Sunday, July 22, 2012

Integrity is Destiny

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.
Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day.
The content of your character is your choice.
Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.
Your integrity is your destiny ... it is the light that guides your way.
-- Heraclitus (?535 BC-475 BC) Greek Philosopher
Driving in to work Friday morning, I was listening to Peter Boyles, a Denver talk radio legend discuss the breaking news about the gunman who shot all those people at an Aurora movie theater. It was a search for answers. Caller after caller asked why.

Pete, who’s almost 70, brought up that we didn’t see stuff like this 40 years ago, and he’s right. We’ve always had violence, but this random stuff is a fairly new phenomenon. Many posited that it was generational—some blamed violent movies or video games, while others pointed to a lack of discipline and poor parenting.

No Respect

Me? I don’t know. We’re not a serious people anymore. Everything is an big f’ing joke.

We have no respect anymore, for anything. We have lampooned and demeaned every last institution in the country, a slow motion French Revolution where even the highest offices of government and church leaders do not escape the rhetorical torches and pitchforks. We've set it all ablaze and we dance with glee as we watch it burn.

Granted, government and church have earned it with their serial malfeasance. Their leaders don't appear to respect the institutions they were supposed to be guarding, so why should we?

We respect nothing but our own needs and our overinflated sense of self importance. Back in the day, people had more respect because the culture taught it to them. A person with little or no respect for anything was ostracized to the fringes with other malcontents, but it was a long trip there with plenty of opportunity to repent along the way.

No Cultural Norms

Punishment and guidance at school, getting fired from jobs, being shut out of polite society, getting punched in the nose for insulting something dear to someone or for impugning someone's character. These things taught us lessons and instilled virtues, if nothing else, just knowing when to shut your mouth. A person could learn, or not, by degrees.

Nowadays, there are no stop signs, no guardrails to block a person's free-wheeling descent to hell. Be as stupid as you wanna be. The football coach who used to teach respect has adorned the back window of his pickup with a cartoon character peeing on a Detroit Red Wing logo. How funny! It's in your face 24/7.

So yeah, its the video games, its the violent movies, its war without end, inspiring every jackass and he-man wanna-be to dress up in camo and act stupid. It's our trashed-out, stand-for-nothing, anything-goes culture  

Most importantly, it is what we allow into our collective societal consciousness. If the mind can conceive it, man can achieve it. Heraclitus knew it. It's the same now as it was 2500 years ago. Think up new inanities and novel modes of violence, and all your dreams will come true.

Garbage In, Garbage Out...


Rob said...

Closely tied to the factors you cited, I believe there's a real issue with the almost total lack of personal responsibility or accountability now. When you explain everything away of a deed, it trivializes that deed and absolves the doer. And it starts so innocently with squishy soft sentiments like: "Everyone gets an award so nobody feels like a loser." Well no, if you're competing, someone must lose. If that reality didn't exist, what would be the point of competing and what's there to inspire personal excellence?

To a specific item you mentioned, entertainment media violence has indeed numbed an entire generation. We’ve become fully acclimated and accustomed to horrendous, gratuitous violence as a normal component of daily life - as entertainment. Perversely, we've come to savor and glorify extreme cruelty and destructiveness!

When 7 yr olds are praised by their Dads for their skillful killshots in "Call of Duty," how can that NOT have some long-term residual effect that warps perception? Consider that several of the victims in the recent "Dark Knight" shooting were children under the age of 10. What kind of society are we when our parents routinely exhibit such incredible lack of rationale? What's the thought process of a parent who'd subject an infant to such an extreme movie? Our society's values are becoming unbelievably perverse.

Thersites said...

Plato, "Republic"

By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

How do you mean?

I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and the metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

Yes, he said, that is the way.

And these are not the only evils, I said—there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

Quite true, he said.

The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?

That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at any body who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.

When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.

And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority, and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will have no one over them.

Yes, he said, I know it too well.

Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs tyranny.

Glorious indeed, he said.

Z said...

SF, what an excellent, huge-subject-yet-succinct post, opened by an achingly pertinent quote from Heraclitus.

If "integrity is our destiny" in America, America's destiny is indeed in deep trouble. We seem to have no integrity anymore.

