Another mass shooting, another article criticizing American response to said shootings, characterization of particularly white mass shooters versus black and brown persons also in the mass shooter category, another equally useless race diatribe contrasting militia standoffs by white people and active shooters who are “other,” who comes out continuously, one called it miraculously, unharmed, chafing against the classification mentally ill for white shooters analyzing journalists believe are something else entirely, misogynists, racists and diseased by a culture of ‘toxic masculinity.’ Arthur Chu waxed repeatedly about both for pages deconstructing Dylan Roof and Eliot Roger; incapable of comprehending there could be a dual diagnosis, if you will, a social one and a mental health designation, resolving all of what we saw in each shooter. Identical journalists, opinion writers balking against the average Joe comparison both juxtaposing someone who is ‘disturbed,’ they like to put that word in quotes, as sarcasm, to make it less believable, communicate their skepticism, and someone who is simultaneously a family man living the American dream winding up to the center target, the heart of the issue’s bulls eye, the idea such shootings are so unpredictable, random treated with the inevitability of nature’s wrath, storms or an act of god to quote the latest sound off machine telling us via the written word how wrong we are. Forget how many who cross the mass shooter/school shooter barrier, usually applying to older students on college campuses versus middle, junior high, high school, who weren’t old enough to be ‘family men,’ the Oregon shooter who shot his fellow students in part because he couldn’t get a girlfriend, Eliot Roger who went on long winded rants about girls who would have nothing to do with him alongside his obvious delusions leading to violence; the ones who were described as anything but average Adam Lanza who committed a shooting at a school but fits more the mass shooter profile because he wasn’t a student there, had no affiliation with Sandyhook, who had problems from his formative years, Roger again who was in therapy from an early age, the Oregon shooter whose mother says he was on the autism spectrum. Jared Loughner whose current neighbors thought him a possible serial killer, whose childhood neighbors saw signs of family trouble, Oklahoma mall shooter diagnosed with (oppositional defiant disorder) ODD, medicated for it; we’ve heard the diatribes on over medicated kids too, psychotropic drugs and the unknown, unintended psychological consequences yet to be proven beyond speculation. Media certainly not to blame for the mental health experts who have gotten up on talk shows for nearly the last decade and told mourning, shaken, angry, frightened America how difficult it is to profile a mass shooter, how trying, taxing it is to separate disturbed, distraught, agitated people potentially suffering from some form, degree of mental illness who definitively will pick up a gun and do this from those who won’t, independent just how many glaring signs were missed, help that wasn’t given that should have been; people like Dr. Keith Ablow who blamed a combination of violent video games and a fragile mental state for the Navy Yard shooting despite the voices in Aaron Alexis’ head, the fact he called police talking about people following him, keeping him awake by talking to him and sending microwaves through his body. Still we believe the go to ‘counter narrative’ shaming the media for virtually perpetuating the next mass shooting by sticking to a script, failing to ask the tough questions no one will including our leaders, and not calling them out for their unwillingness to do just that, lead; regardless of if that encompasses the truth of the matter or the type of ‘leadership’ being clamored for will help solve the problem in reducing mass shootings, getting to the bottom of why they happen, crafting better policies be it on guns, mental health, social justice or increasing every Americans wellbeing. So it isn’t surprising someone picked up where he Chu, similar mined people, left off; think the letter written after the Oregon shooting saying we don’t need your payers we need your courage, accusing news media outlets and the public alike of ‘coddling another white killer’ when talking about Jason Brian Dalton, the latest perpetrator with a gun who went on a rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan Saturday just over a month ago prompting Chauncey Devega’s article the next day. The yawningly familiar too assertion, if only we could get rid of the gun lobby, limit its power, actually hold accountable our elected leaders, get the gun control a majority of Americans agree upon including members of the NRA who are not spokesperson mouthpieces but average citizens who believe in the second amendment, hunting and, an absurdity today, common sense, reasonable gun safety. Mental health all but ignored except to throw out words like toxic masculinity linked for good measure with white privilege contrasted against the other hot button of the 21st century, Muslims and how they couldn’t have done what these multiple white men have done, will keep doing and receive the same soft treatment in the American media, American public. Stopping long enough to call mass shootings a public health crisis (which agreed they are) but stopping short of naming our ‘public sickness,’ what causes it, how to stop it, besides the clear mantra end racism now, which won’t take the gun from people like this’ hand, remove the inclination to kill. Ultimately adding to the white noise on the subject not cutting through it; congratulations Mr. Devega you embody one more part of the problem and exactly none of the solution.
