Speaking of documentaries, yesterday I saw a real documentary.
Last week I bought a copy of Six, a riveting documentary about teen murderers produced by forensic psychologist Dr. Karen Smith (the wife of Glenn Reynolds). If, like me, you’re a person who does not watch documentaries in order to be led, this is well worth buying and watching, because all the facts are presented, but you’re left free to draw your own conclusions.
By any standard, what happened is appalling. Numbingly grotesque. A group of extremely antisocial “Goth” type teens (with all the trappings of Satanic cultdom) was approached by a religious family who naively imagined they could “help” the kids by a little friendly religious proselytization. Instead of being saved, the Goths hijacked the family’s van and savagely murdered the man, his wife, and one little daughter, and severely wounded their infant son. (Longer review, with more detail, here.)
While recognizing the obvious horror of the crime, the film neither sensationalizes nor takes sides, but instead, starkly and honestly presents the kids’ own side of the story, and interviews their familes and friends. This lack of editorializing allowed me to render my own judgments about these people, and I am still thinking about them. Kids committing such a heinous crime is the kind of thing well worth a good meditation or two, and I don’t do a very good job of thinking when I’m first told what to think and then have to spend my time debating the merits or biases of someone else’s opinion.
The prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, and several trial witnesses are interviewed, along with experts on religion and clinical psychology. In terms of data, no stone is left unturned, and I feel that I have as good an idea of what happened as it is possible for a non-expert in the case to have. One thing is clear: “the system” failed to prevent the crimes.
Any moral lessons to be drawn will be my own.
Six is what I think a documentary should be, and I highly recommend it.
In fact, I like it so much, that I won’t spoil it by blaming our evil society, the climate of violence, the murderous military, the easy availability of handguns, the moral decay of today’s youth, Satan, the Goth scene, high school bullies, religion, or lack thereof.
Buy a copy and decide for yourself who or what is to blame!