Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Evil That Men Don't.

I can't believe that people are getting bent out of shape over Will Smith's remark about Herr Schickelgruber. I think it illustrates a major problem, a problem that may be inherent to the human condition or may be a cultural artifact of this particular place and time in our culture. To wit, we are raised believing in self-identified Evil. From the bad guy in every movie and fantasy novel to the opponent in every video game, there is this persistent belief that Evil will be easily identifiable because it will wear a black outifit, cackle maniacally, and announce itself as such.

The world don't work that way. As Mr. Smith attempted to point out, not even the most despicable characters in this planet's history thought of themselves as Evil. Nero never said "MWA-HA-HA!" when barbecueing dangerous subversives from Near-East mystery cults. Hitler never woke up and rubbed his hands together and thought "I think I'll be Eeeevil today!" The most heinous crimes perpetrated throughout the millenia have been perpetrated by people with clear consciences because they were doing what they were doing For The Common Good.

Watch out for that. When evil comes, it won't be easily identifiable, with a hunched back and a crazed glint in its eye; it will be nicely dressed, sound reasonable, and have a great team of policy wonks and spin doctors to explain exactly why you need to climb into the cattle car, please.

23 comments:

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Does that mean, because Hillary DOES wake up every morning cackling, "What kind of EEEEEEVIL can I accomplish today?" that she really ISN'T Evil? Because she conform to the stereotype is the corollary true, that she is, uh... un-Evil?

Roberta X said...

Do you believe she thinks of it as evil?

...The phrase in question is "moral inverson." Hill is one.

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

Most time tested sayings have at least a spark of truth, if not a roaring conflagration.

I deeply distrust someone who truly wishes to change my life 'for the better'. I trust an enemy more than such a person.

Ideally, I prefer to deal with people in a more Randian way.

Oh.... and about Hillary waking up each morning to oaths of evility, it would not surprise me.

Les Jones said...

Tam, I'm partially in agreement, but only partially. I agree it's possible for people to do terrible things (and certainly things with terrible consequences) while seeking to do good.

But I think it's also possible to do terrible things while seeking to push people around like pawns, seek fame and power, and pursue vengeance on your enemies, all under the guise of an ideology. I think that's a more accurate description of the lives of Hitler, Stalin, et al. Their lives were quite distinct from well-meaning people with a few mistaken ideas about the world.

Tam said...

I'd say that most people we see as evil saw themselves as pragmatic. Some may have seen themselves as pragmatically self-serving, but some of the worst monsters saw themselves as pragmatically willing to get their hands dirty to further what they saw as a noble cause.

Joe said...

This would explain why I think that the Hillary commercials with the Christmas presents scares me so much. She is a Marxist at her soul and believes that what she'll do once she is in charge will be for the benefit of everybody. THAT SCARES ME!!

Every person that started out with a good ( or okay ) idea eventually had that idea perverted. Most of the reasons for that perversion were the people that surrounded the main character were worse than he/she was to begin with. Over time, things just got out of hand and innocents were made to suffer for the delusion of the group.

Joe R.

staghounds said...

What strikes me the most about this is that Mr. Smith didn't say anything positive about Hitler or what he did at all. The comments are clear and the people getting upset are intentionally lying about what was said.

Unless they are very, very stupid.

Hitler was right about cigarettes, limited access highways, and Volkswagens. (And for our lefty friends, he was a vegetarian and an advocate of strict gun controls.)

Put me in the stocks, too.

Billy Beck said...

"Hitler never woke up and rubbed his hands together and thought 'I think I'll be Eeeevil today!'"

Probably not, but that doesn't mean that it was impossible to see him coming. See "Mein Kampf".

Anonymous said...

Hitler. Hitler, Hitler, Hitler. Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler. Hitler, Hitler. Hitler Hitler, Hitler, Hitler.

Ok, who ran screaming from this comment?

Tam said...

Meh.

I'm pretty much all Hitlered out. Comes from too many political arguments on teh intarw3bz, I reckon.

tomcatshanger said...

We are rationalizing animals. Every single one of us rationalizes their behavior and beliefs.

