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October 25, 2014

The Choices of Monsters

545440_4584477129376_133777567_nBorn and raised in Alaska, Glen Klinkhart is a retired Anchorage Police Department Detective, a State Certified Police Officer, and Chief Executive Officer for DigitalSecurus, the largest Computer Security Firm in Alaska. He is also a father, lecturer, and author of  A CyberCop’s Guide to Internet Child Safety, and the upcoming Finding Bethany.

 

 

After the mall shooting in Oregon last week, my best friend asked me a question which weighed heavily on her mind, “Why? Why does someone do something horrible like this?” Needless to say, her question is now being asked by people all over the country, and the world, following the deaths of so many in an elementary school in Connecticut.

So what is the answer to my friend’s question of why? Why do people go out and commit atrocities against those who mean them no harm? Why do bad people do bad things to good people? Those of us who are good people believe that if we can answer the question of why, then we will be able to understand it, process it, deal with it, and fix it. That is a great line of thought except that the real truth, I am afraid, won’t make you any safer, and it won’t ever give you the ability to stop it.

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I am in the unfortunate position of being a person whose own sister was raped and murdered. My parents lost their only daughter to a person who came out of nowhere and left a wake of despair in his path. After her death, I became a police detective and I had the privilege of spending seventeen years investigating and arresting some of those very bad folks.

These bad people committed brutal murders, assaults, and rapes against some very good people. I have had the opportunity to interview these “monsters,” as we want to call them. I have gotten inside the heads of these people, and I have heard from their own mouths why they claim to have done the terrible, evil things they do. I learned that killers don’t always tell the whole truth, and often they blame their actions on drugs, alcohol, abuse as a child, mental illness, or any number of non-effective reasons. But when you spend enough time with them, you realize that they are not the knuckle-dragging, drooling, psychopaths we seen on TV and in the movies – far from it. None of the hundreds of people I arrested were “monsters.” They were people who did some very bad, awful, and criminal things. They were also people who knew exactly what they were doing.

For me, all of this began to come to light after I interviewed a 24-year-old man who killed another person by beating the victim to death. The killer then cut the victim apart, like he was field dressing a caribou, and proceeded to stuff the victim’s body parts into a freezer. I spent hours getting this “monster” to confess and as he spoke, it became clear to me that he had an amazing memory, and was very articulate. He said he recalled what he did before and after the crime, but could recall nothing of what he did during the murder. He claimed he “blacked out.” He was lying to me.

Another killer once told me he strangled his girlfriend because she reminded him of his mother. She probably did remind him of his mother, but that wasn’t why he killed her.

One murderer told me he did it because he was high on “pot” despite the fact he made dozens of individual choices, each of which lead him to bludgeon and rape his victim.

Another “monster” told me she did it because God told her to. When I asked her if she knew what would happen to her son when she shot him in the head, she looked at me like I was the crazy one and calmly said, “He would die. Duh.”

As we wait for the men and women of law enforcement in Connecticut to do their difficult jobs and investigate the crime scenes, interview the witnesses, and piece together what happened, most people wait anxiously for the question of why to be answered. I am sorry to say, but the answer to why is already known, and it will not come from CSI or from any media outlet that says they know the answer (The killer was abused, sick, crazy, high, low, sad, happy, poor, rich, etc.).

Although killers’ thoughts, emotions, and incentives are as different as they are, these “monsters” did bad things to good people for one reason… because they chose to. It is a conscious decision. Their motivations may all be different, but they do it because they choose to. People don’t want to hear that a person kills dozens of children because they choose to. It doesn’t make sense to us but let me tell you something, it makes perfect sense to them. In their place, in their mind, and in their time, it makes perfect sense, and they choose to carry out their acts against others in spite of knowing that it is wrong, knowing that it is against the law, knowing they may go to jail, and yet they still choose to do it.

It is a free choice and it is one which is often in a series of active, knowing, decisions. I’m sorry to remind us all that you cannot protect yourself and your loved ones from everyone else’s choices, whether it is a drunk driver, an abusive spouse, a rapist, or any other “monster” which crosses our path. We all like to think we can, but we cannot. We make our own choices, but not the choices of others.

