Tuesday, February 22, 2005

So Where Does Ann Coulter Fit on the Scale?

Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph and an astute reader of this blog, comes this absolutely hilarious story about the US judicial system. Here's the lead:

Psychiatrists devise 'depravity rating' to help courts decide on death sentences
By Charles Laurence in New York(Filed: 20/02/2005)

A "depravity rating" that measures evil and will help courts decide whether convicted murderers should face execution or just imprisonment has been drawn up by American psychiatrists.

For decades, doctors shunned the use of the word "evil" on the grounds that it crossed the line between clinical and moral judgment.

Now, however, two studies of the criminal personality have concluded that "evil" should be used to describe the most vicious criminals – and that it can be measured.

In the first study, Dr Michael Stone, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, examined the biographies of more than 500 killers in New York's Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Centre and developed a 22-level "gradations of evil" list.

"After years of study, we have learned to recognize the traits of these people: what they do and why they do it," he said. "It is time to give them the proper appellation – evil."

We go on to learn that this "will become part of our system of law within a few years" to help decide if killers get the death penalty.

You can see the full chart here. Among the highlights of the 22 point "degrees of evilness" scale:

1. Those who have killed in self-defense but do not show psychopathic tendencies.
7. Highly narcissistic, but not distinctly psychopathic people, with a psychotic core, who kill those close to them.
8. Non-psychopathic people with smouldering rage who kill when rage is ignited. (ed: So, I guess the Hulk would qualify in this category)
10. Killers of people who were "in the way". Egocentric but not distinctly psychopathic.
12. Power-hungry psychopaths who killed when they were cornered. (ed: So, in other words, most politicians)
14. Ruthlessly self-centered psychopathic schemers. (ed: David Herle?)
17. Sexually perverse murderers.
18. Torture-murderers with murder as the primary motive.
19. Psychopaths driven to terrorism, subjugation, intimidation and rape. Short of murder. (ed: Any readers into really kinky sex better be careful.)
20. Torture-murderers with torture as the primary motive, but not psychopathic personalities. (ed: torture-murders who aren't psychopathic? How many well adjusted torture-murderers are there out there?)
21. Psychopaths concerned with torture to the extreme but not known to have committed murder. (ed: I assume those in the US military are immune)
22. Psychopathic torture-murders with torture as their primary motive


  • I'm not a psychologist, but I think it's worth pointing out that you seem to have a misunderstanding of the word psychopath. A psychopath is a person with a mental disorder that prevents them from being capable of recognizing that their actions have an effect on others. They understand that they themselves exist, but they do not understand that others exist in the same way. Other people are merely more stimulus for them to react to, like the way you or I feel about video game monsters. So they are incapable of empathy. At least that's how I understand it.
    I think calling it "evil" is still stupid. "Evil" connotes choice, and I don't think anyone chooses to be a psychopath. Nor do I think someone killing in self defense can be called "Evil" to any degree.
    The scale would more accurately describe 22-levels of disregard for other human beings. Even then, I don't think it's right.
    Personally, I think the person that can empathize and chooses to kill anyway out of personal pleasure is more "evil" than a psychopath. They're both equally dangerous, and one of them is doing it with full knowledge of what they're doing.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 11:42 AM  

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