Michael: Am I a bad person?Taking pleasure from the misfortune of others certainly must be a character flaw. I'm afraid I'm suffering of it extravagantly. The Germans, who always have a term handy for the more neurotic crevices of our emotional lives, call it Schadenfreude.
Tom Delay indicted. Frist under SEC investigation. The poll numbers of Bush and the GOP Congress are in the toilet. Members of the Bush Executive are arrested, or soon will be indicted. How can a Democrat fail to take delight in these misfortunes? Still, I shouldn't I feel naughty for doing so?
But is Schadenfreude a vice when those whose misfortune delights you so richly deserve their fate? I certainly take no delight in those bereaved or made homeless by Katrina. Nor am I tickled by the thought of how much Americans have suffered, and will suffer in coming years, under the misguided policies of the Bush Executive. No, I am only joyous at the discomforture of those who brought themselves low by their own corruption and ineptitude.
Perhaps what I'm enjoying is the opposite of Schadenfreude: Justice. Given how rare justice has been in the past five years, it might have grown unfamiliar to many of us. It is the feeling you get when people get exactly what they deserve. If taking delight in justice makes me a bad person, then I choose to be bad.