The Banality of Evil

Hannah Arrendt used the term “the banality of evil’ while covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann. She had been expecting the man behind such monstrous acts would appear as a monster himself. Instead, he could have passed as any banker, accountant, or lawyer.

Richard Connelly in the Houston Press brings an updated version of this banality with his article “The 10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offender List”.

He begins by acknowledging that the majority of the people on the Sex Offender List are male and that he deliberately searched for attractive females whose presence would not arouse suspicion in anyone.  The article includes the criminal charge and the age of the victim, a list that includes for males and females, some as young as 4. Understandably, his article brought out some pretty strong reaction, including a petition at change.org. The author of the petition letter, even after an apology by Connelly, assumes that the purpose of the article is humour.

I did not read it as in anyway lighthearted or humourous.  Protecting our offspring is a basic drive for virtually all parents and sexual predators are at the top of the list of our fears. Driven by media descriptions, we expect the common predators to be loners cruising neighbourhoods and scoping playgrounds or schools for victims. These incidents do happen, but the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by people we know. Family members, coaches, teachers, priests, and others are the ones to watch.

The point of the article was not the ‘hotness’ of the offenders, rather it is the fact that sexual predators appear as ordinary people not as monsters they are.

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