The Two Psychopaths I Love to Hate

Posted: August 3, 2014 in Socio Cultural Theory
Tags: , , , , , ,

My grandmother has a bumper sticker that reads, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” I’ve always gotten a good chuckle from that, especially when considering my grandma’s eccentric personality and her unorthodox methods of getting shit done. Sometimes I think that her bumper sticker should be on the front of the car and not the back, that way, at least we’d all get a fair warning that she’s coming and have a good idea of what sort of behavior to expect.

The sticker speaks for more than my grandma, I think. It speaks for more than women in general. Human behavior that deviates from what society considers to be the norm jumps out at us like a blip on an empty radar screen or a spike in a polygraph printout. Deviant behavior is a huge factor in the evolution of human culture because we are compelled, for some reason, to address it and how it is addressed often makes it the catalyst for some sort of change in the larger social group’s behavior patterns. Sometimes it happens on a micro level, like in a family or a community, but sometimes one person’s divergent actions can affect a macro level shift in the culture of a city, of a country or even of the entire world.

People whose brains function in ways outside what society considers to be normal have a bit of a propensity towards this sort of thing. Psychopaths, in particular, seem to be programmed to inspire change. A psychopath is made to behave selfishly and is not equipped, mentally, with the wiring necessary to conform on a pathological level. The sociopath and the psychopath have to learn and consciously apply these behavior patterns in order to fit in with the rest of the world and try to experience some sort of happiness.

Often, the psychopath’s true nature leaks around the edges of the mask or tears entirely through it. Once the psychopath abandons the restrictions of conformity and begins to impose his own nature upon the larger group, he emerges as a catalyst for an overall behavioral shift. This can happen in one of two ways or in a combination of both. In the first, the deviant behavior is pathological with no intent whatsoever in controlling the larger group. Numerous instances of serial killings have prompted all sorts of changes in society, particularly related to passage of legislation, but none of this change was intended. To the psychopath, the associated shift in the larger culture was not even considered with regards to the behavior; the deviant behavior is it’s own motivation and the resulting societal shift is…coincidental. However, when the psychopath seeks to intentionally change the nature of the larger culture by imposing himself upon it, look out, because all bets are off.

Think of it this way: mass shootings like the ones in Colorado and Connecticut have brought about a lot of talk regarding the expansion of gun regulation and have added momentum to an anti gun subculture. If tighter gun laws come as society’s expression of need for them in the wake of these sort of incidents, this was probably not considered by the shooters when they locked and loaded. There is no grand design and maybe the need for heavier handed gun restrictions might be justified. This is a natural reaction to a pathologically deviant behavior which causes harm. There are some people, however, who claim these shootings were actually carried out by unknown conspirators in hopes of drawing support to overreaching international small arms legislation which was up for vote around the same time these shootings went down. If these guys are right, and they seem to present a fair amount of evidence, it means the behavior (shooting a bunch of innocent people) itself was not actually pathological, and that it merely served as a conduit of influence towards achieving whatever pathological need that heavier duty gun laws might serve.

Can you see the difference? The psychopaths who use their capacity to engage in deviant behavior as a means to an end are infinitely scarier than those whose behavior, as bizarre and/or terrifying as it can potentially be, are relatively benign on a macro level. Think of it this way: who is more harmful and has done more damage to the larger group…Ted Bundy or Dick Cheney?

Ha.

So all this being said, I have two absolute favorite psychopaths about whom I simply must share…

The first is Joshua Milton Blahyi aka General Butt Naked. I first learned about the General from a Vice documentary called “The Cannibal Warlords of Liberia.” During the early 90s, Liberia was engaged in a very nasty civil war. Blahyi, who was supposedly initiated as a tribal shaman at the age of eleven, had already participated in ritualized human sacrifice and cannibalism before the war ever began. With the onset of the war and his subsequent commission under warlord Roosevelt Johnson, General Butt Naked continued to engage in violent antisocial behavior, although on a much grander scale.

In Butt Naked’s heyday, he led a small army of child soldiers into combat, wearing nothing but sneakers and tightie whities and often carrying purses along with rifles and machetes. He described heavy use of alcohol and drugs, along with regular ritual killings and cannibalization in conjunction with the atrocities that were already being committed as a part of the war.

