On Evil

Category

The Carcer Principle

Let me tell you one of the most important lessons my favorite author ever taught me. In Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, the main villain is a thief, murderer, and all-around bastard named Carcer. He’s the very picture of a psychopath—he has no conscious, feels no guilt, and doesn’t even understand the idea of right or wrong. He’s egotistical, volatile, constantly smiling, and he always has an extra knife. In a basically well-run city where the rule of law is kept, he...

On statistical murder and killing by inches

This is an open letter to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Roberts, and the GOP majority: How many people have you killed? You’ve probably never picked up a gun or knife and taken a life directly, though even if you have—in the military, one hopes—the number of lives you’ve taken is probably higher than you think. It might not even be a whole life, but it’s probably not zero. How many lives have you saved? The same is...

People as things

“There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example.” “And what do they think? Against it, are they?” “It’s 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...

Stranger than fiction

Sometimes I am reminded that though the fiction we create can be pretty weird, reality has a way of trumping our imaginations every single time. Take The Act of Killing, a documentary by filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. I heard about it on an interview he did on The Daily Show, which I suggest you watch, because Mr. Oppenheimer describes the surreal madness of his film far better than I ever could, and also because it’s free on the internet. Isn’t the future wonderful? The film follows...