It's easy to demonize those who we perceive as monsters. The easiest thing in the world is to look upon the atrocities committed by flesh and blood and disassociate them from the human race. Hitler is, obviously, the prime example. But the cold hard truth of it is that Adolf Hitler was born and died a man. And like any person, Hitler had his quirks. One would have to be a little eccentric if he was perfectly fine exterminating an entire race of people.
But we can only understand history once we somehow identify with it, or at the very least reconcile evil with the fact that people are often messy and complicated. When Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at UCLA, his sexist, xenophobic views sparked protests and riots. Yiannopoulos is the chief editor of the ultra right wing internet rag Breitbart – a man who makes no apologies for harassing transgender people, encouraging Twitter hatred toward Ghostbusters and SNL star Leslie Jones (referring to her as illiterate, despite having no evidence whatsoever), and supporting the bathroom laws. He's also, despite his hard right leanings, an open homosexual dating an African American. While it's possible, Yiannopoulos is just the troll he behaves like – that he is merely pandering to the basest instincts of the ignorant for profit – one still has to consider he genuinely believes his own bull$#!*. And he probably has a lot of quirks, too!
But every awful person had (or has) a life outside of their atrocities. For your consideration, we present to you some of the worst and weirdest.
16 Hitler Loved His Damn Dog
It's a well-known and often stated fact that Hitler was a vegetarian, a terrible painter, and owner of one single testicle. That last fact is a particular favourite for many reasons. It makes him all the more alien, a deformity of humanity rather than a face of it.
Unfortunately, Hitler and his one ball also shared something with many of us – he loved his damn dog. Blondi, a gorgeous German Shepherd, not only played a part in Nazi propaganda to humanize the dictator, she also often affected policy. The dog's mood swings were in synch with her owner's. Hitler was so affectionate toward Blondi, letting her sleep in his bed, that it annoyed fiance and future wife/murder-suicide pact companion Eva Braun. This, according to Hitler's secretary, was the source of many fights between the couple.
Hitler had Blondi euthanized as the Russian army was zeroing in on his location, fearing they would torture her. That's almost compassionate, for a mass murderer.
Still though, one ball.
15 John Wayne Gacy – Democratic Party Donor, Patriot Games Fan
John Wayne Gacy's side gig as a children's party clown is well-detailed, but what's often left out are his motives for being one. Surprise! It wasn't just to get close to children (well, not exclusively). Gacy was a major donor to the democratic party. He started his own successful construction business and grew to become a very high profile public figure in his neighbourhood, rising to Precinct Captain. In 1978, he was given clearance by the Secret Service to get a picture alongside then-First Lady Rosalynm Carter. The photo was taken after he had already buried numerous bodies under slabs of concrete on his property.
He learned about a group known as the Jolly Jokers through a local Moose Club and quickly joined up. The Jokers dressed as clowns at local fundraisers. Gacy designed his own costumes.
While awaiting his death sentence to be carried out, he managed to get access to HBO. Those who spoke to Gacy during this time reported that he would often talk about recent releases, presumably to still feel as though he was a part of the world. One film he particularly enjoyed was the 1992 Harrison Ford thriller Patriot Games.
14 Kim Jong Il Was a Horror Film Buff
Kim Jong Il was a ruthless North Korean dictator who left his son with the keys to the country after passing away at 69. He specialized, as his son does, in depriving the people of basic needs and any source of information or entertainment outside of his own personal tank parades and ballistic missile tests.
Apparently, he was hoarding all the entertainment for himself. Upon his death, it was learned the dictator owned more than 20,000 DVDs and VHS. He wrote several essays on the art of directing, some of them even downright insightful. But his obsession, naturally, went a little too far. He ordered the kidnapping of Shin Sang-ok, South Korea's most famous director, and held him captive for four years. You'd think, as admirer of Shin's work, the filmmaker would be treated well, but instead he was shoved in an all-male prison and fed grass, salt, and rice for four years. He would occasionally be summoned to Kim's palace merely to discuss the industry over soft drinks.
He was reportedly a huge fan of action films and, not surprisingly, the Friday the 13th franchise.
13 Saddam Hussein Started A Campaign To End Illiteracy
One thing was not up for debate after the invasion of Iraq in 2003: a terrible, violent dictator was out of power. The hows and whys are where it gets muddy – also the fact that Hussein had not acted aggressively toward the U.S. since the first gulf war.
He was terrible and vindictive and monstrous until the day he was hung, but he was also surprisingly progressive – particularly when it came to education. Under his regime, it was illegal and punishable by jail time to not send a child of 6 to school, even if they were girls. Three years after Saddam became president, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) awarded Iraq with a prize for eradicating illiteracy.