People can argue all they want after this about what we could have done, what we should have done, we need more guns, we need fewer guns, we need more laws, we need fewer laws. All of these arguments can mitigate the severity of some evil acts, and all of them are worth an open and honest discussion, but none of them will ever completely stop a person from their conscious choice to do unto others.

I could not have stopped Alan Chase Junior from murdering my sister anymore than I, or anyone else, could have stopped Israel Keyes from murdering Samantha Koenig, or the suspect in Connecticut from killing those children at Sandy Hook Elementary. I’m sorry and I cry for my loss and for the loss of others, but the choice and the burden is with the “monster” and not with anyone else.

All I ask is that we make sure our own choices are ones that are good, productive, and compassionate, and that the inevitable discussions around how to mitigate the size and the scope of future tragedies is also done with open minds, respectful words, and empathy for all sides of the issue. We should tell the people in our lives we love them, let them know that they mean the world to us, and ask ourselves to strive to make conscious choices to do good for others and for ourselves. The monsters will have to answer for their choices, but let our own choices be ones that we never ever have to answer for.

 

Comments

comments

Comments
70 Responses to “The Choices of Monsters”
  1. Just Sayin says:

    Just as I thought…the mother was concerned enough to advise the babysitters to watch him…pulls him out of school and he is in homeschooling…then at 16 he is in college level work academically…but the mother feels to be close to him she will purchase guns and take him target practicing…uh it is just me or do we have red flags…kids are social need to be interacting with kids their age, and he needed that, and isolation was the worst thing to do…and if she was “so” concerned she could have volunteered at the school…seems to me she was braggart and egotistical and rigid with this kid…makings of a mocktail for this poor kid…very bad…
    We all in humanity might not have a lot of money but we do have a particular set of skills and those are instincts…I know we have evolved to this “bubble world” and even neighbors are not social anymore…
    so those two factors can make a world of difference with the tensions rising in our nation…if you see a person who seems distraught…and your in a public place, grocery store, gas station, bank ect…strike up a conversation and comment on the weather…then if they seem open tell them if they are feeling poorly that the local public heath center is free and can check them out…further comment that you have a doctor, and joke that your doctor feels like a mechanic, parts going bad here and there…releases the stigma of mental health and the person MIGHT go and get help…sometimes 5 minutes makes all the difference to others…

    • Young Harris says:

      Please watch this: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/18/new_town_to_newtown_how_96

      Can we in the U.S. have this kind of discussion? As a retired school principal and teacher, I do hope so, but sadly I’m not optimistic.

      • The Wolfman says:

        Probably not…it’s all a racket to make money believe it or not…started after Pearl Harbor…check gun sales from before WWII and after…I am inclined to think they went up…just out of fear…big money maker to investors… and they have been put on notice…might be 1% of them but there is 99% of the rest of the smucks…now if they band together and start to invest in peoples the “war machines” of investors will be in the poor house…funny how that happens…smirk…

  2. Lacy Lady says:

    Mike Huckabee’s Rhetoric about the school shooting.

    http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2518/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12140

    And today—I received a robo call from Huckabee asking if I support the President.
    I didn’t answer the question and left the phone off the hook.
    He makes me SICK!
    He should be fired by FauX news.

  3. Mo says:

    Wringing hands about mental ilness isn’t going to stop the gun violence. How about a quicker and more likely effective method to make gun owners pay the societal cost of their addiction [and no, I'm not talking about hunters].

    Gun owners have displaced the massive cost of their hobby – and, no, guns are virtually never used for legitimate self-defense – to everybody else. It is time for this subsidy to end.

    Taxes. Something we have a lot of experience voting for and a lot of infrastructure to make sure the legislation gets enacted.

    Gun owners should pay taxes when a gun is sold, no matter where it is sold, then another for ongoing registration fees, and yet another for ammunition. Failure to pay the tax – or to show tax stamps that a weapon is up-to-date on tax payments – would result in the tax plus steep penalties. Guns could be turned in for fair market value, paid for by the gun fund, and of course those that don’t pay the tax would have all their weapons, including the ones paid for, immediately seized for past-due gun tax.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/12/michael-olenick-the-lesson-of-newtown-time-to-charge-for-the-true-cost-of-gun-ownership.html

    • Miguel Estrada says:

      Perhaps you should try New Zealand, England or Australia..well get to Tijuana Mexico and see how you thrive there..specially London and how crime is there. Why should the Nation pay for what this kid and..AND what his mother did…your taxation scheme is beyond politics!!! it leaves good people at the “Further Mercy” of killers in basements like this one had in Newtown…Killer will kill sir…regardless of your good intentions to curtail sick violence..killers will kill in a good day or a bad day..is what they do what they live for to do..killers will kill. And there is no imbecile taxation bracket, no NRA, no political party that can save you or me…for killers will kill.

