Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The most incorrigible vice

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.
--Albert Camus The Plague

The murder of Sanesha Stewart is more than an individual atrocity and personal desecration, it is a crime of collective malice and cowardice. Her homicide and subsequent debasement by the The Daily News indicate the abhorrent ignorance embraced by many of the general public, and the joy with which it is cherished.

Casting aside even nominal standards of decency and empathy, the killer becomes kindred in the eyes of onlookers; a pitiable victim ensnared by the web of fraud, overcome by a revulsion to act in an understandable fashion. Mindless fear and a craven aversion to those beyond their feeble ken lead the mob to gawk and snicker while mumbling incoherently about "retribution"; righteous outrage is reserved only for "real" people.

In asserting the right to kill, Sanesha's slayer lays claim to the most incorrigible vice; an ignorance that supposes it knows everything. The hubris in proclaiming to know the "true" identity of another, and thus invoking the right to exact the ultimate penalty from anyone transgressing such an immutable state bespeaks a blindness fetid with profanity.

Yet, such excremental views are spread across the tabloid press, and consumed with relish by those spineless individuals who cower at the thought of personal realization. Embracing such filth, besmeared by the putrefaction of moral responsibility, they seek to stifle the stench by burying the desecrated beneath mounds of derision and defamation; as if belittling the corpse would render the crime less heinous.

The exultations of the great unwashed may today drown out cries for justice; it will not always be so. Blindness, even one so cherished, leads into a ditch; leaving the road available for clear sighted to travel with goodness and love.

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