reasons. World is not like picture in head, is reason. It is only good that has no reason. Pick up crying child, is no reason. Being friend, is no reason”

      • Religion often gives us the language to describe the human condition. My understanding is that even religions that don’t center on a deity focus on your battle with your own nature.

        But yes, absolutely, human nature (and most animals’ natures as well, actually) encompasses a number of drives that are often both positive and negative, so we need to address the negative expressions. And those drives most certainly don’t have to be taught and they are certainly not the result of oppressive systems.

        • As Heinlein pointed out so well, “positive” and “negative” drives are often situationally dependent and, in the right circumstances, are prosurvival — or we wouldn’t have them. The reason why civilized humans *must* have customs and cultural mores is to channel those impulses in to more constructive channels. Because we aren’t likely to lose them — if they haven’t left the gene pool yet, it’s because in the right circumstances, we need them.

      • Digger. And Ed, speaking from painful experience. I don’t necessarily agree with Ursula Vernon’s politics, but by the Gods that woman can write!

        • I strongly *disagree* with Ursula Vernon’s politics, but unless someone shoves their politics in my face in a work, it doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the work — and she doesn’t.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        Digger solidarity, yo. I love that book and inflict it on deserving recipients at Christmastime. 🙂

  7. “they made hell on Earth, and they called it justice.”
    That sent a shiver down my back.

    • In a perverse way, it makes sense. By sound Christian Theology, no mortal may enter Heaven without God’s Mercy.

      • But while Earth is not heaven, it’s not hell.
        Maybe it’s that the idea of shutting the Divine out so completely that Earth becomes hell is such a tragic one. And then to look on the hell and be so twisted as to call it good compounds. There’s no hope left there.

    • And also that the person who abuses you for your own good will never tire and never rest.

      • the person who abuses you for your own good will never tire and never rest.”
        I used that cs Lewis quote to explain why I prefer the simply “greedy” politician to the one trying to make the world better by changing me… The second will never stop. I am willing to leave people alone, even if I think they are sinning because by my theology, on the whole ultimately some things are between an individual and God, but their “theology” has no final reckoning and they collectively want to fix me right now. I object.
        Now I wouldn’t mind a politician closer to my values than Trump, but he’s better than I thought he would be. Also, I don’t pretend to know his motivation, but in the worst case, with no better motive than greed… Still better than alternatives.

        • Now I wouldn’t mind a politician closer to my values
          And one of the difficulties is that Republicans (the party, as opposed to conservatives on principle) can give in to that human inclination of “doing good” or “fixing” things or “there oughta be a law”, as well. Because, if they don’t constrain themselves, the end result is the same as with the progressive – though it might be “more efficient” or “cost less” than the prog solution. They can even be sucked into the “ubermensch” thing, though it looks a little different.

          • “And one of the difficulties is that Republicans (the party, as opposed to conservatives on principle) can give in to that human inclination of “doing good” or “fixing” things or “there oughta be a law”, as well. ”

            I recognize that potential inclination in myself at least. Sowell and related reading helps though, to remember that the actual effect is important, not the intent. And more power to the individual is usually a better arrangement for us all. To say differently, I think people are free to make bad choices. The alternative is ultimately tyranny.

            I do like to see good people (by their personal life choices, not by imposing on others) wielding the political trust responsibly. The higher you go in politics, the rarer that seems.

            • The higher you go in politics, the rarer that seems.
              Which is why the Founders wanted everything kept at a level where the constituent could reach out and touch the gov’t.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Same here.

  8. “…almost all humans can learn to enjoy evil, …, when they’re “punishing” the “oppressors.””

    Which is partly why I am 100% against the use of torture. Those who use it are broken and sick; even when they claim they get no enjoyment from it and are claiming they only do it because they must.

    • That can come down to circumstances. How many lives is my ability to look myself in the mirror worth?

      • That depends on how much your immortal soul is worth. If you believe in that.

        • Only if you don’t believe in forgiveness.

          And if you refuse to act when a horrible action against an enemy will potentially save a significant number of innocent civilians, that, too, is sinful, and will require forgiveness.

          We live in a fallen world. Choosing between competing evils is the nature of life.

          • scott2harrison

            Would you do the same thing again in the same circumstances? If so, there can be no forgiveness as forgiveness requires repentance.

