Last month, after the Costa Concordia fiasco in Livorno, Gregoria De Falco – the port official who ordered the cartoonishly cowardly captain, Francesco Schettino, to get back on his ship and aid in the rescue effort – became an instant hero. But De Falco's wife dissented, saying it was "ridiculous" to call her husband a hero. "The worrying thing," she said, "is that people like my husband who simply do their duty every day, immediately become idols, personalities, heroes in this country. That is not normal."
Wise lady. But it's not only in Italy, these days, that some people are awed when others simply do their duty. Take last Sunday's guilty verdicts in the Kingston, Ontario, honor-killing case. On June 30, 2009, as Stephen Brown recounted here the other day, three teenage sisters and their father's first wife were found dead in a car in the Rideau Canal. Three weeks later, police arrested the girls' father, Afghani-born real-estate tycoon Mohammad Shafia, their mother, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their brother, Hamed. All three have now been handed 25-year prison sentences for first-degree murder.
You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to crack this case. Far from it. The perpetrators' alibis were monumentally feeble, the motives transparent, the evidence ludicrously incriminating. On the family computer, someone had Googled "where to commit a murder" and "Can a prisoner have control over his real estate." On wiretaps recorded after the murders, the father was heard boasting of his sense of honor, calling his dead daughters "filthy and rotten children" and saying "may the devil shit on their graves."