12 Timothy McVeigh – Great Hacker, Trekkie
Timothy McVeigh was the monster who blew up the Oklahoma City Building in 1995, killing 168, including many children in the building's daycare. He was an extremist lunatic who would have fit in well with the Tea Party, had he not decided to commit the worst act of home-grown terrorism in modern American history.
You know where else he would have fit in well? Comic Con.
"The most respected man in Star Fleet, knows all systems, highly skilled diplomat, yet lonely man," he said of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. "Keeps his emotions in check; no quality I dislike or don't understand." He also heaped praise on Geordie LaForge for "taking great pride in knowing his sh!$".
He liked people who got their job done, be it commanding an intergalactic counsel or loading up on fertilizer and nitrate.
"Noodle" McVeigh, as he was known in high school due to his skinny frame, was also an accomplished hacker, getting into government systems at a young age through his Commodore 64.
11 Charles Manson Wrote A Beach Boys Tune
Charles Manson spent his early years in and out of various prisons. Upon release in 1967 (after spending more than half his life locked up), he high tailed it to San Francisco. Within a year, he was sharing an apartment with 18 women. A sort of guru of Haight-Ashbury, he drew his charisma from a blend of religions and musical icons. So a severe case of egomania, a philosophy torn from the Process church, Judeo-Christianity with just a dash of Scientology, along with tangential connections to actor Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster, for whom he babysat) and other Hollywood figures set Manson up to order one of the most famous homicides in modern history.
He also got along with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. So much so that he sat in on a session and recorded about ten songs – not demos, but full-fledged productions. It's been stated by music historian Andrew Doe that the likelihood of these sessions ever seeing an official release is about as likely as hell freezing over.
The band did, however, release one Manson song. Originally, in Manson's twisted mind, the song was titled "Cease to Exist." It was rather hilariously retitled "Never Learn Not to Love".
10 Stalin Had The Heart Of A Poet
When you hear that Stalin "had the heart of a poet" you probably assume it's a literal, bloody heart that he devoured for sustenance and spiritual strength. However, prior to becoming a ruthless dictator, Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili had a promising career in the literary world. This stemmed from something all Georgian children were forced to read, an epic poem entitled The Knight in the Panther's Skin. Think of it as a Soviet Beowulf or that embarrassing time your senior English teacher forced you to recite Shakespeare.
Speaking of which, as a young man, Jughashvili became quite enamoured of the Bard's work. He had several of his own poems published in journals. However, in 1907, after becoming involved in the revolution, he quit writing. A friend said he stopped because it "took too much time" away from revolting.
His love of literature and poetry never left him, even leading him to release a prisoner for the express purpose of translating Panther's Skin into Russian.
9 Lizzie Borden – Animal Lover
Whether or not Lizzie Borden did, in fact, ax murder her father and stepmother is still up for debate. While in a court of law, Borden was acquitted, she faced ostracization from the community of Fall River, Massachusetts until her dying day. Several theories on exactly what happened have been proposed. One popular theory suggests Borden committed the murders while in a fugue state. Other theories propose several other suspects as culprits, including Mr. Borden's illegitimate son.
One thing that is not in question is that the alleged ax murderer loved animals. After dying from pneumonia in 1927, Lizbeth Borden (the name she used post-murder trial) left $30,000 (equivalent to $555,000 today) to the Fall River Animal Rescue.
8 Fred Phelps – "God Hates F*gs," Loves Civil Rights
Fred Phelps and his family quickly became the most hated people in America when they began protesting the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their signs and rhetoric claimed that God struck the soldiers down due to humanity's acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps didn't live to see gay marriage legalized, or the transgender bathroom debate (an invented right-wing problem if there ever was one), but his Westboro Baptist Church is still active, run by his descendants.
According to Phelps however, God was totally cool with Civil Rights – provided they were for straight African Americans. After earning his law degree, he founded the Phelps Chartered Law Firm in 1964. His firm specialized in cases regarding racial discrimination and racially biased police abuse. He also sued former President Ronald Reagan for appointing an Ambassador to the Vatican – claiming that the appointment was in strict violation of the separation of church and state.
But just in case you were starting to like the guy, he was disbarred after slut shaming a court reporter who didn't provide a transcript on time and suing her for $22,000. He cross-examined her for a full week, bringing her to tears several times.
7 Ted Bundy May Have Saved Your Life (If You Were Suicidal In The 70s)
It's been said that serial killers are often found to be quite charismatic and charming apart from, you know, all the murder. And it makes sense. A serial killer really couldn't operate for long stretches of time, let alone lure in their victims, if they spent their downtime between murder drooling, swinging around a machete, and loudly declaring they'd kill the next person who looked at them cockeyed.
