There is no other word for a society where something like this has to happen before someone starts to pay attention.
The parents of a blind seven-year-old who was sent to a religious school in Pakistan have told how he was hung by his feet from a ceiling and beaten to death after failing to memorise the Koran.
It may not be all Muslims, but it's not just the fringe either.
While officialdom often turns a blind eye, the sheer brutality of the latest case has led the new prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, to order an inquiry.
Allah only knows how many other seven-year-olds are out there suffering similar abuse but that we haven't heard about just because they haven't died in so dramatic a fashion yet.