        • So do I condemn myself by committing torture, or by standing by and allowing innocents to be harmed when I could have prevented it?

          Horrific action, or inaction with easily foreseeable horrific consequences?

          • It depends?
            I think some things are worse than death. There’s a warning to beware the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell, but not fear those who can only kill the body.

            Are you responsible for another person’s evil if the only way to prevent it is by your own evil action?

            Incidentally, I am not anti-war. I question torture though, and that’s what we’re discussing now.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Some cultures have preferred execution over confinement because of considering confinement excessively cruel.

              I personally would prefer being burned alive to smoking marijuana.

              Cruelty can have aspects of a subjective value judgement.

              One is either a multiculturalist, or one has a culture whose values one is willing to impose by force. If one is a multiculturalist, another one can cherrypick cultural examples to justify any act. If one is imposing a culture, one will be enforcing mores that will be seen as inappropriate torture by another perspective.

    • The thing is, torture is where we end up when we won’t do lesser things, like say “Gee, this person is chummy with a BUNCH of douchbags like Hamas. Maybe we should freeze his bank accounts, audit his taxes, terminate his emloyment by the State owned University, and then ask him if he would like his life back in exchange for helping us with our inquiries.” or “Hey, the Saudis, who work with us a little, seem to have killed a ‘journalist’ who was tight with half the Jihadis in the world, and who may have been involved in a plot against the Saudi Royal Family. Maybe we should tell the Main Stream Media ‘Don’t hiremfrontmen for terrorists, and this won’t happen.’ And let the Saudis mind their business.”

      So we end up someplace like Iraq, with our tail hanging in the breeze, and need information now, Now, NOW!

    • I don’t necessarily connect the concept of torture when “punishing the oppressors” because what I see there is… revenge.

      And frankly, there are a whole lot of people who simply GLORY in the idea of finding an acceptable and “just” target to punish. And I’ve said so, too, “Hate feels GOOD doesn’t it?” Because it’s clear that the moral reasoning to identify enemies and punish them is something that makes people feel good.

      Let’s punch a Nazi, it will be groovy, man.

      Like Charles Manson’s little harem of perverted social justice warriors… and yes, that WAS their motivation…. stick it to the MAN right in the pregnant RICH lady’s stomach.

      Hating the wealthy, doing violence against people who’s only sin is their “privilege”… and feeling GOOD about how wonderful you are…

      Yes, evil exists.

      • Bullying bullied. People who manage to not only convince themselves that they are oppressed but to make others agree and polarize the group they have placed into the position of oppressor, not only get the feeling if power and revenge, but also the social approval.

        It’s exactly the same technique used against the Jewish people in Germany, the kulaks and “rich” in Russia and so on.

    • Rightly understood, I agree with you.

      It’s when stuff gets into the “isolated confinement for people who killed the last three people they were with is torture, so is life imprisonment, they need to be released” that we have issues.

      I draw the line somewhere after yelling and maybe slapping, and before you break out the power drills.

      • “I draw the line somewhere after yelling and maybe slapping, and before you break out the power drills.”

        My memory of the debates about torture in re Abu Ghraib and waterboarding etc, was that the accused (the Right) kept asking, “then what kind of interrogation IS acceptable?” and the accusers (the Left) would never elucidate anything concrete, because their objective was not really to settle a positive question on limits, but to vilify the Bush government.

        • Pretty much.

          Some of them did try to draw a line… it ended up being, basically, “anything unpleasant.”

          Usually they started out pretty dang ignorant of anything law enforcement related, and when they learned about stuff they discovered it was unpleasant and/or could cause mental distress.

          That’s what happens when you move off the standard of causing permanent, real* harm.

          *objective, serious, etc– it’s not a perfect standard, but it works better than “being in solitary upsets them because they don’t have anybody to murder, so we better let them out.”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I might be compelled to admit that my higher political priorities may require ‘not by the US government on US territory of US nationals’.

      Where other cases are concerned, I am loathe to give up any option of even marginal military utility. I also think that any option we should keep on the table is one that we should harden our hearts, so that we don’t hesitate if we should really need to use it. (Forex, concessions to hostage takers. If one worries that one’s heart might be so weak that one might be seriously tempted, one should go into the situation resolving to kill the hostages oneself rather than concede.)

      Modern opposition to torture fits the pattern of Miranda, opposition to capital punishment, criminal justice reform, additional protocol one, and other things which could be understood as enemy action intended to cripple us.

