Whoa, Other Charlotte! I didn’t feel that sorry for sociopathic serial-killer Monster prototype Aileen Wuornos! (See “The Monster We (Of Course!) Created” and “‘Monster’ Mash: The Charlottes Disagree,” Feb. 10 below.) My feelings about Wuornos, as ably played by Charlize Theron in the movie, gyrated between revulsion–as the array of men she selected to murder grew less and less guilty of anything at all–and disdain. She was so damned stupid! After the first homicide, if she had indeed been raped, all she had to do was go to the police and demand medical tests. This was 1989, after all, not 1889, even in backward patriarchal Florida. But, nooo–she buried the body and headed over to see her sweetie. Fear not, I’m fully in accord that this woman was a monster. When I wrote that it was all society’s fault, I was presenting the movie’s point of view, not my own.

My compassion for Wuornos was strictly ontological. Every murderer, even the most vile, is a human being, with a human need and capacity for love. Theron did a fine job of conveying the aching hole in the soul of the cinematic Wuornos, so systematically denied love throughout her life and so yearning for love that she squandered it on the shallow, whiny Selby (Christina Ricci). Wuornos was a genuinely tragic figure. That doesn’t mean I don’t think that she deserved the death penalty. She did, and that’s my point. Immanuel Kant, who also believed in capital punishment, wrote that meting out a just death sentence actually treats the convicted criminal with the dignity that he or she deserves, for it recognizes the criminal’s full human status as an adult moral agent, not an animal or a child. It also recognizes the convicted criminal’s capacity for redemption–paying the price–as well as evil.

And indeed, from what I’ve read about the real-life Aileen Wuornos, she indeed might have achieved redemption on Death Row. It turns out that there is a whole Wuornos documentary industry out there. The main figure is Nick Broomfield, who has made two films about Wuornos, Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, in 1992, and Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer, in 2004, just in time to coincide with the release of “Monster.” Broomfield is a kind of low-rent Michael Moore who plays the Wuornos case largely for laughs at our heartless society. Those whose Wuornos jones still isn’t satisfied can rent Peter Levin’s Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story (1992), which rehashes Wuornos’s crimes yet another time. It seems that as her appeals ran out, the real-life Wuornos wrote letters to the Florida Supreme Court admitting to having been a serial killer and asking to die. She also admitted that her first victim, Richard Mallory, had not raped her as the movie “Monster” claims, and as she had claimed during her trial. (It also appears that none of her victims had sought her sexual services but had merely picked her up on the road as a hitchhiker.) She also became a Christian–an ironic turn, since “Monster” depicts the Christians in Wuornos’s life as the monsters–although her faith was mixed up with belief in reincarnation and extraterrestial beings.

So, please, Other Charlotte–I’m not a bleeding heart!