The headline to the op-ed article in The Sun by Professor Richard E. Vatz, (“What if Paddock did it because he's evil?,” Oct. 10) referring to the mass killing in Las Vegas asks the reader to accept the writer’s position (“let us posit a radical non-answer to the omnipresent question of motive”). By positing, the reader is asked to accept the writer’s concept that the Las Vegas perpetrator had the “evil” motive for the existential “greatness” of committing the worst act of violence of its type in the United States.
We readers do not have to accept Professor Vatz’s positing. Consider another position which is in keeping with the lack of data to support Professor Vatz’s concept of the "banality of evil.” Instead, recognize that “evil” is a term used to identify behaviors that are identified by society as very unacceptable to the majority of the group, sometimes of religious writings or practices, or cultural history of the group.
Let us posit, instead, to use Professor’s Vatz’s approach, that this event, like many in our history, cannot be attributed to any currently known motives. Then, we can say, “we do not know at this time what prompted this behavior.”
We may later learn facts which then unequivocally prompt the event. Until then, we are better to accept the limits of our knowledge.
We know that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed thousands of civilians of all ages, non- participants in Japan’s war of aggression. For the families of these victims, the decision of President Truman to unleash these weapons was “evil.” However, for myself, as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, the decision, which brought about the surrender of Japan, avoided the necessity to attack the Japanese islands with an estimated one million military casualties. For me and most of the United States population, it was a wise decision.
Labeling an act as “evil” depends on one’s perspective and interest.
We can guess and speculate on Stephen Paddock’s motive. That is all we can do.
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