By now, most of us are aware of the tragedy that went down at a club in Orlando this past weekend. I will not rehash the details and I will leave the responsibility of knowing the background to the reader. I am not particularly interested with the tragedy itself – bad things happen to people all the time and one would go insane to give any tragedy more than a modicum of emotion or thought – but I am extremely interested with the response that people have. It interests me to see that people are getting more emotional and invested for people they’ve never known than those that are close to proximity in life. It also interests me to see the emotional responses that drive politics and how two different groups of people can have the same emotions but come up with wildly different knee-jerk solutions. As I’ve said all along, we need to leave our emotions at home when it comes to determining how we are going to live our lives and how we are going to enact policies that effect the lives of others. People are irrational during times of tragedy, but the damage they can cause may be irrevocable.
Neurotypicals want to believe that all the evil in the world is attributable to “bad people” and that they themselves are immune from those pressures that beget antisocial deeds. We know this to be false as many neurotypicals commit great atrocities in the name of religion, passion, “duty,” or any number of other things. However, we must remember that the evil of action is not entirely dissimilar from the evil of inaction. If evil is loosely defined by definitions that include the acts of harm to others or the absence of compassion and mercy, then it becomes even harder for the neurotypical to claim that they are entirely dissimilar from those on the antisocial spectrum. The key difference is that we, particularly those that are psychopaths, do not make any claim to be righteous whereas they (the neurotypical) do.
A claim made in Simon Baron-Cohen’s book The Science of Evil is that a lack of empathy directly leads to “evil”. That is, if there is no empathic bond to the pain or joys of another being, then others are merely fleshbags to use and abuse. For the purposes of this post, let us accept his claim as true and let’s accept the societally held definition of “evil”. Let’s follow this through to the end and see what this has to say about the neurotypical and their selective empathy and whether the psychopath can truly be responsible for all the evils in the world.