I found this essay to mirror some of my concerns. I try to point out to my classes (I teach college) that identifying with and having sympathy for criminals and wrong doers is usually wrong and when not directly wrong, questionable.
I remember my shock when asking my students who their heroes were and one young lady said the Hannibal Lector character in Red Dragon. After a long pause during which I tried to collect my thoughts, I pointed out that this might not be a good choice. I have also pointed out to my students that you hang pirates, that pirates do not sail in endless circles in the Caribbean on a kind of Carnivale Cruise Line vacation but sail to kill people and take their stuff. They find this a strange thought.
I tell them that your moral judgment has to be turned on all the time to be effective and that it requires considerable effort to do so after having been conditioned to root for the “hero” in thousands of television shows. As with all teaching I wonder how much I get across.
This a good article which takes the side of moral responsibility.
My thanks to Attacking the Page.
From the article –
Basically, codes are the rules we use to govern the way we want to live. Our codes of honor, ethics and conduct make up our conscious. They give us a moral compass for orienteering our way though life. Right or wrong, we all have a philosophy by which we live. And so should our characters.