Quote of the Day:
The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend are horrifying assaults on peaceful communities by disturbed young men. American politics will try to simplify these events into a debate about guns or political rhetoric, but the common theme of these killings is the social alienation of young men that will be harder to address.
As the Wall Street Journal goes on to say, when these horrific massacres occur, there is among many a cynical attempt to pin blame on political opponents. It is of course happening now, even as we reel from the horror of the latest shootings, shockingly occurring within a 13-hour time frame.
The editorial takes note of all this politically motivated blaming and then zeroes in on an issue that we could certainly benefit from factoring in when we speak with honesty and seriousness about these shootings: the alienated young man.
The Dayton killer (I’ll refrain from naming him, a policy I submit that the press might consider), who murdered nine people and injured others, it turns out, had in high school been suspended for compiling a hit list of people he wanted to kill and a rape list of girls he wanted to rape. There was a police investigation but the future killer returned to school, which, needless to say, was frightening for those on his lists. His mother and sister were among his victims.
The El Paso suspect authored a Manifesto, which reportedly was inspired by the white supremacist theories of the murderer of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Of the El Paso suspect, the Wall Street Journal editorial says:
Take the El Paso shooter, who is suspected of writing a manifesto posted on the 8chan website before the rampage. He expressed sympathy for the racial motivations of the Christchurch killer and denounced Hispanic immigration, but he also raged against “unchecked corporations” who support immigration and pollute the land.
This is the rant of someone angry about a society he doesn’t feel a part of and doesn’t comprehend. It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe.
The other relevant piece in the Wall Street Journal is one headlined “Mental Illness and Mass Murder,” by E. Fuller Torrey, the respected psychiatrist, author, and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center. Dr. Torrey ties many mass killings to untreated mental illness. He writes:
Based on the increase in the U.S. population, there are now some one million people with serious mental illness living among the general population who, 60 years ago, would have been treated in state mental hospitals.
Multiple studies have reported that, at any given time, between 40% and 50% of them are receiving no treatment for their mental illness. With the best of intentions and the worst of planning, America has emptied out its public psychiatric hospitals without ensuring that the released patients would receive the necessary treatment to control their symptoms. What did we think would happen?
Now we have two more mass shootings, committed over a 13-hour period. In El Paso, Texas, 20 people were killed in what authorities have called a hate crime, while in Dayton, Ohio, the death toll is nine. One database claims these were the 21st and 22nd mass killings in the U.S. in 2019. Such databases vary depending on the number of dead required to meet the definition.
They also vary according to other factors. If, for example, they only count gun deaths, then they don’t include Adacia Chambers, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who in 2015 killed four and injured 48 by driving her car into a parade crowd in Stillwater, Okla. What is clear from all the databases is that these mass killings are increasing in frequency and have been since the 1980s. Not coincidentally, that was when the emptying out of state mental hospitals was at its peak.
I urge you to read the entire oped.