It was funny, in the Hostel movie, when the little kids used the bad guy’s head as a soccer ball. Dark and twisted, but still funny. It wasn’t funny when Blahyi talked about doing it for real. To my knowledge, he’s never been tried or held accountable for any of his past actions.

These days he’s a traveling evangelical Christian preacher with a wife and four kids. He wears clothes, along with his shoes and sports a bible instead of an AK-47 and a purse. These days he delivers seemingly relevant and well penned sermons throughout churches in Liberia. The documentary showcased one such sermon that I found to be, given the social context of post civil war Liberia, quite poignant and generally good advice on how the country should conduct itself in the future.

This crazy bastard isn’t my favorite psychopath because I venerate anything he did or does, it’s because he makes me think. Without a doubt, the guy is a monster all the way down to his marrow. His behavior, historically, has proven his status as a monster. I question, however, the nature of his pathological need…is it slaughter, blood drinking and severed head Olympics, or were these activities simply a means to some other end? Or both?

Personally, I don’t think monsters stop being monsters. It’s an ingrained part of a person’s identity. I do think that people often change tactics and evolve with the changing of the times. This is what I suspect has happened with the General. He’s still the same old rotten bastard he always was, he just conducts his business in a different way. He now speaks to people in a way which, from what I can tell, is likely to have a substantial effect on the social culture of the country. My question is, given who he is and what he’s done, do his words still carry value?

Absolutely. Words are, well, words, and they all carry value. By removing the source context, the cannibal General, the words alone amount to, in my opinion, pretty good advice. If we disregard the history and very existence of General Butt Naked and consider only the family man Joshua Blahyi, it truly seems as though he speaks from a place of wisdom and honesty.

Perhaps that’s why he changed his name…maybe he understands something that everyone else should.

Once a man kills a child and eats it and then gives it to other children to eat before arming them and sending them into combat, once that happens, we can understand never to trust that person. That person is capable of anything and the behavior proves it. In order to ever be considered credible, the person has to distance their self from the behavior…or reinvent their identity entirely.

This is dangerous for everyone else. If Liberia forgets who General Butt Naked is, and engages Joshua Blahyi the preacher by adopting his ideas and teachings, they risk giving him power once more. In a few generations, the truth of Butt Naked will fade entirely and people will only know a famous preacher as a preacher. And we all know we can trust preachers, right?

This brings us to my other favorite psycho, one with whom we are all familiar, though only by his preaching name. Most folks have no idea who Saul of Tarsus actually is. Like General Butt Naked, he assumed another name and took up the cross.

Saul was born in Tarsus, now Turkey, to a Jewish father and a Roman mother. He is assumed to have been well educated, Tarsus having been considered the first century equivalent of a modern university town. Tarsus was also rich, both academically and culturally, and Saul supposedly came from a notable family with the means to provide just such an education. He was, in fact, educated in Jerusalem as a Pharisaic Jew and it is this element of his education which made his life notable.

Saul grew into a great persecutor of the early Christians, attempting to erase the new faith and it’s followers from the Earth, and he was there from the beginning. In the book of Acts in the New Testament, Saul is noted as approving of the stoning of St. Stephen, the first recorded incidence of Christian martyrdom. According to his own words, he persecuted Christians “beyond measure” and was both known and feared by those he encountered. Typical executions of Christians by Jews used stoning as the primary method, while those referred to Roman authorities were generally crucified (as in Jesus) or beheaded (like Paul). Speaking of Paul…

Our good friend, Saul of Tarsus, was headed south towards Damascus when he was engaged, supposedly, by the martyred Jesus, who told him he was being naughty and had better straighten up. Saul fell down and worshipped Jesus, became a Christian, and is thereafter known as Paul the Apostle. If you are unfamiliar with Paul, perhaps you have read some of his work, fourteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament. He also carries the burden of responsibility for the formation and ideology of the Christian church.

