In my article “The Problem of Meticulously Cruel Evil” I discussed a particular problem of evil. If the synchronicity of good events can seem to signal a benevolent deity, what is signaled by the synchronicity of evil events? The real life example I noted was a young woman who fell ill with a previously undiagnosed cancer on her honeymoon. (She has since died of that cancer.) I suggested that the timing of the event with respect to an event like a honeymoon added an additional cruelty above and beyond the sheer (natural) evil of a young person being stricken with cancer. To think of another example, while a miscarriage is horrendous, arguably a miscarriage on the same day that your best friend gives birth could be viewed as an added hardship.
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce another natural evil that strikes me as particularly troubling. It is the evil of children stricken with Tourette’s Syndrome in which they suffer from ticks that lead them to blurt out racial slurs or other prejudicial, offensive or otherwise socially inappropriate statements when other people walk by. This even though the children do not themselves like the horrible things they’re compelled to say. I am not saying that the suffeirng of these children is worse than a child who is dying from Leukemia. But I am saying that it has an added disturbing nature above and beyond the basic physical and emotional suffering. It is difficult for me to specify exactly what this is, though it is in part the fact that their disorder leads others to impute to them a morally evil character when in fact they are very much the victim. Put more simply, it seems to be a finely specified and malicious cruelty to subject children to the pain, fear and humiliation of the things they cannot help but say.
I am not saying that the standard theodicies are of no use here. But at the very least emotionally speaking, cases like Tourette’s Syndrome present a special problem not unlike that of meticuously finely tuned evil.
This excerpt from a British documentary on the topic provides a disturbing window into the suffering of these children