When a young man such as Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, blows himself up, killing as many others as he can take with him, it is only natural for us to ask why he acted as he did. His behavior is so extraordinary, as well as evil, and so far beyond the range of normal, that we are inclined to seek for an answer in his personal psychopathology. Only the mad would do such a thing; and since he did it, we conclude that he must have been mad.
I never see the International Herald Tribune except in airport lounges or in the lobbies of hotel where it seems to be given away like improving literature or left as missionaries were once said to leave tracts on trains in the hope of converts. And thus it was, the other day, that I happened upon a copy and, having a few minutes to wait, read it.
The cartoon in the paper was what mainly sparked my interest. It showed Pope Francis, arms outstretched in a gesture of ecumenical welcome, his face beaming with self-approbation, denying that he was one to judge a homosexual. To his side and slightly behind him was a woman demanding to know about his attitude to women.
If cartoons are supposed to raise a laugh this one failed by quite a wide margin but there was nevertheless a certain amount of irony in it, though I suspect that it was unintended. For the woman was dressed in a T-short, her body was pear-shaped and her countenance, framed by a pudding-bowl coiffure of black hair, was that of an angry, belligerent and above all self-righteous termagant.