It's a little thing but makes the point (as if I must?), but I've been stewing over an Olympian making headlines as she slams swimmer Phelps for not being one of them; friendly, gregarious, going to their parties, etc. With the FACT that the Olympics organizers have passed out 150,000 condoms to Olympian athletes, some of whom have been seen having sex on the grass outside dorms, I wonder if Phelps just didn't snub her advances? And does it HELP the American sensibilities to have Olympians gossiping about each other? Or having 150,000 condoms passed out as part of the Olympic tradition now? How's that for integrity?

Yet, when we complain about the media, which truly does have such a big part in the lack of integrity and respect in our country in its grab for ad money, we constantly get, from Ducky and other libs, the "there's the free market for ya" if it's the MARKET and not this new American who has no respect, little integrity and seems to look at the 'garbage in' as such a good thing.
Shame is very under appreciated...I've said that for a long time and been insulted by leftists at my blog in their un-understanding of my point.

excellent comments by Rob and Therites, too.
Have a wonderful SUnday, all.

Ducky's here said...

This instance is more opaque though.

By every account this guy had a great future. Neuroscience is not the pursuit of the mentally deficient. He played sports in school and didn't go through bullying.

Then he decides to act out a scene from a comic and shoot up a theater.

I think my favorite film, not the best but my favorite is Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders . It is simply the story of three people whose reality becomes shaped by pop culture.

We are seeing that now, big time. The alienation is massive.

Always On Watch said...

we didn’t see stuff like this 40 years ago...We’ve always had violence, but this random stuff is a fairly new phenomenon

Largely, true -- particularly with regard to mass murder unrelated to sexual fulfillment and the like.

A few exceptions that may prove the rule: (1) the murders of the Clutter Family in Kansas in 1959, delineated in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, (2) Charles Manson, and (3) a lesser known one in Hungary, Szilveszter Matuska in 1930-1931.

There are also spree killers and rampage killers. Dates are clustered, but there are a few notable exceptions.

BTW, on Wednesday, I will post about the Aurora Massacre. I found an unusual take on it.

Always On Watch said...

This instance is more opaque though.

By every account this guy had a great future.

Good point.

Although I read somewhere that he entered post-grad school because he couldn't find employment. Don't know if that's true, but I know that I heard it somewhere.

I also read over at Z's site in a comments thread that Holmes was OWS. Don't know if that is confirmed.

I have read in several places that Holmes was involved in research of mind-altering drugs. Perhaps he was doing "personal research." The famous Dr. Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat has done so and written about doing so numerous times, in the case of Dr. Sacks, personal research has included his using mind-altering drugs as a possible treatment for Parkinson's Disease and the like.

In any case, we don't know what we don't know about Holmes. Clearly, he was not like Russell Eugene Weston, Jr. (1998); Weston was "on the radar" for a long time.

Always On Watch said...

BTW, I'm not disagreeing with your post. Not at all.

I do think, however, that the media are twisting themselves into knot with asking "Why, why, why?"

Frankly, I don't think it's a simple as James Holmes was insane. Honestly, I'm not sure that he is at all. Twisted, yes. Insane? Maybe not -- and I'm not referring only to McNaughon, either.

Douchebag said...

For the life of me, I just can’t understand why you take that crap from those liberals/progressives?? I guess your liberal/progressives cronies have found that you and the other few Republicans that post over there will take the shit that they slam you with on a day to day basis. And you for what reason I don’t know, take that crap they blow up your ass.
These lying liberal Dummycraps are INTENTIONALLY miss leading you into believing that the conservatives CAN'T win in the hope that you will not show up and vote and also hoping the fool, liberal Dummycraps will show up to vote in greater numbers. Parasites don't think.
You have been warned again and again that these fools will eventually wear you down. Yes, I know it is mind boggling that liberals actually do try to think that their strategy would turn conservatives into liberals and cause us to vote for liberal leaders. Liberals have yet to figure out what functioning, rational thoughtful people have already learned about their Dear Leader, their Anointed Savior. Yep, those fool liberals just don't understand conservatives; These stupid the fool liberals really can’t see just how stupid they really are. This is not your fathers Democratic party any longer, MLK was replaced with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.. The most ironic thing is they support the same party was the KKK..
Get a clue liberals, you are so stupid couldn't think your way out of an empty closet with the door open, the light on, a road map to the door, and a tour guide!!!
But, by the time the fool Dummycrats figure out something intelligent, the Millennium will have passed.

Silverfiddle said...

AOW: I get ya. In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not offended by disagreement. I welcome it!

But I don't think we are disagreeing. Peter Boyles' point was that we're seeing an increase in completely random, nihilistic behavior.


I don't have answers either, which is why I posted this, and I agree with you that just calling him crazy not only doesn't explain it; it may not be accurate.

I lean towards what Ducky hints at:

That he was shaped by pop culture, which is why I opened with Heraclitus and closed the way I did.

We have lost our way as a society, and as a liberty-lover, that puts me at a loss for words, since I do not believe in government nudging and shaping us.

Anonymous said...

There are no pat answers, are there Kurt. I kmow I don't have any. You might find this article about why Icelanders are the happiest people on the planet. I don't buy the author's simplistic reasoning, but there is some food for thought in the article. Certainly the fact that there is virtuallly no diversity in their culture has something to do with it.

Paul said...

I guess Pete's old age might have made him forget that we did have these incidents 40 years ago.
But the kill count was less, because the weapons were not as sophisticated.
Read about the guy who killed from a Texas tower, with his hunting rifle 50 years ago, and if he had had a current day killing machine, his kill count would have been higher.

Les Carpenter said...

Rather than opine Silver I shall simply say, excellent post.

This problem is a national one, and it is in part the result of an increasing number of individuals that have been desensitized to violence by society itself.

Okay, I lied. Couldn't help bu to opine just a bit. You know me :)

Silverfiddle said...

Steve: But we have more of them now.

The technology cat is out of the bag, on a human level as well as a global scale.

You can't put the genie back in the bottle.

You don't think our trashy culture has anything to do with it?

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Democrat and shameless Obama fanboy, said it best this morning on one of those tv talk shows:

Tighter gun laws wouldn't have stopped him. He would have used explosives or poison gas or some other menthod.

Also, Aurora has some of the strictest gun laws in the state.

Paul said...

Of course I do.
Just saying you started out you post with a point, that is not true, and used that point to make some conclusions.
I believe in the second amendment.
We can't stop nuts, but we could lessen the damage they do.
Free speech has limitations, so can gun ownership.

Ducky's here said...


Gun control is a dead end in resolving this issue.

Silverfiddle said...

And Ducky, at the risk of getting all warm and chummy, I wonder what we can do as a society without infringing the rights of artists? (I include photographers, filmmakers, musicians, etc in that category)

And I also plead guilty. I like older violent movies, Sam Peckinpah, etc. I also liked the last Batman movie before this one.
But I do admit to hating recent violent outings like Hostel, Saw and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, which I found positively disgusting and didn't finish watching.

So while I think it's sick to make such a movie, and sick to watch it, I also confess to liking some violent movies.

Bob said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. My take is that Holmes may not have had those guide posts our parents and culture taught us so many years ago, like, the difference between right and wrong. Plus, I don't think he was mentally tough to absorb the disappointments in life.

We may never know or understand what went on in his mind. A news person said yesterday that instead of debating gun control, we should debate mental health.

Les Carpenter said...

@ Bob - "My take is that Holmes may not have had those guide posts our parents and culture taught us so many years ago, like, the difference between right and wrong."

" A news person said yesterday that instead of debating gun control, we should debate mental health."

Excellent points. While the debate(a) must be held, they must also be balanced and directed by logic and reason.

Les Carpenter said...

@ Bob - "My take is that Holmes may not have had those guide posts our parents and culture taught us so many years ago, like, the difference between right and wrong."

" A news person said yesterday that instead of debating gun control, we should debate mental health."

Excellent points. While the debate(a) must be held, they must also be balanced and directed by logic and reason.

Sam Huntington said...

We had violent episodes forty years ago, but they didn’t make the national media. I never heard of the incident surrounding Capote’s book In Cold Blood until I was required to read it in college. Now, forty years later, we have the same kind of episodes in a society with ever-increasing population and concomitant social problems, 24/7 news outlets looking for sensations, and political candidates who can’t wait to “suspend” their campaigns in order to spend time with grieving families —and with the press, of course.

Silverfiddle said...

Sam: I've thought about what you said as well. Bad stuff happens all over the world, but we used to not hear about it all, just the most sensational of it. Now, all the horrors of the world stream into us 24/7.

I guess I'm asking in this post if all of this (violent news, violent movies, etc) leaks into our subconscious and unbalances us, some more than other, and to the point of committing a horror.

I don't know

Z said...

"I lean towards what Ducky hints at:"

"hints at?" It's the whole point of your post without saying 'pop culture'!
thanks for coming by, SF

Finntann said...

@I also confess to liking some violent movies.

I think that a lot of that depends on the story. Is violence a plot vehicle or an end unto itself.

It comes down to whether or not a movie uses 'story' to advance through a sequence of violent events or uses a sequence of violent events to advance through a 'story'.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, in a massive, complex society, things like this will happen. They are not new, it's just that the weapons we have today are far more deadly - and more readily available.


Finntann said...

There has, of course, been a lot of talk on the news here regarding gun control. I was watching the evening news Friday evening and the talk was about how we need to ban "high-powered assault rifles" like the AR-15.

I was thinking to myself, I wouldn't really consider the AR-15 a "high-powered rifle". It is certainly a term with a lot of social context, but does it really mean anything?

Generally, from a military perspective, assault rifles are considered 'intermediate', they certainly aren't considered "high-powered".

Sure the AR-15 is a black and scary military looking weapon and it is certainly an assault rifle, but if I'm going elk hunting I'm taking my .300 not a .223.

The press does us disservice by sensationalizing the weapon. We shouldn't be talking about the weapons we should be talking about the magazines.

I am a staunch advocate of second amendment rights, but there is no way in hell you can convince me that anyone needs a 100 round magazine. Other than belt-fed weapons, in the military I never carried anything larger than a 20 round magazine. If you're hunting, you really don't need anything larger than a five round magazine.

Just a thought.


Finntann said...

The weapons are not more deadly Jersey, at least the weapons being used in incidents like this are not.

If I had to be shot and got to pick the ammunition, the .223 or 5.56 would be high on my list of things to get shot with.

Believe me, you do not want to get shot with a .300, a 45-70, or a .50. They are far more deadly.

As I said above... stop sensationalizing the damn weapon and talk about what matters, the cpacity.

Paul said...

The Texas tower shootings were, like today, on every front page of newspapers around the world, not just America. All TV and radio covered it 24/7.
The same questions were asked.
Maybe you were to young, but we did hear about those incidents with the same media saturation we do today.
The Texas tower shootings were the largest amount of killings on a college campus, until Virginia Tech.
The "In Cold Blood" killings were a national story, which is why the book was a best seller.

Z said...

Steve, I remember the Texas Tower shootings, but I don't remember it covered like least TV wasn't 24/7, with everybody's second cousin twice removed interviewed about how they feel about their loved one dying, etc.

The Columbine FILM of Michael Moore came out when I was living in Paris and we'd gone to the movies and I saw a poster for the film; I was so stunned that I said to my husband and our European friends "Not MY Columbine" I couldn't BELIEVE anybody had made a film about that horrible time. It was a humiliating moment.
But, of course IN COLD BLOOD was made into a film, too.

It's sickening that they go now into overdrive trying to psychoanalyze the shooter as if we must ask ourselves "Was something wrong?" REALLY? Ya THINK?

Fox and CNN don't send big reporters to Colorado, many of them, out of the goodness of their hearts..
the 24/7 newscycle is strangling us. I long for the days of "news at six, film at eleven".

We didn't have to hear about every single abducted child in Missouri. Lest I now am told I"m heartless, believe me, I am not, but we can't help those in Missouri and we don't need the constant drip drip drip of nightmares in our psyches 24.7

Mustang said...

Finntann is 100% correct. This post questions the capacity for people to do so much harm to others, not the venue. Saran gas was a horrible addition to our capacity for violence, as were the chemicals used to destroy the Murrah Building. I suspect finding all the answers to the question “why” may keep psychiatrists busy for decades. In some cases, we know why 334 people lost their lives in Beslan, Russia. We know why 77 more died in Norway a year ago.

But we seem incapable of understanding the impact of violent video games (such as Grand Theft Auto) —we delude ourselves if we think such games (rated PG-13) pose no danger to our children. We have not yet seriously addressed the desensitizing effect of how Hollywood projects violence in film. Young people may somehow enjoy the visual effect of large amounts of blood, but no psychologically balanced person actually exposed to the odor of carnage thinks it’s cool. Our courts correctly concede that the first amendment allows this kind of communication, and have reminded us that our Constitution still permits one form of censorship. They call it parenting.

Ducky's here said...

Pechinpaw is a seminal case, Silverfiddle (we'll leave his main thesis, that capitalism destroyed the American west for later).

"The Wild Bunch" along with "Bonnie and Clyde" demonstrated that there is a huge audience for graphic choreographed violence. That's what the studios took from those films.

Before long you had very serious spiritual films like Bergman's, "The Virgin Spring" turned into trash like "Last House on the Left". There's a small audience for a serious portrayal of the origins of Christianity in medieval Sweden but a graphic schlock fest, big box office.
The junk is everywhere but may actually be abating a bit. The only way to keep the genre profitable has been to up the shock value and it may have reached its limit. Cold comfort since the damage has been done.

FreeThinke said...

The culture began to go noticeably rotten with the advent of Rock 'n Roll.

R 'n R in combination with "recreational" drug abuse and irresponsible, indiscriminate, mindlessly promiscuous sex devoid of passion, commitment, and any semblance of affection is THE influence that made all these disgusting phenomena we lament seem "cool."

It was The Beginning of The End.

I was there and saw it for what it was fifty years ago.

No one wants to believe me today, of course, so steeped in the debased pop culture are the vast majority.

Coarseness, Carelessness, Slovenliness, Vulgarity, Obscenity, Depravity now seem so NORMAL that most people can no longer recognize them for what they are.

It takes something as horrific as 911 or this latest atrocity in Aurora, Colorado to shock us out of our complacency and make us start questioning things -- for a while till the sensation dies down -- and then we revert to our debased version of "normal."

We do NOT see that the vulgar sounds we hear, the hideous sights we see, the vile thoughts to which we are routinely exposed EVERYWHERE have had a continuously dispiriting and degrading effect on us.

Once again, I am reminded of C. S. Lewis' provocative observation:

The Devil's greatest accomplishment to date has been to convince most people that he doesn't exist."

Oh yes he does, Virginia!


~ FreeThinke

Kid said...

SF, people need structure and a sense that justice will prevail. Do we feel like that today?

Only if one is mentally retarded.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Mustang: Young people may somehow enjoy the visual effect of large amounts of blood, but no psychologically balanced person actually exposed to the odor of carnage thinks it’s cool.

I read that nodding my head and saying "no Sh*t." You nailed it.

Callow candy asses sit down to a day of "Call of Duty" who've never seen combat or even been in a war zone. Hell, they've never been hunting.

I remember my son and I going in his first pheasant hunt. Killing the bird and then cleaning it. It's a beautiful, noble bird. You can't help but admire your prey.

No, too many of us are living in a fantasy world...

Paul said...

Google it!
SF was just over at Shaw's blog calling me a liar for what I said here.
I wish you people would educate yourselves and stop calling people who disagree with you liars, especially if you HAVEN"T GOT A CLUE WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT
SF lied about there being no coverage of these incidents in the past, so did SAM, and it is EASY to check it out
GOOGLE IT, you can see the videos, the newspapers, and the History of what happened.
Yes, HISTORY, try reading it

Sam Huntington said...

Steve, I don’t know how to break this to you … but I don’t even know you. Why would I call you a liar? People who disagree with you are not attacking you personally. What I attempted to imply was that in 1959 —as compared to today— the Clutter murders were relatively unknown to most people, even if it is true the story went out UPI. I was a teenager in 1959; I don’t remember hearing about the event on the televised news. I can’t recall hearing my parents talk about it. Therefore, when assigned to read In Cold Blood in college circa 1967, it was all news to me.

But, here’s a suggestion for you: go see a professional before you pop a vessel in your head or worse, turn into an ass hat.

Paul said...

So I lose patience with those who lie before they check the facts.
Try to be nice, just to be called a liar, when the idiot who calls me that, didn't even check the facts
If your going to disagree know what you are talking about before you call someone a liar
You people are disgusting and stupide.

Ed Bonderenka said...

If you can't spell the word "stupid", don't describe others with it please.
Nice post Silver.
I disagree with Finntann on capacity of mags.
I want what the other guy has.
Yes 100 rounds is excessive, but the Clintonistas regulated capacity on pistols. Camel/nose/tent.
The bad guy will pay no attention.
I don't care how many rounds you go hunting with when I'm trying to protect my life.
The 2nd springs from the British Declaration of Rights which was all about self protection.

Silverfiddle said...

OK Steve, just because I don't want to see your head explode with ALLCAPS, here's a review.

I said:

"Pete, who’s almost 70, brought up that we didn’t see stuff like this 40 years ago, and he’s right."

It was an observation, and to calm you, I will concede that there has perhaps always been random violence, but we're seeing more of it today.

Feel better now, Stevie?

Even the clutter murders, senseless as they were, can be ascribed to time and place opportunity by two twisted men.

The stuff we see now usually has no rationale.

Murder rates are worse now that 40 years ago, and we are now seeing more random killings.

Calm yourself down, Stevie.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ed Bonderenka: If you can't spell the word "stupid", don't describe others with it please.

Comment of the day!

Finntann said...

Yeah, it's all Rock 'n' Rolls fault...

And before that it was "The Devil's Swing"...

And before that it was that "Evil Jazz"...

I'm sure at one point is was Beezlebub's Baroque.

Yet we persevere

Finntann said...

@"Murder rates are worse now that 40 years ago, and we are now seeing more random killings."

Per 100,000

In 2010 the US Murder Rate 4.8

Forty years ago in 1972 it was 9.0

There were 14,748 murders in 2010 in a population of 308 million.

In 1972 there were 18,670 murders in a population of 208 million.

So much for that theory.

Finntann said...

They are called Rampage Killers and they are sprinkled throughout history.

In 1875 Alexander Keith killed 83 and wounded 200 with a bomb on a dock in Bremerhaven Germany.

In 1887 an unidentified assailant shot and killed 11 people and then committed suicide in Karachi Pakistan (then India).

In 1903 Gilbert Twigg killed 9 and wounded 25 in Kansas.

In 1913 Ernt Wagner killed 14 and wounded 11. He killed his wife and four children in Degerloch Germany, drove to Muhlhausan an der Enz and shot 20 people, nine of whom died.

In 1915 Monroe Phillips killed 7 and wounded 32 in Brunswick Georgia.

In 1927 Andrew Kehoe killed 44 and wounded 58 in the Bath Consolidated Schoolhouse in Michigan.

In 1938 Mutsuo Toi killed 30 and wounded 3 in Kaio Japan, starting with his grandmother who he beheaded with an axe. The rest of the victims succumbed to shotgun, axe, and sword.

In 1949 Howard Unruh killed 13 and wounded 3 in Camden, NJ.

In 1954 William Unek killed 21 people with an axe in the Belgian Congo and fled. Three years later in 1957 he killed 36 in Tanzania.

In 1958 an unknown arsonist killed 95 and wounded 100 in the Our Lady of the Angels school fire.

I've left off mob action as well as "Mob" action, political, terrorist, and military attacks, as well as more recent events.

There is a term "running amok" in which amok or amuk comes from the Malay language meaning "mad with uncontrollable rage". The Malay believed that it was caused by an evil tiger spirit entering one's body.

"It would be misleading to suggest that there was some long-term upward trend in mass shootings since 1976," said Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University. "The exact number are highly unstable, but ignoring small, year-to-year fluctuations, there was no trend one way or the other from 1976 to 2009. Further, if these figures were computed on a per-capita basis, taking into account population increases, the long-term trend in the rate would be downward."

• 1976-1980: 20.6 incidents annually
• 1981-1985: 16.8
• 1986-1990: 18.2
• 1991-1995: 23.0
• 1996-2000: 20.0
• 2001-2005: 21.0
• 2006-2009: 25.5

Digital rags like Hufpo make broad sweeping statements like "Mass Murder Up, Even While Gun Violence Down" and use the following statistics:

"the total number of people dying in attacks that claimed four or more victims has climbed from an average of 161 a year in the 1980s to 163 between 2006 and 2008, according to FBI statistics."

""The Dark Knight Rises" Friday underscored a chilling trend: While gun violence has plummeted over the decades, mass murder has increased slightly."

Yeah, and the population climbed from 226 million to 308 million.


In 1980 the rate was .07 per 100,000 and in 2012 the rate was .05

If anything, it is statistically flat remaining at 20 per year for decades, and the article acknowledges that... which you couldn't tell from their headline.

Face it, no matter what we do, a small percentage of us will remain Bat-Shit Crazy.

And don't let the fact get in the way of your headlines.


Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I say hand this clown over to al Assad and have him go at it. Like another form of rendition perhaps.

Anonymous said...

You know, you all can go on telling yourself whatever you want to help yourselves sleep better at night.

Blame it on everything except the person. It's bad parenting. It's movies and violent video games. It's because we're losing our values. It's because we've made a mockery of all of our "sacred" institutions.

The one I love best: it's just generational. These kids today are just psychopaths.

Compared to whom? To Hitler? Compared to Stalin, or Andrew Jackson, or Jack the Ripper? It's just generational. Tell that to Tim McVeigh and Jeffrey Dahmer.

You're all trying to understand this, to cope with it. You're trying to categorize this guy so that you can feel better about it.

Oh, well he's just a psycho. Well, from all accounts he was just like everyone else before Friday. It doesn't take a psychopath to do something like this. There's darkness in all of us, even those of you who think that Jesus has somehow washed that darkness away from your soul.

You're all human, just like him. Any perfectly rational human being can make the choice to take a life.

What's funny is that there are plenty of families in Iraq destroyed by our bombs. But we don't sit around and hem and haw about that, because they were just "collateral damage." But some tragedy like this happens closer to home . . . oh now THAT is something to get up in arms about.

Death is all around you, and none of you have any right whatsoever to pretend that you even come close to caring until you start showing some compassion for tragedy everywhere, not just in your own back yard.

"If tomorrow I say like, a gangbanger will get shot, or a truck full of soldiers will be blowin' up, nobody panics. Because it's all part of the plan."

The darkness is in all of us, and all it takes to bring it out is a little push.

Finntann said...

Rather dark view of humanity Jack.

It's true that we have a dark side, as we also have a light side.

Some of us are capable of this, just as some of us are capable of great nobility and self-sacrifice.

But it is also true that many, perhaps the majority, of us are not capable of this.

He could be pychopathic, or he could be schizophrenic. I worked with someone who was normal one week, gone the next. Fortunately he didn't kill anyone as far as we know and was diagnosed with and treated for schizophrenia. Or we may never know what he is, but that doesn't mean there isn't something wrong with him.

Obviously there is something wrong, statistically, people don't act like that.

You can talk about collateral damage in warfare, gang behavior, or even criminal behavior, but that is pack behavior. This is something else.

So I have to disagree. Sometimes when pushed we fall on the side of light not darkness.


jez said...

Spree killing is probably a sociopathology by definition, but that pigeon-hole is only useful if it could identified prior to a spree-kill attempt. I'm not convinced it could be.

The statist solution would consist of 3 layers:
a) increased psychological monitoring
b) increased surveillance of at-risk potential sociopaths and
c) increased curtailment of potential sociopaths' rights, including but not limited to the 2nd amendment.

There's a pandora's box of goodies any tyrant would love to open. I don't think there's much appetite for any more of that than there already is.

If it's true that spree killing is on the rise (contested above), it may be that we've recently lost or developed some cultural memes that suppress or express sociopathic tendencies in at-risk individuals, but I worry that suppressant cultural memes work by "picking on" oddballs in general, ie they are not selective on dangerous oddballs. I cherish eccentrics, they often come up with the best innovations.

Silverfiddle said...


Excellent research! (although you didn't have to sting me quite so hard...) I was just ruminatin'...

I'm turning your comments into a blog post later this week.

Jez: A pandora's box, indeed. I share your extreme dislike of the "solution" you posit.

It's a dilemmer, innit?