If there was one serial killer who mastered the charm necessary to pull off mass murder, it was Ted Bundy. In college, he perfected empathy and politeness while working the suicide hotline. Imagine, for a moment, you are suicidal in the mid-70s. You break down and a kind, understanding voice on the other line saves your life. Now flash-forward to Bundy's capture, when this little bit of trivia was mentioned. Just how much of your life post-Hotline call would you re-evaluate?
6 Bin Laden Loved 80s TV
Osama Bin Laden had been on the United States radar long before the first plane hit the Twin Towers. He's planned and took credit for numerous other attacks throughout the 90s. If there's anything amusing about terrorists who denounce and vow to destroy Western society at all costs (and there rarely is), it's the hypocritical fact that a lot of those same people devour the same entertainment as us.
Bin Laden, for instance, was reportedly a big fan of The Wonder Years, Miami Vice, and MacGyver. He also wanted Whitney Houston's husband killed, as he wanted her all to himself.
5 Hell's Angels Buy Every Bike At A Walmart
Anyone who has read Hunter S. Thompson's Hells Angels, his account of the time he spent with the motorcycle renegades in the early 60s, or Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool Aid Test – you'll notice similarities of a particular party thrown by the Angels. That's because, during the drunken, rape-filled bacchanal, both Thompson and Wolfe were present. It's a disgusting affair, especially when coupled with the murder committed by the gang at Altamont which symbolically destroyed the decade.
More recently, the Hell's Angels seem to have taken a softer side – despite their connection to the so-called "Bikers For Trump" – comprised largely by weekend warriors and guys who saw Wild Hogs (i.e. your embarrassing, embarrassing father). Two years ago, the Angel's waited outside a Wal-Mart for five days to buy bicycles for homeless children at Christmastime. Isn't that just the sweetest?
4 Jeffrey Dahmer's "Doing a Dahmer"
Jeffrey Dahmer was the kind of serial killer that lacked superficial charm. He was an outlier who frightened and confounded those closest to him and, if the yearbook had the category "Most Likely to Murder" he'd be at the top of the list.
Dahmer spent his childhood in and around Akron, Ohio where his classmates noted that there was something...off. He used to smuggle both beer and spirits in the lining of his army jacket, referring to both as "his medicine." He was an outcast, but one that fascinated some. More popular kids would witness him shotgunning beer cans before wandering into the local stores and pretending to be physically disabled. They referred to this as "doing a Dahmer."
It was all fun and games until someone got eaten.
3 Aileen Wuornos – Ballpoint Artist
Aileen Wuornos continues to fascinate serial killer aficionados as a rare exception. Serial killers are typically white, middle aged males. Wuornos shot and killed seven men, leaving their nude bodies to be discovered days later. Her first victim was, according to her, in self-defence, but it's possible that the act of killing awakened something dark inside the prostitute. She got a taste for it.
As good as she was with a gun, she was also handy with a ballpoint pen and a notepad. During her spree, she left numerous drawings in her wake, and she continued to draw impressively complex works in prison until her execution by lethal injection in 2002.
2 Kissinger Liked To Screw With His Protection Detail
Henry Kissinger is both reviled and respected. He's the only accused war criminal to ever appear on numerous American talk shows, including The Colbert Report. While under the employ of the state department, he was also a thorn in the side of his Secret Service detail. According to a memoir from ex- Secret Service agent Dennis McCarthy, Kissinger loved to screw with them. One well known incident occurred in Acapulco, when he noticed several signs along the beach warning of shark infested waters. Kissinger demanded his detail enter the water before his wife so that they may "guard for sharks."
The agents refused, but promised to fight sharks should they ever come on land.
1 Nixon's Favourite Show Was Gilligan's Island
It's no secret that Richard Nixon's favourite film is Patton. There are stories, during his dark days under assault from demonstrators and later during the Watergate scandal, that he would watch the film repeatedly to amp himself up. He was watching it that famous night when he went unannounced to the Lincoln Memorial to talk to protestors about things dearest to their hearts such as football and how travel broadens the mind.
But after a rough day of circumventing the law, or outright breaking it, Nixon loved to relax alongside his favourite castaways long before Lost ever debuted on ABC. He really enjoyed Gilligan's Island. One can only wonder which character he most identified with, but this writer's money is on the title character, whose skinny weak frame and constant haranguing from a bully who outranked him surely got under the skin of a paranoid, self-conscious tyrant who still thought he was the underdog.