Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Familiar Refrain On The Face of Evil

A short day in court on Tuesday as Judge Jon Blue heard motions from Joshua Komisarjevsky's defense team and prosecutors. But little came out of Courtroom 6A in the way of new information or shocking revelations.

One thing the day's proceedings did yield, however, was yet another spectator with a familiar refrain. Someone who came to court for the afternoon because they wanted "to see the face of evil."

It's a phrase that has been heard countless times by anyone who has covered this trial and the one that preceded it, with Steven Hayes as the defendant. And while the subject matter of the trial is particularly morbid, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the kind of curiosity on the part of the public.

But hearing "the face of evil" comment always begs a fundamental question: What exactly is evil supposed to look like?

As small children, we're taught the symbol of evil is a figure in red with horns. a pitchfork and bifurcated tail. Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson are historical figures who could probably be universally agreed upon by the masses as evil incarnate.

But my sense of why the public views Joshua Komisarjevsky as "what evil looks like" has as much to do with who he is as it does to the horrific things he is alleged to have done. Removed from the context of the events of that occurred inside the Petit's Sorghum Mill Drive home on July 23, 2007, there is nothing about Komisarjevsky's appearance that screams "evil"; he could easily be mistaken for somebody's next door neighbor under the right circumstances.

His appearance is so unremarkable that it prompted State's Attorney Michael Dearington to mistake Komisarjevsky for a member of the defense team during pre-trial proceedings earlier this year.

And it is that unremarkable appearance, that every man look, that makes Komisarjevsky so scary to all of us.

People want to think that those among us who we consider evil are easy to spot.

But if that were true, crimes like what happened to Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela would never happen. We could just pick the evil looking folks out of a crowd and lock 'em up.

But real life is far more complicated than that. I defy anyone - without looking at an individual's criminal record - to pick "the evil ones" out of any crowd of 100 people.

So if you come around Courtroom 6A in New Haven Superior Court any time during the next two months for "a glimpse at evil," my guess is you'll come away disappointed. Because Joshua Komisarjevsky doesn't come with the visual menace of a stereotypical movie bad guy like Hannibal Lecter or Michael Myers.







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2 Comments:

Anonymous Does he even qualify as an expert witness? said...

Eh, the defense's "neuropsychologist" witness has very questionable credentials. The institution (CAU- Miami) where he got his graudate degree is pretty much at the bottom of the national rankings in the field.

http://www.socialpsychology.org/clinrank.htm

October 4, 2011 at 10:21 PM 
Anonymous paulstrecker said...

The picture does not look evil, but looks of man guilty of a crime. Looking at the picture above and linking the quotations "face of evil" can mean that you can never know a person by what he looks physically, it depends on his state of mind and how he feels on what he has done. An angelic face does not mean a person is an angel.

October 7, 2011 at 10:09 AM 

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