Note from Amy: The following comment was sent by someone other than the first two readers regarding this thread started by the woman in Amsterdam:
This may be a more comprehensible translation:
” One always has a choice between good or evil, regardless of being a victim or not. If people didn’t have that choice half the world would be in jail. So this is complete nonsense.
To people like Brent Brents: begone, all you are is a financial burden to society.”
It could be turned around as well. It’s easy to say you always have a choice, if you yourself have not been growing up in a household where violence and rape is a daily routine.
I myself have been blessed with a very happy childhood. Being loved and being cared about was a normal every day situation for me. I was raised by parents who had certain values and standards. And as a result I turned out pretty normal (I think). I work hard and I try and be a good person. I’ve never committed a crime in my life nor am I planning to do so in the future.
I am not saying I would be a horrible serial killer if I had been raised by abusive parents. I’m saying the chances of me being a good person would be slimmer. I strongly believe an adult’s personality is the result of nature and nurture. You are born with certain personality traits and the development during your child and teen years shape the rest of your personality.
Two people might be born with an addictive personality. One grows up in a loving family, the other by an abusive one. One of those becomes a smoker, the other gets hooked on the thrill of committing crimes.
Then again, your parents being shipped off to jail and then having to live in foster homes and such might also be fairly traumatic.
We will never know if Brents actions could have been prevented by actively doing something about his home situation. But hell, if a kid is being abused by his parents I think we can all at least agree, something needs to be done about that.
Do not get me wrong: Brents SHOULD be in jail for the horrible things he has done. But it’s good that there’s a discussion on this website. It means people are actively thinking about the issue. Which means they might act when they see a child in need and perhaps even prevent that child from becoming abusive in their adulthood.
We have become a society of monster makers.
Comment: Hi Amy,
I just watched your TED Talk on the Brents case. Back when I was studying for an Administration of Justice degree, I remember studying serial killer cases with curiosity at first, but they seemed to run together and became boring to me . . . turns out evil is boring. Human decency really fascinated me because it seemed rarer in media headlines (by design for ad revenue?)
However, when I studied the Carl Panzram case, I was jolted to the core. His acts were no more or less heinous than other “monsters,” but his childhood upbringing really hit me hard. We have become a society of monster makers.
Are you familiar with his case? Books and a feature film were made about it all.
Brent Brents immediately reminded me of Carl Panzram. Your involvement in the Brents case is very similar to Henry Lesser’s intervention with Panzram. He was the one prison guard who treated Panzram as a human being without forgetting for a second the evil he was capable of in his broken state.
Anyway, thanks for talking about this!
Time: March 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm
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