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Monday, April 22, 2013


When I first read about the Tsarnaev brothers, I actually started to feel a tiny bit of sympathy for Dzhokhar, the younger one. It seemed pretty obvious that he had been led astray by the older one. The initial accounts of their life made it sound as if Dzhokhar had worshipped his older brother, Tamerlan. It sounded as if Dzhokhar, who studied hard and had friends, was the well adjusted one, and Tamerlan, who claimed he had not made a single friend in America, was the misfit.

Tamerlan had been a boxer, and had been known to beat up his girlfriend. (Having been named for one of the most bloodthirsty conquerors of all time, did he have any choice?) He had also reportedly become a more fervent Muslim than Dzhokhar.

Tamerlan even had a much more aggressive cast to his face, whereas Dzhokhar somehow looked more peaceful (though this may have been partly a function of their ages).

Then there was the fact that Dzhokhar was only 19 years old. (I would never have done what he did when I was 19, but neither would I want to be judged today on what I said and did at that age.)

But then I read that on Wednesday evening, two days after the bombing, Dzhokhar had partied with his fellow intramural soccer players at U Mass Dartmouth. By all reports he had seemed fine, and had acted normal. At one point he even described himself as "a stress-free kind of guy."

That ability to enjoy oneself after such an act smells of sociopathy: sociopaths actually do tend to be far more stress-free than the rest of us. If Dzhokhar had been pulled reluctantly into this crime by his brother, he would have been, at the very least, a little perturbed at the suffering he had caused. But he didn't seem to be: he just partied hearty.

I don't know enough to say whether he's a sociopath; maybe he's just a Muslim fanatic like his brother. But any shred of sympathy I had for him evaporated upon hearing about his partying.

It will be interesting to see what his interrogators can glean before Dzhokhar lawyers up.


lowly said...

So is there a spectrum of sociopathy or is there some point at which, bingo, one is a sociopath?

What about projection? Folks putting down others for various things seem to be inflicted with the very thing they badmouth. I mean, if it weren't on their minds to begin with, they couldn't be talking about it. And it they were repulsed by this thing, you'd think they'd want to put it out of their minds, rather than wallowing in it.

John Craig said...

Lowly --
That's a good question; you'd think sociopathy would be on a scale like every other human trait, but from what I've seen, you either are or you aren't. There are certainly people with narcissistic personalities who are selfish and who would seem to be closer to being sociopaths. But in my experience, even they are easily distinguishable from real sociopaths, once you get to know them.

I agree with you in general about projection, but I'm not clear on exactly what you're referring to here. That Dzhokhar was projecting his own hatred of Americans onto them, and assuming that they hated him as much as he hated them?

bluffcreek1967 said...

If anything, it shows the fanatical and diabolical nature of Islam that, once people are deeply persuaded of it, they will freely do the most horrific acts against their fellow human beings.

This is the thing: Islam not only encourages its followers to be religiously devout, but it has no problem with injuring and killing others in the name of Allah. This is why there isn't a swell of Muslims publicly opposing such terrorist acts - because it is part and parcel of Islamic teaching and the pattern the Muhammad himself established for them. Fear of reprisal and rejection from the Muslim community, I know, also plays a part in it.

When Muslims kill in the name of Allah, they are being consistent with the Quran and the practice of Muhammad himself. On the other hand, when Christians kill in the name of Christ, they are doing things contrary to the teaching of the New Testament, the example of Jesus Himself, and the pattern of His apostles. There's a huge difference.

Sorry for going a little too long there.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
You are exactly right, and THANK YOU for going on so long. There's nothing more annoying than hearing people go on about how Islam is the religion of peace.

There simply are no Catholic priests or Protestant ministers who are advising their flock to detonate suicide bombs. There aren't even any such who are preaching hatred of anyone in foreign countries. Yt hatred of The Great Satan is mother's milk at many mosques.

Anonymous said...

What struck me as odd was his sheer carelessness: he simply stayed in the Boston area after doing the bombing, as if he didn't think the FBI would be on the case right away. Most normal people wouldn't do such a thing in the first place, but if they did, they would at least plan it out better - not doing it in their own back yard, for a start. Then again, sociopaths are hardly the best for making detailed plans, are they?

John Craig said...

Anon --
True. A lot of these Muslim terrorists seem to place an awful lot of faith in Allah.

The other thing about the brothers, they may have been a little overconfident because they got away with the earlier murder of those three guys in Somerville which the authorities now think they are responsible for.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard that he's now pleading not guilty? What on earth he's playing at is beyond me. Surely the jury would have a tiny bit more sympathy for him if he took responsibility and pleaded guilty? It's common knowledge that criminals who plead guilty get slightly lighter sentences...

Also, have you heard about those boys who helped him out through getting rid of evidence from his room? They're likely to spend 20 years in jail for that.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Hadn't heard about the not guilty plea, had heard about his two helpers. Maybe the not guilty plea is going to be a not-guilty-by-reason-of-temporary-insanity plea or something like that. (I'm just guessing.) I agree with you, it seems insane, it's an open and shut case.