Unraveling the truthfully faux complexity presented about what causes, underlays mass shootings, the author’s assertions correlated to race, race privilege and the media begins with doing his favorite thing, asking questions; foremost, are all the shootings he gave examples of the same, carrying enough similar elements to be categorized together, examined under twin identical criteria as mass shootings described under the definition we’ve come to know? Answer, an emphatic no; the recent conflicts between anti-government militias, Cliven Bundy in Nevada or Ammon Bundy in remote Oregon, were begun over legitimate issues surrounding land rights and grazing fees, escalated to peaceful assembly under the law and finally to a survivalist like occupation launched against what they believed to be a corrupt government. Where yes guns were present belonging to militia members, were at times perhaps pointed at law enforcement in the heat of the crowd and height of tensions; their defiance of the law treated wholly differently by police less ‘because they were white’ and rather because the situation was the exact opposite of an active shooter scenario, in that they had virtually barricaded themselves into an area, an area they no longer had legal rights to for lack of payment (the land, farming version of your landlord’s eviction notice) posing little treat to the adjacent public and best resolved with negotiation. Despite the prevalence of unarmed black persons injured, shot and killed by police, civilians who were in fear for their lives, thought they saw a weapon or believed themselves to be dealing with a dangerous thug about to commit some criminal act of violence, obvious the author blatantly disregarded how many were also police called into chaotic situation X by the public, armed with incomplete information as well as their guns; the unadulterated fact officers confronting Tamir Rice never heard the gun was probably fake, john Crawford III was shot while carrying an available for purchase airsoft rifle (current generation pellet or BB gun) through his local Wal-Mart because the 911 caller told dispatchers the guy was prowling the store, shooting, at one point telling them he was reloading. In actuality Crawford was browsing the store carrying the item intending or deciding on whether or not to purchase it. George Zimmerman repeatedly called 911 about criminal elements in his neighborhood, called 911 that night then followed Trayvon Martin; George Zimmerman who was put on trial, his acquittal alarming definitely, but like OJ Simpson before him, his behavior caught up to him, now behind bars for something else. Seemingly purposefully omitted— how many, police or civilian alike, were put to trial for the deaths they caused, the ones serving jail time precisely because jurors no longer immediately buy into the ‘I was in fear for my life’ line; Michael Dunn and Theodore Wafer are serving time for killing Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride respectively, Michael Slager brazen killer and liar about what happened to Walter Scott was just granted bail the first month of this year and has an October trial date, his getting out of jail while awaiting trial having more to do with ability to post bond, publicity of his case producing funding donations than race. Robert Bates who made headlines for mistaking his gun for his taser in his volunteer effort to help apprehend apparent drug dealer Eric Harris awaits trial in April; more importantly his ‘pay to play cop,’ bragging about his connections with the sheriff exposed. Officers were charged in the Freddie Gray death; yes, one acquitted, but it is still early in the legal process, far from finished. Let’s not deny the progress made, the marked shift in public attitude taking place while reminding people how far we have to go. Discussing mass/school shooters exclusively, absent in the roughly 3 pages, 1300 words mostly his own, apart from a lone news quote, those shooters who were white but didn’t make it out of their mass rampages alive; Adam Lanza, Christopher Harper-Mercer, a familiar name Eliot Roger, committing suicide by their own hand or committing a known phenomenon aptly named suicide by cop where suspects purposefully act aggressively, put themselves in the line of fire to be shot. ‘The non-whites,’ if we really wanna use that tern, Christopher Jordan Dorner, Seung Cho; critical details separating say James Holmes (the white killer) and his arrest from the police shooting death of Aaron Alexis (the black killer) pointing not to race, but the zero resistance