The Face of Evil.

May 03

I wrote the following last summer before I started this blog. As it’s been just over a year since the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, there’s no better time than now to post it.

A  cover story by Rolling Stone magazine on surviving Boston Bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev sparked some outrage, especially in Boston, not because of the story on what drove he and his brother to plant homemade bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, but over the photo chosen for the cover story.

The face of evil is usually not what we expect.

The face of evil is usually not what we expect.

The picture in question showed a tousled-haired “selfie” of young Tsarnaev, taken before he committed his deadly acts of terrorism, staring intently into the camera. Critics claimed the photo “glamorized” Tsarnaev, making him look like a rock star.

It would’ve been so much easier if Tsarnaev were an ugly man, with long greasy hair, bad skin, string warts and bad teeth, with a demonic look in his eyes.

The reality, however, is apart from a large nose noticeable in profile, Tsarnaev isn’t an ugly-looking young man.

Indeed, when the first photos of Tsarnaev were released to the public during the city-wide manhunt to capture he and his brother, I was struck by how young and innocent he looked. This wasn’t the face of a terrorist we were used to seeing. No, we were used to older-looking, harder-eyed men, not fresh-faced youths barely out of high school.

As a society, we’ve grown accustomed to stereotypical images of terrorists, murderers, rapists and pederasts.

We expect terrorists, at least nowadays, to look like Middle-Eastern jihadists, serial killers like unkempt, insane drifters, rapists to look like sleazy bastards and pederasts to look like perverts who’d hang out at playgrounds clad only in a raincoat.

Sometimes, the monsters fit the stereotype.

More often than not, however, they look like the boy next door.

The terrorists who turned four jets into guided missiles on September 11, 2001 looked like average men, the type you wouldn’t give a second glimpse to in a busy airport.

Ted Bundy was able to commit his monstrous crimes against women largely because he was handsome and charming.

John Wayne Gacy was a pillar of his community, renowned as a hard-working man who dressed up as a clown for charities, who also raped, butchered and buried a number of teenagers and young men and buried many of them in his basement.

Bernard Goetz was a quiet young man who looked as though he couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone murder and chop up young men he’d picked up on the street.

Look at mugshots of most rapists, and you’re struck by how ordinary-looking most of them are. Some of them are even good-looking.

Many pedarasts are, like Gacy, trusted members of their communities. Priests. Cops. Teachers. Even parents. Their victims had been taught to respect them, to feel safe around them.

We expect monsters to look like monsters, but if they did, they’d be so much easier to capture, and so much easier to protect ourselves and our loved ones against.

Sadly, many human monsters, like Tsarnaev and his now-dead brother, look just like everyone else.

Putting a less-flattering photo on their cover might’ve saved Rolling Stone from criticism, but it also would’ve done a huge disservice to their readership.

We need to know that monsters never look like what we expect them to be. Sometimes, they can take the shape of a young, reasonably handsome man barely out of his teens.

That’s what makes them so difficult to stop before they do harm to innocent people. Sometimes, monsters really do walk among us, and we have no idea until its too late.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>