We like to see the world in black and white: a landscape of villains and victims; good and evil; right and wrong.
These labels allow us to make easy moral judgements about others, to apportion blame and sympathy. It seems to be an involuntary human response. Who has suffered? Who is at fault?
Indeed, many of the stories in today's news are about the process of allocation: the Iraq War Inquiry; reports of crimes and the courts; response to the credit crunch.
We extract complexity and nuance until we have distilled events to the point where their human constituents can be placed in monochrome boxes marked "saints" and "sinners". Every narrative becomes a morality play.
Take the heart-rending story of Baby P. The toddler we now know as Peter was a tragic victim of abuse - torture which ultimately led to his death.
- Baby P: Abused and murdered