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Sat Jul 21, 2012, 01:59 PM

Aurora

The horrible event in Aurora should allow all people of good will cause to reflect upon some of the dynamics of violence and social decay in the United States. A news report stated that this was the 27th such incident since Columbine. Some on television are speculating if this week’s assassin was “influenced” by that tragic high school event, as if the very nature of the mass murder is not connection enough.

Frequently, a tragic event results in communities pulling together, for the common good. When a photo of a seemingly detached, unconcerned President Bush contrasted with the very real images of sincere people, bringing forth their best efforts to assist others, we have a striking contrast between the very worst and very best in humanity.

In this instance, and others like it, that distinction is not always quite as clear. Certainly, the murderer can be identified as the bad guy. Even if the most sympathetic among us believes he probably suffers from a severe and persistent mental illness, his actions are without question those of a person who knows “right from wrong.” No matter what other factor may or may not be involved here, this young man intended to make a statement to society by murdering as many innocent human beings as he possibly could. And, make no mistake, he invested a lot of thought and preparation into killing as many people as he could.

A number of good people have said that it is likely the murderer suffers from a mental illness. Hopefully, we all agree that a “sane” person does not fantasize about murdering strangers in a movie theater, much less follow through on such a sick dream. But the fact that a person did exactly that does not mean that he or she (usually he) is mentally ill in any legal sense. More, it is important to keep in mind that, as a population, the mentally ill are far, far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, and to commit one. The news media sells the mistaken idea that the opposite is true, simply because that sells. And the media is a selling business.

Of the major SPMIs, only paranoid schizophrenia has a high correlation with violence. I saw that my good DU friend “cali” had made an OP that suggested the murderer might well be found to be a paranoid schizophrenic. I think that she may be right on the money: if he does have a SPMI, it is most likely this. Still, the vast majority of people suffering from this illness do not engage in mass murder, and the majority of mass murderers do not suffer from paranoid schizophrenia.

A university professor in criminology noted that the murderer may well prove to be a psychopath (or sociopath, if you favor that term). While very little is actually known about the “suspect,” I think the professor may be right on the money, too. And while all psychopaths are not mass murderers, a substantial number of mass murderers are psychopaths.

While again not all the details are known, there is enough evidence to indicate that this fellow intended to be in a gun-fight; that and the loaded gun in his car suggest he at very least considered the possibility of a confrontation with police, and perhaps escaping from the scene of the crime. The manner in which he left his apartment could be -- considering the reported hour of loud music -- his hope that police would come crashing through his door. Is this the planning of a paranoid schizophrenic? Or a psychopath? Or both?

The title of one OP on DU’s General Discussion claimed that, even if this person had sought mental health treatment, he could not have gotten it. This, of course, is not true. There are many, many holes in the social safety net. The public mental health services are under-funded, and employees’ case loads are far too high as a rule. Insurance companies and the medication industry are, in my opinion, criminal. But people who really seek treatment can generally find it, imperfect as it may well be.

Still, in part because of the stigma associated with mental illness, many people in real need are treatment-resistant. Many more are not compliant with recommended treatment. The sad cycle of SPMI often is enhanced by dual-diagnoses; the rates of MICA (mentally ill, substance abuse) are high among those under the age of 50. The actions of a reportedly young man with a very high level of intelligence who commits this type of heinous crime suggest a person who did not view himself as owning the problem -- it was society’s fault, and he was intent upon getting his revenge.

A media report on the initial response of the killer’s mother indicates that she was not surprised that her son committed an act of extreme violence. His only reported legal history was a minor traffic ticket. Thus, even if his parents believed he needed some type of treatment, he was a legal adult, and could not be forced into treatment. It may be that, in the past, there were periods where he was deemed a threat to himself and/or others, and actually had brief periods of treatment; if so, he apparently did not stick with it. It is not illegal to be mentally ill, and as horrible as this incident was, I do not think that locking people up because they may, at some future time, commit an act of violence, is the best alternative.

Gun laws are always debated after such crimes take place. Too often, the irrational on both sides of the issue hijack serious attempts to find common ground for balancing public safety and Amendment 2 rights. Again, while it may be tempting to lock people up for holding irrational opinions, it isn’t a long-term solution.

