Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the devils of our better nature

In Rockport, Texas, a police investigation is underway after a Youtube video purporting to show a judge beating his then-16-year-old handicapped daughter for using the Internet went viral. I could not watch all of the video. It was just too much for me. (Here is a follow-on story.)

A former U.S. soldier in Afghanistan is on trial for (among other things) cutting off the fingers of dead victims and handing them around as souvenirs. War brings out the devils of our better nature, but there is a tendency to skim over or camouflage the fact. The righteousness of the cause is substituted for a full-frontal appreciation of the fine print of the truth.

But that's war. This beating in the video takes place in what seems to be a nicely-appointed suburban home, just down the block from where I live ... you know, the kind of neighborhood that is not teaming with rats and drug lords and poverty. It's nice to live in nice-ville.

Righteousness is such a vile customer, no matter how holy the raiments.

Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln referred to the "better angels of our nature" in his first inaugural address. Instinctively, I'd say most people will assent to his description of whatever it is that is decent and peaceful within us. But it is wise to remember that no one would refer to the better angels if there weren't very real and truly despicable devils as well.

It's not easy to look this devil of mine in the eye, this sadist, this righteous asshole, this ... judge from Texas.

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