Thursday, August 25, 2011
No redemption for Son
There was an article on FoxNews.com yesterday about how David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam serial killer, will not seek parole when his next hearing comes up next year.
Gee, and he seemed like such a good bet to be released, too.
Okay, so this is not exactly big news. But people are always interested in hearing about famous monsters, and Berkowitz definitely fits that bill.
At the time Berkowitz was arrested, there was a lot of publicity about the fact that he claimed a dog (named "Sam") ordered him to kill people. That always struck me as a smokescreen, a setup for a possible insanity defense. He wasn't crazy, he was simply evil, which is why he took such pleasure in killing six people and wounding seven with a .44 handgun in 1976 and 1977.
I saw Berkowitz interviewed from prison on a TV show once. It was a shock to see him middle-aged and florid, but he spoke with complete confidence, like a glib salesman, and didn't seem crazy at all. In fact, he came across just like some investment bankers I've known.
Berkowitz wrote a two page letter to Fox News about how he had found salvation through Jesus Christ. It's always fascinating to me when sociopaths like Berkowitz claim to have found redemption. Yes, he has stopped killing people (though who knows what he'd be doing if he still had the opportunity). And he has found religion. But his basic psychology is the same: a sociopath simply never stops being a sociopath. (You are as likely to grow another head after the age of ten as you are to grow a conscience.)
So what we have here is a perfectly controlled experiment: a man whose sociopathy is not in doubt, but who claims to be a changed person now. (Sociopaths are always going on about they've turned over a new leaf.) So how does Berkowitz's sociopathy manifest itself nowadays?
"My job assignments are 'Mobility Guide' for inmates who are legally blind, and as an 'Inmate Program Aid' [sic] for the men who are mentally challenged. I also help out in the facility's chapel, where I assist in overseeing our Sunday services plus other services and Bible studies. My main activities are sharing my story of redemption and hope with those on the outside, as well as writing a monthly journal which can be viewed at Ariseandshine.org. I'm a hyperactive, always 'on the go' type person. But I've often been told that I do not take enough time for myself."
Okay, Dave, we get it: you're just too nice for your own good. (This is another sociopathic quirk, always telling you how good they are.) Note, too, that he now sees himself as a role model, an inspiration to others.
Berkowitz also said that he has found salvation because he knows that "Jesus Christ has already forgiven and pardoned me, and I believe this." But how does Berkowitz know this? How does he know that Christ is not in fact repelled by his self-righteous conversion? Does Berkowitz somehow have a direct pipeline to Christ?
Would the Son of God forgive the Son of Sam? It seems far more likely that Christ, or at least St. Peter, is planning to send him to Hell. (If Berkowitz isn't headed there, then hell doesn't exist, which means that much of Christianity is a sham.)
Berkowitz's religiosity is a little reminiscent of some televangelists who also claim to have a direct pipeline to God. (And yes, I've always suspected them of being sociopaths as well.) Many of them, while claiming to be filled with religious fervor, seem to exist in a state of feverish self-love, exuding pride at their own goodness. True goodness, of course, does not manifest itself with self-adoration. That is simply ordinary narcissism, a component of every sociopath's psyche.
Berkowitz has gone from sociopath-in-serial-killer mode to sociopath-as-man-of-God mode. Before he was giddy with his power (the power to kill people); now he is giddy with his own "goodness." The two kinds of giddiness are not as different as they might at first seem.
It is often said that patriotism is the last bastion of the scoundrel. If patriotism is the sociopath's last bastion, religion may be his first.
Berkowitz's character is probably best illustrated by his behavior at his trial, which was attended by Mrs. Moskowitz, the mother of Stacy Moskowitz, one of his shooting victims. Mrs. Moskowitz had stated publicly that she thought Berkowitz ought to be given the death penalty. Berkowitz's response was to continuously chant, just loudly enough for Mrs. Moskowitz to hear, "Stacy was a whore, Stacy was a whore."