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The Principled Monster

May 15, 2015
Something I always notice about serial killers. I’ve seen tons of them get interviewed, & their degree of what you might call “acknowledgment” really varies, from the ones who say they are completely innocent, all the way to the ones who say “I took the lives of two innocent people and I deserve to be executed.” But of the latter, no matter how sincere their acknowledgement seems to be, in the end they themselves cannot wrap their minds around what they actually did–the deed, the blood, the weapon. They will be telling the interviewer “I did this, I did that.” I entered the house, I held them hostage, I drove her to a remote location, I ordered him to lie down, I tied them up. Then suddenly when it comes time to tell how the victiims actually died, they switch to the passive voice: “They were stabbed” “They were shot” “Their throats were cut.” It happens again & again, & I just find this fascinating. How they unconsciously use distancing language to remove themselves from their memory of the crime scene, as if someone else is suddenly inserted. The serial-killer equivalent of “going to the restroom” instead of “shitting.” Although many of them say they have nightmares about the crime scene every single night.
There’s one exception, though. Jeff Dahmer copped to absolutely everything he ever did, & in the first person. No flinching, no skirting, no blaming. “I drilled holes in their heads.” “I ate them.” Period. I always had a certain respect for him for that. Yeah yeah, he was a monster. But within the company he kept, he was a principled monster.
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