Unfair deletion of my post
Posted: June 14th, 2015, 10:33 am
I am making this post in response to a message I got recently saying that my thread "Why are there sadistic killers?" was disapproved. I have faith in this thread, and I think it will provoke some interesting discussion. The moderator disapproved the thread because it allegedly was too autobiographical in nature. I have to respectfully and strongly disagree. I referred to my own feelings and interests in the thread as a means to introducing the topic, not as a divergence from the topic. If someone reads the entire post, it becomes clear why it is written the way it is. I think the disapproval of my thread was biased and unfair. I think it is likely that if other moderators read the thread, they may very well come to a very different conclusion than the person who disapproved my thread. I would like to have a second opinion for approval of my thread. Below is the disapproval email I received, which includes the original post:
You are receiving this notification because your topic "Why are there sadistic killers?" at "Philosophy Discussion Forums" was disapproved by a moderator or administrator.
The following reason was given for the disapproval:
D. OTHER OFF-TOPIC - Message is mostly off-topic (please explain)
This seems like it could be a good topic, but most of the post is autobiographical ("I am fascinated by"). Keep the discussion about the issues not personally about the people in the discussion, including oneself.
--- Copy of deleted topic:
I am fascinated by people in history who have been known for engaging in extensively and peculiarly violent behavior. Examples are serial killers, warlords, war criminals, etc. I am fascinated by psychopaths, people who torture and murder in bizarre and idiosyncratic ways, people who cannibalize or engage in necrophilia, people who kidnap victims and take them to their private dungeon to have their twisted fun with them. The dark side of human nature intrigues me.
I have become fascinated by the gruesome experiments performed on live children in Auschwitz by Nazi scientist Josef Mengele, and the equally sadistic experiments performed by the Japanese in Unit 731 in World War II. I have read about serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and cannibalized his male lovers, and Albert Fish, who kidnapped, tortured and ate children, and I've researched the bizarre "Black Dahlia" murder, in which a woman was sawed in half and with a smile cut into her face.
I used to think that serial killers were a purely modern development, but I have recently heard about a Hungarian woman named Elizabeth Bathory who lived in the 16th century and was known to have tortured and murdered hundreds of servant girls for sport. Sometimes she would even bite pieces of flesh off her victims with her teeth, and was said to have bathed in her victims' blood. It is believed that she tortured and murdered around 650 girls.
I think that much of the reason I am so fascinated by these morbid things is that it seems to reveal a part of human nature that is hidden to us. Some people might make the assumption that people who have these strange, sadistic impulses simply have some kind of neurological or psychological disorder. But I think that explanation is kind of a cop-out. Sometimes anomalous behaviors can tell us things about how a system works that normal behaviors can't. I think that serial killers and similar people reveal a part of human nature that gravitates to murder and relishes in carnage and dominance over one's victims and inflicting suffering upon others.
I suppose the million-dollar question behind this is: why? I don't know, but my hypothesis is that it has something to do with our evolutionary history. Our closest kin in the animal kingdom is the great apes, and most of them are known for violent behavior. Particularly the chimpanzees, who are known for engaging in inter-community warfare, battling other groups for access to food, territory, and mates. During these battles, they have been observed killing their enemies in rather brutal, sadistic ways – they may hold down their helpless victims, taking turns beating and jumping on them, tearing off limbs, biting off fingers or genitals, gouging out their eyes, and disemboweling them. Sometimes they cannibalize their victims' bodies.
There can even sometimes be violence within chimp societies as well. Primate researchers have observed one conflict that occurred within a society in which a particular chimp was murdered with his face battered and bruised, throat torn open and intestines dragged out. The chimps responsible for the attack returned to the corpse sometime later. After this, the researchers discovered that the corpse's penis and testicles had now been torn off and were found some 30 meters away from the body. The researchers conjectured that this was a part of some kind of emasculation ritual.
We also cannot ignore primate attacks that have been directed at humans. Probably the most well-known is the violent attack by "Travis the chimp" against Charla Nash, in which the victim was mauled, her eyes gouged out, and her nose, lips and hands torn off. The attack was unprovoked and completely unexpected from a chimpanzee who had lived amongst humans for most of his life.
I see a connection between the sadistic violence committed by apes and that committed by serial killers. The main difference appears to be that the chimps tend to butcher their victims with their bare hands and teeth while humans tend to use tools instead. But in both cases, the violence is not for food or necessity but appears superfluous. Also, the way in which the aggressors damage their victims' bodies seems non-arbitrary; it seems to carry some kind of symbolic meaning. For example, why did those chimps decide to tear off their victim's genitals, when the victim was already dead? Why did Travis mutilate Charla Nash in the way he did -- why didn't he just kill her? Such symbolic acts of violence seem reminiscent of how, for example, Jeffrey Dahmer injected acid or boiling water into two of his victims' brains while alive in order to melt their brains and turn the victims into his personal "sexual zombies." Also consider the carnage of the Black Dahlia murder. These kinds of chimp aggression and the murders committed by serial killers both seem to imply some form of communication or self-expression. In addition, they seem to satisfy some kind of primal need or hunger. Serial killers and aggressive chimps crave more than just death -- they crave carnage and suffering. But why does this craving exist? What function does it serve, be it evolutionary or individual?
Is the existence of serial killers just a meaningless holdover from our evolutionary past, or does it serve a function within the context of human society? Or perhaps it is neither; perhaps it is the result of some kind of paranormal "force of evil" that functions outside the boundaries of science.
Why do some humans have an obsession with sadism and mutilation and murder? Is there some connection between the carnage committed by serial killers and the carnage that seems to come naturally to primates, particularly chimpanzees? And is this violent compulsion only native to a few anomalous humans, or is it rather something that dwells hidden within all of us? What are your thoughts?
(To be clear, this thread is not about human violence in general, but about exceptionally sadistic and gory forms of it, as often expressed by serial killers.)