      In your Banal Stupidity have a good day sir…

  4. Shelley Allen says:

    So, there is nothing anyone can do, so don’t try. Why was this posted at Mudflats? Did the website get sold or something? Jarringly out of place.

  5. nvak says:

    Awwww, gettin’ nasty, Celia. Wrong on all counts. Enuf of you!

  6. Rand Noel says:

    After reading the article and subsequent comments I have a few thoughts about it. I certainly don’t have answers. In regards to the victims in China. Several people have mentioned here and other posts (paraphrase) Well they didn’t die.” really? that’s OK to stab them instead of shoot them as long as they don’t die and are only scarred for life?. I do agree, we need to shut off the pump and deal with the issues. Restricting guns would certainly stop the shootings but it will not stop the crimes. Mass murder is nothing new and they were doing it long before guns were invented. I think people believe over time that since the technology has gotten better the culture/society et.al. has too. It hasn’t only the illusion of comfort has changed. as far as the mentally ill not making rational choices.. Like a broken leg can’t walk a broken brain can’t think.I also agree that consistently making this type of incident news worthy is a big big mistake. I see someone in a comment posted a list of previous known killers. How many of us can name the victims with as much ease? if the victims are such a big deal, why are we making the criminal the big deal in the new? There’s something to be said about the use of doctor prescribed medicines for mental disorders as well. Most if not all of these especially those in the SSRI category have known side effects of suicide and homicide and increasing anger mode. Yet no one is taken to task for this. One thing the author of this article did say was that now matter what we can’t do anything about it. we can’t politicizing it is similar to ‘Monday Morning” it. it serves no viable function other than for people to express their points of view.. It certainly is an all encompassing issue with a myriad of reasons that eventually lead a person to do these acts. It is and it isn’t always a bad family upbringing, peer group, ability to obtain guns, knives, or bombs. it is and it isn’t mental illness and the ability to make rational decisions. one thing for sure our system is not set up to deal with it and to many emotional viewpoints will keep it that way.

  7. nvak says:

    Just stating the facts as I’ve researched them and studied them for 10 years, Pi. Sorry they don’t fit your or Beth’s preconceived notions. Beth, resorting to attacking someone’s credibility whom you know nothing about indicates an desperate effort to make one’s case. Happy Researching!

    • Alaska Pi says:

      LOL! It’s the attitude not what you said …
      You have no idea what my preconceived notions are or where they come from. :-)
      I tend to listen to my DIL, the Doctor of Pediatric Psychology the most, since her practice puts her in direct contact with kids , who by nature OR nurture, are broken, everyday.
      I do read around a fair amount- the link John , below, made is in line with DIL’s views and makes sense as to specific issues as well as addressing a broad spectrum of questions.
      I did go look round some about this “evil” thing and still think it is a lazy, baggage laden, non-scientific way of approaching the issues even though some so-called experts seem to like it as a description of pathology. Pathology they also name depravity, immorality, amorality, whatever strikes their fancy. Still say the ones I read use it like a moving target.

  8. Gonzo says:

    Good piece. I do wonder, though, about the people responsible for what works out to 84 gun deaths a day and 170-odd gun-related injuries per day in the United States. They’re not mass-murderers. They’re people who have chosen to use a firearm to “solve” their problem. Are they cut from the same cloth as the mass-murderers? Are their choices based on the same rationale?

  9. John says:

    http://eagleman.com/blog/item/53-after-sandy-hook

    To say that some people just choose to do bad things is to ignore modern science. Maybe some make that choice, but many do not.

