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Opinion

Certain behaviors just can’t be rationalized

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April 11, 2008

Every once in a while—actually, more often than not—there is a story in the news that is so unsettling and disturbing that it upsets and sometimes even haunts the reader or viewer.

In recent news, I read such a story. This one was about a polygamist compound in Texas. Now, we’ve all heard about these weird polygamist cults before, but every time we hear or read about them, we feel the need to find a logical explanation for the revolting lifestyles of these cult followers. 

There has to be some reasonable motive buried underneath all that. Just like when studying serial killers, we always search for some meaningful background information, like they were abused or abandoned as a child, but what if we’re just searching for something that’s not even there? What if these people enter this cult knowing full well that they are taking part in an abusive monstrosity full of incest and the psychological damage of young children?

What if some serial killer had no troubled past and simple felt compelled or got pleasure out of the act of killing? Why do we constantly have to believe that everyone has some excusable motive behind the terrible things that they do?

The most disgusting part of the polygamist compound story was the fact that there were so many incestuous marriages. And not only were they incestuous, but they were between old men and very young girls.

I find it hard to believe that any of these men forcing young girls, most of the time related to them, into marriage have a disturbing past that explains their behavior. Sure, you could say that it’s the way they were raised, but that explanation doesn’t satisfy.

As human beings, we have free will. We can choose how to live our lives, and we don’t have to re-create our own childhood. 

You could say they were brainwashed as young children into believing that this is the way life is supposed to be. But I think that no matter how we’re raised or how much we’re brainwashed into following morally corrupt beliefs, we each still have a conscience or a moral compass of some kind.

It’s human nature to try to find the good in all people, but sometimes I think we just believe what we need to believe. Everything has a logical motive because it simply has to. To do horrible things, one must be sick or disturbed in some way.

We search for meanings for everything. Some even believe in fate, in which everything happens for a reason. But what if life is just a disconnected mess of random events? What if there is no order?  And what if some people are just morally corrupt to begin with, without any outside influence?

I remember in my sociology class we discussed the two viewpoints on how people are corrupted. It’s sort of a nature versus nurture debate. Most people share the common belief that all human beings are born good and untainted—a blank canvas—and their environment is responsible for corrupting them. Still, there are a few who believe that human beings are born corrupt and find order through their surroundings, if they do at all.

This debate is very similar to the whole optimistic versus pessimistic outlook on life. Some of us automatically believe that there is good in all of us, and everything happens for a reason, while some of us believe that some people are just rooted in evil and everything is random and disconnected. And then some of us don’t know what we believe. But for the most part, we all view these horribly disturbing stories in the same way, searching for meaning and motive. 

We need meaning to make sense of all the horrible events that go on from day to day and we need it to get to sleep at night without being haunted by the daily corruption. I believe that no abusive or disturbing background information will ever justify serial killing or the rape and abuse of young girls. Some people are just bad apples.

Natalie Conrad is a junior journalism and marketing communications major and French minor. She enjoys running,reading, writing, playing guitar, and traveling.