offered by the former versus bullets still being fired by the latter. Jared Loughner (once more the white guy) was subdued by someone at the scene either before police arrived or while they sorted out what was going on, preventing a shootout between the two; dido with the Planned Parenthood shooter (‘another white guy’) who gave up the moment police stormed the facility’s doors. Dylan Roof (‘patently white racist’) initially fled and escaped the scene prompting a manhunt at the same time deescalating scene tensions that result in shots fired; when arrested on a traffic stop, he offered no resistance, followed officer instructions according to dash cam footage. Common denominator being persons who present themselves as an immediate threat and those who don’t outweighing why police are there, what race, ethnicity, culture you’re from. Switching gears slightly, is there anything to suggest the latest name we now know, Jason Brian Dalton wasn’t a family man, wasn’t an “average Joe,” wasn’t in pursuit of the American dream, as most are; we’ve heard next to nothing about this man merely what he did and what he was charged with, details of the murders, attempted murders he committed, there was so little to know when the Salon.com piece was written, it is unfair to the victims, the goal of understanding mass shootings, quelling public panic and last but not least, any family Mr. Dalton may have, to interject and project all these racial theories onto one man that just don’t fit. Nor is it “A new and even more perverse “logic” [that] has also been summoned on social media and elsewhere to discuss the Kalamazoo gun rampage [to question Dalton’s distinction as a mass shooter based on how he killed his victims] Apparently, Jason Brian Dalton is not a “mass shooter” because his killing of six people and wounding of two others took place not in one isolated event, but rather over several hours;” our author just gave almost verbatim the definition of a spree killer not a mass shooter. Spree killers defined thus, “a spree killer is someone who kills two or more victims in a short time in multiple locations. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics defines a spree killing as “killings at two or more locations with almost no time break between murders”. Similarly they called the D.C. sniper that based on where and how he killed not just a snazzy name to sell papers, the zodiac killer sent messages to police where he gave himself this name, BTK were the initials of a killer in Kansas based on how he tormented and killed his victims standing for blind, torture, kill. Equally notable, the next breaking shooter story after Kalamazoo involved one Cedric Ford who killed people in and around his former place of employment, media appropriately calling it a workplace shooting, not singularly because of where it took place but key elements to other workplace violence where someone recently terminated or overwhelmed by personal problems attacks his workplace using a gun or other means; the latest evolution of what we used to associate with postal workers, day traders, high intensity, high stress jobs. Ford (a black man) allegedly snapped after receiving a restraining order to stay away from a former girlfriend who described him, wait for it, “in desperate need of medical and psychological help;” his death directly tied to his violent resistance of police once on scene.
As to the Muslim comparison, it doesn’t track either, at least not in the way our Salon author tries to make us believe; there was at least one person on CNN moments to hours after San Bernardino, the only relevant reference that fits, willing to forgo attaching the terrorism label to what Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had done. Instead calling it a workplace beef disguised as terrorism whose root was coworkers who repeatedly made fun of his religion; then what did we learn, reported by the FBI, their social media accounts showed discussions of terrorism, clear terrorist, radical Islamic sympathies. FBI bungling the information for sure, but where they screwed up was making it appear those messages were public, easily found, implication they should have been found by law enforcement before San Bernardino happened; when in reality those sympathies were expressed in private messages only accessible via a warrant, in no way diminishing their content, the shooters link to radical Islam, inspired to commit Islamic terrorism, proving our ‘fears about Muslims.’ Worse, following said revelations, news footage touring the couple’s home, detailing what was in and subsequently removed from there including guns, explosives, plans all indicating they intended to do something on a much bigger scale; however, unknown triggers spurred them into action that day. The San Bernardino set making up the most recent of headline terror plots, the latest variation on the sleeper cell found in sleepy suburbia assimilating into American culture to do terroristic harm in Malik’s case and representing home grown radicalization in Farook’s; people converted to Islam, getting more serious about their religion as in his case, catapulted into action by ISIS propaganda carrying out varyingly sophisticated to highly deadly, perhaps only targeting one person, atrocities in their name. Putting non-violent, non-radical Muslims in a uniquely negative position when entering into American culture, practicing their religion considering the current American climate, because what isn’t mentioned in the article calling America out for coddling white killers while meeting black and Muslim persons, some of whom have done nothing wrong, with military like force is—a certain amount of fear, coming from the right wing media, the left wing media or the average person employing common sense, is justified. By no means does the above statement support the Donald Trump would be policy of banning Muslims, surveilling mosques for no other reason than they are mosques, attempt to condone violence perpetrated against people who are Muslim but have done nothing violent, hold no ties to terrorism, want nothing to do with radicalization, support letters, e-mails, harassing phone calls to Muslim houses of worship or other Middle Eastern style dressed persons practicing a different religion altogether remember the Sikh temple shooting, angry Facebook messages like the one a teen described to CBS News from her neighbor who had known her for years, she was friends with her daughter calling her all kinds of names, unsure the woman could trust her based on the Paris attacks thousands of miles away. It does unfortunately underscore how difficult it is to positively channel such tangibly realistic, plausible fear, balance requested vigilance and sanity regarding an enemy so adept at blending in, when anyone can become radicalized, anyone can suddenly become a terrorist. Never the less the San Bernardino shooters didn’t end up dead at the conclusion of their rampage because they were Muslim, because this held all the hallmarks of terrorism recognized by responding law enforcement; they ended up dead at the close of their murderous actions because they got into a final shootout with police. Thus linking mass shootings, “white” mass shootings and something referred to in the piece as right-wing domestic terrorism, undefined and poorly alluded to expecting readers to guess it means people like Cliven Bundy or Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter, he says outnumbers ‘Muslim’ terrorism by a staggering percentage, is blatantly irresponsible owing to the immediate mis-categorization of every crazed, disgruntled, mentally ill, vengeful against their girlfriend, coworker, pervious best friend type person a domestic terrorist. Serving only to ratchet up rhetoric, confuse issues, ignoring terrorism has been a term since 9-11 to describe foreign threats to American sovereignty, soil and the people within its borders, domestic terrorism referring to American citizens radicalized or inspired by groups like ISIS or operating a-la Timothy McVeigh orchestrating and executing a targeted attack on a government building for a specific criminal purpose. Broadening that definition doesn’t aid in helping the public comprehend the motives behind seemingly indiscriminate violence, explain the abhorrent deviance, doesn’t facilitate their capture after the crime, because catching a serial killer, spree killer and a mass shooter are distinctly different than catching a terrorist, a guy who threw acid in his girlfriend’s face post a bad relationship, breakup all the absurd, to those of sound mind, reasons people kill. Adam Lanza wasn’t a terrorist, he wanted to get revenge on his mother who gave more to the students at his former elementary school than to him, Aaron Alexis opened fire on the Navy Yard not out of political motivation or because he worked there, rather he believed it the only way to survive the voices, James Holmes in his notebook was so far into his psychosis he penned the words ‘the message is there is not message,’ Holmes being a poster example for the opposite of domestic terrorist due to honestly fitting the textbook definition of criminally insane in addition to his ramblings, yes Jared Loughner shot house member Gabrielle Giffords, but only because his delusions told him she was the source of all his problems, clearly not a terrorist. Supposedly thought provoking though the piece is supposed to be, it makes the writer look especially stupid or simplistic mixing up the words terrorizing, terrifying, both things violence in any form can be and terrorist, those with a political or religious motivation for their violence. Chief problem with calling someone like Robert Dear a terrorist, also applying that specific designation to Christian extremists who do violence in the name of religion too, side stepping it inflames the inherent conflict between Muslims and Christians, inflames ongoing conflict with middle eastern Muslims, frames the conflict between ‘holy’ Islam and the ‘great satan’ west, is it takes away from the uniqueness of said crimes usually only targeting abortion clinics, abortion doctors and the reality education about what clinics like Planned Parenthood actually do, how many abortions they really perform or don’t, statistics on just how many abortions were done by doctors in hospitals trying