Aug 6, 2012

Your hate group, and all our safety

It's hard to witness yet another mass violence incident, so much suffering among innocent people at their community's place of worship.

Unfortunately, this is the US, where we enjoy so many blessings, yet violent microcultures flourish. I'm not surprised to see Wade Page, the latest domestic terrorist, emerge from one of them. Hate talk and hate music offered him a ready-made violent mental model that he used to blow up with.

As I have written before, when people erupt in mass violence, they often pick up a deadly identity or mission from whatever cultural influences they have access to. Observers will blame that culture, but we seldom note how many other people in that culture live out their lives peaceably. We mostly have law-abiding hate groups around here. The guy who explodes is usually a lone gunman, sometimes a guy with a gullible friend who gets in deeper than he planned.

It is relatively easy to identify the role Page was playing, but what's hidden right now is what factors triggered him to violence. Did someone take his job? Kick sand in his face? Serve him a bad meal? Was there some other desperate humiliating circumstance? I saw one news report rumor about a recent break up with a girlfriend. It's too soon to say exactly what happened.

Page certainly knew about the recent Colorado theater shootings. Unfortunately, mass violence is somewhat contagious. Incidents enable people. Each attack chips away a psychological barrier, a cultural taboo that prevents the next horror. It's similar to the mechanism that operates with reports about suicide.

Here's another question that interests me. Was he just another troubled, depressed, anxious guy who ran out of rationality while isolated? Did any of his hate-music band mates see he was falling apart, offer him a hand, keep him company, tell him things would turn out okay?

Did his buddies in his hate group let everybody down?

No comments: