Saturday, March 17, 2007

The sin of self righteousness

Yesterday morning I watched the movie Death Note. It's based on a manga series and was one of the most popular Japanese movies released last year.

The story is another illustration of how power and the belief in the rightness of ones cause can lead one into the path of evil. The story starts with a university student finding a notebook that when you write someone's name in it they will soon die. The student starts using it to kill criminals who appear to have evaded justice.

Now I can't say I don't enjoy vigilantism. I'm a big fan of Batman, who is nothing if not a vigilante. In fact, most comic book heroes are vigilantes. However, the student takes things a step further. The police notice the pattern in the killing and start investigating the person behind the deaths.

The start of this investigation involved a press conference in which a spokesman announces to the world that the police are hunter the killer. Angered by the idea that the police are hunting them, the student uses the book to kill the spokesman. As it turns out, the spokesman was a criminal sentenced to death, but that does not change the intention of the students actions.

This is just the start of the students self serving actions to get away from the investigators and follow his own plans. His schemes to thwart the investigators includes killing numerous investigators, and at the end of the movie in a scheme to infiltrate the investigation he sets up an elaborate situation that ends with the killing of his girlfriend.

While you can have a certain amount of respect for the student for his cunning and clever schemes, but his actions are nothing but reprehensible. And the justification for his actions is that he has a plan to make the world a better place that has no crime. This sort of self justification is dangerous as it allows the believer to justify nearly any action, no matter how despicable. No matter what the situation, no matter what the cause, there are some actions that cannot be justified, and no ends that justifies the means.

I'm not sure if I'll watch the second movie that concludes the story, I probably will, but mostly because I hope that the student gets caught and dealt with in an appropriate means.

End Post
Writing time: 23 minutes
Time since last post: 5 days
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