This is a difficult subject, but recently it’s been bothering me a lot and it’s all Steve Bannon’s fault.
Let’s say you hate something—anything from water pollution to child trafficking—with a passion. Maybe a kid you know got poisoned by PCBs or disappeared. You loathe it so much, you feel, that if you ever captured a trafficker or a polluter you would gladly torture him. Better yet, get someone else to do it and enjoy their suffering vicariously.
Maybe you wouldn’t get off on that, but mightn’t you titter at someone slipping on a banana peel? That’s a mild form of schadenfreude, and we’ve all felt it at some point in our lives. We’re talking about human