to save a mother’s life can stop them; stopping ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, et al is a good deal more complex. Dylan Roof with his Apartheid flags, stated wishes to ignite a race war, his targeting of a known black church fits another definition to a perfect T— hate crime; term and legislation coming about in the gay rights era after Mathew Shepard’s beating death, it has since been applied to both black and Muslim victims of racially, religiously motivated violence. In Fact Roof was charged under hate crime laws at his court appearance. It’s the same when the renowned black activist and frequent Salon contributor transposes lone wolf and loner in his mocking description of Dalton by the media; early on plain to law enforcement was, whatever Dalton’s motives for driving around in his Uber vehicle, picking up passengers and killing people along the way it wasn’t terrorism, fit none of the elements associated with terrorism. Therefore lone wolf repeatedly used to describe radical Islamic, jihadist inspired terrorists at home or abroad, like the guy who targeted one city’s police with an ax acting alone without the help of a cell or larger group, doesn’t apply; loner often the adjective depicting isolated persons with no family, estranged from their family who fell deeper into their delusions, became further consumed by odd or compulsive behavior does fit keeping in mind no family has come forward to speak about him. Robert Dear lived in an isolated, wooded area virtually off the grid, Adam Lanza didn’t come out of his room for days, weeks, months at a time, Eliot Roger and Christopher Harper-Mercer cited trouble making social connections as part of why they did what they did. If he can’t adequately understand these components how are we supposed to take seriously Chauncey Devega’s other potentially very valid arguments?
Moving on we hope that when he talks about failed public policy Devega is talking about our lagging mental health system, our abysmal approach to mental illness, the stigma it carries often scaring people away from seeking help, but no he’s talking about guns, the overwhelming power of the gun lobby and the gun legislation we can never get. Gun legislation that would unfairly discriminate against the responsible gun owner who treats his AR15 assault rifle the way hunters treat that X point buck they caught, mounting it on a wall, the gun enthusiast who has so many guns, so much ammo because they possess guns throughout history, antiques to present regaling neighbors and visitors with their collection and the history of the models of guns have accumulated over a lifetime, wonderful stories of gun show experiences, travels to find that rare piece that just happens to be a firearm. Gun legislation too quickly dismissing persons and families who own at least one gun for safety and personal security in an increasingly insecure world; individuals who live alone to parents looking to guard their children who’ve come to understand, if someone is breaking into their home, they can get to their gun faster than police can arrive at their house after calling 911. Firearms restrictions scoffing a little too soon at survivalist ideology that has merit surrounding one sole area, that what if scenario less where the government has fallen and more what if multiple major natural disasters strike the country all at once overwhelming FEMA, ceasing disaster aid and/or government function for lack of working phone lines, damaged cell towers, a large scale terror attack or nuclear event involving bombs, people clamoring for fallout shelters, which predictably there won’t be enough of. How do you protect yourself absent a gun when there are no police to call, no jails to put people into and no authority in place to enforce law and order; you would need a gun, merely as a threat to keep away mobs, prevent violence assuming you were willing to share what you had with the ‘foolishly unprepared,’ desperate masses. Hollywood on the big screen and hurricane Katrina in real life showed us exactly the type of lawlessness that can follow a huge natural disaster; now imagine that on a country wide scale, and we wonder why ‘these people’ are hording supplies and guns? Desired gun laws ineffective in preventing the misapplication of privacy law that kept Seung Cho off a list of persons whose mental state, diagnosis barred them from buying a gun legally, clerical errors that concealed the knowledge Dylan Roof admitted to drugs found on his person during a stop for something else were his that should have kept him from buying a gun legally in the state of South Carolina, or that the gun he ultimately used was a gift for his 21st birthday. Ammo restrictions only stirring up the patients of methodical shooters and survivalist persons who will buy the limited amount at a time, wait the prescribed time before buying more, buy up to the limit until they have enough for what they are planning, quite possibly turn to the wholly unregulated, no man’s land of the internet either because they believe the laws stupid or to expedite what they want to do. We routinely get selective amnesia conveniently forgetting the school