Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't wanna stay alive when you're 25

Another alienated boy has shot a bunch of people who will either never be the same again, or never be again. Actually, two alienated boys have done this recently: one in a mall and the other in a church. Both of them were in their mid 20s, a state of life that's a hormonal miasma approaching madness.

In the case of the church shooter, he probably was approaching madness. He had been kicked out of his youth missionary group for his strange behavior, including hearing voices. Maybe it's because I'm married to a social worker, but I really wish church youth groups did a better job of helping these kids than telling them to get lost. He was at the prime age to develop schizo-affective disorder, but apparently had rejected counselling. In general, these problems are never understood or dealt with very well.

The mall shooter was more typical for these sorts of massacres: mid twenties, isolated, alone, and a "loser" by most modern standards. It's a lot easier to be a loser these days; the whole globe is filled with them now. Globalization seems to increase the winners one-by-one and the losers exponentially. It's probably not a lot different being a lonely young male loser in the Midwest or in the Mideast- the suicide bomber and the mall shooter are both hormonally fucked-up boys who want to go out in a blaze of glory. Both of them are tragically, pathetically lost. The Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange, unlike the movie, ends with the main character, a young thug, mellowing out and settling down as he reaches middle-age. I often wonder what would happen to these violent young men if they could be sent on a vacation until they turn thirty. Would the Columbine shooters have had 401 Ks, or gone into human resources at some company? Who knows? God, what a waste...

I'm also starting to wonder why, if our angry young men find it so easy to walk into public places and kill so many random people, the radical-Islamo-fascist-terrorists, who are supposedly lurking behind every bush, never seem to do the same. I used to think it was because of "heightened security", but Mall shootings and flying planes into buildings both share the psychotic power of the random act. Neither of them makes any logical sense, and so neither of them can be very well prepared for. There's nothing much stopping the bogeymen-of-evil from doing these sorts of things across America. Yet they haven't been.

Which either means that racial profiling has been very successful- something I seriously doubt given the collective intelligence of the racial profilers- or the "war on terror" of the last six years has been a massive overreaction. I guess we'll see which is the case.

6 comments:

Hiromi said...

Don't the families of suicide bombers receive money? So in a way, the decision to become one has a rational economic element to it. Plus, you get to go to heaven and shit.

Rufus said...

I get the feeling that the heaven part cancels out the rational part. I imagine you couldn't pay most suicide bombers enough not to do it. Actually, that would solve a lot of problems if we could.

Holly said...

Dunno, if you watch the news closely enough, you'll occasionally see articles about foiled suicide bombers who admit that they were forced into it by family or other associations, and that they'd really rather not die that way, and they generally ask for asylum.

A cynical person will claim that's just part of the game, of course.

Rufus said...

That's probably true. I think the cultural component really is important here. I mean, the biggest difference is that there is almost no cultural support for American kids who shoot up the school. I suppose we could argue that violence is celebrated in pop culture. But, there aren't martyr posters of these kids on street corners here, and their families aren't praised. And I have no idea how you change that aspect of the larger cultures that do support suicide bombing.

Hiromi said...

There isn't widespread support for people who shoot up schools, but then they aren't shooting an enemy from a national point of view. I'm just rapidly thinking aloud as usual, but there seems to be a couple of subthreads here -- 1) Terrorism. It can be aruged that Americans have historically supported terrorism; after all, the American revolutionaries were terrorists. 2) Suicide in time of war. We consider soldiers who throw themselves on grenades to save their comrades to be heroes. Perhaps suicide bombers think they're in a wartime situation and are saving their comrades by blowing up various targets. I guess I'm saying that while I don't condone their actions, I don't think they're total inexplicable whackjobs.

Rufus said...

I do think there's a difference between using sabotage or terrorism against enemy troops vs. using them against civilians. But, you're right that nationalism conflates the two. Nationalists don't see anyone as a civilian, not even themselves.

It's such a difficult subject. I just watched a documentary entitled "Suicide Killers" that interviewed failed suicide bombers in jail as well as future suicide bombers in training. It was a frustrating documentary because the first half of it was dedicated to making the case that suicide bombers are a terrifying phenomenon, which seems really obvious. Then they had French psychologists trying to figure out why they do it. French psychoanalysis is still very Freudian, so there was a lot of nonsense about the bomb = the phallus. Even after the interviews with the bombers, you couldn't make any sense of it. They all kept saying, "Well, God wants me to do it, and I don't like life, and I'm going to go to Paradise after I've done it, and it's as simple as that." I have no idea how you could talk them out of that, aside from some sort of "deprogramming". It was like watching cult members talking. Not a good case for religion or nationalism.