“No man considers himself a criminal; no man can conceive of himself as a doer of evil; the mind is generally incapable of such realities and would rather condemn the society or the powers-that-be as persecutors and too dull-witted to understand the essential good of the acts. And when you find a man incapable of understanding the depth of depravity of his own acts, then how can you, in all good conscience, kill him? He then becomes an object of pity, a figure in need of help.”
–Controversy: Sharpest Sword of the Paperback Novelist by Harlan Ellison
I was scanning through the book Legends of Literature when I found this article by Ellison…keep reading
I love reading stuff from Ellison. I don’t always agree with his politics but he tells some great stories. By nature I spend much of my time thinking of moral dilemmas like this as well. Many of our societal rules stem from the choices between accepted good and accepted evil.
I do love Ellison’s stories. He brings to light a lot of important points in his work. This particular quote was just great to bring up that point that society does have an accepted standard of good and evil and what falls into each category. People just never stop to think about the fact that they are just accepted standards and not actual fact.
What a great article. A topic that at first glance did seem easy to decide, but your arguments make sense. Perception and time.
Thanks Rebecca, I was hoping it made people stop to give the idea more consideration because it isn’t so easy once you really give it some thought