So what is the answer? I certainly do not know. Based upon my reading ofErich Fromm’s 1955 classic, “The Sane Society,” I would venture that a society that has this rate of mass murders is sick, indeed. And social theories seem insignificant when so many human beings are suffering. Each event like this increases people’s levels of anxiety, at least for a time. Perhaps the only sane response is that found in the actions of those good people who go out of their way to help those in need -- be it their families, neighbors, or even complete strangers. For there is a power in compassion in action.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 28 replies Author Time Post
Reply Aurora (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2012 OP
RegieRocker Jul 2012 #1
riderinthestorm Jul 2012 #2
HappyMe Jul 2012 #3
stevedeshazer Jul 2012 #4
AnotherDreamWeaver Jul 2012 #5
MADem Jul 2012 #6
Spitfire of ATJ Jul 2012 #12
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #20
Spitfire of ATJ Jul 2012 #22
lunatica Jul 2012 #7
RainDog Jul 2012 #8
Jeff In Milwaukee Jul 2012 #9
hack89 Jul 2012 #23
Jeff In Milwaukee Jul 2012 #24
hack89 Jul 2012 #26
TahitiNut Jul 2012 #10
malaise Jul 2012 #11
annabanana Jul 2012 #13
Myrina Jul 2012 #14
ananda Jul 2012 #15
Ineeda Jul 2012 #18
sabrina 1 Jul 2012 #19
aikoaiko Jul 2012 #16
blondie58 Jul 2012 #17
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #21
DCKit Jul 2012 #25
riderinthestorm Jul 2012 #27
Zorra Jul 2012 #28

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:05 PM

1. Good post

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:10 PM

2. As usual, a superb addition to the conversation H2O man. K & R!

 

"I would venture that a society that has this rate of mass murders is sick, indeed. And social theories seem insignificant when so many human beings are suffering. Each event like this increases people’s levels of anxiety, at least for a time"

So very true. Its also true that you don't arm a "sick person" with an arsenal. Our society is deeply troubled - the number of weapons exacerbates the problems.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:11 PM

3. Well said.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 02:38 PM

4. +1, and thanks.

Your post makes a great deal of sense.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 03:46 PM

5. Really, what can we do but this:

"Perhaps the only sane response is that found in the actions of those good people who go out of their way to help those in need -"

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 03:47 PM

6. If this guy was a mentally ill chemical abuser would he have the organizational skills to buy all

that crap, set up those bombs, do all that planning? Or would he just get super high and flail about ineffectually?

Unless, of course, he was wired up on coke or something?

And if we had fierce gun laws, would this guy have built himself a McVeigh bomb instead, wheeled it in through the exit, and lit the fuse?

This guy wanted to kill people, lots of people. He apparently was using an old Batman story where the joker kills people in a theater as a template.

We know there's something not right about this young man. What it is, we'll have to wait for the experts to sort out.

I hope they get him sufficiently medically compliant so he can stand trial.

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Response to MADem (Reply #6)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:39 PM

12. I'll tell you what it was.

 

Selfish desire.

A completely lucid, thought out to the last detail example of someone fulfilling a personal desire without regard to how it effects others apart from the satisfaction of watching them drop like flies. He got a thrill out of their screams and fed on their panic and got a chuckle over the fact that they were powerless before him.

It was the greatest moment of his life.

Now the question is, how do we keep it from happening again? It's not going to be by banning video games, music, or movies. We need to address the desire, recognize the desire and deny the means to fulfil the desire.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #12)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:24 PM

20. But why would a young man with so much potential want to do something like that?

He could just as well have wanted to do something else with his life. Why did he choose this?

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #20)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:45 PM

22. He was failing in his classes. This made him him feel better about himself. It gave him power.

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 03:59 PM

7. Thank you for weighing in on this

We have to recognize the utter insanity of accepting tragedies like this with an attitude that, well, it's just life. We have more control over society than that and we have an obligation to restore some sort of common sense sanity.

Accepting this kind of deadly damage as just one of those things because it might threaten one's gun ownership is really questionable.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:07 PM

8. k&r n/t

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:30 PM

9. I'll be blunt....

The body count is still too low.

We simply haven't reached the tipping point where the stacks of cadavers are high enough. For reasons that I (and the rest of the world) can't understand, nearly 10,000 firearms deaths each year -- that's 10,000 grieving families -- is not yet enough to trump the theoretical idea that gun ownership is constitutionally protected.

Is a curious paradox. We live in a violent society because of the river of handguns that flow through our cities, and because of that, people believe that they need handguns to be safe. And so the river gets wider every year. There are more firearms in our society than persons with college degrees, and that's not enough. We need 100-round magazines and teflon-coated bullets and the right to take our guns to church.

Ones assumes that at some point we'll reach the magic number. The point at which we're ready to admit that throwing more and more guns at the situation is making us less and less safe.

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Response to Jeff In Milwaukee (Reply #9)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:48 PM

23. With gun violence at historicially low levels and steadily declining

that tipping point will never be reached.

That "river of guns" kills fewer people every year - most people understand this.

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Response to hack89 (Reply #23)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 08:35 PM

24. It's just settling in...

The dramatic decrease in gun crimes is based on a dramatic spike in gun crimes in the late 1980's/early 1990's. We're settling in at about 9-10,000 homicides per year, which for some people is acceptable.

