Sunday, October 8, 2017

There is No Motive For Crazy

There is no motive for crazy, and trying to rationalize crazy behavior is just an exercise in futility.

The recent shootings in Las Vegas were horrific, but then again, predictable.  Just as ISIS or Al Qaeda or some other terrorist group continually thinks up some new form of torture or terror, the crazy shooters of the world continually come up with new ways to immortalize themselves with new forms of mass-murder.

They say that comedy is tragedy plus time, but apparently The Onion, the satirical newspaper, isn't wasting any time about this, offering headlines such as, "Those Close To Nation Say It Showed Dozens Of Warning Signs Leading Up To Massacre" among others. While that may seem tasteless, so soon after such a tragedy, it does raise the point that these shootings have become a predictable part of American life, and, as another Onion headline opines, "Americans [are] Hopeful This Will Be Last Mass Shooting Before They Stop On Their Own For No Reason". We just close our eyes and hope it all goes away on its own.

But it won't, of course.

The sad thing is, not only are these events predictable today - not in the sense of a specific event is predictable, but that, like riding a motorcycle, getting into a wreck is a predictable event - but also that how these "tragedies" are handled is very predicable. I put "tragedy" in quotes as a real tragedy is something that could not be prevented, but these shootings are something we can prevent but choose not to, due to politics.

The pattern is the same - the hand-wringing, the anguish, the media having a field day of coverage (and boffo ratings) and of course, the hushed profiles of the victims and what wonderful people they were (which no doubt they were, but it would be better yet if they were still alive).   No offense, but my goal in life is not to be remembered on some memorial wall or by a stack of flowers and teddy bears.   Tearful memorial ceremonies are not the answer.

And like clockwork, the NRA and its lackeys in Congress say, "How dare you discuss gun control at a time like this?" using the time-honored technique of shaming and damning to shut down discussion at all. Nice try, first time around, and maybe Fox News commentators still buy that bullshit, but the rest of America saw through this years ago. How dare the NRA say we can't even discuss things, except on their timetable?

But as part of this predictable pattern, we then see the search for motive.   What caused the shooter to go berserk and kill all the people at the mall/school/gay night club/rock concert/airport/whatever?  As rational people, we want to pigeon-hole a "reason" behind all of this, so that somehow it makes sense.  The Post Office shooter was mad because he was fired from his job, so he goes and kills his boss and co-workers before turning the gun on himself.  The jilted lover stalks and murders his would-be girlfriend, so "no one else can have her".   The divorced Dad murders his ex-wife and/or his children or shoots up the offices of his ex-wife's divorce lawyer.   For some reason, we "get" that, and accept those as "reasons" for shootings. 

But of course, they are not.   You get fired from a job, you go get a new job.  And maybe look inwardly and think about how you could have handled your old job differently.   If a girl doesn't want to go out with you, you find another girl.  There about 150 million of them in the USA alone.  And again, maybe think about how you acted that made her dump you.  Yea, chicks don't dig crazy stalkers - funny how that works.  And if your wife leaves you, well, you pay for child support until the kids are 18 and then move on with life.   There are other choices, unless of course, you are bat-shit crazy, and killing people seems like a "logical" choice.

Crazy doesn't need a reason, and this takes a long time to figure out.   My family has a history of crazy, and my Mom was a full-on whack job.   And a lot of time and effort was wasted by all of us trying to "understand" crazy, when it just is.   I figured this out early on, as I was forced to live with her, as a teen, alone most of the time, during her fugue states and witnessed that there was no "trigger" to set them off or any way to prevent them or "talk her down" from them.   They were just electrical storms in her brain.

My late sister spent too much time and energy trying to "understand" Mom - there must have been some triggering event or situation that caused all of this, because as rational people, we want to see cause-and-effect.   Things don't just happen for no reason, right?   I mean, if that was true, then where is God in all of this?

But the reality is, God is in random events.  God is quantum.   So when horrible things happen, don't go asking God why or looking for reasons.  Shit just happens. And Crazy happens.   There is no "reason" or "trigger" for it, and often no way to prevent it.   The best you can do is get treatment for crazy people, get them off the streets if possible, and by all means, keep them away from guns.   How you do this, is of course, tricky, in a country that values freedom and guns above all else.