Paul never wrote about his conversion or when he was visited by the ghost of Jesus. Whoever wrote the book of Acts recounted that story, sometime after Paul’s death. Paul, according to scholars, didn’t actually write half of the books attributed to him, most of which are sermons and communiques directed towards the budding Christian churches in the places he visited. Depending upon who you ask, only between four and seven of Paul’s “works” were actually even written by the same person. And that person could have been anyone. Outside of biblical accounts, Paul is virtually devoid of mention in other historical records of his time. His execution, thought to have been at the hands of Nero, was not documented until more than a century after it happened. The bible even neglects to mention his beheading. The Catholics, however, claim to have unearthed his remains in 2009.

To Christians, Paul is central to the theology, with his teachings assigned value comparable to those of Jesus, even when they might not seem to be on the same page. Unfortunately, we are not usually presented with a historical context from which to interpret events coming from one source. Most of us, for example, are unfamiliar with the historical connotations of the term ‘Pharisee.’ If you ask the Sunday school teacher, she’ll direct you to the preacher who will tell you they were the Jewish rabbis who killed Jesus. That’s maybe a little bit true. No, actually it’s not really true at all.

They were Jewish church officials and they did happen to be Pharisees, but that term represented much more in those days. The Pharisees were actually a sect of Judaism, generally considered dominant over the Saducces (their primary rivals), the Essenes ( monks thought to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the Zealots (more of a renegade political movement, think Jewish Taliban). During the first century, violence amongst these groups was common and it is likely that Paul was engaging moreso in sectarian terrorism as opposed to the active persecution of Christianity, a concept which hadn’t actually come together yet.

It is important to remember that during the time of Paul, and especially his former days as Saul, there were no Christians. There were Jews who believed Jesus was the messiah, but there did not yet exist a true creation of a new people. Paul, or Saul I suppose, wouldn’t necessarily have identified as a persecutor of a new religion. I think he would be more accurately described as a member of the Pharisee sect, possibly identifying with the Zealots politically, who did his best to stamp out the beginnings of a a group of heretics before subsequently joining them and becoming a church leader.

Also worth considering is Jewish tithing law, which did actually specify a ten percent contribution to support the priest class. The high council of priests, the Sanhedrin, was subsequently behind the execution of Jesus. Ten percent of everyone’s salary was, and still is, a lot of dough and it makes sense that the governing preachers would have a vested interest in protecting that. A splinter sect of Judaism that virtually absolved it followers from the authority of the Jewish temple would have been considered to be a major financial threat and it is through this context of history that Saul of Tarsus emerges as an enforcer for a religion-based protection racket.

In doing such, Saul had people stoned. Later, when he wrote the verses that would be used to formulate the first Christian church, he even boasted of it. I think he was a dirtbag who was capable if manipulating and inciting other people to do some awful shit. Through a modern understanding of human nature, the established patter of behavior indicates that the Apostle Paul was actually a dangerous psychopath.
Incidentally, Paul was not even technically an apostle. According to Jesus’ homeboy Peter, you had to be a disciple before you could be an apostle. Paul never even met Jesus. Furthermore, much discourse exists regarding fundamental differences between the teachings of Paul as opposed to those of Jesus, some being downright contradictions. In these respects, as well as all others mentioned, feel free to do your own sound research and make up your own mind.

Regarding Paul’s theoretical identification as a psychopath, he is not all that different from General Butt Naked. Both men engaged in violent and manipulative psychopathic behavior before adopting a new identity and becoming traveling evangelists. As with Butt Naked, Paul’s historical pattern of behavior raises questions as to the validity of his later teachings and writings.

In Ephesians, Paul instructs slaves to “obey your earthly masters.” Apparently, it’s more important to set a good Christian example as a slave than to experience God given free will. He also writes, in Romans, that governments and leaders should be obeyed and that they are “ordained by God.” Isn’t that interesting?

It is also through Paul, in his same letter to the Romans, that a renewed justification in the persecution of homosexuals is derived. It is more likely that he was referring to the pederasty associated with some forms of pagan religions. I find it darkly comical that the same form of sexual deviancy he spoke against has persisted in the very church he founded for centuries. That was a direct stab at the Catholics, by the way.

