Third Party & Independents Archives

Evil Is not Banal

There are no “layers of intrigue” in the horrifying details of the murder of the Savapolous family, including their 10 year old son, and their housekeeper. Daron Dylon Wint and four associates have been nabbed and charged. But it is a mistake to insert the term “intrigue” into the story, as if the steady decaying drift into evil that Wint most certainly followed is somehow a thrilling mystery. Wint was accused of assaulting a partner and threatening her in 2009, and in 2010 he was detained with a machete and a BB pistol outside the headquarters of American Iron Works - where Savapolous was CEO - where the former welder had briefly been employed. But then it should not surprise that Fox - or other media far less prone to outrage when describing crime - would allow that salacious and lurid little slip in one of their articles on the murders. With shows like Criminal Minds having long caressed the psychological profiles of sociopaths and Breaking Bad making the desperate choices of crazed criminals seem everyday, why shouldn’t Fox feel that the sickening details of these murders are layered levels of “intrigue”?

Maybe it's because a rational explanation based on psychology and based on perhaps the economic conditions that have affected Wint is what the media and much of today's world wants. If a compelling profile with an abundance of trivial detail can be assembled, people will feel the bogeyman will have been laid to rest. This particular bogeyman at least. Justice will be served even if capital punishment is banned in D.C. That is, justice must be served, but it will be an incomplete justice without the ability of the state to end the life of Wint and any of his accomplices deemed guilty of first degree murder, torture, kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion, assault, arson, and whatever else the prosecution will rightly accuse them of. But whatever lurid details do emerge, the evil done in that DC mansion cannot be contained and packaged neatly with applied social sciences. Important as psychology, criminology, even sociology and economics might be to the prosecution and their assembling of an air-tight case, they leave untouched the evil itself, if perhaps pointing to it unwittingly, for the benefit of the jury and the general public. The Savapolous family and friends have laid their loved ones to rest in as much as anyone can feel that a murder victim is resting. And the Salvadorian housekeeper will have her remains returned to El Salvador for burial.

It is up to society to clearly recognize the evil that Wint came to embody. Wint got there one step at a time, and perhaps his path into darkness should have been monitored a little more carefully by police and the courts before it was too late. Of course, that would not have guaranteed that this hideous crime could have been prevented. Even assuming police had the time and resources and warrants to devote to monitoring Wint. But recognizing evil can help banish the concept that evil is intriguing. Much to Hollywood's dismay evil is not intriguing. Much to Hannah Arendt's dismay, evil is not banal either: her coining of the phrase the banality of evil caused outrage in Israel for her lack of empathy towards Holocaust victims and her criticism of the trial of Eichmann. But we live in a world profoundly influenced by Arendt's insidious critical perspective. Evil as absurdity rather than chaos, as thoughtlessness and somehow a lack of critical rigor. So between the entertainment world and the academic world we have trouble with evil nowadays, and try to reduce it or to construct over it, to achieve something else more rational, more digestible. It is not.

Posted by AllardK at May 22, 2015 5:37 PM
Comment #395746

Good post Allard. Real and unadulterated, inexcusable evil does exist here and in the world. One simply needs to read the daily headlines to recognize its face.

Apologists for evil are enablers.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 26, 2015 7:26 PM
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