Recently I was involved in a discussion regarding the two Boston Marathon bombers. It started off with someone expressing concern about the amount of anger and hatred being directed towards the bombers.
I am dismayed and afraid about the amount of hate and vengeance for the two who planted the bombs. It is spreading the attitude of vengeance in our country. I saw a quote from Ghandi this morning which I have not verified, but it struck me as true. "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind". What is the difference between those two and us wanting to kill them?
This comment launched a discussion that had one side advocating that we should try to understand – show “empathy” towards how people could become so “disenfranchised” that they would commit such violent acts? They also argued that it was unhealthy for us, as a society, to feel so much anger, hate and a desire for vengeance against the perpetrators.
We have the ability to indulge ourselves in this discussion precisely because we live in a civilization that instinctively and actively removes the monsters from society. We should be thankful that the instinctive emotion by our society is anger, disdain and hate towards these monsters and not empathy or compassion.
A civilization that frets too much on whether it's acceptable to dehumanize monsters has little expectation to survive in the long-run. It only took two monsters to shut down Boston. And I think we all know that there are many many edge cases out there that could become such monsters. Our civilization could be severely disrupted by a handful of individuals like the Boston Marathon bombers. We should show no tolerance whatsoever for individuals that act in this way.
Therefore, as a society that seeks to survive, we should absolutely show the maximum amount of disdain, disgust and contempt for human beings to engage in such behavior. We should absolutely make it clear that people who engage in this act are so loathed that we no longer even think of them as human but rather as animals, vermin, and monsters. We so reject their actions that we figuratively have kicked them out of our species.
I think it's intellectually facile to argue that it's somehow "wrong" to dehumanize human beings like this. At best, it's the result of not thinking through the consequences of what would happen if a significant plurality of our society showed an ounce of compassion or empathy towards these kinds of monsters. And at worst, it's simply indulging in feel-good sanctimonious back patting (i.e. "Look at me, I'm an intellectual because I imagine that intellectuals are above feeling 'negative' human emotions).
If we want to keep our society, we better hope that people continue to think of human beings that would seek to destroy them as monsters, vermin, animals and worse. “What is evil?” someone asked. Pointlessly and indiscriminately murdering innocents who were there to support loved ones participating in an event that celebrated excellence. That’s evil.
Just my 2 cents.