Friday, August 28, 2015

Another Workplace Shooting

So another "disgruntled" ex-employee marched into his former place of business, shot the person who'd taken his job and two other people who happened to be in the vicinity, then died in the resulting shootout with the police.  What makes this case notable is the role of the media.  The workplace was a TV station, the "disgruntled" ex-employee was a former newsman, the people he shot were the current news-anchor and her cameraman and a woman she was interviewing, the killer was carrying a gun in one hand and a video-camera in the other, he published a 15-page manifesto on the Internet (which revealed his motivations and psychology at great length), and the whole thing wound up on prime-time TV.

Naturally the media had a field day with this story.  Not only were the victims -- and the killer -- Their Own, but there was plenty of footage covering the whole event, some of it from the killer's own camera.  What's interesting are the varying media reactions.

The usual hardcore anti-gun crowd are trumpeting the usual cliches (and the usual lies) about the Evils of Guns, and When Will America Wake Up and Scrap the 2nd Amendment -- but they're sounding rather weak nowadays, especially as the FBI crime statistics have revealed some embarrassing facts.  Among these are: 1) the homicide/gun-homicide/violent-crime rates in America have been falling since the 1990s, which (coincidentally?) is the same period when the majority of states made it easier for civilians to obtain firearms concealed-carry permits, the number of permits and the number of civilian gun-owners skyrocketed;  2) an average of 10,000 Americans every year are killed by firearms, while at least 900,000 Americans every year prevent violent crimes by use of a firearm (and the number could easily be twice as high);  3) the vast majority of gun-homicides (85%) every year are committed by young Black males.  Oops.

Far more pundits concentrated on the killer's manifesto, where he ranted about racism, the recent church shooting and its clear racist motives (by one vicious punk), and police killings of Blacks (ignoring police shootings of poor Whites, Indians and Asians).  He also raved about losing his job to a White woman and claimed it was because he was Gay as well as Black, but the commentators played down that part.  Those first two points gave plenty of fodder for raps about Racism In America by Black petty-politicians -- such as "leaders" of Black Lives Matter, and Al "Mighty Mouth" Sharpton.  Interestingly, there are far fewer -- if any -- such raps from the Gay community, probably because Gays are used to enduring worse treatment and more often.

Only a few news analysts I've heard have focused on the killer's manifest -- and manifestoed -- personality.  He was obviously a self-obsessed, infantile, paranoid, malignant narcissist who blamed everybody else in the world for his disappointments in life.  Comments from the TV station where the event happened make it clear that the killer lost his job not because he was Black, or Gay, but because he was "thin-skinned", "touchy", took everything as a personal attack, and got along with nobody.  It's not surprising that a personality like that, when the station suffered shrinking income and had to lay off some personnel, got the boot.

The problem is that nobody realized that such a personality could actually be dangerous, could come back to the studio two years after he was fired and shoot up the place -- and that is exactly the problem.  Much of modern middle-class culture encourages infantilism like this, and doesn't realize the danger of encouraging it, let alone have any strategy for discouraging it.  Various pundits have discussed the importance of spotting people with serious mental problems before they get to the point of shooting (or bombing, or knifing) random targets, but what good is mental-health testing when the society applying the tests doesn't recognize the problem when they see it?

--Leslie <;)))><         


Aya Katz said...

Hi, Leslie. Thanks for summing up the event for me. Now I don't have to look it up in more mainstream media.

Has it ever occurred to work places to arm themselves after laying off somebody? It might be a sound policy to have in place regardless of who the person laid off happens to be. It's not always clear which person will go off the deep end, but if you are armed and ready, it really does not matter.

That's the whole point of innocent until proven guilty. Otherwise, we'll start diagnosing murder before it happens, and there go everybody's rights. I know plenty of thin-skinned people who are bitter about their lives who still would never go and murder those they feel have not judged them fairly.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Aya. Yes, exactly! Every workplace needs to have its people armed and watchful at all times, and not just after somebody's been fired (this particular nutcase came back *two years* after he'd been fired). For that matter, every public place needs armed and watchful people. In fact, people need to be armed and watchful all the time, everywhere, as part of their daily lives. This is what the original Minute-Men symbolized. Vigilance and capability are necessary components of life, for everybody older than a babe-in-arms.

Technomad said...

I notice that the news media have already decided to try to bury this story. Just like Colin Ferguson on the LIRR. Reverse the races, and you've a cause celebre they'll milk till the teat tears off in their hand.