Funny. Two people die of listeria from eating bagged lettuce and we recall everything. Ten thousand people die from firearms and we say, "meh" and go about our business.

In a sane society, ten thousand people slaughtered every year would be cause for somber reflection.

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Response to Jeff In Milwaukee (Reply #24)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 07:52 AM

26. There is "no settling in".

murders were down to 8700 in 2010. Preliminary 2011 data shows another decrease. There is no reason to believe we will not see further decreases

There should be reflection - on poverty, on drugs, on economic inequality. All those real drivers of violent crime in America. But those are hard problems with no easy fixes - much better then to focus on those evil guns.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:32 PM

10. Sadly, it does little good to finally arrive at a "satisfactory label" for his behavior ...

... when we so obviously fail to comprehend how awash we are in "normal" disorders and suboptimal behavior, and how such a context contaminates each of us. Indeed, I often think that getting the "proper" label is merely an excuse for filing yet another horror away in the memory bucket, only to be retrieved in a perverse kind of nostalgia as circumstances warrant.

As I sit back (as an outsider?) and observe human behavior, I find it noteworthy that the media spiel and assoiciated rhetoric is remarkably different as we see a nice, white boy ("honor student" instead of a person of color. It'd be interesting to see comparative word clouds.

I remember, back in 1989, on the eve of Ted Bundy's execution, the comment of one older "woman on the street": "It's a shame to have to put such a nice-looking young man to death." Somehow, that said it all.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:33 PM

11. Excellent post

Thanks Waterman

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:44 PM

13. Your cool head and kind heart

always seems to bring a little balance when hyperbole and hysteria seem to be the expressions of the day.

Thank you friend.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:45 PM

14. That he planned and carried this out

At a movie theatre against unknown and unsuspecting people, we call him "crazy". Had he been part of a military swat team that planned and carried this out against bin Laden/Al Queda, we'd call him a brilliant stretegist & give him a medal.

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Response to Myrina (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:49 PM

15. Boy that is so true!

Question: When is enough enough... in any place on any scale?

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Response to Myrina (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:57 PM

18. That's a cruel and false analogy.

Although I'm anti-war, comparing the attack on an enemy who has caused this country egregious harm to one on innocent victims watching a movie is specious, at best. Disgusting.

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Response to Myrina (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:00 PM

19. So true! And maybe that is part of the problem. We are immune to the suffering

caused by our wars, both to our own troops and the people they are sent to kill. Who even relates to it anymore?

We are deliberately shielded from the results of the violence of our wars by not being allowed to see the photos that at least might evoke some compassion for a mother holding a dead child.

Maybe this is the society we want and now have. Immune to violence, because if we were not, our wars would not get much support.

If we cannot sympathize with an Iraqi mother screaming in grief, it stands to reason that many people growing up in such a society, will lack the natural emotions such grief such evoke, and instead view such violence as a sign of our 'greatness'.

We get the society we deserve.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:53 PM

16. Like physical health care, early accessible mental health care can twart many ills.


It seems like miles away before we get to where we need to be.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 04:56 PM

17. very well said, Waterman

thank you for your thoughtful response.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 05:37 PM

21. For me, this is key in what you said, H2OMan.

"While again not all the details are known, there is enough evidence to indicate that this fellow intended to be in a gun-fight; that and the loaded gun in his car suggest he at very least considered the possibility of a confrontation with police, and perhaps escaping from the scene of the crime."

Is there any other reason for wanting to "carry" a gun in public places like theaters and shopping malls and concerts, or even just down the street other than because you intend to or think you are likely to be in a gun-fight?

That is precisely why I have a problem with gun-carry laws that immunize the carrier against a murder charge for defending anything other than his home. I'm willing to make exceptions in my view for people who carry a lot of money or jewelry or other valuables and of course for police officers. But other than for home protection and hunting, why would anyone want to carry a gun on their person unless they are contemplating a gun-fight?

In Colorado, you can apparently carry a gun in your car without a permit but you cannot carry a gun on your person without a permit. From a website on this:

Are Colorado citizens required to register their firearms? NO. In fact, state law prohibits firearms registration by local or state government (the federal Brady Act is another matter, though that's not "claimed" to be registration).

CRS 29-11.7-103. Regulation - type of firearm - prohibited.

A local government may not enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law. Any such ordinance, regulation, or other law enacted by a local government prior to March 18, 2003, is void and unenforceable.

http://www.rmgo.org/gun-law-faqs/

I don't understand the hysterical fear about having to register guns. Seems paranoid to me.

After all, we register our computers, our cars and every prescription that is filled is recorded. Why this thing about guns?

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 02:43 AM

25. All those words, all that time and all that effort. It was Rush Limbaugh. nt

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 12:20 PM

27. Morning kick! nt

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 02:16 AM

28. "I would venture that a society that has this rate of mass murders is sick, indeed."

I'll second that.

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