It doesn't mean they are "good" beliefs or "bad" beliefs, at least to the person believing.

I've never seen evil in real life as portraying in fiction. But I fully understand evil when I see it, no matter the rationalization used to justify it by some.

BryanP said...

I think the first time I understood this concept was when I was around 11 or 12 and read Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein.

Your enemy is never a villian in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate--and quickly.

Mark said...

Very well quoted, and pertinantly so BrianP. Sadly, the Noozmeejuh decided to squeal "Oooh! Will Smith thinks Hitler was GOOD!"

Yet another transgression on their part. Kinda makes me want to take my time over killing 'em, 'cause if there were ever a case of deliberately taking things out of context and prancing aroudn with 'em delightedly, there it sits.

Bastards. I'd use stronger language, but I respect the owner of this blog too much to pollute it with how I really feel.

Joseph said...

Most of the evil folks had some justification, at least in their own minds, for what they did. One coming example is Chavez, who has the "good of the people"in mind. For him, this is going to justify any excesses. What scares me is that Hillary and her ilk are exactly the same, even if they are presently more circumspect.

Weetabix said...

"I deeply distrust someone who truly wishes to change my life 'for the better'. I trust an enemy more than such a person."

I don't distrust someone who wants to convince me to change my life for my own good, but the one who tries to make me change.

They guy who's trying to convince probably really believes it, and I enjoy hearing different perspectives. They guy who tries to make me change probably has ulterior motives that don't agree with mine.

staghounds said...

And Mr. Smith is wrong. There ARE evil people. People who, through whatever twist of dna and experience, enjoy- and in some cases need- the pain of others. They know what they do hurts, and they continue not despite, but because of that.

Rapists, vandals, many burglars, some arsonists and most of the domestically violent are examples. Their self awareness and self identification as evil doers varies, but it's usually there to some extent.

Sometimes these people never get noticed. I'm sure that there are a few dentists, for example, whose high daily point is a little scream.

O this is too funny- the random verification letters are mauladuk.

Anonymous said...

My opinion of Will Smith has shot up considerably.

Timmeeee said...

There's a great T-shirt that says :

"But what about all the GOOD things Hitler did?"

Tam said...

Other than "Killing Adolf Hitler", I'm drawing a blank on his great contributions to society.

Matt G said...

"Hitler never woke up and rubbed his hands together and thought 'I think I'll be Eeeevil today!' The most heinous crimes perpetrated throughout the millenia have been perpetrated by people with clear consciences because they were doing what they were doing For The Common Good.

Watch out for that. When evil comes, it won't be easily identifiable, with a hunched back and a crazed glint in its eye; it will be nicely dressed, sound reasonable, and have a great team of policy wonks and spin doctors to explain exactly why you need to climb into the cattle car, please."


Word.

I've met a LOT of criminals in my life.

I've met a few Bad Guys in my life.

I've met maybe 10 to 20 Evil Bad Guys in my career of working on the streets as a cop and in the jail.

Real, honest-to-Gawd, self-identified Evil, though? I've mostly seen it portrayed by Mike Meyers.

""That's DOCTOR Evil... I did not go through 8 years of evil school to be called 'Mister Evil'!!!"

ColtCCO said...

Yeah, well, you know who else's comments were frequently misunderstood by the majority?

That's right, Hi-oh wait.

Never mind.

Ian said...

The worst part of this?

the people who are all into calling their opponents "fascists" and "little hitlers" are the first ones to denigrate objective morality. Hitler fairly clearly believed there was a "menace" so dangerous to the germanic peoples (slavs, etc) that almost any means to the end of "glorifying" the germainc people was acceptable - and he was not alone in that belief.

The allies responded (essentially) with "no matter the circumstances, it is not moral to aid or abet genocide" - an objective definition of morality.

Hitler was attempting (in his mind) to defend the germanic way of life. Some terror apologists would have us believe that this makes the terrorism moral. But if Hitler's actions are immoral, then a) there is an objective morality, and b) the terrorists violate that objective morality.

But I believe that some cultures ARE better than others, that makes me a right-wing reactionary pig.

perlhaqr said...

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons 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.

-C. S. Lewis