  10. The argument that we won’t solve the problem by more gun regulation or better ways of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill or those who have already commited crimes falls flat for me. It reminds me of a time when we laughed at someone pretending to be drunk or when people laughed at racist jokes. Those things were part of our culture, sadly. It took a long time, but the cultural attitudes changed. I don’t remember what the play was that I attended with my daughter’s class when she was in elementary school, but it was something from another era. There were a few jokes in the play about someone getting drunk (I know, sounds weird for the age group, but the rest was fine). Anyway, no one laughed at what was supposed to be something funny. Most people I know now speak up when someone tells a racist joke or they at least don’t laugh at it.

    We need to make a concerted effort to change our cultural attitudes towards guns. The senseless violence won’t stop until we have better gun laws that are inforced, but more importantly, it won’t stop until we change our acceptance of people having and obtaining so many guns – especially guns that are meant only for use in war.

  11. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    This is a complex issue that cannot be readily argued to a sound conclusion in a haphazard way. Yes it is far too simplistic to just say, there are bad people. It is also perhaps too simplistic to say that there are people who are victims of the unlucky draw. The reality I think is that there are a lot of people who are unable to cope with the extent to which they are are “left out” of the incredible prosperity that the labor and creativity of millions of people create. Why are they left out? Because 80% goes to the top 1% of the population.

    Yes surely, there are bad people and people who’s mental organization is in crisis. Our brains are our most important organ. They are us. Without consciousness we are no different from a cultivar.

    So I will say this much – to the extent that yes I agree the perpetrators of crimes are fully aware of what they are doing, I agree with you. To be specific you also claim they will lie about it. Once again I agree with you., Now I would point out that that same scenario perfectly describes religious devotion.

    To the other commenters who took severe exception to the point of view of this post, I have to say that I genereally agree with you. People who commit these kinds of crimes cannot be easily classified and it certainly does no service to the hope that we can help people with mental health issues, to criminalize the affliction by labelng mass murderers as “nut jobs”. Particularly when we have a few genuine “nut jobs” actually as members of our highest legislative bodies.

    Take a slightly more collective view of the whole thing and you you may or may not realize that what is happening is that society is gravitating and not really very slowly, towards untenably extreme inequality. In some cases it provokes people to do irrational things.

    People have been betrayed on an enormous scale. The millions of unemployed, the millions whose homes are not bank proprety, the millions without enough money to buy food, are easily ignored.
    For now.

    I am lucky to be old.

  12. Monica says:

    Thank you. I think a lot of those who commented missed the point of your article entirely. You were not calling these sick people monsters. We were. All day, everyday, these people are among us, at our work, in the car on the road next to us, at the market, sitting next to us at the theater, in line at the airport, ready to board our plane. We can’t know them, help them or stop them because we don’t know who they are. Unless we can read minds, which we can’t . Blaming a lousy childhood–I had problems in my childhood and I’m not a raving murderous lunatic–drugs, alcohol, abuse, lack of love, whatever, doesn’t fix the criminal. He or she has already proven that they cannot live in a civilized society by their actions. Child molesters, rapists, murderers don’t “recover”. We put them in jail so they won’t harm others. Perhaps some, after many years do re-enter society and never commit crimes again. Alcoholics and drug addicts can attend 12-step programs or other recovery programs, and those do work–to a degree. Can we ever really know why someone “snaps”? Can we ever prevent it? Will arming people with all the weapons in the world or taking every last weapon away stop them? I don’t think so. Living as a caring, compassionate, loving, good person may help those around us, but many of the people who die in these tragic events were caring, compassionate, loving good people and that didn’t keep them from dying. I think the point that was being made here is that we all want answers to why this happens, but ultimately, there aren’t any, and we are left with our own personal choices. I am a big believer in personal responsibility, but that doesn’t mean the person next to me believes the same. And maybe one day that person will harm me, or you, or someone else. Or not. I pray not.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      I appreciated your comment. I do agree that Mr Klinkhart is not calling people who do such horrible things “monsters” and have definite reasons I think calling them such doesn’t serve us well.
      I do however, as Pat from Washington says quite well @ 2:01 PM, depart from his argument as regards there -is -nothing -we -can -do.
      I also take issue with the idea that the choices and BURDENS lie with those who commit these terrible acts.
      The burden falls on each of us.

      • Dove says:

        “I also take issue with the idea that the choices and BURDENS lie with those who commit these terrible acts.”

