Thursday, May 05, 2005

Looking like a thug

Sometimes when an ordinary, garden-variety murderer is caught (or even a more-than-garden variety serial killer, such as Ted Bundy), I am struck by how normal he looks. Normal, as in "you would pass him on the street and not suspect a thing," or even attractive, as in the aforementioned Bundy. It proves the truth that Shakespeare wrote so long ago: one can smile and smile and be a villain.

I flatter myself sometimes that if I actually looked into the eyes of such a person, I would see a deadness there that is said to be a giveaway. But that may only be wishful thinking on my part; it's sobering to think that perhaps these people are simply undetectable by such means.

But those terrorists do seem to be something else, don't they? Oh, not all of them, surely (in fact, I always think that Bin Laden himself looks rather genial and calm)--but many of them do seem to look exactly like what we would imagine such evil (yes, it is the appropriate word) should look. Mohammad Atta, of course, was one. And Al Libbi, the recent capture in Pakistan, is most definitely another. Take a look.


At 1:38 PM, May 05, 2005, Blogger Barba Roja said...

What about you? You have an apple for a face.*

Everyone looks evil in their mug shots. Especially if they have a particularly unnatractive skin condition.

* Don't think I'm just being stupid and missed the Magritte reference. It's a JOKE, dammit.

At 2:26 PM, May 05, 2005, Blogger Bookworm said...

Wasn't it Hannah Arendt who spoke of the banality of evil (I think she was talking about Eichman)? Evil would be so much easier if it really did walk around with horns and a tail. The challenge is recognizing it in its human incarnation.

I do wonder, with regard to the mugshots, if they look evil because we know they are evil. It's always easy to tell after the fact, isn't it?

At 2:26 PM, May 05, 2005, Blogger Alex said...

I'm actually with LA on this one. Mug shots like these are not when people look their best. Imagine being captured and knowing that your life is effectively over. Slight chance of prison until you die, more likely execution following several years of interrogation and trial, significant chance of torture... it's enough to give almost anyone a vacant look in the eye.

The Atta photo is a different case. That was taken when he was free, and to my mind is significantly more chilling for it.

And in case you're interested, here is a picture of the dude before he was captured (seemingly long before, but it's hard to tell). Doesn't look half bad, and no vitiligo...

At 7:09 PM, May 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always found it disconcerting that Bin Laden has a benign,gentle twinkly look about him. He could be (and probably is many times over) someones beloved's just wierd.

At 7:56 PM, May 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is indeed true that mug shots tend to show people not, shall we say, at their best. And I agree that Atta's photo, taken under relatively normal conditions, seems especially indicative of something deeply wrong. Nevertheless, something about this new guy's photo seemed very nasty, even for a mug shot.

Loyal Achates--Please, don't joke! Read my sad story here :-).

At 9:28 PM, May 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The eyes of a stone cold killer are like a shark or a snake - lifeless but deeply penetrating, assessing vulnerability and showing no reflections of any doubt or hesitancy, only patient waiting for the right moment to strike. The eyes become hypnotic, ever more deeply probing in an unblinking stare until the psyche of the victim becomes exposed, stopping time and allowing the predator to make his move, meeting no emotive or physical resistance.

At 6:48 AM, May 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faces we can all see, but the intentions of one's heart is another matter. Evil comes in many disguises. It walks among us like a ghost!


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