shooters who took rifles from their grandparents, the Oklahoma mall shooter who took the gun he used from his stepdad’s gun cabinet, the Columbine shooters had help in acquiring their guns circumventing laws making said help a punishable offense by years in jail; San Bernardino shooters’ guns bought by a childhood friend. Horrified by the pipe bombs Harris and Klebold placed throughout the school yet never detonated, mirroring response to James Holmes’ apartment rigged with several kinds of flammable and explosive materials it’s a wonder forewarned officers didn’t ignite something and we’re still fixated on the gun. Guns nowhere to be found in the Canadian school stabbing where a girl reportedly took out 2 steak knives going after random students; only warning having a bad day, being in a bad mood the day before and the ‘crazed, shocked-out’ look in her eyes as she attacked classmates and staff. China has an even deeper recurring problem regarding crazed, unstable people attacking daycare and school children there with knives and we can no longer point to them saying no one died trying to make their problem less than ours because they don’t allow citizen gun ownership. 15 died in a 2010 series of 6 stabbings, 7 in a 2014 as a result of 2 more attacks; absolutely despicable 8 toddlers injured in 2011 by their daycare worker wielding a craft knife. Knowledge piled on top of the student in Spain who used a crossbow constructed of ballpoint pens and a machete to injure fellow students and succeed in killing a teacher; the bizarre machete attacks here at home leaving people bloodied. When Australia banned citizen owned guns after their first and last mass/school shooting they saw a reduction in suicides not homicides; great for their public health, irrelevant to the revolving, redundant conversation waxing nostalgic for the utopia that could be created sans guns. The reality you get a lot more justifiable shootings and black/brown people waving guns at ordinary citizens, law enforcement if you got to the gang ridden streets of Chicago, Detroit, L.A.; we’ve deluded ourselves that famous persons like Javon Belcher and his girlfriend would still be alive if only he hadn’t owned a gun, not say stopped playing football and getting multiple concussions, not decided to commit domestic violence prompting him to kill himself with the same gun time to drive from his home to the practice field the only moments that lapsed between their deaths. Sickening though it is to many, mockingly dismissive of the idea, once a bad guy has a gun and is actively willing, trying to use it on people, the only thing that can stop him is a good, preferably trained guy with a gun; key is not letting ‘bad guys’ namely known unstable, mentally unwell guys get ahold of guns. Also, like it or not, guns don’t kill people, as a matter of literal fact, people with guns kill people either intentionally or accidentally via unsafe, reckless, careless gun handling, storage. Remove the inclination, impetus, desire, drive to kill and you have solved the conundrum of gun violence; much easier said, written than done—I know.
At the risk of rehashing my own redundant narrative on the topic, until we get our mental health house in order, until we actively decide effectively deploying awareness to mental illness is better than shunning, ostracizing, name calling the people who have mental health problems, boiling them down to a character flaw, we will continue to see incidents like this. Until we consciously decide as a nation treating mental illness is more important than what is convenient, what is easy—I see it repeatedly with my best friend’s oldest son his school unwilling to make basic accommodations, follow basic behavior management routines specifically for him, repeatedly removing him from school, shipping him off to the alternative school and out of their hair; her every attempt to get him help, get him a diagnosis thwarted in some way be the local neurological/autism center who refused to test him for the disorder thinking bad parenting was the problem, other local behavior resources wanting an assessment by that local center, the doctor who ultimately diagnosis him part of an in school pilot program and when he returned for a med check didn’t see that doctor but an intern who refused to increase his weight based mood stabilizer despite substantial gain and reports from his mother on regression to pre-medicated behavior, escalated problems at school. Until we mobilize a centralization effort for mental health medicine the way we have physical medicine, engaging in early intervention, early treatment the way physical medicine focuses on preventative care, routine screening, strict management of chronic illness we will continue to view news stories of persons across every racial, ethnic spectrum, socio-economic class and age group suspected of this type of crime. Why, because if the common denominator of which shooters come out of standoffs, encounters with police post rampage alive is resistance or lack thereof, decision to take their own life or somehow being prevented from employing that option, transcending race, racism the common denominator about