Quebec, Queen's University, Charleston & Donald J Trump
We are breeding mass murderers
Qui tacet, consentir videtur
- he who is silent, is taken to agree -
Eric LaMont Gregory 2020
Every case of mass murder is a culmination of a series of causes and effects.
. . . the killers in these cases were born into the social circumstances that bred them into mass murderers
Eric LaMont Gregory, 2017
. . . the killers in these cases were born into the social circumstances that bred them into mass murderers
Eric LaMont Gregory, 2017
Mass murder, like all other incidents of premeditated (planned) murder, is the result of a chain of reactions that are connected to a chain of causes and effects. The individual reacts to events, (processes the information that forms their view of the world) according to their innate personality traits as well as their life experiences.
Although considerable, the range of traits and experiences is not so great that the sum of all the possibilities as to their expression does not fall outside the description that we, humankind, have differences in common.
It is suggested that one of the most common, if not universal characteristics of the human experience, is the quest for a reference point from which everything else in life makes sense. And for some, once they know whom they hate, from that reference point everything else in life and in the world can be reconciled.
Without apology, it is acknowledged that this is one of those statements that requires some thought.
The quest for a reference point from which everything else in life makes sense, is so much a part of what we do as humans, it is a reality that lends itself brilliantly to be expressed in terms of an axiomatic maxim (We hold these truths to be axiomatic), such as, the fish is the last one to become aware of the existence of water.
The things that are the most common in our physical and social environment, are often the last things that we become aware of. The discovery of air is relatively recent in terms of the forward march of science, for example.
It is the conventional wisdom that the attacks on the Quebec City Mosque and the Charleston AME Church were the acts of self-radicalized lone wolves.
In fact, the concept of the lone-wolf perpetrator is so pervasive in the ethnologist genius pool that peoples our intelligence, security and police agencies that it reigns supreme over and to the exclusion of all other possible rational alternative explanations, within those circles.
Although the concept of the self-radicalized lone wolf is the prevailing explanation for the acts of mass murder in these cases, that explanation is not only an inadequate representation of the known facts, it also serves rather conveniently to relieve our intelligence, security and police forces of any and all responsibility for the prevention of such acts. Because, they cannot be held responsible for the inability to discover the undiscoverable.
And, at the same time it allows families, communities, the media and officialdom in general, to deny that anything they may have said, written or done in any way contributed to the creation of the mass murderer in their community. We cannot be held responsible, no matter how much we have fanned the flames of hatred and intolerance, for what we could not see coming.
However, as we shall uncover, the mass murderer, far from being an aberration, is the bred product of a well-established systematic propagation of hatred and intolerance towards the mass murderer’s victims. The result of the systematic propagation of hatred and intolerance by the network of familial and other social contacts significant to the development of the world view of the mass murderer.
The cause and effect association, sui generis, that establishes the relationship between breeding and the development of the mass murderer is clear and incontrovertible.
The concept of self-radicalization is a false one, it can be demonstrated clearly that in both cases, the mass murders of Muslims and Americans of African origin, respectively, do not represent the actions of individuals psychologically isolated and socially alienated from their families and communities, that is, they do not conform to either the notion of being alone, or loners.
Much to the contrary, in a world where what we hear, see and read matters, it can be shown that both these individuals were very much in touch with the messages emanating from their families and communities, and their other chosen sources of information, and from their acknowledged leaders, broadcast media sources and the significant others on which they relied to feed their world view.
Naturally, innate personality traits and life experiences shape our worldview, and in these cases we are by necessity forced to consider the psychology of the few as well as that of the many. The fact that most can say, with confidence, that they do not know anyone who sees the world in the terms that will be attributed to the mass murderers in this article, only reinforces the notion that we are discussing the psychology of the few and not the many.
As we shall come to understand, far from being psychologically isolated and socially alienated, the individuals involved in the mass murders of Muslims in Quebec and Americans of African origin in South Carolina, were well aware of the prevailing attitudes of their families, communities, authorities, leaders and members of the media, concerning their strongly held views about the state of social relations (or the lack thereof) with members of other communities unlike their own distinguished by race and religion, or both.
In a phrase, the killers in these cases were born into the social circumstances that bred them into mass murderers.
In a world where words matter, in which what is said, written and broadcast, carries with it real and demonstrable consequences, how the media, for example, the CBC, portrayed the costume party incident at Queen’s University was important. The demeaning nature of the chosen costumes should have been condemned whole heartily and without equivocation, full stop, but it was not.
In fact, the costume party story was painted with a brush of normalcy, notably when the son of the former Prime Minister of Canada joined the fray with the well-reported comment that it was just students (Caucasians) having a bit of fun, albeit at the expense of other groups who were decidedly not Caucasian.
It should also be noted that his father during the last federal election cycle ran one of the nastiest anti-Islamic, Muslim, campaigns before the advent of Donald J Trump, in North American history.
The importance lies in the fact that within the social milieu of the Quebec City Mosque shooter, this was just further evidence that Muslims were bad people, and this fact is confirmed by no less than the former Prime Minister and his son of similar age as the shooter. While at the same time one must consider the death of a minority youth at the hands of the Toronto police, daily shootings of unarmed minorities in the US by the police with impunity, as well as, a spat of Islamic State either directed or claimed terror attacks globally.
What is important is that in the mind of the Quebec Mosque shooter the idea that Muslims are bad people is firmly established. And, it is the responsibility of the authorities to clear bad people from our communities, and every good citizen has a responsibility to assist in that effort.
If, there had been information that reached the Quebec shooter that counterpoised his essentializing view of Muslims, that information may have had a nullifying effect, but there was no such balancing information forthcoming from his family, peers or community. In fact, much the opposite.
As to the hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric of Harper and the slice of the population to which such messages are most meaningful, Parton (2016) suggested that … this has been going on for almost 50 years. It’s been the backbone of conservative resentment and conservative parties have exploited it every step of the way.
The press has been covering it for that long as well, repeatedly putting these same people at the center of our elections as if they are the most important voters in the country. People, or so it is portrayed, who have suffered a tremendous indignity by having to put up with the likes of immigrants, including those of African origin and women getting any attention at all. That is certainly how these so-called Real Canadians and Real Americans feel about it.
In every single election cycle since 1968, the press has been obsessed with this mythical Real American or Canadian, who is always angry, always frustrated, always railing against the so-called elites because they allegedly only care about the racial minorities or the women or somebody other than those like themselves. Then the key to the election is to address these people’s grievances.
Both the Quebec and Charleston shooters, were born into and bred in circumstances where they were constantly exposed to the railing, anger and frustration of communities who see themselves as the Real Canadians or Real Americans, who have suffered a tremendous indignity by having to put up with the likes of immigrants, racial minorities, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera . . .
Although, there is no reason for the press to keep buying into it. They do, and therefore the lack of balance in reporting.
In both Quebec City, Quebec, and Charleston, South Carolina it is reasonable to suggest that from the perspective of their world view, the shooters were carrying out acts of preemptive murder. Therefore, the pertinent questions to be answered are: what are the triggers that drive preemptive murder and, what are the psychological and social underpinnings, that is, what describes the chain of reactions that are connected to a chain of causes and effects that once internalized, drove these two individuals to commit mass murder.
The key idea explored in this article is that murder can be a preemptive act that is driven by anger as well as the fear that one’s social group is at risk due to actions, real or perceived, that are attributable to another group.
When the subjective costs of killing are unobservable at the individual level, stereotypes, racial or religious, can influence behavior in such a manner as to trigger a sufficient level of anger and rage to commit murder. And further, as in the case of the Quebec shooter, the fear of being killed, internalizing the horror of those who have been killed by Muslim terrorism and, the sense that something ought to be done to the bad people, so that the group that the shooter feels is endangered can be protected. Each of these potential triggers has been shown to induce some to kill preemptively.
This means that social groups with high victimization rates, whether those rates are real or imagined, will also breed members who kill preemptively.
It is the premise of this article that both the mass killings in Quebec and Charleston have a rationale behind them, that is, the perpetrators had some reason in mind to justify their actions. And, we need to take that, albeit distorted, reasoning seriously.
Because, in final analysis, understanding why localized mass murders occur, can help us structure ways to limit their occurrence, and ideally, eventually to prevent them.
Furthermore, a satisfactory explanation for the mass killings in Quebec and Charleston must consider the fact that both cases of mass murder had a preemptive motive behind it.
The preemptive motive emanates from the characteristic human tendency to view groups, other than our own, in ways that are oversimplified (stereotypical), which often leads some to demonize entire communities, races, religions, cultures and nations.
The overarching emotions associated with this tendency, anger and fear, once internalized, predispose some to violence when they feel threatened, and at the extremes of this reaction lies the predisposition to pursue and punish those groups who they believe most endanger them.
This tendency is reinforced because there are so many acts of terrorism, and so many real victims.
Ultimately, mass murders are justified in the minds of the shooters, because they are killing to avoid themselves being killed, or to protect those within their own group from being killed. That is, people sometimes kill simply to avoid being killed.
From what we have already gleaned, the existence of hordes of potentially self-radicalized lone wolves who will become, or who are becoming mass murderers, is a false portrayal. While the idea of the lone wolf continues, to the exclusion of other possible rational alternative explanations to be the preeminent one, it is axiomatic that the most difficult thing in the entire universe to find, is something that does not exist.
Behaviors are developed. All behaviors are developed, that is, they reflect the developmental experiences of the individual. And whether the behavior is healthy or unhealthy they are the result of conditioning, they are learned.
The lone wolf promotion industry, while employing numerous advocates, is itself replete with right-wing extremist sympathizers, who find it difficult, if not impossible, to remove extremists, those with unhealthy views about different racial or religious groups within their own communities, from their own ranks, which to the largest extent explains the inability, or unwillingness of our intelligence and security agencies to police right-wing extremist organizations within North America.
And, it is therefore not the lack of a coherent theory to guide the interdiction of homegrown born and bred mass murderers like the shooters in Quebec and Charleston that is the problem, the most likely candidate is the inability to see the necessity for some rather shocking changes in law enforcement personnel – and not changes in the scientific policing of homicides. Considerable empirical literature links both the kinds of law enforcement changes to changes that are possible not only in homicide clearance rates, but the ability to identify potential shooters like the ones that presented in Quebec and Charleston.
Ultimately, understanding the significance of a shooter's psychodynamics, the mental and emotional motivations of a mass murderer, will require a critical knowledge of the of the shooter's personality traits, but also an understanding of the family and community influences to which they respond. In addition, law enforcement will have to be aware of patterns of linkage blindness to begin to solve the riddle that will explain the almost inexplicable nature of the public’s tolerance of extraordinarily high murder rates, in general.
Speaking of the public's tolerance for high rates of criminality, currently, 30 days post inaugural there have been a spike in attacks and threats against Jewish Americans. Although the recent incidents in the USA have been compelling, the anti-Jewish phenomenon has not been confined to post-Harper Canada or Trump America.
There may well be those within our intelligence, security and police services, and beyond, who will contend that the scores of bomb threats and the desecration of the Jewish Cemetery in Missouri was the result of random individuals who self radicalized, from information they found on dark internet sites, and arrived independently at the conclusion that Jewish Americans were to blame for whatever ills they believe they have been the victims of.
If you liked this article, you will love this book
The Ultimate Vanishing Act