What? Me Murder? We All Can

Absolutely one of the worst

After watching over three hundred crime documentaries, it is fascinating that the great mass of mankind still agree on the cardinal virtues of Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility and the cardinal vices of Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony. These are human universals, with some fluidity in details, among humans everywhere and always. In our current society, chastity and gluttony are regarded as sort of old-fashioned ideas, not so much because we’re so morally superior, but because we like to have lots of sex and food.

I see that the most common motives for murder are greed, lust and wrath (revenge.) Murders to collect life insurance are common, and often horrifying since they usually involve killing those who love and trust you: your spouse, your parents and even occasionally your kids. Wrath as revenge we can sort of understand, and these perps will often get a reduced sentence of manslaughter or second degree murder. A husband finds his wife in bed with another man and kills him in a rage. In France at one time, this was justifiable homicide-for husbands, not for wives.

In one documentary a police interrogator asked: “Is your friend capable of killing someone?” I’ll never forget his answer: “We all are.” Yes, dear friends, we all are. There’s a worm in the apple of our soul, which used to be called original sin. We don’t have to kill anyone, but we all could. Sobering. Let’s accept that, it could save lives.

Wrath we understand, but don’t excuse. Greed we can grasp, we’ve all been at least tempted to be greedy. We are not unfamiliar with lust, either, which does not refer only to sex. But by far the most repugnant murderers are those who kill because it’s FUN.  It’s sexually/psychologically satisfying, it’s a kick. The poor victim’s families continually ask “Why?” Why kill this beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her, a good, kind, friendly young woman whom you did not even know. Why? Did you have a bad childhood? A head injury? F’d-up DNA? Why? The why is because he found it to be deeply satisfying FUN and his fun took priority over her life. That we cannot grasp, yet it is the answer.

Their sexual orientation includes suffering and death, not hugs and kisses. You can’t change someone’s sexual orientation, I have concluded, because no one ever has and because I cannot change mine. I don’t even know how mine developed, and neither does anyone else. No doubt a thousand variables went into the mix. Those who kill for fun cannot be ‘reformed’ out of what floats their boat any more than you or I can. I am attracted to intellectual lumberjacks, admittedly a very small pool. I am repelled by suits and ties and men with manicures who use hairspray. I’m sure your preferences are similarly irrational.

Perverts we will always have among us. ‘Pervert’ is a good word, it literally means to turn aside, to go down the wrong path. What is the right path? Obviously there is some flexibility here, but for the good of society, two parents who trust each other and love their kids produces good results. Take sexually sadistic killers and please lock them away from my daughters forever. Thank God, they are rare. One commentator offered this suggestion, “Shoot him in the dick.” I realize I kind of like that suggestion because I am tempted to the vice of wrath, but overcome the temptation by applying the virtue of humility: I, too, could kill. Not that I advocate letting him go! Not ever.

I once taught in a prison. On breaks I talked informally with my inmate class. One said, “Ten percent of the guys in here should NEVER get out.” I was surprised, I thought they would sympathize with other inmates. I asked why he thought so. “Because I do not want to live in a world where those beasts are roaming free.”

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