Did you know that Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass was an opium addict...probably goes a long way to explaining his imagination being able to conjour such stories and the wonderful characters who appear in them...

And it's easy enough to decide whether a bomb blast was the work of a suicide bomber because the way the explosives are arranged around the chest area means their head is blown clean off...and they'll invariably have a wodge of opium between their teeth and cheek...so not only brainwashed into oblivion but going there drugged up to the eyeballs to boot.

I've always been instensely interested in people who don't conform to the accepted 'norm'...and the concept of mad or bad. Suicide bombers can immediately be discounted from the bad...their actions are quite appalling of course...but bad in themselves? I very much doubt it. Brainwashed to within of their lives with wild promises of eternal virgins and pastoral green fields dripping with milk and honey by some wild eyed fanactic who wouldn't dream of strapping explosives to his own chest...they have to be drugged up and have the explosives sewn onto their clothing so they can't think twice and back out at the very last minute...but bad? Stupid perhaps...but not bad.

You see, I'll always veer towards the mad rather than the plain outright bad...even people who commit quite horrendous crimes may be suffering from a glitch in their thinking or in their brain which propels them towards committing evil acts...having only very recently found out that I have a genetic glitch which means I was almost bound to contract COPD...and I was blissfully unaware...how can we lay the label of 'evil' or 'bad' on a person who goes on a killing spree or puts their puppy in a washing machine?

The act itself is evil and cruel and makes us shudder with the horror of it...but is the person who commits those acts evil and plain bad...or does he or she have a secret glitch in their genetic makeup which makes them prone to committing dreadful crimes and they are totally unaware of how to stop themselves from acting thus?

Much has been made in the news recently of the Mental Health Tribunal which was gathered to decide whether or not Ian Brady ought to be transferred to a prison in Scotland rather than continue to be held in Ashworth High Security Mental Hospital. One of the many quotes from the 'experts' which I read while the Tribunal was held was that Ian Brady is in a tiny minority of the population of the Special Hospitals...the quote went on to say there are probably less than one hundred people who are as mad...or as bad...as he is. His crimes were truly bad...but is Ian Brady the victim of madness or evil...if we say he is evil then how do we cope with him and his ilk? Put them down like a rabid dog or do we acknowledge the unpalatable fact that he may well be quite mad due to a misfunction in his brain.

The Victorians paid one penny to visit Bedlam on a Sunday afternoon to point and laugh at the idiots chained to the walls...those so called idiots could nowadays probably be taught how to lead simple and useful lives among the community...are we in danger of being much like those early Victorians when we are faced with the likes of Ian Brady or a young suicide bomber...we are happy enough to point and stare and heap blame and scorn. Will we look back when we are in our dotage and see the progress made to help the mad and wish we hadn't judged quite so harshly...

I'm not dismissing the crimes as being of no consequence...far from it...but are we approaching the the 'problem' of the apparently evil person in our midst in a rational and in a humane way. Because their crime was neither rational nor humane doesn't mean we need to behave in the same way...it is only by trying to understand the reasons behind the action that we can call ourselves human.