Tuesday, 18 December 2012
A shot of narcissism

Telegraph blogger Brendan O'Neill has some sensible comments on the school shooting in Conneticut:

There is one question that the pious critics of America's so-called gun culture cannot answer. If mass school shootings like that in Connecticut really are a product of the apparently mad Second Amendment, of the fact that guns are widely available in the US, then why did such shootings only take off in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Guns have been available in the US for more than two centuries, but multiple-victim shootings in schools, of the sort that rocked Connecticut and Columbine before it, are a very modern phenomenon. It cannot be simply the availability of guns that leads people to massacre children or their fellow students, or else there would have been horrors like this throughout American history.

If you look at this long and comprehensive list of shootings in American schools, one thing becomes clear very quickly: between the 1760s and the late 1970s, with a few exceptions, most shootings in schools were just a continuation of criminal activity in general. They involved the killing of one or two or maybe three persons, as gang clashes spilled into the classroom, or spurned teenage lovers exacted revenge on the object of their affection, or students lashed out at teachers they hated. It isn't until the 1960s, and then much more notably in the 1980s and 90s, that the phenomenon of *mass* school shootings emerges, where the aim is to kill as many young people as possible for no obvious, discernible or even old-fashioned criminal reason. There must be some modern culture shaping these outrages, something far newer than the Second Amendment or America's longstanding "gun culture".

The critics of America's gun culture casually point the finger of blame at the more backward elements in American society, particularly at rifle-toting rednecks. As one East Coast commentator puts it, the gun has become "America's Moloch", its pagan god that devours innocent children, and it is all the fault of those communities that are given to "religious fundamentalism" and which are known to "deny global warming or evolution". These gun worshippers apparently revere "the great god gun", and their capacity for logic and reason has been destroyed as a result. We know who he means: Southerners, the ill-educated, the sort who support the NRA,  who speak in a drawl and probably chew tobacco, whose insane gun love is now apparently poisoning all of America.

But look at the photo of Adam Lanza. Or better still watch the videos and manifestos made by the Columbine killers or the Virginia Tech shooter and other recent school shooters. Do you really see Southern-style gun culture in these videos and words and images, or do you see a different, more modern culture at work? I see youngsters raised to consider themselves little gods, who see their self-esteem as king and who believe their angst must always be taken seriously. I see youth brought up in a world where we are increasingly encouraged to cultivate a persona, preferably a dangerous, edgy one, through media like YouTube and Twitter. I see young people so imbued with the narcissistic creed of the politics of identity, where how you feel and what you want must take precedence over any social or communal considerations, that they have been absolutely wrenched from both their own communities and from even basic moral codes.

I see the culture of narcissism, taken to its extreme, not the culture of gun worship. Which rather suggests that the supposedly liberal politicians currently wringing their hands over the availability of guns in the US might want to shine the spotlight on themselves instead, and on the dislocated, atomised, self-regarding modern world they have had a hand in creating.

Victimhood is the other side of narcissism. Theodore Dalrymple has a slightly different emphasis in today's Times, from which I will quote selectively as it is behind the Apartheid Paywall:

A sense of victimhood seems to be common to mass killers (and, after all, no one is so lacking in compassion that he is unable to feel sorry for himself). Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass killer, was of this type.

But the killers also have difficulty in distinguishing their personal grievances, frustration or difficulties from what is wrong with the world. For them, the personal is political; it is only right, then, that they should punish the world. It is no coincidence that this slogan — that the personal is political — should have been coined at about the same time as mass shootings started.

If the personal is political, genuine self-examination and therefore acceptance that you are at least sometimes largely the author of your own fate declines. You project your woes outwards on to the world; and then you try to take it with you when you go.

Islam is the narcissism of its "prophet" Mohammed writ large, and victimhood its default setting. In Islam, the personal is always political, as there is no private sphere. Muslims are victims of resistance to Islam, whatever form that takes, from pubs to jokes to Shakespeare (and his pubs and his jokes). Unlike Adam Lanza or Anders Brevik, Muslims have divine sanction for their murders, and so it is not surprising that they commit more of them.