who commits said kind of rampage isn’t a white person suffering from a pathological white cultural dogma, toxic masculinity, trying to avenge his aggrieved white masculinity with a symbol of power, the gun, but mentally ill individuals so far into their illness, their delusions they’ve lost touch with reality. John Russell Houser in addition to displaying a swastika outside his business and calling in angry rants to his native Georgia radio station, found writings in his motel room stating he wanted to attack, police, government agencies, abortion clinics ‘and anyone else will do’ had a significant criminal as well as mental health history encompassing allegations he hired someone to burn an attorney’s office accompanied by the court order psych eval it generated, during recent years an order of protection was requested by his family citing domestic violence and he did stent in an Alabama psychiatric facility before wandering into a sleepy Lafayette Louisiana town, for all his explanations of intended targets landing on a movie theater. Despite markers of a probable racist, a self-purported love of Hitler, he didn’t just target the black movie goers that night, the 2 that died actually white, left alone the motel manager of Middle Eastern perhaps Indian descent and the black front desk attendant seen in surveillance footage capturing him; probable cause, his rantings about Hitler, race and who he wanted to target were a manifestation of his mental illness, chronologically trackable mental instability. Dylan Roof before bringing a gun into Emanuel AME church, for all we know before joining white supremacist sites on the internet, being photographed with Apartheid flags, telling friends he wanted a race war, was a transient student throughout local junior high and high schools so no one really knew him, rarely showed up prior to dropping out the moment he legally was able; next arrested twice outside a local mall for trespassing, asking mall patrons strange questions, complaining about his family’s insistence he get a job, drugs found in Roof’s possession the same ones used to combat heroine, other narcotic withdraw. Put it all together and what do you have, a troubled young man spiraling out of control mentally, taking refuge in the dangerous rhetoric of hate groups. A basic glance at the mug shots of Jared Loughner and James Holmes; orange hair on the latter aside, leave you with one determination, they don’t look sane. Neither did Robert Dear appearing in court outbursts and unkempt hair notwithstanding, his eyes gave away his likely unbalanced psychological status. Pictures of Aaron Alexis produced the same feeling, something was off, as did the expressionless pictures of Seung Cho; commenters on family provided pictures of Adam Lanza to media called him dysmorphic, in their minds explaining part of his mental state genetically. To subsequently turn around and ask what is pathological about white culture, claim the missing link between guns and predicting mass shootings is toxic masculinity, aggrieved white masculinity is not only a special kind of asinine likely to produce answers mirroring what ‘makes black men so apt to commit rape’, assertions ‘all women who have children out of wedlock are young, dumb, irresponsible, don’t leave off promiscuous’ ‘people on welfare are ignorant, lazy and don’t want to work,’ ‘all drug addicts are weak societal degenerates,’ stereotypical cultural garbage causing us to go round and round in circles getting nowhere on fundamental social issues. Inclined to go down Devega’s rabbit hole for a little exploration, potentially worth examining is not what’s toxic or pathological about white culture, what’s wrong with this generations young people, Jared Loughner so ill he couldn’t carry on a conversation, wrote nonsense equations in math class and had people in the internet forums and chat rooms he visited convinced he was schizophrenic; James Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist who specialized in, you guessed it, schizophrenia, Aaron Alexis heard voices, Seung Cho saw a doctor 2 years earlier who noted a flat affect and abject refusal to accept he may have a thought disorder, recommending outpatient treatment. Rather what is/was toxic, better description dysfunctional, about latter years baby boomer even early years gen X culture, then or now to create persons like Robert Dear, John Russell Houser honesty going all the way back to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, younger versions like Dalton. What are the cultural, social reasons for the increasingly odd, bizarre, violent, confrontational behavior many times caught on video of this demographic, if it can indeed be pinned down by those terms? The reason mass shootings come off as so unpredictable, last alerted to a problem law enforcement are at a loss and struggling to piece together the why, is because their victims, the unsuspecting public, are the absolute last to be clued into a long history of personal, mental health and legal troubles; neither is it new for authorities to be searching for, apprehend killers who chose seemingly random targets, their choice in killing the persons they did only made sense to them. Mystifying is why then law enforcement seems so panicked, flummoxed, adding to the public’s heightened unease in these situations, aren’t speaking out against the anti-gun rhetoric that won’t solve a fraction of the problems pertaining to violence in America.
