Skip to comments.Theodore Dalrymple: The Frivolity of Evil
Posted on 11/08/2004 11:45:36 AM PST by quidnunc
When prisoners are released from prison, they often say that they have paid their debt to society. This is absurd, of course: crime is not a matter of double-entry bookkeeping. You cannot pay a debt by having caused even greater expense, nor can you pay in advance for a bank robbery by offering to serve a prison sentence before you commit it. Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the slate is wiped clean once a prisoner is released from prison, but the debt is not paid off.
It would be just as absurd for me to say, on my imminent retirement after 14 years of my hospital and prison work, that I have paid my debt to society. I had the choice to do something more pleasing if I had wished, and I was paid, if not munificently, at least adequately. I chose the disagreeable neighborhood in which I practiced because, medically speaking, the poor are more interesting, at least to me, than the rich: their pathology is more florid, their need for attention greater. Their dilemmas, if cruder, seem to me more compelling, nearer to the fundamentals of human existence. No doubt I also felt my services would be more valuable there: in other words, that I had some kind of duty to perform. Perhaps for that reason, like the prisoner on his release, I feel I have paid my debt to society. Certainly, the work has taken a toll on me, and it is time to do something else. Someone else can do battle with the metastasizing social pathology of Great Britain, while I lead a life aesthetically more pleasing to me.
My work has caused me to become perhaps unhealthily preoccupied with the problem of evil. Why do people commit evil? What conditions allow it to flourish?
(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...
What a truly excellent analysis of the situation. Enormously disturbing, but extremely accurate.
Theodore is also a frequent writer of National Review magazine and I would give him the highest recommendation in anything he writes, especially about the prison environment. He had a particularly eye-opening and horrifying article in National Review on prison rape. Anyone thinking about committing any crime should read his article.
But then so is genuine new birth in Jesus Christ by the Word of God. And permament.
He also writes for UK Spectator (spectator.co.uk). Any link to NR article (or approx. date)? Did a quick search on FR and saw nothing. Thanks
Wow! What an excellent essay! The author is so on target that it actually hurts. Thanks for posting.
Great article. Thanks for posting.
Go away. Grow a brain. Use it. Come back.
Dr. Dalrymple also published a book called "Life at the Bottom" a year or two ago. It is a fascinating but depressing analysis of the British underclass.
I'm glad I'm not the only one to see that. I was begining to wonder about my sanity. Maybe everybody else got it but me.
stellar as always from him
I think if you go to NRO (National Review Online) you might be able to do a search. This article came out about 1-2 years ago...always a good read with him.
what a truly great article. really scary, though. does it describe the blue better than the red states? I think it does.
...for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility...
That really is the key to understanding why redistribution of wealth in the pursuit of "social justice" can doom a society. It does not only reward failure, it rewards self-destruction and the destruction of everything around you.
Great article. So true. It's tough to find articles so pointed in calling a spade a spade. Could we get him to write about the societal problems in the US? I've got a sister who got PG by two different men two different times, lost custody of the oldest, is now living on disability, her child gets medicare and she votes based on whose programs will give her the most. And get this--she has a degree from one of the elite universities in the north. HMMMM...Choices without consequences, so it seems, but when it all gets added up at the end...unhappy, oh, 'scuse me, depression.
With Heaven as my witness, I have NO idea what you are trying to say.
Would you care to revise your statement?
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