The Glamour of Evil

Why the Literati Loves Criminals

Kody Scott is a prisoner in a California prison. Covered with tattoos, scarred by bullets, Scott is a former gang member and a remorseless killer. Because of his brutal crimes, he is nicknamed “Monster.”

He is also the darling of the publishing world.

Scott recently published his life’s story. Larded with four-letter words and crude rap speech, it tells a lurid tale of drugs, murder, gang warfare.

And literary types are swooning over it. At a recent international trade show, Scott’s book overshadowed even proven winners like Tom Clancy and Stephen King. He has netted an advance of $250,000.

The literary world, it seems, has a fascination with criminals. The best-known case was in 1981, when novelist Norman Mailer pressed for the release of a criminal named Jack Abbott because he adored his writing. Within a month of his release, Abbott was back in prison for murder.

Why do the literati find criminals so fascinating? The answer is that they romanticize criminals as rebels against established society.

Listen to the way Norman Mailer glamorized the ghetto. We ought to learn from ghetto culture, Mailer wrote, learn to give up what he called “the sophisticated inhibitions of civilization.” Learn to live for the moment, to “follow the rebellious imperative of the self.”

Forget “the single mate, the solid family, and the respectable love life,” Mailer wrote. The real life is one of “Saturday night kicks” of sex and drugs.

These words were written in 1957, and they express the ideas that drove the sixties. But ultimately, they derive from the philosophy of existentialism.

In fact, the first writer to get a convicted criminal released was the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism teaches that there are no moral absolutes, that all morality, all laws, are man-made. Hence moral rules are by definition oppressive?imposed on us by whoever has the most power.

If that’s the case, existentialism says, then conforming to society’s moral code means giving in to an oppressive system. The only healthy response is to rebel, to prove one’s autonomy.

And so, unbelievable though it may sound, the existentialists actually celebrated crime as a regenerative rebellion against oppression. In his book The Dream and the Nightmare, Myron Magnet explains how the young hoodlum became a symbol of courage and authenticity.

Today the literary world is still glamorizing evil, and Kody Scott, the “Monster,” is its latest rebel hero. The worst part of all this is that the ideas of the elites eventually filter down to the streets. The glamour of crime is now a commonplace among untutored ghetto youth.

Congress is poised to issue a huge omnibus crime bill. But laws will never be enough to stop crime. We must first address ourselves to culture: the ideas and attitudes of the elites who shape the way people think.

Existentialism is wrong: Real morality is not man-made. Nor is it imposed on us merely by society. The source of true moral standards is God Himself.

And when we bow before Him, we do not lose our freedom, we discover what true freedom is.


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