Will Smith, Reprogrammed

Over the holidays, an interview Will Smith gave to a Scottish newspaper became the scandal of the week - specifically, this passage:

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming."

You'll note that Smith didn't actually say that everyone (Hitler included) is "basically good"; the reporter interpolated it. But even that interpolation was enough to bring the Jewish Defense League down around his head, complete with a ridiculous statement that Smith had "spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis. His disgusting words stick a knife in the backs of every veteran who fought (and sometimes died) to save the world from the intentions of Adolf Hitler."

Seriously: They really said this.

Still, I remember thinking at the time that there was something creepy about Smith's comments - not the totally banal speculation about Hitler's psychology, but the line about how "stuff like that just needs reprogramming." And now comes news that Smith may be a recent convert to his great pal Tom Cruise's Church of Scientology. So it all makes sense. (Though of course, as Noah Feldman would no doubt be quick to point out, I only find Scientology so creepy because it was founded relatively recently.)

Meanwhile, in related news, I'm really looking forward to that new unauthorized Cruise biography, assuming Scientology's legal team lets it see the light of day ...