Very latest on Jason Brian Dalton exemplifying the laid out here counter, counter claims to every narrative put forth on mass shooters, how and why they kill, what their rampages say about our culture. Dalton when confronted by police in a traffic stop like fashion, offered no resistance, followed instructions, did not open fire, attempt to shoot, otherwise harm officers proving why he came out unharmed, alive. News casters commenting on dash cam footage calling it a calm arrest, also by the book and uneventful independent what he had done. Reportedly telling police during interrogation the Uber app controlled his mind and body the moment he opened it, gave him an assignment and literally took over his body, comparing it to both the devil along with artificial intelligence. Judge predictably ordering a mental competency/psychiatric evaluation to ascertain whether or not he is even mentally fit to stand trial, results pending. If Michigan follows the footsteps of other cases like his, should Dalton fail a mental competency test, he will most likely then be evaluated to see if he can be medicated and rendered fit to stand trial as was done to both Jared Loughner and lesser known to the public James Holmes. Mr. Dalton who, talk about running a prewritten, pre-arranged script, though an important one, showed signs of an unstable personality, mental issues before what transpired on that ill-fated Saturday night; co-workers similar to other classmates and acquaintances who put the ramblings of soon to be killers down to a joke, having a bad day, being intoxicated or high, chalked it up to a bad temper saying he had no conflict resolution skills, would frequently yell at customers and took little things personally. Another person who worked with Dalton at a different job told a Detroit newspaper he had never seen someone act so unprofessionally. A wrong address for an Uber pick up may have been what set him to snap that night as he was late picking up the woman and asked a female present outside the apartment complex if he knew the woman he was to pick up; when she told him no, he opened fire. Following still more common patterns where shooters leave, get themselves fired from stable, middle class jobs trading down to minimum wage, going from a basic job that pays their bills to unemployed or surviving on odd jobs Dalton went from some form of customer service to driving an Uber car with more isolated down time a variation on ones like Dear and Houser who became reclusive, pulled away from family, began living completely off the grid; next anyone hears of them they’re holding a weapon accused of killing serval people, injuring dozens. Interesting is if it would surprise Devega, his fellow subscribers to the ultra-anti-gun mantra he wholeheartedly supports the ‘average Joe’ ‘family man in pursuit of the American dream, left off is typical father’ who ‘likes guns’ were layman’s descriptions given by neighbors not generated by the media themselves. Ironically the same ‘neighbors’ I have repeatedly called out in my own work for professing their shock, horror, disbelief person X could do this in one breath yet with the next begins describing either family trouble, odd behaviors or confrontations had with classmates, co-workers, friends, the neighbor across the street, his/her family. Never speculated upon to any degree, the notion these average citizens, neighbors to horrible headline X may not know what they’re talking about, see TV cameras and want to see their face on TV more than they want to be truthfully reflective, introspective about the person they knew on an extremely casual basis; you’re actually talking to the cul-de-sac gossip, which will be reflected in the caliber of information you get. The overwhelmingly repetitive nature of these stories isn’t limited to how much they happen, that they almost always include a gun, recycled over and over vocabulary we can recite by heart or the ‘usual script’ employed by the media to detail what happened- again. It too lies in the factual script, the things all mass shooters have in common different facets of mental health disturbance, different degrees of estrangement from family or lack thereof, increased isolation, reclusiveness, a marked deterioration in function either seen by those around him or chronicled through pieces found out about their past, some sort of dissatisfaction, disgruntlement with society or government, people engaging in activity X. Unfortunately media aren’t the only ones who never seem to learn; we never do either, these mirroring facts staring us in the face and we’re still consumed with the gun, allow people to fill our heads with gun restriction what if’s on the promise it will stop tragedies of this kind; it won’t. Effectively addressing mental health is the only thing that can; too bad Chauncey Devega couldn’t just level with, be straight with us and say that.