William Peterson as Gil Grissom in CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationThe closing words of tonight’s episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation express a truly great insight into contemporary American society.

After solving the case, the investigators ponder the question of who is ultimately responsible for the depredations of a group of teenage thrill-killers in Las Vegas, whether it is the parents or simply the kids themselves. Someone mentions the "moral compass" the young people should have been provided. Team leader Gil Grissom enters the room and provides a wiser perspective:

The truth is, a moral compass can only point you in the right direction. It can’t make you go there.

Our culture preaches that you shouldn’t be ashamed of anything you do anymore.

And unfortunately, this city is built on the principle that there’s no such thing as guilt:

"Do whatever you want. We won’t tell."

So, without a conscience, there’s nothing to stop you from killing someone.

And evidently, you don’t even have to feel bad about it.

That’s a powerful statement, and entirely true. It’s even more powerful on screen than on the page. The episode is called Fannysmackin’ and is well worth seeing for this excellent brief speech.