        Really? You think Det. Klinkhart was saying we don’t all suffer from their choices? Really?!

        The word ‘burden’ means ‘responsibility.’ He was saying the “responsibility of the act” ultimately lies with them–not us.

        And he hardly said we should “sit around and do nothing.” He simply stated that if they CHOOSE to do something, at that point, there really isn’t anything we can do to predict and stop it.

        I’m reading these comments and seeing how much people nit-pick and dig to find something to disagree with. Silliness.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          Really? LOL

          More nitpicks and silliness that likely no one will be back to read and think about :

          Of course I don’t think Mr Klinkhart was saying we don’t all suffer. He is quite explicit about the suffering of his own family because of the murder of his sister and this piece seems to be mostly a reminder that folks who do these things ought to be viewed as moral agents, as possessing free will and forming deliberate intention to act and acting as opposed to the-devil-made-me-do-it crap like Dan White got away with in his Twinkie defense.

          An important point, as far as it goes and perhaps adequate to remind people to breathe and get their feet back underneath themselves in the immediate aftermath of the murder of anyone, most especially the horrific murder of so many children.

          I well remember my stepmother immediately blaming herself for counseling her son to take a good job in the city when her son was stabbed to death . It took her a long time to accept that merely moving to the city was not the cause of his death and that her hopes for his financial future wasn’t either that it was the murderer’s fault.

          If getting people that far is all he intended, fine.

          But there IS much more we need to deal with here.

          The word “burden” means many things, amongst them responsibility.
          It may also mean suffer. You have used it in both ways here.

          In my mind, it is inadequate to the situation to assume we have no responsibility as a group, as a collective, to sort out what our group’s responsibility is after such events. In our current politics of personal, shared, and collective responsibility we have been unable to get past the extremes (determinism v total free will arguments ) and have a meaningful conversation and some action on what we could and can do to balance competing claims of rights and responsibilities in a way which benefits us individually and collectively.

          That is our burden. The one we carry everyday.

          Collective Responsibility
          Marion Smiley

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/collective-responsibility/
          3. Collective Responsibility and the Structure of Groups

          “The most common approach taken to distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate sites of collective responsibility has been to focus on nations, corporations, and other groups that have well-ordered decision-making procedures in place, since, it is argued, these groups are, by virtue of their well-ordered decision-making procedures, able to demonstrate two things that are often assumed to be necessary to collective responsibility. The first is a set of group actions that have an identifiable moral agent, e.g., a governing board or a representative body, behind them capable of carrying out a group action. The second is a set of decisions that are made self-consciously on a rational basis—or at least purposively—by the group that take the form of group intentions or group choices.

          Peter French considers groups that are so organized to be especially appropriate sites of collective responsibility because of three salient features that they all share. The first is a series of organizational mechanisms through which courses of concerted action can be, though not necessarily are, chosen on a rational basis. The second is a set of enforced standards of conduct for individuals that are more stringent than those usually thought to apply in the larger community of individuals, standards that enable us to talk about both group conduct and group discipline. The third is a configuration of “defined roles by which individuals can exercise certain powers ” (French 1984, pp. 13–14) All three of these features, according to French, signal the existence of purposeful and controlled actions that are capable of rendering groups collectively responsible for harm.”
          6. Collective Responsibility and the Question of Consequences

          “But to hold an agent responsible for harm is not simply to establish that he, she, or it is responsible for the harm. Instead, it is to make the agents’ responsibility known both to them and to the rest of the community or, in other words, to publicize their responsibility as part of a social or legal practice of accountability in particular contexts with particular purposes in mind.

          The differences between these two things—the act of holding an agent responsible for harm and the agent’s being responsible—for it are worth underscoring. While X’s being responsible for harm is a matter of what X has done, our holding of X responsible is a matter of what we do with our knowledge of X’s behavior. The former is ostensibly a moral fact about X. The latter is an act that we ourselves perform as part of a social or legal practice of accountability.

          What about the negative consequences that might follow from holding particular groups responsible for harm? Not surprisingly, the most commonly cited of these consequences are those associated with the freeing of individuals from personal responsibility in both private and public life. In some cases, the negative consequences thought to follow from collective responsibility are a matter of moral degeneracy and/or the avoidance of just punishment. In other cases, they are a matter of the erosion of liberal ideals and/or threats to democratic governance.”