Posted on 12/18/2012 6:23 AM by Mary Jackson
18 Dec 2012

Well put.  Also, this same time period which saw the advent of the mass killer also marks the arrival of the leftiest "solution" to mental illness - deinstitutionalization, "miracle" drugs which were not, "community" and "outpatient" treatment which was and still is a disaster, and so on and so forth.  By the by, the same loud screamers for gun control seem to include a few who are loudly screaming for the murder of every member of the NRA - oh tempora oh mores. 

18 Dec 2012
Christina McIntosh

 It might be worth observing that the rest of 'the West' - e.g. Australia - has been exposed at around the same time to much the same cultural phenomena - 60s, 70s and 80s narcissism - as the USA, without having anything like as many ghastly mass shootings.  

(Most of the shootings that take place in Australia today take place in our most heavily-Islamified suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, and involve lawless Mohammedans shooting at each other in turf wars and family feuds and, now, Sunnis vs Shiites; the Mohammedans have also infiltrated our outlaw bikie gangs, with a resultant ramping up in levels of violence.  The obvious way to fix that and reduce drive-by shootings, etc, to insignificant levels, is to end Muslim immigration, and start sending the ones we've already got, back to dar al Islam).

Like it or not, some types of weaponry are a 'force multiplier' and others less so.  

A person of unhinged morals and/ or unhinged mind (conditions like schizophrenia and autism syndrome, and for that matter, clinical depression and bipolar disorder, are biochemical conditions of the brain, largely genetic; they cannot simply be overcome by morally and spiritually 'pulling your socks up', by good parenting, or anything else) with easy access to swiftly-and-massively-effective-at-a-distance lethal weaponry is a menace to themselves and everyone around them; much more so than if they only had access to the kitchen knife, the axe, the hammer, the poker, or even the musket of the 18th century or the sixgun of the Wild, Wild West. 

With certain kinds of weapons - not the humble old single-shot rifle that had to be reloaded after each shot,  nor even the sixgun or the old-fashioned shotgun, but the advanced weaponry that the Sandy Hook mass murderer could simply take out of his mother's cupboard, and did - it is terribly, terribly easy to kill a very large number of people very very quickly, and also possible to kill people by firing through doors into rooms or cupboards (you can't kill someone on the other side of a solid door, if all you have is a knife).

Why should the right for any US private citizen to own a mega-death-blaster - or multiple editions thereof - be sacrosanct?  They're not practical for hunting even big game; a sensible and humane hunter wants to drop a beast in one neat shot, damaging the game as little as possible.  They would blow a duck to bits.   They're not exactly the weapon of choice if you're into target shooting.  Their prime purpose is to kill humans, suddenly, messily and finally; to blow people to pieces.  They belong on one place only - a battlefield, in the hands of professional soldiers.  Anyone who thinks that they need a powerful combat weapon - the kind that can deal mass casualties in minutes - in order to feel safe within a suburban neighbourhood, has already 'framed' their society not as a society but as a battlefield.  Follow the logic to the end and you would have every adult going armed 24/ 7...armed against what they perceived as the potential menace from...every other adult in their society.  You have citizens engaged in an arms race...against each other.

I would also ask the question: before the 1970s and the 1980s, what was the commonest kind of firearm in the average American household? And how powerful was it? I'd be surprised if it was as powerful, as fast and efficient-at-mass-killing as the modern military-style weapons the Sandy Hook shooter used.  

Yes, the moral/ intellectual climate  has changed; but so has the technology.  The easier it is to kill, technically speaking, the more people will be killed by those inclined to kill.   Combine ready access to ever-more-effective means with increased inclination and you've got a perfect storm. 

I would advise people to read Jacques Ellul, 'The Technological Society' and have a good, long think. 

Everything has to be taken into consideration.

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