Shooters and Voters

By Mark E. Smith

Somebody on another mailing list posted a comment about how drugs and guns may have been responsible for the Connecticut school shooting and similar events. Here’s my response:

Speed kills, but it is more likely to kill the person using it than cause them to kill others. Users of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, Benzedrine, etc., are more likely to spend days tediously cutting and pasting collages or creating and rearranging knickknacks than to go out and buy a gun. Stimulants do not come coded with specific instructions to shoot up schools or shopping malls. Nor do guns, for that matter, even though guns make it easier. Somebody in China just did a copycat school massacre using only a knife.

My guess is that the massacres are a response to mainstream media’s efforts at desensitizing populations to violence combined with the authoritarian fascism that people face in their everyday lives. There’s an authoritarian parenting style that is known by psychologists for turning out serial killers. Cold, unfeeling parents often (but not always) produce cold, unfeeling offspring. When I heard that one shooter’s mother taught at the school he shot up, my first thought was that they should question the students to find out if that teacher hated kids and was generally hated by kids in return. Parents and teachers, who hate kids, produce kids who hate.

Kids and adults, who are mercilessly bullied, sometimes kill themselves and sometimes kill their tormentors before killing themselves. Although I’m personally nonviolent, I’ve been a victim of home, school, and workplace injustice, so when somebody goes postal I have to suppress a tendency to sympathize with the killer instead of the victims, because in some cases the killer may be the true victim seeking revenge. Hierarchical societies expect those stomped on by those above them in the pecking order, will take out their rage on those below them, but sometimes people don’t have anyone below them. When somebody is tormented by a parent, spouse, boss, teacher, or by coworkers or fellow students, and has no spouse, students, or children of their own on whom to conveniently vent their rage, they may, in desperation, break the code of the pecking order and lash out at anyone, anywhere.

I just finished reading a book called, Kids for Cash, about the Pennsylvania judges who were paid millions of dollars to keep juvenile prisons full, which was done by sentencing kids who were guilty of only the most minor offenses, like cutting school or talking back to a teacher or parent, to jail. In most places, kids like that were sent to the principal, temporarily denied some privileges, or at most suspended for a few days. These kids were hand-cuffed, shackled, and sent to notorious prisons full of hard-core criminals. Many recovered and are living productive lives, but some became violent, some became permanently withdrawn and distrustful, and some killed themselves. It went on for years, thousands of kids were harmed, and hardly anyone who knew about it said a word.

One of the most startling things in the book was when the author, William Ecenbarger, a prize-winning journalist, talked about some other well known “conspiracies of silence,” when many people knew that there was abuse but said nothing, such as during the days of slavery in the U.S. when male plantation owners raping female slaves was commonplace, the widespread abuse of kids by priests in the Catholic church, professional sports ignoring obvious steroid use, and people looking the other way in Nazi Germany, even when they could not help but know about the concentration camps. So he didn’t think it was unusual for the many people who saw what was being done to kids in Pennsylvania to have kept silent. The Vichy mentality is to keep silent in the face of even the most horrendous corruption and abuses, but to express outrage if one of the victims should fight back. Somebody on Twitter just remarked how strange it is that so many people, who are angry that a shooter killed twenty or thirty innocent people, are liberals who idolize and voted for a man who has had that many innocents or more killed every day for the past four years.



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