  13. Kir Sonoma says:

    Thank you Glen for this insightful piece. It is the only thing I’ve read about all this that has made any sense.

  14. John says:

    I think this is an overly simplistic way of lookimg at the world. Yes people make choices, but when a voice in your head keeps insisting you kill your son, at what point do you break and agree to do it? When ypu grow up surrounded by violence, some will think violence is acceptable. A bad home life, or mental illness isn’t an excuse but it is a piece of the puzzle when we try to figure out why someone could do something so terrible. Just calling them “monsters” means refusal to look for any underlying factor that might have been part of the cause and refusing to take any personal responsibility for trying to improve society. As long as we just say they are monsters, we will always have new monsters.

  15. Celia Harrison says:

    I totally disagree with this post and I’m not going to do it respectfully, I am livid. First of all this retired detective has a very low level of education regarding criminology and psychology. Some of the things he has written or said are appalling. There is much science in both psychiatry and criminology to dispute what he has to say. This does go a long way to explaining some of the problems with law enforcement and the DOC in this state. Holy crap! Murder/suicide is very complex and speaking of knuckle draggers simply saying they are monsters is indicative of bias and that us-against-them-cop-attitude. This statement is completely false: “…and often they blame their actions on drugs, alcohol, abuse as a child, mental illness, or any number of non-effective reasons”, these issues all work together when a person has a mental illness to direct the outcome of their life. Lack of mental health treatment is the biggest problem here. Those who don’t get help often self medicate with drugs and alcohol. Young people who are identified as having potential for issues and get help are less likely to end up killing people. Their parents also need to be told the best parenting to use for specific problems.

    Note he thinks the perpetrators are all lying about everything, that is a typical cop view of the world. Also note that cops have one of the highest rates of psychopaths of any profession except those on Wall Street, we have seen some evidence of this in law enforcement in AK, especially at the APD. BTW, it is this simplistic “monster” thinking that cops and prosecutors use when they make decisions to falsify or withhold evidence. They think because they think something it is true without evidence. I am sickened by this post, especially in a state where so many who need help can‘t get it due to egocentric budgets that slash programs that would help prevent this kind of violence. The complexities of mental health problems, poor or abusive parenting, genetic predisposition, trauma, drug use and lack of appropriate mental health treatment especially while young are certainly beyond this retired “monster” calling oaf. This post is right up the alley of simple thinking haters which are so easily found in Alaska.

    • nvak says:

      Celia, level of education does NOT mean Glen doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’re discounting his experience and knowledge acquired on the job. He put it brilliantly. Monsters they certainly are…born with whacked wiring in their brains, a conscious desire to harm/kill others and a complete lack of empathy for any creature living, except themselves.

      Offenders are solely responsible for their actions, period! No excuses, no lame rationale, no blaming the top 1% or any other stupid circumstance. They’re defectively wired – research proves it. There are warning signs early on in these monsters lives as evidenced by the CHOICES they make early in life. That is the time to intervene.

      I work w/sex offenders…almost all of them make the same excuses that Glen has pointed out. Ever hear of Antisocial Personality Disorder?! They can’t be medicated away or therapized away. They make conscious choices every one of them to harm. End of story!

      • beth. says:

        This “they” you refer to, nvak (“They’re defectively wired “) — what percentage of our population would constitute those “they”? And what reasearch ‘discovered’ this jaw-droppingly painting-with-a-wide-paintbrush ‘fact’ about all those who perpetrate multi-victim anti-social acts?

        The reason I ask is it appears as if the ‘argument’ you (and the op author) put forth is: Since they are born that way, there is nothing to be done for it…when any mass-killing/harm is done by any individual, it’s because that individual –any and all of ‘them’– are “defectively wired”; they are “monsters” for whom there was no hope, Ever!, of intervention and/or redirection. From the get-go, society didn’t stand a chance against any of ‘them’.

        I utterly reject that line of thinking — it’s as big . if . not . greater! . cop out as any simplistic ‘excuse’ society/media would hastily attiribute as causal. beth.

