Breaking Glass


In an earlier phase of my career, I researched the subject of serial murder.  What struck me repeatedly was how many of the cases defied the common stereotype of the lone Jack the Ripper figure, always a white male.  In fact, multiple homicide is an equal-opportunity career: Many offenders are female, and all ethnic groups are well represented.  But the oddest phenomenon for me was the strikingly large proportion of cases—almost a quarter—involving multiple offenders, so that two, three, or even four men teamed up to kill.  Think about that: At some point, John Doe said to his friends Dave and Charlie, “Let’s go kill somebody tonight!”  And even more remarkably, Dave and Charlie said, “Sure, why not?”  For these men, the normal human response to fellow beings has become utterly blunted, to the point that victims are dehumanized and can be subjected to the grossest forms of violence, rape, and torture.  Such cases suggest that even the most extreme forms of criminal behavior cannot simply be explained in terms of individual pathology but arise from a shared culture or subculture.  And moreover, that some subcultures are not just eccentric, but actively evil, to the point of demanding ruthless suppression.  However obvious that lesson may seem to most, it urgently needs to be relearned by some official agencies.

That lesson came to mind this past...

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