“The Bad Seed” began as a novel by American writer William March, then became a 1954 Broadway play by playwright Maxwell Anderson, and ultimately a 1956 Academy Award-nominated film. The disturbing plot involves Rhoda Penmark, a charming little girl who is also a murderous psychopath. In the play’s climax, which the film version didn’t have the guts to follow, Rhoda’s single mother resolves, once it is clear that her daughter is killing people, to kill Rhoda herself, in a twist the anticipates such films as “The Omen.” She fails, however, and the sweet-looking serial killer in pigtails is alive and plotting at the play’s end.
A real life bad seed scenario is playing out in Chicago. A 9-year-old boy has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson. The evidence suggests that he deliberately started a fire in a mobile home east of Peoria, Illinois, that claimed the lives of the boy’s two half-siblings, a cousin, his mother’s fiance and his great-grandmother.
The boy’s mother says her son suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD. She also says things like “he’s not a monster,” “he just made a terrible mistake” and my personal favorite, “he does have a good heart.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…