Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Are white men overrepresented in heinous crimes?

Not in the prison population in general, we know minorities tend to be grossly overrepresented in prison populations. But seriously, I notice that most of the guys that have say walked into schools and shot people or abducted and murdered women on a friday night tend to look much more like me than say, my refugee student.

Yet public debate seems consumed with the prevention of people who don't look like me coming to Australia. Yet all the truly the horrific shit seems to be perpetrated by people who look like me.

I guess one reason is that when you racially resemble the perps, it's much easier to imagine that the heinous crime gene is not walking around hand in hand with the pasty skin gene.

Curious though as to whether the Wikipedia page on 'School Shootings' would mention the fact that it seems to be really white kids that go shoot innocent people. And I mean society is if anything 'friendliest' to white males. And furthermore, we have had two decades in a row now where the most celebrated individuals in the world have been straight white men who can't really dress themselves - Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Throw in Zuckerberg and the google guys and white loner males occupy both the most celebrated and most despised ends of the spectrum.

But apparantly the FBI warn against sibscription to any profile. And I mean that's a really good point, but why doesn't this extend in our discourse to pointing out that the vast majority of Islamic men in this world are like Mormon's only more religiously observant. Which is to say, 'won't say shit for a shilling' and the most outrageous thing they can contemplate is wearing shorts.

Thus attending Mosque or reading the Koran is not a useful means to predict who is going to bomb a night club. So too, being a white male loner who is a victim of bullying or worse - home schooling, is only a slightly more effecient way of predicting who is going to inflict grevious harm on bystanders.

Like I'm not a news guy, shit trickles to me slowly, and frankly I am becoming desensitised to the whole shootings phenomena in the US, whether it is violating the sanctity of a cinema complex or a primary school, I had to go and make an effort to read through the wikipedia page on the latest to absorb the true horror and feel the deep offensiveness of the act.

But still, I find it hard, a bystander a world away to find any motivation to blame any systematic issues, or anything beyond the individual who murdered his own mother and took her gun cache on a killing spree of innocents.

So many social contracts were violated by one person and one person only that I don't feel the social contracts that were meant to be upheld - ie, you don't kill your own mother, you don't kill innocent people, you don't kill innocent children... I just don't believe anyway to make social contracts actual enforcable contracts is in the end not feasible nor desirable.

The gun debate is something else,I am a firm believer that once somebody decides that what they want to do is really hurt somebody and the consequences be damned, there is little anyone ever could do to stop them. But there IS a difference between this resulting in the abduction, rape and murder of an innocent woman and the slaying of staff and students at a school, the difference is not only in the sexual element of the crime but the number of people a person is capable of hurting. With guns, the damage wrought is greatly amplified.

Guns make hurting people extremely effecient.

Beyond that though, what?

Some observations:

1. The perpetrators when white are treated charitably, compared to other perpetrators. They are not 'psychotic' but 'troubled' or painted as victims themselves. With the exception of the schizophrenic that shot Dimebag Darryl at a Pantera concert, most of these shooters have no excuse, they do not suffer conditions that relieve them of the responsibility for the choices they have made. Their attempts and successes at committing suicide communicate that they understand that they know they are doing wrong, and the shooter profiles carried in the media do everybody a disservice by trying to apologise for their inability to function in society not for mental illness but for personality disorders.

2. These shootings are often extravagent forms of suicide, meticulously planned the plans are never devoid of the realisation that they are a 'spree' from which there is no hope of escape for the shooter and that ultimately they will end with the arrest or suicide of the killer. From Columbine to last week, I am not aware of any of the murderers attempting to take hostages and negotiate a plane to Cuba. They are suicides. They are almost always suicides. Dr Gordon Livingston wrote that there is an intrinsic element of criticism and rage in the act of suicide directed at loved ones for their failure to make life worth living or hear the cries for help. When you murder your own family and then innocents, proxy's for society at large, this criticism betrays a self-indulgence, a sense of entitlement that is lost in the discourse that society at large is responsible for their quality of life. Why do these largely white kids think they are entitled to inflict their problems on the community around them? Where does this notion arise? It is so arrogant, so presumptuous to place responsibility on society for caring about their concerns and their conditions over others.

Sure there may be no hard and fast psychological profile, but these are seldom the children of families devestated by drug abuse, or impoverished and dispossessed, they do not come from war torn regions, nor did they cross a border illegally in hopes of a better life. They have change in their pockets, roofs overhead, they attend schools and wear clothes that are purchased from the store. They are amonst the wealthiest people in the world with numerous opportunities to prepare for a brighter future on hand. Thus there is no excuse to go out in a blaze of infamy, the community is not worthy of thier criticism, they are worthy of criticism.

