As a writer, it's often tough to know where the line is between an interestingly awful character and a tastelessly awful character. Several months back, I was going around in my head about a character who thought rape was funny, but I just couldn't bring myself to want to write about such a person, in large part because I was rather nervous about the idea of publishing something I'd written about such a person. I always try to empathize with my characters on some level, but who wants to spend time trying to empathize with a dude who finds rape funny? ICK.
And then, that movie, "Observe and Report" came out, and suddenly the character of a guy who finds rape funny became relevant, because it raised the issue of *actual people* finding rape funny. The very talented Kevin Moore did a good strip about this topic back when it was still timely (unlike mine). Of course, as a political cartoonist, Kevin doesn't always have to empathize with his characters--he's free to just lampoon them. I sometimes envy him that.