Tuesday, August 13, 2013

villainy in the (ahhh) distant past

A Boston jury nailed James "Whitey" Bulger yesterday for 11 of the 19 murders he was alleged to have had a hand in.
Bulger was charged primarily with racketeering, which listed 33 criminal acts - among them, 19 killings that he allegedly helped orchestrate or carried out himself during the 1970s and '80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston's Irish mob.
James "Whitey" Bulger
Bulger is 83.

Both before and during the trial, the complicity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in some of Bulger's nefarious doings was put on display: The FBI manipulated and played their informant even as the informant manipulated and played the FBI.

Decades have dribbled away. And now the jury has reached a verdict about things in a distant past.

It is the lag time between acts and the judgment of those acts that interests me at the moment. Abu Ghraib, the Vatican, Zen Buddhist scandals, the Holocaust, George Bush: It is natural for there to be some lag time between recognition and judicial condemnation, but does anyone else find it strange that it takes so long, that it is only after a suitably distancing length of time that the old men are at last pilloried?

This morning I wonder if this hiatus has something to do with the complicity of those making the judgments ... as if there were some recognition that being the solution partakes of having been part of the problem and that that recognition is too hard to swallow, too painful to integrate, too hard to face ... but with the passage of time, the recognition can be set aside, or go unacknowledged or be suitably dimmed, and the brightness of the judgment can flash less-alloyed into the night sky.

I'm not trying to suggest that this represents a full-bore analysis of the situation. I'm just wondering about it as an aspect ... the lag time, the potential complicity ... and the white-haired villains are at last brought to justice. Do the good guys look good-er with the passage of time and the application of forgetfulness?

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