The man you love to hate

Our long national nightmare is nearly over. No, I don't mean the terrorism nightmare. The other nightmare. The daily unrelenting media coverage of Scott Peterson's murder of his cute, perpetually smiling, very pregnant wife Laci, and their unborn child Conner.

Don't get me wrong. This was a horrible crime. But does it really merit pushing aside the news of French atrocities in the Ivory Coast, which make Abu Ghraib look like summer camp? Is it really worth taking the attention of cable news channels away from politics, war, cabinet resignations, and other important news? Thousands of other murders take place every year, with scarcely a note in the media. I care more deeply about our soldier heroes taking causalities while protecting us from monsters poised to strike.

Perhaps it is worse here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the bodies were disposed and the trial is taking place. My hometown of Berkeley saw its public access marina used for launching his 'fishing expedition.' I shop at the Costco on Point Isabel, where the bodies washed ashore. The burghers of San Mateo County have had their tax dollars spent on month after month of trial testimony, jury sequestering, and the feeding and care of the convicted defendant. So I would be okay with occasional notice of dramatic events in the investigation and trial.

The never—ending courtroom drama has not been good for relations between the sexes. No, I don't mean that my better half has been casting me suspicious glances, wondering if I might do her in, so as to be able to take my leave with a mildly retarded 'massage therapist.' I am talking about the conflict over what to watch on the tube. As soon as Greta comes on promising us further 'insight' into the case, I lunge for the remote control, only to be met by a steely gaze discouraging me from flipping over to The History Channel.

Why do so many women love to wallow in this story? It must be Scott, the cocky, hunky, lying husband from Hell. For he truly has become an icon. Now that he has officially been found guilty, I guess we are free to say it was always obvious he did it. He looks like the kind of guy who has always gotten away with stuff, ever since he was a cute little boy with no conscience at all.

Is it possible that one aspect of the appeal of this case consists of women silently thinking to themselves, 'My husband or (boyfriend) is really not that bad'? Do they get some secret satisfaction from knowing they picked a better guy than Laci did? Smooth talking, a nice smile, and a good bod don't count for everything. Mom was right. More specifically, does it excuse my faults in the hunkiness department? I am sure that I will never know, but I have my suspicions. Maybe all this media coverage ain't such a bad thing, after all.

People do love their villains. Hollywood has always known that a compelling villain sells a lot of tickets. The best James Bond films (Goldfinger, Dr. No) take their names from their villains, after all. Erich von Stroheim, famous as the very model of the autocratic budget—be—damned Hollywood director, first became famous as an actor during and after World War I, playing cruel aristocratic Germanic villains. He was headlined as 'The man you love to hate.'

Today's international villains, men like the recently—departed Arafat and Osama bin Laden, are far too repulsive to actually love to hate. We just outright hate them, and wish they would go away and be forgotten. To enjoy hating someone, I think they have to be powerless to harm us now, and embody some of our own weaknesses, be it vanity, greed, ego, or some other timeless character flaw. Even Saddam Hussein, awaiting trial in Iraq, is too evil and too off—the—charts in the scale of his crimes to enjoy hating. But I confess that I did love the notion of him picking lice out of his hair in the depths of his spider hole.

So I guess that Scott Peterson will have to do as someone we can hate from an intermediate distance. An evil, conniving, murderous, unfeeling wife— and child—killer. With that smile of his. First the penalty phase of the trial, and then the appeals process will start. If the conviction is reversed, then our nightmare will return. World news will once again have to take a back seat.

Even if the death penalty is applied, and the conviction is upheld, it will likely take twenty years until Scott meets his San Quentin executioner. Then there will be the familiar anti—death penalty crowd, gathered at the gates of 'Q,' lighting candles, chanting, and praying to spare his life. Conner would have been an adult by then.

But by then, we will have many new people whom we will love to hate. Human nature guarantees it.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

Our long national nightmare is nearly over. No, I don't mean the terrorism nightmare. The other nightmare. The daily unrelenting media coverage of Scott Peterson's murder of his cute, perpetually smiling, very pregnant wife Laci, and their unborn child Conner.

Don't get me wrong. This was a horrible crime. But does it really merit pushing aside the news of French atrocities in the Ivory Coast, which make Abu Ghraib look like summer camp? Is it really worth taking the attention of cable news channels away from politics, war, cabinet resignations, and other important news? Thousands of other murders take place every year, with scarcely a note in the media. I care more deeply about our soldier heroes taking causalities while protecting us from monsters poised to strike.

Perhaps it is worse here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the bodies were disposed and the trial is taking place. My hometown of Berkeley saw its public access marina used for launching his 'fishing expedition.' I shop at the Costco on Point Isabel, where the bodies washed ashore. The burghers of San Mateo County have had their tax dollars spent on month after month of trial testimony, jury sequestering, and the feeding and care of the convicted defendant. So I would be okay with occasional notice of dramatic events in the investigation and trial.

The never—ending courtroom drama has not been good for relations between the sexes. No, I don't mean that my better half has been casting me suspicious glances, wondering if I might do her in, so as to be able to take my leave with a mildly retarded 'massage therapist.' I am talking about the conflict over what to watch on the tube. As soon as Greta comes on promising us further 'insight' into the case, I lunge for the remote control, only to be met by a steely gaze discouraging me from flipping over to The History Channel.

Why do so many women love to wallow in this story? It must be Scott, the cocky, hunky, lying husband from Hell. For he truly has become an icon. Now that he has officially been found guilty, I guess we are free to say it was always obvious he did it. He looks like the kind of guy who has always gotten away with stuff, ever since he was a cute little boy with no conscience at all.

Is it possible that one aspect of the appeal of this case consists of women silently thinking to themselves, 'My husband or (boyfriend) is really not that bad'? Do they get some secret satisfaction from knowing they picked a better guy than Laci did? Smooth talking, a nice smile, and a good bod don't count for everything. Mom was right. More specifically, does it excuse my faults in the hunkiness department? I am sure that I will never know, but I have my suspicions. Maybe all this media coverage ain't such a bad thing, after all.

People do love their villains. Hollywood has always known that a compelling villain sells a lot of tickets. The best James Bond films (Goldfinger, Dr. No) take their names from their villains, after all. Erich von Stroheim, famous as the very model of the autocratic budget—be—damned Hollywood director, first became famous as an actor during and after World War I, playing cruel aristocratic Germanic villains. He was headlined as 'The man you love to hate.'

Today's international villains, men like the recently—departed Arafat and Osama bin Laden, are far too repulsive to actually love to hate. We just outright hate them, and wish they would go away and be forgotten. To enjoy hating someone, I think they have to be powerless to harm us now, and embody some of our own weaknesses, be it vanity, greed, ego, or some other timeless character flaw. Even Saddam Hussein, awaiting trial in Iraq, is too evil and too off—the—charts in the scale of his crimes to enjoy hating. But I confess that I did love the notion of him picking lice out of his hair in the depths of his spider hole.

So I guess that Scott Peterson will have to do as someone we can hate from an intermediate distance. An evil, conniving, murderous, unfeeling wife— and child—killer. With that smile of his. First the penalty phase of the trial, and then the appeals process will start. If the conviction is reversed, then our nightmare will return. World news will once again have to take a back seat.

Even if the death penalty is applied, and the conviction is upheld, it will likely take twenty years until Scott meets his San Quentin executioner. Then there will be the familiar anti—death penalty crowd, gathered at the gates of 'Q,' lighting candles, chanting, and praying to spare his life. Conner would have been an adult by then.

But by then, we will have many new people whom we will love to hate. Human nature guarantees it.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.