Ever since then, I have found that to be the most accurate way of describing the Nazi guards and the Ariel Castros of the world -- monsters that look human.
Not everyone agrees.
Castro doesn't agree. Nor do his lawyers.
In his long rambling statement after being found guilty, Castro denied a half-dozen times that he was a monster. He was "sick," he said. He himself was a victim -- of an addiction to sex and pornography.
Though loathsome, Castro's statement is not only an indictment of himself, but of the amoral vocabulary of our time.
The elites have taught for generations that most violent criminals are victims and therefore not fully responsible for what they do.
Poor and non-white violent criminals, we have been assured, are victims of poverty or racism. Likewise, all alcoholics are victims. That's why Castro repeatedly compared himself to alcoholics. In addition to its moral confusion, this violent criminal-as-victim rhetoric has increased evil: Nothing produces evil -- both on a national and individual level -- as much as perceiving oneself or one's group as a victim.
We have substituted therapeutic language for moral language. That's why we have substituted "sick" for "evil." And in that way, too, we have transformed monsters into victims.
Listen to Castro:
"What I'm trying to get at is these people are trying to paint me as a monster, and I'm not a monster. I'm sick."
"I am not a violent predator that you are trying to make me look like a monster. I'm not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction -- just like an alcoholic has an addiction. Alcoholics cannot control their addiction. That's why I can't control my addiction, your honor."
Unfortunately, Ariel Castro is not the only moral fool here. So are his defense attorneys, one of whom, Craig Weintraub, told the press after a three-hour meeting with Castro: "The initial portrayal by the media has been one of a 'monster' and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours."
How can someone speak to Castro for three hours and announce that he didn't "get the impression" that Castro was a monster?
The answer is that this, too, is a symptom of the moral confusion in our society. People increasingly assess individuals by the "impression they get" of the individual rather than by the individual's actions.
So, let's be clear about this. As a general principle of life, we are what we do. If we do overwhelmingly good things, we are good; and if we do monstrous things, we are monsters. Perhaps most people are in the middle, and cannot -- and should not -- be easily judged. But if Ariel Castro isn't a monster, then no one is a monster, and no one is good.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”