Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another "mass" shooting, and another "mass" of "answers"

The other day the Seattle Times’ got the opportunity to scream about a mass shooting (and still didn’t sell-out the print edition). The crime was committed by Aaron Ybarra, who killed one and wounded two at Seattle Pacific University, before being disabled by a hall monitor with pepper spray. Everywhere on the Internet and beyond people were providing their “fast facts” and “opinions.” 

We are still being confronted with a wide array of viewpoints. Yabrra had a history of mental instability, probably brought on by alcoholism. He was said to socially “awkward.” While there was nothing particularly “unusual” about his encounters with police than with any serial inebriate, he apparently had a decidedly unhealthy fascination with the Columbine Massacre, and even traveled to the high school in Littleton, Colorado in an apparent effort to draw “inspiration” to gain his own bloody 15 minutes of “fame” (although the truncated nature of his efforts put him in the footnote category). To this purpose he apparently became an “expert” in guns, and frequented shooting ranges—hardly the occupation of “liberal” Seattleites. 

But then there was a “flip-side” which Ybarra’s friends and acquaintances saw. They saw a “mellow” guy, “super happy and friendly,” an “awesome guy” who would “never let you down.”  Ybarra was a “was an amazing friend. Good worker. He was really calm and nice. If you know him, you would not think he would do it -- he’s just not that type that would do something like that.” He was not a suspicious “loner,” but “sociable” and “nice,” and liked to “party” with friends. He was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and “turning his life around.”

There is even “confusion” about what Ybarra is “ethnicity” is. He was initially described as “Hispanic” by the news media, but police later described him as a white male, of perhaps a swarthy type as was Elliot Roger. But in court he looks more Filipino; I suppose no one wants to make “race” an issue here, perhaps for good reason. His “inspiration” seems not from some social victimization agenda, but a “thrill” kill for notoriety that other mass shooters have gained. 

While mass shootings are nothing new, they do seem to be happening in greater frequency in recent years. At least 30 “mass” shooting have occurred since 2006, although most were no more “mass” than the SPU shooting, despite the intent. Ybarra seemed to be somewhat inept in his “planning,” since he was only “loaded” for one “spree” at a time. 

Almost all of these mass shooters are seen to be the white males of the “angry white man” stereotype, who sees the whole world arrayed against him, or at least one significant segment of it--whether the job, family, hatred of a racial or ethnic group, or just a sense of total alienation. The “angry white man” phenomenon was allegedly the subject of a 1993 film called Falling Down starring Michael Douglas, who had just been laid-off and whose wife had placed a restraining order against him, preventing him from going to his daughter’s birthday party; but his “complaints” about crime, traffic, high prices, phony advertising, poor service and the like are shared by most people and are hardly rational reasons to go on a “rampage.” In fact, Douglas’ character never actually kills anyone (just trashes a few establishments and bongs a few low-lifes) and rather hypocritically does not even have even vaguely racist thoughts. 

However, one can only count on a gender-biased story in TIME magazine to “explain” everything. In engaging in the usual stereotypes after the Roger shooting, it blamed things like “testosterone,” the construction of men’s brains and the like to “explain” the phenomenon, which doesn’t really “stick” until the next shooting, since there are 150 million males in this country, and it is ridiculous to apply the same stereotypes to all. If these were “true,” it would only serve the feminist and female victim myths that all men are potentially “dangerous.” 

Not surprisingly, TIME quoted a female “researcher” who claimed that women were not like this, because they only blamed “themselves” for their “problems.” Of course, most men find this the height of hypocrisy, since all they are hearing is women blaming them for all their “issues.”  What they see is women getting a free ride by the courts in divorce and child custody cases, women making accusations on the slimmest of reeds and expecting to be not only believed, but seeing the accused unjustly punished. They see women blaming them for their failure to do what is educationally necessary to get high-paying but challenging STEM jobs, and so and so forth.

Whenever gender politics arises in the media, the victim/victimizer myth is routinely “confirmed.” On television programming—particularly crime shows—men are always the perpetrators, women nearly always the victims, flying in the face of the reality; for example, black men are 33 times more likely be the victim of a homicide than white women. Interestingly, black males are much less likely than white males to engage in mass shootings of random people (just low-level drive-by shootings of rival gang members)—despite the fact that one may think that they have more of a legitimate “gripe” against society than white males, such as high unemployment or a perceived denial of equal opportunity.

And so the world continues to turn. The vast majority of men, no matter what their complaints are, do not take “revenge” on the world. No one should have the conceit to pretend to have all the answers, but we do live in a world where—to quote Noah Cross in Chinatown—“I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything.”

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