In a handful of passages, good ol’ Paul sets our women folk in a place of submission, asserting authority over them and directing that they quietly learn from men. I’m not kidding or even exaggerating about that. Look in Corinthians, Timothy and Ephesians. I think it’s elsewhere as well. This doctrine, sadly, is actually still applied in some American communities and written words attributed to a proven dickhead who existed two thousand years ago.

The trouble, again, with people like Joshua Blahyi is that eventually we forget he used to be General Butt Naked and that he fed people’s children to other children. He has also, as Paul did, boasted of it in an expression of feigned repentance. Disassociating the historical context from the identity of the teacher is very dangerous and leaves people open to manipulation. The changing of the name is significant and coincidentally, symbolic of the act of a wolf zipping up a sheep costume.

Paul, or rather Saul, is of much more concern than Butt Naked, however, because his teachings not only reach a global audience but have established much of the doctrine that his audience subscribes to. Furthermore, these teachings have persisted for generations, with each becoming more ignorant of the cultural implications of the belief system than the last.

I think I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he claimed that Paul did more to subvert the message of Jesus than any other man in history. Considering how much of the foundation of the Catholic Church, and the Protestants actually, is based upon Paul’s teachings, an assertion that much of the church itself is a subversion of the very idea of Christ is not at all out of the question.

Paul’s influence is, in fact, prolific, and he is certainly notable as one of the most influential psychopaths in history. Butt Naked is small potatoes, compared to Paul, but I think they are cut from the same cloth and find society’s acceptance of their “conversions” and veneration of their teachings to be both fascinating and horrifying. Imagine being a sheep and seeing a wolf. Just as you start to flee, the wolf says, “Wait…hold up…give me a second to put on this sheep suit and then you won’t have to run. You can just go back to eating grass and breeding. Every now and then, my homeboys and I will eat one of you and it’ll be ok because Jesus said to do it like that.” So you say, “Ok.”

Indeed.

The accepted perception of a person’s conversion from a homicidal maniac to a respected follower and teacher of Christianity is not an easy feat. Serial killers and other criminal psychopaths try that shit all the time. In these two cases, Saul and Butt Naked, the success is notable and the results are, particularly with Saul, measurable on a grand scale. It’s why I say they are my favorites. Of all the psychos and socios that exist in history, most are known for deeds directly associated with anti social personality spectrum disorders. These two guys, the ones I enjoy reading about, have been able to reinvent their personas entirely, right in front of their victims, and then be warmly accepted as new men.

I don’t believe in conversions. I only understand calculated tactical shifts in behavior designed to elicit a response and I’m telling you, these guys are motherfucking masters at it.

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Comments
  1. Reblogged this on No Psychos, No Druggies, No Stooges and commented:
    “These two guys, the ones I enjoy reading about, have been able to reinvent their personas entirely, right in front of their victims, and then be warmly accepted as new men.

    I don’t believe in conversions. I only understand calculated tactical shifts in behavior designed to elicit a response and I’m telling you, these guys are motherfucking masters at it.”

    Like

  2. Thanks for giving me a read. I hope it was enjoyable.

    Like

  3. jbslade says:

    You were right, I did enjoy this post. Most of my relatives are Christians, and I’ve mentioned to the them many times that their beliefs (as Baptists) are based on the teachings of Paul and not Jesus. Considering that approximately 1 of every 3 people in the world considers themselves to be a Christian, his impact is indeed staggering. I did a psychology experiment where I invented a religion based off of Christianity and presented it to people as part of a new writing that had been discovered. 9 of the 10 people believed that the writing was true (because it answered key questions that Christianity can’t), and after I informed them that I made the entire thing up, a couple of them argued with me because “it makes sense though, even if we haven’t found the actual document.” Manipulating people is just to easy.

    Like

    • The debate of Pauline Christianity vs. the teachings of Jesus is an actual thing. What historical documentation exists is most certainly biased but there are a few guys studying texts part of the Dead Sea Scrolls who have some intriguing ideas as to what may have really been going on.

      I’ve read some stuff by a guy named John Trudell who says “You can’t think and believe at the same time.” It’s a prolific quote, especially if you’ve lived as a closeted heathen amongst the Baptists.

      Like

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