Photo: messay.com, Flickr Creative Commons
I don't think that Gaddafi is really crazy. I don't even think he is uniquely evil. I'll give you Kim Jong Il, but I think part of my willingness to pick on Kim is simply how dorky that guy is. Nerds and racial minorities are always given a shorter ethical leash than the cool kids. It's a shame to my dork heritage that I fall into the same judgmental trap.
But getting back to Gaddafi, I'm not saying he isn't horrible. He is. What he's done in his time as leader of Libya is horrible. What he's done since the protests have started is even worse. My point is that I've known people who function in normal American society who would likely do as much as Gaddafi had they ended up ruling as dictator of some third world country.
It may be unfair to assume that the boss I had who got an underling fired so she could cover up the relatively minor mistake of having forgotten to tell us about a mandatory meeting would have massacred protesters in Libya had she been in Gaddafi's place, but I'm pretty sure she would have. Sure, selfishly protecting your image at the cost of someone else's career isn't the same as ordering an air strike on unarmed citizens, but then my old boss couldn't have had someone shoot that teacher without consequences. I'm sure if Gaddafi had been born in the suburbs of St. Louis and worked as a mid-level executive in a big corporation he'd be known by his underlings as a backstabber, intellectual thief, and tyrannical micro-manager, but they wouldn't fear for their lives.
I think it may be dangerous to assume that the people who create evil are somehow fundamentally different from the average person because they usually aren't. Instead, they're people whose character flaws were magnified by the situations they were in.