Following is a recorded conversation between serial killer Ted Bundy and one of his victims:
Laura: Where have you taken me, Ted?
Bundy: To a place where no one can follow us—or find you—at least not until long after I have disappeared—and you are dead.
Laura: What do you mean?
Bundy: What I mean is that I intend to rape and murder you.
Laura: Oh, my God, my God, why?
Bundy: Because, my dear, it will give me the greatest possible pleasure to do so.
Laura: Please, please, spare me. Send for ransom, ask anything. I know my parents and their families and friends will do anything to save my life.
Bundy: But you fail to understand me. I don’t want anything from anyone else. It is raping and murdering you that I want, and nothing can substitute for it. By the way, unless I have lost count, you will be the 89th young woman—person I should say—who has been good enough to gratify me in this way. Believe it or not, I am very grateful to my victims—although I do not think of them as victims, but rather as those making the sacrifices necessary for my freedom—the freedom to live my life the way I choose to live it. Nations praise those who sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others, as you will shortly be doing. I would be glad to erect a monument to your memory—and to that of all the others, past and future, who have made and will make the same sacrifice—although I do not think it is practicable for me to try to do so.
Laura: But Ted, how can you possibly call raping and murdering your “freedom”? What about my life and freedom?
Bundy: I recognize that your life and your freedom are very valuable to you, but you must recognize that they are not so valuable to me. And if I must sacrifice your life and freedom to mine, why should I not do so? The unexamined life was not worth living to Socrates. And a life without raping and murdering is not worth living to me. What right do you—or does anyone—have, to deny this to to me?
Laura: But rape and murder are wrong. The Bible says they are wrong, and the law says they are wrong.
Bundy: What do you mean by wrong? What you call wrong, I call attempts to limit my freedom. The Bible punished both sodomy and murder with death. Sodomy is no longer regarded as a crime, or even as immoral. Why then should murder—or rape? But, you say, rape and murder are against the law, and if the law catches me, it will punish me. Very well, and if it does not catch me, what then? After so many highly successful and immensely gratifying rapes and murders, I do not think the law has much to say to me. In any case, it can hardly punish me any more for what I am about to do, than for what I have already done. So I see little benefit for you in this argument.
Laura: But surely, surely, Ted, you must see that killing an innocent human being is wrong. Did you, or do you not have a mother and a father, or a sister or a brother, or friends, in whom you recognize a life like your own, that should be as precious to you as your own life? Is there not something within you—a conscience—that tells you that to be a human being is to recognize that everything is not permitted? And that your own happiness—indeed your own freedom—depends upon on living within the bounds prescribed either by God or the moral law?
Bundy: Well, Laura, I am glad we are having this talk. None of my other victims ever asked me to justify myself as you are doing. And so I must tell you—and hope it will afford you some satisfaction-that you are if possible increasing the pleasure I am having from our acquaintance, short as it must be.
I want you to know then that once upon a time I too believed that God and the moral law prescribed boundaries within which my life had to be lived. That was before I took my first college courses in philosophy. Then it was that I discovered how unsophisticated—nay, primitive—my earlier beliefs had been. Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either “right” or “wrong.” I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself—what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself—that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any “reason” to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring—the strength of character—to throw off its shackles. And I was assured, by what I regarded as the highest possible authority—a Harvard-trained philosophy professor—that, the root notion of [true] freedom is . . . the spontaneous, uninhibited expression of the integrated self . . . [and that] the absence of freedom means . . . the presence of blocks or limitations that prevent unfettered expressions of the self.
I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consisted in the insupportable “value judgment” that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these “others”? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is our life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasures more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as “moral” or “good” and others as “immoral” or “bad? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham, and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me—after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self.