ALPERN AT LARGE--Sometimes our worst fears are realized. Sometimes life imitates art (in this case, the movies).
Sometimes we must recognize that evil goes beyond just mental illness, and that while sociopathic behavior is and should be analyzed objectively, sooner or later the need to recognize that choices have consequences cannot be ignored.
By sheer coincidence, the third part of the M. Night Shymalan trilogy (Unbreakable/Split/Glass) is coming to theaters near you. No this is NOT a pitch. But the need of that trilogy, and in our own lives, to recognize that the fuzziness of good and evil sometimes has glaring exceptions--sometimes there IS good, and there IS evil--will by some never be accepted.
Some of us, whether it be based on theology or philosophy, or even just common sense, won't get caught up in the "he was a victim, too" for those who perpetrate inexcusable acts of evil. Yes, "evil". Not just in the movies, but in real life. In the movies, and in real life, there are those who walk towards "evil" but have to stop--in fact, they'd rather harm themselves than harm others.
Do evil individuals often have a history of being abused and hurt? Yes, they do ... usually, but not always.
The majority of those hurt as youths usually conclude that they will not do to others what was done to themselves, but certainly it's no secret that those who harm children will be hurt or slain themselves in prison because so many recognize their own childhood harm as the ticket to their adult incarceration.
However, simply put, a young man--who may or may not have had a psychotic break (which occurs at this age, and for those of us who remember "Son of Sam", this should be remembered, and this should be explored) either DID evil or IS evil in the intentional planning and slaying of a 13-year-old girl's parents and her kidnapping. Who knows what unspeakable nightmares she endured at his hands?
As well should the question of undeniable guilt be explored. Yet the young man either DID or IS evil, and those who pretend or delude themselves and the rest of us that something else happened merely enables more of this to happen while preventing the right course of action.
The slayings and ki dnapping were EVIL, while those who rescued the victim when she came to them for help were GOOD. Her rescuers happened to include a former social worker (LINK: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jayme-closs-former-social-worker-jeanne-nutter-tells-of-helping-rescue-kidnapping-victim/) and among the first things the rescuing family did was arm themselves and make sure she was defended while awaiting the arrival of the police.
The suspect was apprehended while he was driving around, and probably looking for her. Regardless of his mental status (how sane could anyone be to do what he did?), he shaved his head prior to the home invasion to avoid leaving forensic evidence, and he appears to have planned the entire crime in considerable detail.
Yes, there is EVIL. The facts must be known and in a timely fashion; delay is inexcusable. Yet the response to all this determines whether there is also GOOD in the world. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, "all it takes for evil to triumph in the world is for good people to do nothing."
Barring no new surprises in what will undoubtedly be a thorough investigation, the person who committed this atrocious act should be destroyed. Pull the switch. Start the IV. Alert the firing squad. I doubt I'd be the first to line up to do the deed and ensure that this monster (yes, he IS a monster) never hurts anyone again.
And NO, I don't think he merits living in prison off the public dime--unless the victim is opposed to the death penalty. Certainly other monsters lurk among us, because part of being evil is at its very root being so narcissistic that the presumption of "I'll never be caught" and the inability to restrain oneself from committing hurtful acts override prudence and kindness.
But THIS monster need not be allowed to live, and those of us in society have the right to assurance that this monster will never get out, and to achieve closure for the murder of two innocent people and the kidnapping of their daughter.
I'm sure that this man will have his defenders, or maybe confused and mentally-ill young women will write love letters asking for his love and their hand for marriage--it certainly has happened to others who have perpetrated such horrific human carnage. Certainly, this monster's enablers and defenders are part of the problem.
But there IS evil in our human society, and this man is a prime example.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)