What do you find more interesting, trying to figure out who done it or why they did it? As far as police techniques, it seems that that wouldn't vary too much from story to story. But wouldn't it be more interesting to delve into the mind of a serial killer?

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Now this is true. Sometimes society's morals are under scrutiny and investigation as much as the criminal's might be. How do we produce such monsters? Are we capable of becoming them?

Exactly, Charles. My first mystery focused on the who in the plot, but the why in the setting/characters/sidestory. I think most good fiction deals with both on one level or another.

Hmm. I associate the love of violence with a lack of education. See my comment above.

I should add that I don't buy the argument that society is to blame for the deeds of the criminal. Rather society may be to blame for the suffering of the victims.

Hi IJ. Sorry I can't agree. What about the unbomber, Dr. Death and now Dr Garcia in Nebraska? Throw in the Boston marathon bombers, the almost-weekly university shooters and Osama Bin Laden himself. All well educated but obsessed with violence. It's even worse when they attach idealistic dogma to it. Overall, the studies on education and violence show a slight improvement with better education but that is inconclusive across cultures.

I disagree with the normal definition of violence anyway. To me, the Wall Street crook who steals millions from retireees causes as much pain and is just as evil and violent as the guy who sticks up a bank branch with his Glock.

And you are right, "society" isn't necessarily to blame, but we should examine the problems anyway.

There will always be thieves.

Are you saying that society is to blame for the unabomber? Don't know who Dr. Death and Garcia are. The Boston marathon bombers decided to do what they did on their own and because they admired the most orthodox form of the Muslim faith. These people felt that innocent people should die for their convictions to make a point. In the case of the terrorists, it's clearly religion that is to blame. Religion through the centuries has served as the prime teaching tool to get people to overcome their aversion to killing the innocent (God being more important than a person). None of this has anything to do with society. It has a lot to do with weak individuals buying into some depraved message. I suppose I should have added that people need a humanistic education to value human life. Technical or religious training do not substitute for that.  (Another indictment of the American educational system).


I stand firm in my view that such behavior is uncivilized fundamentalist radicalism, which may extend to other groups, such a ecologists for example. (And from personal observations, the La Leche League).

My reply was meant to be to your thoughts on education and violence. As far as I can tell, nobody suggested blaming society for criminal deeds. Only examining the effects of society on people, the effects of deeds on society, how do such people come to be and does society play a role, etc?

Well, I wasn't altogether precise in my post. I still believe that murder is a personal choice and the blame should fall on the individual. Society (that is the institutions we have) needs to protect people against dangerous individuals.

But society has been blamed for crime. Perhaps we could stipulate that in a culture of permissiveness, criminal acts are more common, and the more common they are, the more we come to accept them as accidents or acts of God, and the less likely we are to prevent them. (This is going to get me into gun control, and I'd better stop.)


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