If You Murdered A Bunch Of People, Mass Murder Is Your Single Defining Legacy

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by Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone:

Thought experiment:

Think of an acquaintance of yours. Not someone you’re particularly close to, just some guy in the cast of extras from the scenery of your life. Now, imagine learning that that guy is a serial murderer, who has been prowling the streets for years stabbing people to death. Imagine he goes his whole life without ever suffering any consequences for murdering all those people, and then when he dies, everyone wants to talk about how great he was and share heartwarming anecdotes about him. If you try to bring up the whole serial killing thing, people react with sputtering outrage that you would dare to speak ill of such a noble and wonderful person.

“Look, I didn’t agree with everything he did, but you can’t just let one not-so-great thing from a man’s life eclipse all the other good things he’s accomplished,” they protest. “For example, did you know he was a baseball captain at Yale?”

“But… what about all those people he murdered?” you reply.

“God, why can’t you just pay respect to a great man in our time of mourning??” they shout in exasperation.

You turn on the TV, and it’s nothing but nonstop hagiography and adulation for this guy who you know was a serial murderer. Pick up a newspaper and it’s the same thing. On the rare occasions where they do mention his astonishingly high body count, they frame it as a good thing: he got the killing done quickly and efficiently. He helped our country get over its phobia of mass murder. Our streets sure are a lot cleaner without all those unwanted prostitutes and homeless people he butchered.

“What the hell?” you think to yourself. “This guy brutally murdered a whole bunch of men, women and children for no good reason. We all know this. How come that isn’t the single defining thing about this man’s life that we’re all discussing right now? When Timothy McVeigh died people didn’t spend all their time talking about his love of the Constitution or how he never liked broccoli. Nobody cares how much Ted Bundy loved his cat. Why are they celebrating this mass murderer as though his mass murders are some marginal, irrelevant anomaly in his life and not the single defining feature of it? I mean, that is his legacy!”

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