The concept of crime in America–in human history, really–is a subjective thing.
Which is odd, when you think about it, considering what’s been ingrained in our minds since we were born.
As kids, we’re taught that there’s a right way to do things, and a wrong way. No in between. You can either throw that rock at Billy, or not throw the rock (I know you hate the little bastard, but choosing to throw it is just wrong…I know he called you a soft ass bitch, but still, throwing it is wrong…he said what about your mom? Fine, hit him in the eye).
Even police officers–the people tasked with keeping law and order–are initially recruited and selected based on their sense of morality, with the hope that if faced with a decision between right and wrong, good and evil, they’ll always go towards the light (obligatory Star Wars reference: “The force is strong in this one…not so much that other guy.”)
But then you grow up. And you watch the news, or read the stories in the newspaper, or online, or even just read made up stories by fiction writers who themselves have seen the news and read the stories in newspapers and online. Stories of conflict and hypocrisy, stories that don’t add up to that clear cut definition of morality that is so adamantly thrust at us as children.
You hear these stories, and you start to realize that in the case of legality and morality, the two are not necessarily co-dependent. That in the eyes of the American legal system, there’s often not a clear cut right and wrong way to do things.
In New Jersey, a man’s arrested for being a contract killer for the mafia. For years, he’s taken regular payments from important men in exchange for the application of his skill, which is an uncanny ability to switch another man–typically an equally dangerous man–from the status of ALIVE to NOT ALIVE.
The government finds this guy, then deems him a criminal. A monster, really (is how the media will portray him…I’m picturing Richard Kuklinski right now). The American public will spit on this man if they see him, and demand that he be put down like a rabid dog. They will make movies about him, in which he is portrayed as the embodiment of pure evil. Books will be written about him, by men and women who claim to be searching for an explanation, some logical reason why this sociopath ever existed in the first place.
Yet, if you were to write down the man’s job description (“Satisfies contractual agreements by properly assessing the situation and then eliminating the target in as timely and risk-free a manner as possible, in exchange for a pre-arranged monetary payment”), then you’re also basically describing every soldier that’s ever fought in any war in the history of mankind.
Not to say there’s anything wrong with our soldiers. All I’m saying is…what’s the difference in objective?
The difference is this: the “monster” is part of the private sector, employed by an organization labeled as criminal and therefore perceived as that by the public (who would, in fact, be the jury in the case of a trial). This privately hired assassin is operating by his own rules and codes, which in essence is his real crime in the eyes of the law: you cannot be a rogue.
The murders aren’t the problem. Your audaciousness in thinking you can do it behind our backs is.
Every single day people with official status break laws in the pursuit of justice, and it’s excused because their end goal is considered worth-the-risk. But what really ends up happening when these situations come to light is the clear cut lines in the legal system get more and more blurred, so much so that it’s hard for anybody to know what the legal definition of morality really is.
The word “monster” has been thrown around a lot throughout history, and I really don’t blame the people who are victims, or whose loved ones were victims, for using the word in an inflammatory manner. Lashing out is natural when you’re in pain.
But looking at the big picture, I can’t say for sure that there really is such a thing as a monster. There’s just people who do things, and people who don’t.
If everybody has the capacity to be anything, to do destructive things to other people, then what we call the acts of monsters are really just part of the human condition.
In other words, we’re all just a bunch of evil assholes deep down. Some of us just have better self control than others.
And now a relevant clip. Because it’s relevant. And because Heath Ledger was the shit (RIP):