Many believe there are no evil people — merely people who for whatever reason wind up doing evil things.
I don’t think that’s true. The bozo accused of shooting up the Century Theater in Aurora, Colo., is a case in point. Yes, he may be diagnosed as being mentally ill, but the keep this in mind: Most mentally ill individuals don’t shoot up theaters full of people. In fact, most mentally ill people aren’t violent, and those who are usually wind up incarcerated. Mentally ill people who are violent usually are more likely to harm themselves rather than others.
But society and the courts over the years have bought into the “not guilty by reason of insanity” argument, and so we often see that plea in criminal cases, and it blinds us to the reality of evil.
For some reason, a few people are just evil to start with. I’ve known men and even a couple of women like that. They think nothing of lying, stealing and causing harm to others. They can seem friendly. They can even do good when it suits them. But left to themselves, they will do evil.
That’s why serial killers and mass murderers are often described as loners and misfits. They plan their crimes carefully when nobody else is around to divert their attention. They feel compelled to do evil things, simply because that’s the way they are.
Evil has a theological connotation — the work of the devil — and that’s why psychologists in particular explain evil deeds as aberrant behavior caused by mental illness. They hesitate to blame “the devil,” the existence of which they can’t prove.
But I think evil is the right description for people like Charles Manson, who fell into evil’s service and took others with him. The same can be said for Thomas Holmes, who apparently planned to kill police by booby-trapping his apartment, after blasting his victims in the theater.
He may or nay not be mentally ill, but I do know this: Based on what he did to those people in the theater, there’s no doubt he’s evil.