I have a couple of superpowers. One, apparently, is empathy. On the day of the Boston Marathon, I felt the pain and loss of those who were killed or injured, or whose loved ones were, intensely, almost bodily. And as the search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev progressed, I felt what I imagined to be his pain, his terror, similarly. The fact of his deeds didn’t lessen my empathy for him one bit.
This isn’t to say I don’t think ill of him. Just that I have no difficulty simultaneously feeling outrage at his actions and sympathy for his plight. And, notably, one thing I don’t feel is anger directed at him. In its place, I feel a sort of ravenous curiosity – how could he have constructed or inhabited a mental landscape in which his actions, and those of his brother, made sense?
Again, I’m not justifying or defending him. I’m observing my reaction.