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“There is,” he said after a brief pause, “an appropriate maxim, which bears upon what I was just telling you, and that is, that unless evil ideas take root in a mind marked by depravity from the outset, human nature, in its right and wholesome state, considers crime repugnant. Just the same, wants, vices and false appetites are the products of our civilization, which occasionally become so powerful as to stifle within us our desire to do good, and ultimately to lead us into temptation and wickedness. Hence is to be derived this maxim: Si vous voulez découvrir le coupable, cherchez d’abord celui à qui le crime commis peut être utile! — That if you seek to discover the culprit, seek first to discover the person to whom the perpetration of that crime could be in any way advantageous.”
–Alexandre Dumas, père, Le comte de Monte-Cristo vol. 1, ch. 17 (”La chambre de l’abbé”) (1845-46)(The abbé Faria to Edmond Dantès, in prison)(S.H. transl.) in the Pléiade ed., p. 175.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”