Virgil explains that circles seven and eight are for violence and fraud, respectively. This in itself is a bit surprising, but the worst violence is always rooted in the Lie, so it is appropriate that fraud -- the more "interior" of the two -- be the deeper offense.
Virgil also properly notes that violence itself is not the problem. Rather, it becomes evil when the end is wrong, a truth which liberals routinely betray, for it is simply a truism that the end often justifies the means. For example, our violence against Islamic terrorists is completely justified, whereas their violence against us is completely unjustified.
This is the source of much of the left's perennial moral confusion and corruption -- for example, comparing our liberation of Iraq to a tyrannical occupation, or Gitmo to a gulag, or capital punishment to murder, or Israeli defense to Islamic savagery. Ironically, this fraudulent characterization of moral violence only plunges the left more deeply into hell, for fraud displeases God the more.
I might add that the left's fraudulent attempt to blame conservatives for the violence in Tucson is, in Dante's scheme, even more morally repulsive than the violence itself. Note also how deeply rooted is this sin. The New York Times simply cannot stop its compulsive fraudulence. The Lie is no longer an exterior action but an interior trait.
If this still seems counter-intuitive, I am reminded of a Talmudic law to the effect that the person who falsely (and knowingly) accuses another of a crime should be subject to the same penalty as the accused would have been had he actually been guilty.
Thus, for example, a Johnnie Cochran would be eligible for the death penalty for falsely accusing Los Angeles police officers of a capital crime in framing O.J. Simpson for murder.
This makes sense, for if the entire judicial system were ever to be completely infested with people as morally corrupt as Johnnie Cochran, no earthly justice would be possible, so the rule of law would be replaced by the law of the jungle. In the end, there would be much more immoral violence.
Think of how rapidly the world would be cleaned up if the fraudulent were aware of the moral danger they place themselves in! We'd immediately see the rats scatter from the UN building like people from a sinking ship.
Upton notes that immoral violence involves a perversion of will, while fraud involves a perversion of intellect, so again, the latter is deeper and more interior.
A more subtle point is that violence is "a parody of Divine Absoluteness," fraud a parody of "the Divine Infinity." Upton doesn't elaborate, but I believe she means that immoral violence is a parody of absolute justice, while fraud is a parody of infinite or eternal truth.
Later she notes that fraud -- which is predicated on the Lie -- is "an attempt by man, created in God's image, to claim for himself divine creative power," as if "one had the power to create truth... 'out of nothing.'" Thus, it is a kind of satanic creativity, which must always be parasitic on the real thing (i.e., the lie requires Truth, but not vice versa).
Have you ever known a compulsive liar, or even just an annoying "topper"? Psychologically, these people usually harbor a pathological narcissism that causes them to believe they can omnipotently manipulate reality by inducing people to believe the lie. Certainly our Narcissist in Chief is overqualified for residence in circle eight.
Note that the less serious sins only "degrade the divinity in man, but do not deny it," whereas the really bad ones "directly deny the Divine/Human center, and this is the essence of injustice" (ibid.).
Analogously -- and this is another counter-intuitive point -- Dante feels that violence against oneself is actually worse than violence toward others, since it is more "inward" and "therefore closer to an attack upon God."
Here again, I find a psychoanalytic parallel that might help illustrate this. I've had occasion to think about this recently in reading two books about the last horrific year of World War II, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, and Retribution: The Battle for Japan. The level and extent of savage barbarism inflicted by the German, Japanese, and Soviet armies is quite literally beyond one's ability to comprehend, much less assimilate. Just as today, vis-a-vis the Islamists, our worst conceivable aberrations aren't nearly as repulsive as their norms.
But how did they get this way? How do people become such monsters? Again, the only way is for violence to have become so interiorized that exteriorizing it becomes "natural."
Some psychoanalysts feel that the most primitive fear is that of annihilation. Therefore, the most primitive defense mechanisms would involve defenses against annihilation, often by violent lashing out.
In fact, if you want to unleash the most primitive violence in people, just tell them they are under threat of genocide. This has been the method of the Palestinians, but virtually all totalitarian states tell their subjects they are under siege by outside forces in order to justify their own tyranny.
In America, the left perpetuates a similar lie in telling blacks that conservatives are racist, which in turn justifies left-wing violence. More generally, since the best way to know what a liberal is up to is to pay attention to what they accuse conservatives of, they will have much to answer for in the Court of Cosmic Justice.
To review, the three levels of violence, in order of seriousness, are against man, against oneself, and against God. For to deny God is to deny the very ground and basis of all that is good, or true, or beautiful, or moral, or just.
If this is difficult to comprehend, just look at the psychotic levels of sadism attained by the most systematically godless regimes, e.g., Nazi Germany, the USSR, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jung Il, et al.
Falsifying the past is how the left has sought to elaborate the future. --Aphorisms of Don Colacho
Left wing journalism is the first rough draft of rewritten history. --Laphorisms of Don Pietro
Dante and Virgil discover Paul Krugman hiding under his big desk in the eighth circle of hell.