In the case of this Las Vegas shooter, it isn't hard to see what happened.  There was no triggering event or "reason" behind his actions, other than just craziness.   He was the son of a bank robber, who was described as being a sociopath.  This shit is often hereditary.   And if you read the descriptions of his life, from neighbors and even his own relatives, you get a picture of someone who is, well, not exactly normal.  A man capable of making shrewd business decisions and a lot of money, but unable to maintain intimate relationships.  A man who was abrupt, cold, and often hostile and demanding - and often demeaning his "girlfriend" in public (supposedly saying, in a Starbucks, "I'll pay for your coffee just like I pay for you!" or something to that effect).

There is a lot of anger here - seething anger at society.  This is not a happy person - perhaps autistic or Asperger's syndrome - although it is way too trendy to diagnose this sort of shit online.  Seeing groups of people being happy was probably enough to piss him off.  Neighbors who shouted "Merry Christmas!" pissed him off.   His homes were like dorm rooms - places to dump "stuff" and maybe crash for a day or two.   No real interest in them or love of them or desire to decorate or nest.

Trying to understand the "Abe-Normal" brain is an exercise in futility.

This is a man who made a lot of money, apparently, but had no real reason for spending it or enjoying it.   No fun in his life.  No children to bounce on his knee.  No weekends at the lake house, just "kicking back" and hanging out with friends.   And no doubt, he resented those who could enjoy those things, let their hair down, and go "Yee-Haw!" at a Country Music concert.

Now throw in guns.  Not hunting rifles or even personal protection firearms, but the new generation of weapons designed for mass-mayhem.  And you know the difference between the two and stop pretending you don't.  You know the difference between a gun enthusiast or collector and a gun nut.  The collector has a carefully curated collection of firearms.  The hunter buys one or two rifles for deer hunting.  The gun nut has an arsenal of weapons, all designed to kill people.

You've seen the videos on YouTube.  The gun nuts like to go out and shoot pumpkins or watermelons and pretend they are blowing someone's head off.  The shoot up old cars, preferably with mannequins inside, so they can pretend they are committing mass-murder.  The shoot at exploding targets to they can pretend they are in a war zone.  They want to destroy things, break things, damage things.  They shoot up old appliances as if they appliance had somehow done them wrong.  They have anger issues and a feeling of powerlessness - and weapons make them feel powerful, at least for a moment.

Once they start collecting these arsenals and acting out these pretend murders, well it is only a matter of time before they start planning a real one.   After all, you don't buy a pair of skis to not go skiing, right?  So once you have the arsenal of weapons, and once you go down the road of shooting up "targets" that resemble people, it is only a matter of time before you do the real thing - because you are batshit crazy to begin with, and now you have the trigger - quite literally - to set it all off.

And besides YouTube videos, there are magazines and websites and discussion groups to encourage all of this.  People spend all day talking about "stopping power" and describing in gory detail how a hollow-point bullet tears through vital organs or whatever.   It is pretty sick thinking.   But it is no different than being radicalized online.   In fact, it is the same exact process.  The Internet is an echo-chamber.

So what will change after this latest shooting?  Not much, to be sure.   Since we won't limit access to firearms or try to prevent crazy people from getting them, there will be similar shootings in the future.  In fact, some copycat right now is out there figuring out a new target and a new form of mayhem.    I suppose open-air venues will become harder to book.   Concerts and other events near tall buildings will become obsolete.   Or police snipers will have to be stationed on nearby buildings to quickly "take out" potential shooters.  One wonders how venues like Camden Yards in Baltimore will be able to continue, when so many tall buildings with open windows are nearby.

In short, we will hunker down and learn to live in a war zone.   People will stop congregating in public areas.  Personal body armor for average citizens will become a "thing".   And of course, we will all have to arm ourselves - as the NRA suggests - to shoot back at the shooters.   But of course, even if every person at that concert in Las Vegas was armed, it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference.   And as it turns out, if not for a stray door being left ajar, the shooting rampage might have gone on for far longer than it did.  And imagine if he had access to silencers - as the NRA suggests we allow to "protect the hearing of shooters"?

One thing's for sure.  there will be more of these shootings, each more horrific than the last, unless we really want to do something about it.