In City Journal Dalrymple sees a cultural shift in the differing attitudes expressed in books by Marian Partington, sister of a murder victim, and Winifred Young, sister of a murderer:
Oddly enough, this constant focus [by Partington] on herself is carried out in the name of the reduction of ego: “The movement towards comprehension is neither logical or straightforward. Essentially it involves becoming less self-centered, which makes space for the experience for oneself and others. It involves getting out of the way. Ultimately it may involve becoming forgiving.” And, of course, the first person to be forgiven is herself: “It was necessary to dissolve my own grief and anger and find compassion for myself before opening up to the possibility of forgiving those who caused this terrible pain.”
[By contrast] Winifred Young’s reaction (and that of her family) to her brother’s first trial, in 1962, was of exemplary clarity: “Even we, his family, persons who were more emotionally affected by it all; the ones who more than any others in the world, were reluctant to see him put behind bars, felt that this was the only right thing to do with him.” This response is sophisticated compared with Partington’s pseudo-spiritual maunderings. Not only is it far from the vengefulness that Partington ignorantly supposes is the only alternative to forgiveness; it clearly draws a distinction, as Partington does not, between the private sphere of the emotions and the public sphere of policy.