      Today I was seriously tempted to argue that we are morally obligated to torture. I should note two of the things that helped me fight that temptation. One, the most amusing arguments were weak in ways that crossed a line I should not cross. Secondly, I’m clearly not at the top of my game, and tapdancing would have a serious risk of putting my foot wrong. And this is near some lines I really should not cross.

    • My take on the torture thing is that it is *wrong*. Still, I understand that in some very limited cases (eg. the ‘Ticking Atom Bomb in Times Square’ scenario) it may be necessary. In that case, I suppose that if you are *certain* that the person you are interrogating has the information you need to acquire and that torture is the *only* method by which you can obtain it in time, it may be justified. IF, and *only* if, you realize that by engaging in torture you are subjecting yourself to the full panoply of the criminal justice system for the acts you commit. Kidnapping, aggravated assault, (if the suspect should expire under questioning) murder – the whole nine yards; it’s all on the table. If you are so sure that the data you need can only be obtained in this fashion AND you are willing to risk the rest of your life in prison (or a visit with Ol’ Sparky’) in order to get it in that way, then go ahead. If you are wrong, it’s likely bye, bye Charlie; if you are right, it is unlikely that a jury of your peers would find you guilty but even if they did it would be the price you were willing to pay to stop the event.

      What we do *not* need to see is torture being sanctioned as a de rigueur method of interrogation. Torture is not something that should be condoned by Western societies, and the proliferation of it would weaken and sicken us as much as or more than any (well, most) activities it would be adopted ostensibly to prevent. The calls by neo-cons and their ilk for wholesale rendition and Waterboarding of ‘Moose-limbs’ after 9/11 sickened me.

  9. This is what I don’t understand – the inability to accept that evil exists, and there are people who are pure evil. This obsession that ‘if only someone helped them they would be different’ is mind-boggling to me. Just like a friend, who, during the beginning of a new war with Iraq was saying ‘poor Saddam. What does America want with him?’

    • Ah, yes. The approximate equivalent is “poor cancerous tumor. What does that horrible person want with it?”

      In short, whether you take the religious perspective or not, some people can’t be allowed do what they want because what they want will cause so much suffering to so many others that the only viable description for them is “evil”.

      Which is not advocating killing them all or pre-emptive incarceration or anything like that. It’s advocating rule of law that rewards self-reliance, impulse control and not harming other people. If someone’s proved that they are incapable of keeping their hands off other people’s possessions or incapable of living with people without becoming violent, then the laws allow them to be imprisoned.

      And this is a terrible subject for broad generalizations because when you dig into details you get tons of exceptions. But some bastards are still the societal equivalent of a cancerous tumor.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I can’t allow myself to everything I might want. Admitting, I’m not physically capable of doing some of the evil things I have wanted to do.

    • If evil exists, then there is a standard of right and wrong that goes beyond your own individual interest and judgement. If there is no such thing as evil, only “bad choices”, “disadvantaged circumstances”, and “unfortunate mistakes”, then any act can be self-justified. Therefore, the existence of evil is an impediment to the belief that “do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” — and hence the concept itself is a danger to a totalitarian worldview.

  10. I find evil and sin to be two very different things. Sin is something that harms yourself. Evil is something that corrupts. Sin is like cancer. Evil is like rabies. Very different although often companions.

  11. I was actually impressed that the show Legion actually portrayed the Shadow King as an African instead of turning him into a white guy.

    At first I was a little ticked off when he tried to re-define what a ‘villain’ is (it’s just a word!) and then pulled that ‘I was just a poor refugee and old while meanie Xavier imposed his culture on me!’ spiel, but it was clear it was just a manipulative line of BS.

    ‘The mean white man culturally oppressed me…by stopping me from torturing and enslaving children.’

    • ‘old white meanie’ I meant to say. And it’s rare to see someone from an ‘oppressed’ group called out on attempts to excuse his evil. And on a popular TV show at that.

    • The mean white man culturally oppressed me…by stopping me from torturing and enslaving children.’
      The Brits, lacking multicultural empathy in India, banned the Hindu practice of suttee- a widow’s immolating herself on her late husbands funeral pyre.

      • I’m sure he’d have been happier if Xavier had let the people he’d tyrannized deal with him in their own way, ala Gaddaffi.

