Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That seems to be what we are doing in terms of these horrendous mass killings that have come to characterize modern America.
The problem is that our politicians and the media repeatedly cast these increasingly frequent events in political terms – carried out for political advantage. In the wake of the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings the knee-jerk narratives are being played out all over the media by politicians, political pundits and the press.
Virtually all the guests on CNN and MSNBC blame these attacks on President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans in general and on FOX News – saying that they are the very cause of these shootings. The platoon of Democratic presidential candidates are running to the cameras to make these two tragedies a political asset for their campaigns.
Not long ago, most of these types of attacks were declared to be the result of Muslim extremist terrorism — although the politically correct left was loath to call it by that name in those days. Ironically, now that an increasing number of shootings are committed by white supremacists, those same voices are now chanting the mantra that we must call it by what it is. Putting their blatant hypocrisy aside, they were wrong to avoid identifying the culprits by name in the past but correct in calling out hate-mongering white supremacists by name for their heinous acts of violence. But those labels do not lead to the root of the problem.
To address the problem, we must first identify the core causes – not just look at political appliques. We must abandon the partisan narratives with their simplistic faux solutions. Civil rights leader Whitney Young provided the path to resolution of racial friction by saying that we do not need coalitions of blacks to oppose coalitions of whites, but rather coalitions of good people against the coalitions of evil. That concept has broader applications – including in dealing with the problem of mass killings.
The first step in solving a problem is to properly identify the core causes. Our political finger-pointing diverts us from that essential first step.
We can engage in an intelligent and civil discussion as to the role of the weapon. But the so-called assault rifle is only a device. They do not kill on their own. It is the person that commits the crime. As long as we are a free people living in this constitutional Republic, we the people will retain the right to bear arms – as hunters, sportspersons, collectors and for personal security.
It is not, however, a right without limits or restrictions. As a non-gun owning defender of the Second Amendment, I have no problem with reasonable restrictions – especially those that limit the firepower of individual weapons – such as the 100-round magazine used by the Dayton shooter. Automatic weapons are already illegal – and it makes sense to me to make the bump stock illegal since its only purpose is to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an illegal automatic weapon. I would be okay with that and limiting magazine capacities. I have no problem with licensing, background checks and delayed delivery.
But … we must also recognize that such restrictions would not do much to stop the wave of rampage killings. Politicians who offer these as preventative measures are deceiving the public for political reasons.
It is equally important to understand that there are several surface motivations – religious differences, racism, anti-government sentiment, workplace issues, romantic rejection and sexual obsession. But none of these motivations are the fundamental reasons for the seemingly senseless murderous actions of these individuals. The vast majority of people deal with these issues in their lives without becoming violent.
There is a common thread to be found. It is in plain sight. In every case, the person – no matter the stated reason or political preference – is psychotic. According to postmortem news reports, these individuals had intense feelings of inferiority – losers in life – coupled with a malignant desire for notoriety – even if it is in the form of infamy.
They were NOT motivated to advance any cause or movement despite those online postings and manifestos since their very actions could only serve to set back their alleged antisocial objectives. They hurt the causes they proclaim to support – and had every reason to know that.
They were not looking to be victorious in their actions. For most of them, mass murder was merely a prelude to their own deaths. It was a self-destructive act. At best they were seeking some perverse level of reputational immortality. Even those who escaped death at the scene had to know that they would not get away with it. They would likely spend the rest of their lives in prison or be put to death where capital punishment is an option.
The question to be addressed is why there is such a series of these rampage killings in America at this time. While there is a wide range of stated or implied motivations, there is a common thread – and it is notoriety. Despite the alleged rationales, all these individuals sought attention – and they were copycats.
Each perpetrator saw how his predecessors gained national and international attention. The entire news industry stopped reporting on the broad range of events to focus 24/7 on these despicable crimes. The names and images of the shooters appeared on every broadcast.
Realizing this desire by the shooters, some news networks have reduced the publicity level to some degree. In the latest shootings, FOX News has refused to report the name or image of the shooter and they continued with regular programming between updates. CNN indicated they would only mention the name once – although it seemed to mean once on each program. They later gave the names and images of the El Paso and Dayton shooters as usual. MSNBC showed no such restraint whatsoever.
Personally, I believe that not naming the shooter and not covering the story hour after hour would have a measurable positive impact on the culture of mass killing. And anyone who has watched the continuous coverage knows that there is virtually nothing new to report for extended periods of time. Instead, the networks will fill in with panelists baselessly conjecturing on what was going on behind the scenes or providing nothing more than political prattle. In many ways, it is the news industry that has given the shooters the sensationalism they crave.
Copycat-ism is a strong motivation – especially when it comes to the “type” of killings. They come in groups for a reason. For those old enough to remember, there was a time when sexually based multiple killings were part of the American culture. If names are not familiar, you can search the Schuessler-Peterson murders, the Grimes sisters, Jeffery Dahmer, John Gacy and others. Then there was the era of workplace shootings. Several occurred at Post Office facilities – so many that the workplace shootings became known as “going postal.” Those expressions of psychopathic behavior have been replaced by the current wave.
During those past eras, society asked the same questions. Why is this happening in America? What is the cause? There seems to be only one answer – mental illness triggered by copycat-ism. Talk about guns or talk about even malignant social and political movements not only does not get to the root of the matter, but they divert attention from dealing with the psychotic behavior of these individuals.
This is not to suggest that we should ignore the social movements and other stated motivations. They serve to provide the pretext for the psychopathic behavior. But it is the psychoticism of the individual that may be the real core cause.
So, there ‘tis.