Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:13 pm

The quote that starts off Part Three on pg 257 reads:

“Some things are necessary evils, some things are more evil than necessary.” ~ John Le Carre, THE RUSSIA HOUSE

What do you think Lehr and O’Neill had in mind, when using this quote for Part Three?

How would you relate this to Whitey, the FBI, etc.?

Now talk about this quote in a more general sense.
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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:53 pm

I am still pondering this. I suppose becoming partners of sorts with someone like Whitey to help eradicate the Italian mob was seen as a necessary evil because it accomplished the end. But then Whitey becoming more powerful himself and corrupting his handlers became a matter of the FBI behaving in a more evil way than necessary. Quite a lot of damage was done because of the FBI's alliance with Whitey. That is at least part of what the Berlinger documentary pointed out. Some of the murders and a lot of the drug trade might never have happened without the FBI agents looking the other way. The quote implies that there is a clear and definite line, which may not always be true. And hindsight generally is 20/20.

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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:54 am

Thanks for starting us off, nebraska. Can you expand on what you mean by "a clear an definite line?"

In the meantime, I will just say that my first reaction (and I haven't really taken it much further than that yet) was that the evil that was unnecessary was the murders of Debra and Deborah and others. I have a hard time getting past their murders and how cold blooded they apparently were.
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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:16 am

Liz wrote:Thanks for starting us off, nebraska. Can you expand on what you mean by "a clear an definite line?"

In the meantime, I will just say that my first reaction (and I haven't really taken it much further than that yet) was that the evil that was unnecessary was the murders of Debra and Deborah and others. I have a hard time getting past their murders and how cold blooded they apparently were.

I just was thinking that in a situation it should be obviously clear when behavior is acceptable to meet an end and when behavior goes astray and is now unacceptable. Perhaps the difference between having lunch with Whitey to exchange information and having drinks with him to celebrate New Year's Eve. Maybe the difference is the FBI using Whitey for information or Whitey using the FBI to alert him to a wiretap.

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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:02 am

I figured that the authors were talking in both cases about the central premise of the book: using criminals to accomplish "good" ends. The long held FBI assumption (and something it shares rather universally with other law enforcement agencies) was the minor evil of colluding with criminals was worth undertaking if it accomplished an end: reducing crime.

But what was assumed to be minor created, because no one really thought out the long term consequences of the strategy, an increase in crime that could not be justified by what the FBI hoped to gain.
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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby shadowydog » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:09 pm

nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:Thanks for starting us off, nebraska. Can you expand on what you mean by "a clear an definite line?"

In the meantime, I will just say that my first reaction (and I haven't really taken it much further than that yet) was that the evil that was unnecessary was the murders of Debra and Deborah and others. I have a hard time getting past their murders and how cold blooded they apparently were.

I just was thinking that in a situation it should be obviously clear when behavior is acceptable to meet an end and when behavior goes astray and is now unacceptable. Perhaps the difference between having lunch with Whitey to exchange information and having drinks with him to celebrate New Year's Eve. Maybe the difference is the FBI using Whitey for information or Whitey using the FBI to alert him to a wiretap.



Well to expand this beyond Whitey. Solders are trained to kill on orders and do so. Rebels and terrorists are trained to kill and do so. Gang members are trained to kill and do so. Police are trained to kill and do so. Who is evil and who isn't?
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Re: Black Mass Question #17 - Necessary evils or more evil than necessary?

Unread postby Liz » Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:04 am

shadowydog wrote:
nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:Thanks for starting us off, nebraska. Can you expand on what you mean by "a clear an definite line?"

In the meantime, I will just say that my first reaction (and I haven't really taken it much further than that yet) was that the evil that was unnecessary was the murders of Debra and Deborah and others. I have a hard time getting past their murders and how cold blooded they apparently were.

I just was thinking that in a situation it should be obviously clear when behavior is acceptable to meet an end and when behavior goes astray and is now unacceptable. Perhaps the difference between having lunch with Whitey to exchange information and having drinks with him to celebrate New Year's Eve. Maybe the difference is the FBI using Whitey for information or Whitey using the FBI to alert him to a wiretap.



Well to expand this beyond Whitey. Solders are trained to kill on orders and do so. Rebels and terrorists are trained to kill and do so. Gang members are trained to kill and do so. Police are trained to kill and do so. Who is evil and who isn't?

:yikes: I was still trying to contemplate what nebraska and Firefly had to say. This is just way beyond my comprehension right now. Need to think overnight on this one..... :lol:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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