Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=868591
 
 

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Facing Evil


Joseph Edward Kennedy


University of North Carolina


Michigan Law Review, Vol. 104
UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-25

Abstract:     
This essay reviews two books that explore different dimensions of the public's current fascination with crime and punishment. "Natural Born Celebrities" explores the growing celebrity status of serial killers in American society since the nineteenth century. "High Profile Crimes" explores the public attention given to a series of cases that enjoyed sustained media treatment during the nineteen nineties. After discussing each work, the essay relates both fascinations to an abiding concern with moral relativism, a fear that society has lost the capacity to recognize and confront evil - to face it. In the case of serial killers, the fear driving the public's interest is that moral relativism disables us from recognizing and condemning obvious evil. In the racially and sexually charged high profile cases of the 80s and 90s, the fear is that we are too blinded by prejudice to even agree on who is evil - that we are condemned by our legacy of race-based or gender-based thinking to put the wrong face on evil. By obsessing about serial killers and high profile cases where race and gender are implicated, society works through the difficulties of facing evil in both senses of the phrase in an unhealthy way, however. Both obsessions distort our priorities and divert attention from the things that truly ail us.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: criminal law, punishment

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Date posted: December 6, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Kennedy, Joseph Edward, Facing Evil. Michigan Law Review, Vol. 104; UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-25. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=868591

Contact Information

Joseph Edward Kennedy (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina ( email )
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
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