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The agents of the television series
"Criminal Minds" track serial killers.

There have been a lot of movies made about serial killers. And there
have been a good number of television programs where law enforcement
teams track down serial killers. Criminal Minds on CBS is one of the most
recent. There is also a new one called Dexter in which a guy who investigates
serial killings is himself a serial killer — he gets to the serial killers first
and kills them before they can be arrested. Which of course is kind of a
warped new twist on the thing. Gee, at last, a serial killer we can all
get behind.

Then you have the normal crime dramas, where in certain episodes they
are faced with a serial killer. This happens quite a lot, in fact.

People seem to be obsessed with the dark side of all this for some reason.
Perhaps it makes us feel more normal to see such aberrance. Or maybe it's
just a fetish with the bizarre and the different which draws people. Or
maybe it's simply that the type of psychopathic mentality that serial killers
possess makes for a compelling story.

Whatever the case, serial killers aren't that common.

And no matter what people outside the U.S. may think from watching our
movies and television shows, there isn't a serial killer on every block
here.

Serial killers aren't limited to the U.S., of course. In fact, here's a
breakdown:

TOP 10 SERIAL KILLERS

RANK — NO. OF VICTIMS — NAME — COUNTRY

1. — 300 — Pedro Lopez — Columbia
2. — 200 — Henry Lee Lucas & Ottis Toole — USA
3. — 85 — Bruno Ludke — Germany
4. — 52 — Andrei Chikatill — Russia
5. — 41 — Gerald Stano — USA
6. — 38 — Moses Sithole — South Africa
7. — 37 — The Green River Killer — USA
8. — 33 — John Wayne Gacy — USA
9. — 27 — Dean Corll — USA
10. — 27 — Wayne Williams — USA

There are a good number from the U.S. on that list. But it is clear that
America certainly doesn't have any kind of monopoly on that kind of thing.

Serial killers are nothing, of course, compared to the wars and various
ethnic cleansings that have taken place in history.

Most people aren't criminals. And I don't think that it is simply the
threat of spending time in jail that stops the great majority of people
from committing crimes. A guy who is having trouble paying his bills at
the beginning of the month may fantasize about robbing a bank. But he
doesn't, and I don't think most would rob a bank even if they thought
they could get away with it.

There was a belief in the Enlightenment in the fundamental goodness of
most human beings. And I believe that is true. In spite of the pressures
of civilization, and in spite of our all-to-human propensity to make
mistakes, I think that most people wouldn't commit crimes even if there
were no laws on the books. I even think this is true, at least in the main,
for the economically disadvantaged. When it comes right down to it, laws
are written not to keep the majority in line, but the small minority. Most
men don't beat their wives or rape women. Most don't have sex with children.
Most don't rob banks or steal from their employees or employer. And most
don't pull out a gun or knife and kill somebody simply because they are
angry. It is really only a small number of people on this planet who somehow
manage to hold sway over things who cause the world's problems, a tiny few
who turn this world to shit.

Taking that stapler home from work, of course, really doesn't count.
Most people might be good, but we're not perfect. And how can you resist
that nice shiny metal stapler that seems to be sitting all by its lonesome
next to the copy machine?

That's "true crime" for ya.

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