When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

January 13, 2005


Bravo Romeo Delta

You know, one of the biggest differences (aside from the whole psycho, murdering clown thing) between Stephen Glass and John Wayne Gacy can be summed up in the word craftsmanship.

Gacy, as inhuman and odious as he was, at least had some basic recognition that if he was going to continue the business of abducting, drugging, raping, and killing young men, he had to at least make some sort of effort to conceal his crimes. He wasn't spectacularly good at - as he was eventually caught, but he made a reasonable effort at avoiding detection. On some level, he was psychologically incapable of refraining from his truly evil acts, but on the other hand, the efforts he made at trying to avoid detection at least spoke, on some basic level, to his understanding that the acts he had committed were, at the least, frowned upon.

Stephen Glass on the other hand, although involved in far, far less grievous crimes, seemed to be operating under the impression that what he was doing wasn't really bad, or that somehow it served a greater good, or that he was not subject to the same rules that govern social behavior. This is evidenced in his utter lack of thoroughness, unwillingness to engage in simple precautions to pull off his subterfuge, or his seemingly insatiable desire to keep fabricating more stories.

The similarities and differences between the two is instructive. In both cases, the people exhibited anti-social (perhaps even sociopath) behavior, and in both cases, they were compelled to keep engaging in their activities. In fact, both seemed to return to bad behavior with ever increasing frequency as the cumulative tension arising from their behaviors continued to mount. But the difference is also quite revealing.

In Gacy's case, once he had been discovered he confessed to his brutal string of abduction/rape/murders. Or, to put it another way, he not only recognized that what he was doing was unmistakably evil, but once the gig was up, there was no further talking one's way out of it. On some level, in his twisted, dark, little mind, he knew what he had done was evil, and had, consequently, taken measures to at least avoid being caught while he could, and confessed when it all fell apart.

Glass, on the other hand, never quite seemed to recognize the immorality of his actions. Much like Jayson Blair, Mary Mapes, and others later on, he just didn't seem to understand that his profession was about reporting the truth, rather than spinning yarns to entertain. The lack of significant effort he made to cover his tracks, or the incredibly ineffectual efforts he made in fabricating stories speaks to a different set of problems than those experience by Gacy. I would submit that his lack of effort indicated that Glass really didn't, on a fundamental level, think what he was doing was wrong.

There is a statement that goes something to the effect that 'A fascist inspires fear, while an incompetent fascist inspires only contempt.' In the case of Gacy, he inspired fear, while Glass elicits only contempt. For a truly competent fascist understands that what he is doing is evil, and plans accordingly. An incompetent fascist isn't sufficiently engaged in the horror of his acts to even bother to execute them competently. The split between fear and contempt follows from this. A competent evil man knows what he is doing is evil, and not only continues to be evil, but plans so that the evil can be carried out indefinitely. On the other hand, the incompetent evil man hasn't really even made an attempt to understand the true nature of what they are doing, and continues to delude himself, and make excuses for his behavior.

Of the two, the competent evil man is clearly more dangerous because they recognize the core nature of that which they engage in. Those elements of the media, such as Rather, Mapes, Blair, and Glass arouse only pity because they continue to do immoral things out of a sense of righteous self-delusion.

And of the two, you can rely on the self-delusional to make errors of judgment and calculation that expose them for what they are. The cold-blooded killer, however, in their self-awareness, often go much longer without being caught.

To put it another way, if Gacy killed 33 young men before being caught, how the hell is it that Stephen Glass couldn't manage to falsify 27 articles without coming unglued? Because one (the crazier of the two) was at least sufficiently self-aware to try to cover his tracks. Glass' actions speak only of self-delusion, poor judgment and an overweening arrogance.

And for all those who believe in redemption and reconciliation, it is possible for Gacy to atone for his sins, because he at least recognized them as such. Glass, on the other hand, never seemed to quite understand that he was immoral, and as such, cannot redeem himself.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at January 13, 2005 04:47 PM

Retaliatiory Launches

free hit counter