Tuesday, February 20, 2018

True “loners” don’t become “mass shooters”

There has been quite a bit of misinformation about the Parkland, Florida shooter who killed 17 at a local high school without Donald Trump blaming the Russian investigation for it, and his “support” for legislation—background and mental health checks—which would likely have not been sufficient to prevent the shooter from obtaining an assault weapon. How many times must it be proven that assault weapons are meant to hunt people, not animals—unless, of course, the shooter mistakes people for “animals”?

Among the questionable bits of information about the shooter himself is the allegation that Nikolas Cruz was affiliated with a Florida-based white supremacist outfit, apparently planted by some “troll.” However, it was revealed that he once toted a book bag which had a Swastika pasted to it, and he supposedly “hated” black people, so it isn’t such a stretch of the imagination if it turns out he still is. A few of the original stories pointedly named him Nikolas “de Jesus” Cruz as if to highlight that he was “Hispanic,” which he is not; his actual name is Nikolas Jacob Cruz, and the “Cruz” part is the name of his adoptive parents, the father who died when he was young. The media has noted that he and his brother were adopted as infants, but without specifying that his birth parents were white and Slavic in “ethnicity.” The media also refuses to investigate just what role the dysfunctional interactions between Cruz and the way other students and staff reacted to him (despite knowing he had ADHD and was on medication—or not) had in leading up to the shooting. This is important because it is not enough to call him a "monster," when part of the story  is why Cruz apparently had gave no indication of "trouble" while living at the home of a friend after his adoptive mother passed away, had positive interactions with people at his place of employment--but not at school.

Another bit of misinformation is that while white males are the most likely candidates of mass shootings, there are others, most significantly black males. In Mother Jones’ count of mass shooters from 1982 to 2017 that has a more narrow criteria to "qualify," 54 were white, 16 were black, 7 Hispanic and 7 Asian. It is interesting to note that homicides by blacks (half of all homicides in a given year) is still something that is only address by the right-wing media, largely ignored as a “problem” by the rest of the media for the reason one can only assume to be that they wish to avoid stereotyping and accusations of “racism.” 

But one bit of misinformation really disturbs me. Cruz was described as a “loner” in the media. The British tabloid The Sun called him “a troubled and violent loner.” The New York Times admits that it is in many cases it is “hard” to separate mass shooters from “normal” people, but the story provides a link to a 2015 piece that offers the usual “profile” of a mass shooter:

They do not fit in. Their most comfortable companion is themselves. According to Dr. Fox, mass killers tend to be “people in social isolation with a lack of support systems to help them through hard times and give them a reality check.”

“They have a history of frustration,” he went on. “They externalize blame. Nothing is ever their fault. They blame other people even if other people aren’t to blame. They see themselves as good guys mistreated by others.”

At Santa Barbara City College, Mr. Rodger clashed with his roommates and lived a life online. He stopped attending classes, and he posted videos about being rejected by women.

A parent of an elementary school classmate said her husband had refused to allow their son to spend the night with Mr. Rodger, who would hide in their home when he would visit. Simon Astaire, who served as the family spokesman, said at the time, “He was as withdrawn as any person I ever met in my life.”

The majority of mass shooters, experts believe, target specific people for specific reasons. Explicit writings or social media postings sometimes reveal their motivation. A grudge against their boss and co-workers.

With many of the killers, the signs are of anger and disappointment and solitude.

Although the term “loner” does not appear anywhere in the article, it is clear that is the kind of person being described here. A Dr. Swanson of Duke University admits that “Sure, you’ve got these risk factors, but they also describe thousands of people who are never going to commit a mass shooting. You can’t go out and round up all the alienated angry young men.” Actually, there are more likely millions of people like that, both male and female. Or more to the point, such profiling gives real “loners” a bad name. In fact, such profiling really doesn't even describe a “true” loner. The persons described in the above statements are people who do not necessarily wish to be “loners,” but due to severe personality or mental health disorders are unable to “adapt” or “fit-in” the normal social sphere. They nevertheless in fact wish to be “accepted” by “normal” society, and even desire to have female companionship. But because they are “rejected” by society and in interpersonal relationships, or view the world in absolutes like “me against everyone else” this suggests that their actions are “revenge” against non-acceptance in a world they wish to be in—not because they wish to be outside of it.

But a true “loner” maybe someone who “chooses” to be one, but most are simply “wired” that way and have become comfortable with that existence. Their attitude about people generally may be influenced by experiences during early youth, but in adulthood only arise when during a particular interaction that inspires consciousness of it. A true loner is someone who has not necessarily withdrawn from all social contact, but simply does not derive any particular pleasure from interactions with other people, who either demand too much of them, or are too unwilling to give themselves. They only interact when it is necessary to do so, such as at place of employment. A true loner does not hold “grudges” against people who have done them wrong, or maybe just for a day or two before it is time to move on with one’s life. 

A loner may be “friends” with someone, but it has to be a two-way street; if they have to maintain a “friendship” unilaterally, then the hell with the other person. They don’t have the patience or the time to play the games women expect of them in a relationship; life is too short, and there seems to be not enough of it to do the things they wish to do anyways, and there is no point in wasting more of it on the vagaries of human nature. They don’t like people invading their “space,” and they try to avoid conflict by invading other people’s space (especially connards). A true loner really doesn’t care what other people think of them, although they will offer an opinion of them if warranted. They don’t trust the motives of others, but will respond to others in kind. A true loner is person who prefers the “company” of books, music and movies over that of narcissistic people obsessed with self.  As the Simon & Garfunkel song “I am a Rock” tells us:

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

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