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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Armchair social critics

So, whilst conveying myself about town this AM, I heard lots of folks discussing Wednesday evening's tragedy in Omaha, when a young man decided to "go out in style" and killed 8 innocent people plus himself at a mall.

Callers to the AM radio show to which I was listening were focused on his recent loss of his job at McDonald's, and breakup with his girlfriend. The commentariat overwhelmingly seemed to believe that the lack of competitiveness in kid sports, "participation trophies" for soccer, not to omit mentioning Nintendo and other things "not done the way we did when we were little" caused this young man to be weak. Apparently, he couldn't handle one little, teeny loss and this caused him to snap and then to kill people. Some art teacher who praised his lousy macaroni picture is likely responsible for these deaths.

I'd heard, as had anyone watching the news late Wednesday, that this young man had been living with another family who had taken him in because he 'seemed like a sad puppy that no one wanted.' His face was not that of someone experiencing his first couple of disappointments. It came out today that he had been a ward of the state for several years due to mental health issues.

In no way does this young man's past excuse his present, obviously premeditated, actions. It just says, as did the tragedy at Virginia Tech, that we cannot assume that "if people would just do things the way I remember that they did them back when I was doing them" we'd have no more bad outcomes.

Besides, how does this sort of armchair psychoanalysis explain Charles Whitman? 40+ years ago we were competitive, had prayers and corporal punishment in schools, learned Latin, and diagrammed sentences. And still had sin.

1 comment:

UltraCrepidarian said...

To me, it seems even "mental illness" is a convenient label at times. But it is a big red flag. How can people blame little things, for mental illness? Because the belief that something "could have been done" that would have "prevented this tragedy" is a thing we must believe, whether we have any direct evidence for it or not. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate. What? Our society has lost its way? Many parents have lost their ability to parent. What if the reason the parents were unable to care for this kid, and he was a ward of the state, was he was having sociopathic or psychotic outbreaks. In which case, then, we can switch to blaming the state instead of the parents. But someone must be to blame, when a person is crazy like this, and a whole society is around him, and does nothing. But there are ten-thousand just like him who did not go crazy and kill 8 people. Talk radio only proves one thing; People like to talk.

If I could make one suggestion for how to "prevent this in the future", it would be to (a) tell everybody NOT to watch the news on TV ever, and to read all their news on a 1 year day delay policy. Let's call it "Not so News", and (b) there should be a media blackout on crimes where the perpetrator is seeking public attention, even for a suicide. Let his name die. Why are we talking about him?