        Or maybe not.

  12. RichardJohnson

    Sarah, a comment of mine got spammed at your article at PJM. Apparently ONE edit (removing blank spaces_) got it spammed.Can you rescue it?

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/dear-americans-youre-breaking-socialist-hearts/

  13. It’s funny that the Left, which often philosophically eschews black & white definitions of good or evil; moral or immoral, ect will get downright Manichean when it comes to their beliefs, and what they think about their opponents.

    • “will get downright Manichean when it comes to their beliefs, and what they think about their opponents.”
      Indeed.

  14. On revenge, Sarah said: “If you really upset me, I won’t go out of my way to help you. Weirdly you’d be amazed how often that is revenge enough.”

    I have come lately to believe that the turning of one’s back is all the revenge we humans can handle. Its not our fricking job to chastise Evil. We aren’t built for it, and it harms us. Even righteous self defense hurts us, as I’ve heard from many and experienced myself. Just less than being a victim.

  15. There’s evil in this world…and the worst evils are usually done by people claiming the most noble motives.

    Anyone else here read the works of “Viktor Suvorov”? It’s a pen name for Vladimir Rezin, a GRU operative who defected to the UK around 1976 – and promptly started writing books about how the Soviet system thought and operated. Particularly their military. He wrote of a leader who was largely a vegetarian. Opposed vivisection. A real humanitarian.

    Adolf Hitler.

    • The worst evils tend to require multiple people or events. Claiming or believing in noble motives means you have a larger pool of possible accomplices, the gullible and the evil as opposed to just the evil.

      • There’s also the idea that those other people over there are themselves somehow bad, and so all of the usual moral limits do not apply. So you can indulge yourself on them, because you’re not actually doing evil as such. They deserved it!

  16. Yeah, you might want to reconsider that first line. They already exist, and they’re a fail. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/

  17. The left would return the One Ring to Sauron and say that it was rightfully his and wrongfully stolen from him.

  18. I spent my childhood dragging home baby birds that had fallen from the nest

    The standard response is “this usually happens when they try to fly [or there’s something very wrong with the nest] so most likely it’s best to just let the problem resolve itself”.

  19. G K Chesterton:

    “The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. For example, Mr. Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive. Mr. Blatchford is not only an early Christian, he is the only early Christian who ought really to have been eaten by lions. For in his case the pagan accusation is really true: his mercy would mean mere anarchy. He really is the enemy of the human race — because he is so human.”

  20. I suppose I’m philosophically evil, by the definition of just about all the “good people” in society. I find it increasingly had to take anyone else’s moral evaluations seriously, since most of their moral evaluations amount to demanding that other people sacrifice their interests to the moralist’s.

    I don’t wish mankind ill, but I have finite resources, which I’m going to devote to helping my friends and family. If you come at me with some greater-good lifeboat-problem zero-sum-game juggling act for why I need to let you hurt my friends and family, don’t expect me to be your friend. I wouldn’t expect it of anyone else, I find it lunacy that others expect it of me and regard it as high moral philosophy.

    • PS – I need to sit down and think at some point about the sheer extent to which people are being jerked around by guilt, shame, and moralizing in the world today. Has it gotten more merciless and incessant with time? I don’t know of much that I would regard as good that ever came of it in my experience.

    • I will cheerfully agree with you that the notion of universal positive rights. All positive rights (those that require someone else to expend resources) require a specific someone else to have the positive duty to do so — perhaps because you’re a minor, and he’s your parent; or he, through malice or negligence, caused you injury; or because you have entered into a contract with him.

  21. I’d piled on to that injustice by beating him with a dictionary.

    Doesn’t that depend on the dictionary used? A Pocket Funk & Wagnalls is scarcely noticeable, especially to your typical drunk. My old paperback German-Englisch dictionary wouldn’t have permitted even a mild thrashing.

    Now, it would be different had you used a hardbound, unabridged, tactical Oxford English dictionary — one of those will deliver a beat-down in scarcely more than three good shots!

  22. This eventually led to his being very upset at George Bush for “threatening poor, mad, little North Korea’ …

    It is entirely safe to condemn George W Bush whereas North “Putting the K in Krazy for Three Generations” Korea is likely to send agents into your home in the dark of night to slit your throat or spirit you away to Kwan-li-so (Penal-labor colony) No. 18 from whence you will never be heard of again.