Tragedy and Moral Language: Or, How We’re All Victims Now…Even the Victimizers


Over at the Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung notes the passive, nonmoral language we use to describe the perpetrators of mass violence, such as the man who shot up the theater in Aurora, Colorado:

We instinctively resort to passive speech, unable to bear the thought (let alone utter the words) that a wicked person has perpetrated a wicked crime. The human heart is desperately sinful and capable of despicable sins. Of course, no one commends the crime, but few are willing to condemn the criminal either. In such a world we are no longer moral beings with the propensity for great acts of righteousness and great acts of evil. We are instead, at least when we are bad, the mere product of our circumstances, our society, our upbringing, our biochemistry, or our hurts. The triumph of the therapeutic is nearly complete.

In other words, we’re all victims now…even the victimizers.

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