ACT 1. Something done or performed, esp. voluntarily … 2. The process of doing or performing; an occurrence that results from a person’s will being exerted on the external world.
MALICE The intent, without justification or excuse, to commit a wrongful act.
NEGLIGENT Characterized by a person’s failure to exercise the degree of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised in the same circumstance.
RECKLESS Characterized by the creation of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to others and by a conscious (and sometimes deliberate) disregard for or indifference to that risk; heedless, rash. Reckless conduct is much more than mere negligence: it is gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do.
The above has a strange emotional resonance – partly the distancing effect of familiar terms technically defined, partly the spin-cycle from too much thinking about the (potentially fictional – thanks CA) ‘reasonable person.’ Mostly, though, it’s the practicality. Or rather, it’s the practicality next to the awfulness. Thinking about malice as “the intent, without justification or excuse, to commit a wrongful act” both heightens and dulls the term. That tension’s compelling.
Less abstractly, here’s some more on the Sean Bell case indictments. There was a lot of coverage today, which indirectly prompted this post.