Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bottomless capacity for evil

Somewhere in the human genome lurks, not just the capacity for violence, but a bottomless capacity for evil depravity. Sociopaths turn up in every generation, as well as seemingly ordinary people who snap with awful brutality.

What should we make of this resume?

  • math teacher
  • Khmer Rouge soldier
  • mass torturer and murderer
  • aid worker
  • remorseful defendant (apparently)
Duch is a man who presided over the torture of countless fellow humans and the murder of 16,000. He is asking forgiveness.

The Khmer Rouge showed quite baldly that "never again" was a vain hope, not really a rational expectation of the end of genocide. But what can we say about the ones who have repented? In some ways, the evidence that they still have consciences is scarier than the lack of any conscience at all among the others.

No comments: