Interesting and it has a certain point on the 'notorious' and personal glory side of motive. That gets lost a little in the thinly veiled bashing of the left (or at least apparent disdain for common social problems) along the way. So I'm going to start sort of where my jaw dropped and work back...
As for his 'It's not mental issues, it's mental issues.' tagline, it's that we focus on the wrong ones. We pick at things like misogyny, racism, oppression, instead of realizing that a lot of these killers are psychopathic, sociopathic, or just plain psychotic. These people are just 'wrong' in the head from day one, and we simply don't have the tools or the knowledge on how to 'fix' them, assuming it's even possible. Instead we lament in how we 'failed' them, or how such and such is the 'cause', when there often isn't any, outside of 'bad brain wiring'.
Having spent a good few years in sociology, I do understand how the focus on social "problems" can start to come off as awfully apologist. IF what you happen to be most sensitive to when reading sociology is the slant of some authors to point out how people are all part of their society and how often enough people in general
simply don't find a place to deal with all those issues well, then yeah there's a certain tone of community failure by default. Sometimes people do invest a bit much in focusing on just one issue area throughout their careers. In certain cases, some do overstretch and speak loosely to media outfits (or even sometimes
, write academically it's true) as if fixing their area, would be a silver bullet for the situation at hand. Or it can come across that way. Still, you should understand that many people in sociology are actually dropping hints about social trends being an underlying, important part
of whole classes of problems in general
: They are not necessarily trying to "solve" individual crimes in the police sense where you have to sell a very simplified
story to a jury.
Manson does not convince me that misogyny, racism, or oppression have nothing
at all of importance to do with any of it. More to the point: I would say we can still look for social reasons that also play into where these things happen, and what people think goes with
being infamous. A totally "random" mass killing could happen in just any public place to anyone at anytime in any fashion, but I'm not convinced yet that they are altogether that random. For example, what IS it about schools and big government buildings that make them 'impressive' or is it even 'personal' enough targets to be chosen by American attackers often enough to figure in the news as often as they do
... (Yes Manson says they are only 4% of mass shootings, but I would fuss about the definitions and statistics starting with: Yes there IS a notable difference between 4 people dead in a private home, and 30 on a public campus.) Why do the killers we do notice, not only or always
pick giant office building or better for fame and glory, a more highly symbolic office building like the WTC? Why do they pick schools at all and why do
they or we care much about those "personally", if the ideal is always something bigger? And are you saying few of the killers have written anything at all about gender, race, or oppression as either part of their personal image-building or motives? I would be surprised if that were true, but maybe we could check that further.
Picking through the article:
Despite what media outlets would later claim, Eric Harris was not the victim of bullying any more than other students
It's been some years so... Maybe, maybe not. But I would be more open if they said who they were taking as their definitive sources on that or better, laid out some arguments on the matter. Rather than a quick dismissal of what other media has said -- which works out very well leaving this author as the only person you should listen to without saying much of why... I'd like to hear their argument for refuting so many others laid out at least a little bit up front.
They later say that the victims at Columbine were from various groups. Well, shooters picking more than one social clique as targets does not in itself prove that bullying was not a motivating factor. And it wouldn't mean it would have to be the only one, either. Part of what nags me about this writing is the rush to find a single
motive ("the singular cause" he says) -- coupled with the apparent eagerness to push all possible other causes and the very possibility of interlocking problems away. This starts to feel like part of a broader agenda to silence social issues that are
very much live in the broader society, whatever the particular psychological formula would be for mass murderers. I do think the infamy as personal glory angle has something to it... But this is also working overtime to bust people for checking about where power and inequality in society play a part.
It's hinting it doesn't matter at all if the winners in violent stories often get the girls or sex... Suggesting it doesn't matter at all if we have more weapons around or fewer, in a society this size enough people are simply crazy (they would use knives if not guns argument). Well forget for a minute the pressure of trying to find some one simple explanation: If that part were true, are Europe and Japan somehow drastically under-reporting their homicide rates?
Are humans all
murderous this frequently, and other parts of the world have managed to miss reporting it while America has not? Or is it just that Americans are more crazy on average and that's just how the world is, it's in their blood? Sounds weird to me.
Some notes: To be fair, I suppose there could be a difference between mass murders and murders in general. That MSNBC file does say US mass murders are less than 1% of gun deaths. But if you are really concerned about things associated with mass murders, then I'm more with the crowd that doesn't see mass murders as so simple to achieve with knives day in and day out. China has a spate of knife attacks lately, but not often 20 deaths at a time that I've heard of.
This past weekend, a student named Elliot Rodger from Santa Barbara City College killed six and injured 13, the latest in a long series of school shootings that are all but becoming a normal part of American tradition. As usual, the killer left a cache of material behind to explain his intentions and milk as much publicity for his personal grievances as possible. This time, the focus was on women, and how they wouldn’t have sex with him.
So... Saying here the killer actually wrote about women clearly, but people should pay no attention to misogyny as any part of his self-image and motivations? The only
thing we ever need to know is they're all batshit crazy and we can't do anything about it, happens all the time, every two weeks in fact? Get resigned to the killing cause they're crazy, don't worry that misogyny helped because after all, they might not kill women -- or not only women, anyway. We might as well forget misogyny and other gender prejudice helps
drive quite a few guys to kill other men and trans, while we are at it. (Don't get murdered for dating or looking at the "wrong" type, now.) A lot of the rest is potentially more interesting. But this stuff above, nearly drives me off the whole thing.
Here’s what doesn’t get the headlines: Empathy. Listening to those around you. Even if you don’t like them very much.
Here there is something. And some of the rest is good. But I would be surprised if just anyone could listen to some of these people without feeling threatened or alienated -- sometimes on the basis of race, class, clique, gender, etc. There are examples here where counselors, instructors, etc. reported things and they were not pursued because, what exactly? There was no process to police a society chock full of kids expressing general malaise on so many fronts, and bust into rooms left and right searching for weapons?
We would need more on what they are broadly calling "mental health issues" there. A simple fascination with Hitler literature isn't enough. You don't know them simply from people being "angry." There are a lot of angry young people in today's Western societies. See riots in Britain, see riots in LA which Klebold and Harris themselves referred to. You don't speak of fomenting revolution for kicks in a society with no internalized issues about oppression. So in a sense, some people do "snap" over a whole mix of things.
Yes, people should be more aware... But everyone's going to be awful jumpy most of the time
, if we go on pretending social issues aren't factors in the violence. And more broadly: the issues go on, I bet you the violence goes on. You can recruit as many cops and counselors and lookouts as you like, until then. When everybody has pressing economic reasons to vent, and the media and the society are loaded full of competitive circuses and talk about winning the jungle for oneself, it isn't entirely surprising people don't always take notice.