3. Extraordinary as the event of somebody shooting their way into a school and going on a killing spree is, it is absolutely no accident that at least 4 people there died in acts of extreme heroism defending the lives of the innocent. Because heroic people are extremely common, people are awesome, kind and decent, leading their lives in an imperfect and unpredictable world.

The principle and school psychologist could not have foreseen that a shooter would walk into their school that or any other day, they could have had no plans or strategy for dealing with the situation. Yet their reaction was instantaneous and unenviable in its reward. They went to confront the shooter, a role designated to them and a responsibility they assumed despite how terrifying and grossly unfair it was. Two unarmed professionals encountering an armed assailant. There was nothing that could be done in hindsight but they did what they must. This I would argue is the general mettle of humanity. Society is not falling apart, people are falling off the fringes.

4. I am a white male, that lives in the suburbs, and due to my chosen profession spend much time in isolation. Despite my choices, the ease with which people can disconnect and comfort themselves in unconstructive ways has never sat well with me. I can remember my highschool being on the technology-trap bandwagon and requiring students to have laptops (why???) when the library introduced LAN ports and a group of kids started playing LAN party games during lunchtime. I dissapproved strongly, yet my socially awkward friend argued that the socially awkward needed their refuge.

No they don't. They require intervention. You may never be able to get gun control in place in America, but you could get school uniforms in place that I feel reduce social stratification because cliques and tribes cannot so readily uniform themselves, plus remove stimulus for bullies. You could get rid of cheerleaders and trench-coat mafias in one motion. You also aleviate the economic burden to be cool. It may seem superficial to point to the clothes, but every socially awkward guy I have ever met has a strong behavioural profile of being dressed by their mother, and subsequently being ridiculed for it.

In so many ways, kids on the fringe tend to be relieved of the anxieties socialising puts on them rather than helped to overcome them. Japan operates a culture where a student being bullied upon confessing to their parents will be asked 'what are you doing wrong? why can't you fit in?' and that has myriad fucken problems but saying 'my kid is being bullied, I want them exempt from sports, clubs and any kid that so much as criticises them will be sued and so help ME GOD I will sue this fucking school too!' is perhaps fostering the sense of entitlement and rage that ones problems and demons are not their own responsibility to overcome but societies.

5. Twice in my life I have been sitting on a train and observed a father quiz his infant child on mathematical questions. One was an indian man and his daughter on the Tokyo Subway, another was a Caucasian male and his daughter on the New York subway. The Indian father's question was from memory more challenging, whereas NY daddy asked at 56th street how many more stops till we get there?

On both occassions I sniggered. Mathematics is a gateway to academic excellence, but the people who owe their success in life to prodigal-mathematic ability <1 144="144" a="a" ability="ability" and="and" are="are" be="be" calculate="calculate" dads="dads" dividends="dividends" exceed="exceed" firm="firm" from="from" handshake="handshake" hello="hello" is="is" kids="kids" logarithms="logarithms" man="man" manually="manually" much="much" must="must" not="not" of="of" or="or" owe="owe" paid="paid" people="people" pretty="pretty" rest.="rest." root="root" say="say" should="should" skills="skills" smile="smile" social="social" square="square" subway="subway" success="success" teaching="teaching" that="that" the="the" their="their" thousandfold.="thousandfold." to="to" what="what" who="who">

Social skills can be taught, what does not come naturally can come with effort. I have known (and possibly been, I don't have necessarily the most accurate self-image) kids on the fringe that go either way. Surprisingly, rap music never hurts from what I can observe.

But the fact that our social education falls mainly on observing our parents and peers, there is no risk spreading in society and perhaps insofar as that society is to blame for these tragedies. Home-schooling should certainly be a no-no, I cannot imagine any justification that isn't 'I want to indoctrinate my kid with my marginal views of how the world works.' beyond that though, not just these but much more banal (and damaging) social issues could be avoided if kids were taught that their parents are but one exception, rather than the rule.

Our quality of life is determined far more by questions of 'who' than 'what', the substances abused in substance abuse tend to simulate the chemical experience of emotions felt naturally by people who are happy and contented. Divorces are driven by poor choices of marriage partners, and careers tend to be more fulfulling the less they are based on the expectations of others and the more they are based on the aspirations of the individual. Through neglect and misdirection our schools teach us nothing of how to achieve quality of life. Nor do they teach us how to deal with our problems by avoiding them in the first place.

Education needs a quality revolution as badly as manufacturing did.

6. An effort to understand the minds and plights of these white boys on the fringes of society is in some way admirable and in some ways offensive. I wish we would extend the same charity though to understanding the brown people and yellow people whom impose no such tragedies on us, yet garner attention widely in the form of xenophobia and aggression.

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