I think the commission of heinous crimes coarsens the mind, making it more and more difficult for the individual to attain the state of mind necessary to the state of receptiveness to grasp or appreciate dhamma.
I was rather forcefully reminded of this when a friend of mine reconnected with me on Facebook. He called me and during our conversation he asked me if I remembered the incident in High School involving the dog. I hadn't thought of this in over thirty five years, but I did remember it, and it does qualify as a heinous act. I didn't do it, but I witnessed it. My friend and I were part of a summer program to provide summer jobs for neighborhood kids to keep us out of trouble the year before we went to High School, we were fifteen years old, and we were assigned to a city brush cleaning crew. The men on this crew were rough, uneducated sorts, who joked around with us but you wouldn't think they were bad men. Except one day, a homeless dog was scrounging around, and one man lured him over with a bite of sandwich, and the dog came over and gobbled it down. The man picked the dog up. The dog licked the man's hand in gratitude. I remember that very clearly. Then the man threw the dog into the wood chipper, laughing loudly. From the laughter and applause of the rest of the crew, this wasn't the first time this amusement had occurred.
I was horrified. In fact, I ran about a block before throwing up into some bushes. Then I ran the rest of the way home, because at fifteen I thought men who found it funny to kill a dog in this manner might take it into their minds to do the same with a teenage boy. I got a call the next day from the supervisor of the program asking me why I wasn't at work. I was afraid to talk to him. He could tell something was wrong, and to his credit he was very kind to me and instead of giving up he eventually got me to talk. I finally told him what happened. He repeated it back to me and asked "Did it look like the dog had an owner?" I said no, it was a stray. To me, this didn't make any difference, but he was apparently relieved there wouldn't be an angry owner looking for legal compensation. He told me that the crew were rough, but really weren't bad guys. He found me another position, helping the janitor at the High School, which was much better. My friend stayed with the road crew for the rest of the summer. He had a tougher disposition. He said there were no more dogs in the wood chipper, but lots of squirrels and one cat.
The supervisor told me the boys on that crew weren't bad guys. You see, I disagree--those guys were bad guys, or at least most unfortunate. They were possessed of minds so coarse they will never know the beauty of the dhamma, or the happiness of empathizing with other sentient beings. They took pleasure in killing innocent animals for sport. My friend and I discussed this for a while and he told me he heard that the head of that road crew had fallen from a bucket truck and broken his back about a year after that summer. He spent the rest of his life in severe pain and finally killed himself with pain killers and alcohol. My friend said "He got what he deserved;" at one point I would have agreed but these days I'm not so quick to judge. Finding dhamma is a gift a rare few receive.
But that poor dog. I remember him licking the hand of the man who killed him. Wow. What a world. That's my story of a heinous act.
♫♫ "I was eatin' some chop suey,
With a lady in St. Louie,
When there sudden comes a knockin' at the door.
And that knocker, he says, "Honey,
Roll this rocker out some money,
Or your daddy shoots a baddie to the floor." ♫♫ --The Venerable Mr. Miggle