Category Archives: villains

Murder of a member of the unfortunate class

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 08.19.03The Notable British Trials series, Dalrymple explains,

ran uninterruptedly from 1905 to 1959. Habitués of secondhand bookshops will be very familiar with its typeface and its rough, yellowing paper.

In the old days, the British

liked nothing more than to settle down with the transcript of a trial of one of the rococo villains that their well-ordered society sometimes, indeed regularly, threw up.

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Truly out of his mind

For example, Ronald True was arraigned in 1922 for the murder of what the prosecuting counsel, Sir Richard Muir, called ‘a member of the unfortunate class’. True

had always been a bad lot, a swindler and a drug addict. His moods alternated between childish exaltation — as when he went about in a bath-chair with a hooter and a doll — and depression with sudden fits of violence. By the time of the murder, all were agreed that he was insane, but not insane enough not to be sentenced to death. However, the law of England at the time was that you couldn’t be hanged while insane: you’d learn nothing by it, or perhaps it just wasn’t cricket.

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Brutal institutionalised sentimentality

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.12.52Dalrymple points out that

sentimentality and hardness of heart are two sides of the same coin.

Ersatz feeling and indifference

Dalrymple explains how when sentimentality

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

is made the basis of policy, its denial of reality and its elevation of ersatz feeling over appreciation of reality leads straight to bureaucratic indifference.

The ideology of assistance allocated by need irrespective of desert

This orthodoxy, writes Dalrymple, is a sentimental one that

empties life of meaning and is a pretext for hard-heartedness of pharaonic proportions.

The elimination of desert as a criterion of allocation of resources

Ani's heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC

Ani’s heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC. British Museum

destroys both compassion and empathy. Need can be measured by checklist, but the assessment of desert cannot. It requires judgment, moral and practical.

The demand for no compassion at all

To regard everyone as equally in need of compassion

is the same as regarding no one as in need of compassion, for it is not humanly possible to sympathise equally with the unfortunate and the villainous. The demand for equal compassion is the demand for no compassion.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.54.50At the heart of the sentimental doctrine lies

hardness of heart, as well as lack of realism.

Dehumanisation

The sentimental

dehumanise the objects of their supposed compassion by denying them agency or full membership of the human race.

Baroque age of self-harm

We live in

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

the baroque or rococo age of self-infliction. One of the reasons for the growth of self-infliction is the failure to recognize its existence even as a possibility.

In the outlook that refuses in the name of compassion to make a judgment,

the villainous are victims of upbringing, social injustice, neurochemistry. Self-infliction cannot exist.

But Man is

not only a political animal, he is a judging animal. To pretend to make no judgments is to make a judgment, and one with bad consequences.

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