The first step in identifying an evil practice or individual is to define the word itself. I’ll open with the Wikipedia version as it’s as great (not necessarily wholly accurate) an authority these days as anything else:
the intention of causing harm or destruction while threatening or deliberately violating morality. Largely due to the subjectivity of the word morality (which may refer to a society’s moral code, one’s own moral system, relative morality, absolute morality, etc.), there is no agreement about whether evil is a matter of social custom or universally correct principle that overrides custom.
The harm and destruction bit is pretty straight forward – but then you hit the immediate snag of absolute morality and the challenges of identifying (and condemning) evil across great cultural divides. This is a critical issue in W’s glorious legacy of the ‘War on Terror’. Launching missiles at an idea should have seemed like nonsense from the beginning, but 9/11 and its aftermath were the direct product of an ideological schism. So it almost makes sense. And in that administration’s defense, radical and violent fundamentalism has a near intoxicating stench of evil all over it. Read the rest of this entry »