Saturday, May 31, 2014

One messed up dude

Recently a dude decided to go on a rampage murdering six other people and then himself.  I won't be publishing his name or any links to pictures because quite frankly he wanted to be notorious, to be known, and I want to give him as little of that as possible.  I will refer to him as FUD.  The key to FUD's fame is that he published a video of himself on youtube where he blamed women for not having sex with him for his angst and eventual murderous behaviour and outlined his plan.  Many groups have claimed this incident as a compelling reason to support their cause and while I support these causes by and large I think they end up missing the best thing we can do to prevent such tragedies in future.

Anti gun lobbyists want to make this about getting better gun control since FUD had multiple weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his vehicle.  Someone in their twenties with no criminal record is going to be able to buy weapons in any country that allows them for use in sport or hunting, which is pretty near all countries.  In addition most of the murders were committed with a knife or a vehicle so even if he had no guns it is not at all clear that would have helped.  I support strict gun laws but this incident isn't an example of where they would help - this other one where a licenced, experienced carrier blew someone away in a moment of idiocy is.

Other people have called for greater mental health support to prevent people like FUD from going over the edge.  Again this doesn't hold up to scrutiny since FUD had a huge amount of medical and social assistance trying to deal with his issues and still nobody saw this coming despite the fact that he had been planning it for a year.  I also support trying to help people who have mental health issues and I think we really need to work on removing the stigma associated with them but nonetheless none of that would have stopped FUD.  Some even go so far as to suggest that we just need more empathy to detect these things - good luck with that, since you can't lock somebody up indefinitely just because you are kinda sure they are thinking about killing some people.

There has been quite the furor between feminists and men's rights advocates surrounding this incident.  Some of the more loathsome MRAs have suggested that we have to get women to have sex with men to prevent this sort of behaviour.  Corralling women to have sex with violent psychopaths to placate them is revolting even if it would work and surely it would not.  Many feminists have suggested that the problem is the culture of entitlement to women's bodies that is to blame and that is what we should be focusing on.  I agree that such entitlement is awful and wrong and should be combatted but the idea that FUD would have become a normally functioning sort of person if he weren't exposed to misogynistic ideas simply doesn't work.  FUD hated everybody and felt entitled about everything - go find his videos if you want to see that.

To quote the late Tychus Findlay:  That guy ain't right in the head brother.  I can appreciate some good, honest craziness.  But that guy?  He's got something broke inside.

FUD was a murderous psychopath.  One of the reasons he didn't have close ties and had no luck with romance was presumably because other people could tell that he had something broke inside.  He desperately wanted recognition, adoration, to be someone important.  He could not achieve that through normal human interaction so he decided to go the sure route to infamy - a villainous laugh uploaded to youtube and a deadly killing spree.  The best way to prevent this sort of incident from happening again is to refuse to offer such evil people the fame they crave.  Give them ugly nicknames like FUD, refuse to show their pictures, and leave them buried in obscurity.  Deny them that which they strive to achieve.

We should promote gun control, we should develop better treatment and understanding of mental illness, and we should end male entitlement of women's bodies.  All of these things are important, all of them can save many lives, but they aren't the key to stopping indiscriminate violence by people like FUD.  The key to that lies in making sure that such violence leads only to being dead and forgotten, unknown and unmourned by society.  Future FUDs must know that killing is no ticket to immortality.


  1. I disagree on this one. There is no way to avoid giving someone fame on the level they really want it. He probably wanted his parents to notice what happened. He probably wanted some women who he felt had rejected him to notice what happened - and his connection with these women was probably largely in his head so he would imagine that they would take notice even if they literally had no idea who he was.

    From everything I've read, this guy had something really, really wrong with him. It's quite possible that had he been born elsewhere in the world, he would have been some other country's Anders Brevik - a truly isolate incident and something that really couldn't have been stopped.

    But that doesn't explain why there are two mass shooting a month in the US. It doesn't explain why people who are angry or upset or narcissistic in the US decide that murder or mass murder is the answer while people with the same problems in other countries choose suicide or drinking or talking about their problems with their friends and families.

    There is something wrong in the US that goes beyond one crazy guy, and media coverage doesn't explain it either. I mentioned Anders Brevik above, everyone in Norway knows that name but it didn't set off a trend. Somewhere buried deep in US culture is the acceptance of the idea that killing is a way to solve problems.

  2. I think you are right - the US has something crazy going on there. I read about the culture of honour awhile ago, in Why Violence Has Declined, I think, and I suspect you can chalk it up to that. The idea that you have to defend yourself, that your ability to kill and destroy other people is important, is hugely damaging and every society that has that as a central component has very high rates of violence.

    When people accept that the state has a legitimate monopoly on use of force their societies tend to be peaceful and non violent. The US, as all the gun rights lobbyists and 2nd amendment fanatics can attest, is full of people who do not accept that. I don't think you have to go any further to understand why violence is so high there.

    So I think you are right that this is a particularly US phenomenon, but I also think that we could curb it (the randomized mass murder + suicide, anyway) by refusing to publicize the perpetrators. It can be both things.

  3. It can be both, but it can also be working on misogyny, funding mental health treatment more, and promoting gun control. I feel like you've highlighted media coverage as the stand-out cause and I don't think it really stands out. I actually don't think the refusing to publicize perpetrators would have much impact for the reason I give above - they're act will still shock and affect the people they most want it to.