The only thing more disturbing than the back story to the Luka Magnotta murder trial is the public obsession with the case.
The lineup started at 6am today for the few available seats in the tiny Montreal courtroom where proceedings didn't get underway until 9:30am. I can understand lining up early in the morning for tickets to see your favorite band, because there's a tangible payoff - something that lifts your spirit and brings you joy. For the break-of-dawn keeners at the Palais de Justice, the Magnotta trial is more likely to make them physically ill and scar their souls.
The media shoulders a significant portion of the blame for the morbid fascination with the case. In a profane illustration of what now passes for professional journalistic standards, editors and news directors for Canadian Press named Magnotta the country's Newsmaker of the Year in 2012. Toronto radio station CFRB - once Canada's most credible and respected newstalk radio station - has an interactive Luka Magnotta web page, even though the murder happened in Montreal and the case is only marginally relevant to a Toronto audience. Jury selection was covered like an election campaign.
You don't have to be a Johns Hopkins psychiatry grad to recognize that the ghoulish appeal of the Magnotta case is rooted in deviant sex and extreme violence, although more educated minds than mine are required to explain exactly why that visceral combination piques human curiosity to such an unhealthy extent. The pathetic and frightening truth might be that as a product of a society where pornography, gratuitous violence and ill-gotten infamy are celebrated cultural norms, Luka Magnotta represents us, and we are all on trial.