This was an interesting interview with Bill James, author of the new book, "Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence." It had the following gems:
- Crimes stories are universally interesting. They reveal a side of people that we'd not otherwise talk about. Crime stories show us the part of people's lives they try to keep hidden.
- In a lot of true crime stories, you will see that someone testifies for the defendant and talks about what a good person they are, and that this person could never commit the crime in question. I would like to think of myself as someone who would never commit a crime. I'm sure a lot of people would. But I don't think that's a good argument for anything. If I was on a jury, the claim that the accused was "too good a person" to commit the crime would not be an argument I would buy. Rabbis commit crimes. Ministers. Priests commit terrible crimes. Now, are they committing these crimes because they're not really good people and they're just pretending to be good, or are they truly good people who simply fail to deal with certain situations? I think the latter is more often the case.
- in general, it's reductive to think of evil as something foreign and separate from the rest of us. Evil is part of everyone. We all have the capacity to commit evil acts.
- It is not as if we walk through one doorway and decide that murder is acceptable. You have to walk through many doorways. The first doorway leads to a party, where people are doing drugs and having fun. The second doorway leads to more partying. It's a long, long series of doorways, until you end up in a room where a terrible thing happens. So the question is, "How many doorways away are you?" It's not a question about a person's capacity to commit a murder. It's a question of how many doorways we keep between ourselves and that situation.