People are always doing terrible things. They're not necessarily terrible people; sometimes they believe themselves to be in the right. Lawyers exist because sometimes it turns out the not-terrible people were right about being in the right. (You did some terrible things earlier today and you didn't spare a thought for whether you were in the right -- I saw you and so did your God.)
But how to explain all the rioting this year? And, more importantly, what of the theft of my bike last weekend?
Hierarchy of wrongdoing:
- things that are not wrong
- things that are not wrong if done for the right reasons (I know there's an age gap, but she's eighteen and I love her!)
- things that are clearly wrong but about which one has no choice (if I don't steal this loaf of bread I'll die, and later Jafar will marry Princess Jasmine!)
- things that might not seem wrong if done for the right reasons but actually are still wrong regardless (you don't understand! she's a really mature fourteen! and I love her!)
- things that are just wrong
Sometimes rioting could fall into Category Three. If one lives under a tryrannical government, for instance, and foments a popular uprising. People will get hurt in the revolution, but lives will be saved when the thought police are disbanded. Ensure that nobody gets hurt, and maybe you can even keep it in the second category! But if you're running around indiscriminately killing shopkeepers in the name of the revolution, it's down to Category Four with you. Your cause is still just, but you're not.
And if you're just burning down hundred year old shops throughout England without any semblance of political message, or stealing iPods because the Canucks lost, there's no saving you. Category Five.
This is where you will find the individual who stole my bike. (Unless I find him first, in which case you won't find him at all 'cause I'll have arranged to have him sent to a mental institution with a false set of medical records ensuring both that his real identity is never known and that he is kept sedated 24/7 due to his violent nature LIKE BATMAN DID WITH RA'S AL GHUL THAT ONE AWESOME TIME.) This guy wasn't feeding his children with that bike. He was not making a statement, or operating under the belief that his actions were justified. He saw a bike chained up in a locked garage, and made a conscious and concerted effort to steal it. He returned with wire cutters to get into the garage, despite the presence of security cameras (ach! foiled by a baseball cap! dammit!), cut the bike lock with a bolt cutter, nonchalantly wheeled the bike back across the garage and disappeared
like a thief in the night.
Left to my own devices in the company of this individual, I might find myself in Category Two.