Monday, August 13, 2012

Chicken Soup asks why the American public is so upset about terrorism...

Obviously, Americans have no objection to violent males imposing harm on others. So why are they so upset about terrorism? I'm sure someone out there has the answer.


  1. Good question. We pay billions of dollars each year and give up piles of freedoms when the average number of people killed by domestic terrorism is only about 100. Compare that to murder (12,000-15,000) and forcible rape (around 90,000 - FBI statistic.)

    Other things that don't seem to bother people anymore but are huge killers or dangerous are HIV (40-50,000 new cases in the US each year) and hamburgers, fast food, cigarettes, etc. (600,000 die of heart disease each year.)

    So... probably the news screaming about it?

  2. I shocked a few of my coworkers by stating that more Americans die from smoking cigarettes during a three day weekend than were murdered on 9/11. One of them sheepishly admitted having never thought about comparing it to behavior we've grown accustomed to. The only explanation I've been able to come up with is that people are still dumb animals, largely driven by instinct. Americans consider death from smoking to be some sort of individual choice or liberty. They think of the crime rate as just part of the jungle. And they consider violent behavior by men who are physically powerful enough to get away with it as some sort of wholesome, manly violence, a privilege enjoyed by alpha males. Americans look upon Oklahoma City, Columbine, VTech, Aurora, Colorado, and other similar crimes as being unmanly or cowardly forms of violence because they were committed by individuals who were anything but masculine. Even Timothy McVeigh was an obvious oddball who probably got bullied a lot in school. And in America, if you can be bullied, then it's your place to be bullied. America is still structured more like a darwinian pack of animals than like a civilization. Americans are able to rationalize the brutality imposed upon other people's kids as justified as long as the abuser enjoys a much higher social status than the victim. The link included with this post provides an explanation of why people appear to deify some criminals while vilifying others.

  3. I've read it and I largely agree... in high school. Yes, there's a lot of bullying in the workplace, but what kind of workplace are you working in where you experience that?

    In my workplace the more common sort of "bullying" is the "who's important gets the time/ paperwork/ etc. that they need to get stuff done while your stuff collects dust." Annoying and recently had a colleague go postal over it (no joke, banned from the university, had to go through counselling), but compared to high school where people giggle as you get sexually assaulted? It's nothing.

  4. I've never been in an adult workplace where bullying was much of a factor and my post was meant to describe one's experience in an age-homogenous environment of which high school is a significant part.

    Most of the really damaging kind of bullying occurs between the age of 12 when puberty begins to rear its ugly head and the age of about 25 when virtually everyone who attends college as a full time day student has either graduated or dropped out. During those years you desperately want to be noticed by the opposite sex and you spend all of your time in an "age-homogenous" group where everyone is within two or three years of each other. This creates the sort of destructive competition I described in my "bully enablers" post.

    From puberty to one's mid-twenties is an important period of personality formation. If you reach your mid-twenties without developing the ability to relate to the opposite sex, particularly if you see that attractive females choose to reward males who are cruel, violent, and cocky, then you're a good candidate for becoming an angry, disaffected loner.

    Young men who walk into theatres and start shooting should confuse no one, but almost everyone claims to be confused.

  5. I think it's hard for a woman to quite understand what men suffer. For one, I'm pretty sure that the feminists are wrong and the male sex drive is genuinely stronger and more intense than the female sex drive. For another a lot of women - including me - were grateful to have male friends but didn't like the "boyfriend" idea. Finally, there's no real stigma if a woman is uninterested in the opposite sex or chooses not to be sexually active.

    It is really primitive and Darwinian. And no, when I think about it, it isn't really surprising. It might play a big role in why men tend to do these sorts of killings but women are almost unheard of as spree killers. They're sex killers and serial killers, but I actually cannot think of a single female spree killer.

    Male-female relationships are also more subtle and difficult to maintain than friendships. In the case of spree killers with severe mental illness - such as Loughner - that might play a strong role in their isolation, particularly the absence of male-female relationships.

    I don't know, though. Some, such as Breivik, are really clear that difficulty finding a mate played a role in their behavior. And when I think of it, guys who are bullied who are good with girls are actually a pretty laid back bunch in general.

    Is that it? Is that the "secret recipe" for a spree killer?

  6. Being bullied, abused, or neglected as an adolescent, or simply rejected by women doesn't turn you into a mass murderer. Human animals are natural killers and don't need a whole lot of encouragement. It's more a matter of removing inhibitions against killing. This is what the military does when recruits are required to refer to foreign troops as "the enemy." There is a purposeful effort to dehumanize whoever it is you may be required to kill so that you feel little or no inhibition. When you spend your formative years being abused by others and when the abusers are treated with respect by your community, lavished with attention by young, attractive women, and you are looked down upon; you may refrain from picking up a gun because you don't want to be imprisoned, but any moral inhibitions to committing mass murder are gone.

    In America, the public blithely dehumanizes itself and then complains about the behavior of the killers it produces. People are morons here.

  7. True. And something that's difficult for many people to understand is that for every one of these guys who blows up like these spree killers there's thousands or even millions who are suffering in more quiet ways.

    I'm looking forward to your next post. I work with an anti-death penalty journal run by David Kaczynski. Even if you're for the death penalty, some of the ideas you express are very accurate deconstructions of the problems of violence. I'd like to invite you to consider submitting - I think David would like your ideas and I know I would. I'm an editor; my article in the latest issue is called "Animal Compassion":

  8. I couldn't find "Animal Compassion" from the link you provided. If you or David have a specific question or a subject you'd like me to write about I'd be happy to submit something. The primary reason I don't blog more often is because I work about 60 hours per week and still have to mow the lawn so it will likely be a couple of days before I produce anything.

  9. Weird. When you clicked on the link on David's page:

    Did it take you to some Microsoft Access page?

    The edition I'm talking about is summer:

    My article is on page 24.

    You can pick your own topic. The expected date for submission is actually October 1, so you have plenty of time. Sometimes we have a bit of backup (honestly) because the four editors are all volunteers and three of us teach.

    You can also contact David about it through his blog or by

  10. After posting my last comment I found your article by doing an internet search for "NYADP." I have a subject in mind but I'm not sure it's what anyone wants to hear. I call it the "Politician's Dilemma." Most of America's problems are caused or perpetuated by the aggregate behavior of registered voters. In order to solve society's problems a politician has to tell voters to behave themselves. That's a good way to get voted out of office. Politician's know this and attempt to placate the public by offering up an increasingly bizarre and unworkable collection of government bandaids.

    If you think the editors would find this subject interesting, I'll put an article together and submit it.

  11. I know I definitely would and would support it. A lot of diverse material goes into the journal.

    As long as there's no cuss words I'm pretty sure you're okay (and we even have cuss words sometimes in poetry. Dahn Shaulis had a poem on violence and homelessness that had cuss words. Just poetry is a little different from prose as well.)