Is it really this bad?


“The American dream to them is a nightmare, and the land of opportunity is but a cruel joke,” said Fox, also of Northeastern, who has been dubbed the “dean of death” for his analysis of mass murders. “The economic pie is shrinking to the point where it looks more like a Pop Tart and some feel all they’re getting is the crumbs. There’s a combination of feeling despair and hopelessness at the same time as a certain degree of anger and blame.”

… well, maybe not …

“Because homicides are fairly rare, it is hard to see patterns even when ones exist,” said Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University of Albany. “It’s like reading tea leaves. I don’t make much of it. I don’t think you can say anything definitively one way or another.”

from Some Link Economy With Spate Of Killings @ washingtonpost.com

Yet, from some of the later points made in the article, it is clear that there is a causal link between the collapse of the economy, et al with the mass murders … that traumatic events trigger mass murderers and that in today’s economy there are more ‘catastrophes’ than in recent history. 

In other words, these killings are not random, they are based on revenge.  In addition, the reasons that these people kill can be identified by five factors (which were originally identified by James Alan Fox & Jack Levin):

  • Perps have a long history of frustration/failure with a diminished ability to cope with disappointment/trauma.
  • They blame others (not just individuals, but groups – including racial groups & genders) for their failures.
  • They are loners … which really means that they don’t have emotional support from friends and family.
  • They suffer a catastrophe that triggers their spree.
  • They have access to a weapon to enact their revenge.

What is more important is that the modern, open, democratic society actually increases the risks associated with mass murderers.  Society is more cut-throat.  People are more mobile.  Traditional communities have disappeared.  Urban isolation is more common (see flickr set on it).  Weapons are more dangerous.

While the actions of these individuals still seem senseless to most people, it is important to understand what triggers these people, because it may be just the thing that prevents one such incident!