        • nvak says:

          Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion in this wonderful country, Beth. Read my comment more carefully, do away with the “wide swath brush” and do some research!

          Unfortunately, yes, there are some individuals in this country with severe personality disorders who do not want to change and, in turn, make horrendous decisions of their own free will to do irreparable harm. How much did Ted Bundy, John-Wayne Gasey, Isreal Keyes and all the other mass murderers want to change? It’s hard to accept that some people are frankly beyond ‘redemption’ or change.

          • John says:

            There is a difference between saying some people just don’t want to change, and asking why they got to be that way in the first place? Were they really just born that way? If so, are there things we could to when they are young to keep them from harming others? If they weren’t “born that way,” what happened along the way to change them? If we don’t ask these questions, how will we ever reduce the number of times this stuff happens?

          • beth. says:

            And again, I ask: This “they” you refer to, nvak (“They’re defectively wired “) — what percentage of our population would constitute those “they”? And what reasearch ‘discovered’ this jaw-droppingly painting-with-a-wide-paintbrush ‘fact’ about all those who perpetrate multi-victim anti-social acts?

            As Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts;” I want to know what research/study has shown/supplied you the facts upon which you’ve formed your opinion. That’s all – thanks. beth.

            • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

              Good luck with that Beth. I do not think it will be forthcoming.

              But let us look at the context of all this a bit more broadly I urge.

              Millions of people are without jobs or even the prospect of jobs.

              What is so remarkable if a handful go nutz and wreak mayhem.

              Millions still remain docile and confused, unable to comprehend
              how their fate occurred as it did.

              The threat to the oligarchy is that those millions will resist.

              You who read this are of those millions, and at risk. Resist.

          • Celia Harrison says:

            Once again you seem to think everyone is a psychopath. We all know they are not going to change, but there are vast options for mental health problems other than psychopathy.

      • Celia Harrison says:

        Once again you don’t understand the complexities here. There was nothing brilliant in this post. The perpetrator of this crime most likely had a personality disorder on the schizophrenia spectrum and was psychotic at the time of the shooting. He was certainly at the perfect age to become schizophrenic as well. If psychotic he was not able to understand his actions and who knows what delusions, hallucinations and voices were going on. It is very unlikely he has Antisocial Personality Disorder, psychopaths are generally very social and we have had multiple descriptions of a very shy, socially isolated and socially uncomfortable kid. AAAHHHHHHH! In your comment you have indicated the problem with the DOC, I assume you are a probation officer or some other poorly trained staff with the DOC due to lack of education. There are multiple options for diagnoses, not everyone is a psychopath and the perps of these types of murder/suicides are almost always psychotic secondary to a serious mental illness. Yes psychopaths do have brain differences, yes they do know right from wrong, but not everyone is a psychopath. Actually a very low percentage of legal offenders are psychopaths. Most sex offenders do not repeat their crimes, are not psychopaths and there is treatment to help many. BTW, I have worked in prisons and in a psych facility with mentally ill legal offenders including murderers. I also worked in a program with psychopathic sex offenders, as well as providing health care to the sex offenders on McNeil Island. “End of story!”

  16. Dara says:

    Thank you, Glen. I worked in TV news for years. While on the assignment desk, I took a call from a released child molester’s sister. We ran a story when his old neighborhood didn’t want him to move back. “But you should see his artwork”, she kept saying. As if his talent somehow took away some of the horror of the acts he committed. There is no understanding evil. Not everyone has empathy. There are monsters.
    With much appreciation for your work-
    Dara
    Service, class of ’82
    Connecticut resident

  17. mike from iowa says:

    Doesn’t hardly seem fair that five to ten year old babies get exposed to and possibly treated for PTSD. A mental illness our government had literally ignored for a long time. When asked by their kids and grandkids,”What did you do during the war?”, do they remember they were too young to have been so violently and unnecessarily assaulted? Will these traumatic events haunt them for the rest of their lives? Will they become more alcoholic or suicide statistics than their peers who weren’t gunned down? Without stimulants or escapist drugs,will they ever be normal? Can they ever be normal?

  18. Just Saying says:

    Well those “secret societies” don’t help matters either or the religious righties…God’s Will and all…reports say the mother was into guns and took her kids target practicing…so not is all what it seems…poor kid was brainwashed with the RIGID religious beliefs of the mother…sounds to me like he just lost it…normal reaction to a mother that is a pain in the butt…however, if he had “fighting” to do he could have found a local boxing place and boxed it out, not kill folks…may be mother was not all she seemed either folks…two sides to a coin!

  19. Mo says:

    The paranoid monsters responsible are actually right next door, most likely, and think they’re paradigms of “normal.”

    Sacrificing thousands of kids on the altar of racist rightwing fantasies
    http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/sacrificing-thousands-of-kids-on-altar.html

    The statistics don’t lie: guns kill thousands of American children every year. It is an epidemic of slaughter unparalleled in any other industrialized democracy, yet nothing is done. After every fresh massacre the public becomes further desensitized to the violence even as we are told we cannot and should not talk about the reasons why thousands of our children continue to die violent, bloody and needless deaths. American gun deaths are unique in their inability to generate political action: no one seemed to care much about the politicization of the deaths at Pearl Harbor or the World Trade Center. Those thousands of needless deaths required major political action. But the needless deaths of thousands of children at the barrel of a gun barely registers a mention from elected officials.

    Why is this? One reason is that the National Rifle Association has a powerful lobby. That’s the story we are often told, at any rate. But it turns out that the NRA isn’t remotely as powerful as their mythmaking claims. The NRA wasted $11 million attempting to defeat the President in 2012, and a full two-thirds of the incumbents who lost their House seats were backed by the NRA. The NRA boost to a candidate this election amounted to less that 2% of the vote if that. So whence comes this incredible lobbying power in the face of which the nation is collectively paralyzed in addressing the deaths of thousands of our children (and many more adults) every single year?

    The evidence seems to point to the desire by both political parties to cater to exurban and rural white men who are deeply committed to gun culture. The vast majority of the opposition to commonsense firearms control comes from this group.

  20. Alaska Pi says:

    I respectfully disagree with this .
    We do ourselves no favors by calling people monsters , evil, and the like.
    They are humans, broken humans to be sure, but humans nonetheless.
    We need to stay straight about how badly humans can derail, break.

    Likewise we do ourselves no favors framing these busted folks’ behavior as choices in the framework of rational choice. Yes- they make these choices and should be called to account for them but that does not settle the issues of what kind of choices they are.All too many of them kill themselves and for those of us who are pretty shaky on the eternal-damnation routine have thus gotten-away-with-it .
    I think we need to pay a hell of a lot more attention to mental health problems all along the way. I think often of the pain one of my dearest friends suffered when he called the police on his son for being a danger to the community and being in possession of a gun. The police were able to arrest him but the sorry state of mental health law put him out on the street in short order. He continues to be a time bomb waiting for another gun and an event to set him off and we can do little to stop it currently.

    This mass murder of babies is breaking my heart but so is the idea that we cannot work to limit the chances of it happening again.
    I have too much skin in this game, from the murder of my beloved nephew to the murder of a coworker’s daughter to the abduction, rape, and murder of a dear family friend for starters, to be happy with the idea with the idea that the “choice and BURDEN” lies with the busted creeps who killed them.
    My burden is great. It is heavy. Some days it knocks me to my knees.

    • Mo says:

      Damn straight, Pi.

      We don’t need to have guns strewn everywhere to make it so, so easy for the demented to damage themselves and others.

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/14/before-you-reach-for-the-its-not-guns-its-the-cray-cray-argument/

      • thomas kyte says:

        GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE, what everyone fails to understand is that if guns were not available there are knives, (ask the people in China), years ago right here in Anchorage, we had a man attack students and teachers at one of our schools with a knife. Guns are no more responsible for killing people than automobiles are guilty of killing people when a drunk gets behind the wheel of a car, should we outlaw automobiles? There are more people killed by automobiles than with guns, yet everyone still drives and people still drive drunk knowing the penalty for doing so.

        • Mo says:

          Stupid argument. Sorry, not gonna mince words on this one.

          Guns are made for killing. That’s it. Automobiles are made for transportation, and the fact that people get killed doing that means we should work to make them safer and get impaired drivers off the road.

          • Alaska Pi says:

            Amen, Mo!
            Problem with responding sensibly is that in the guns don’t kill meme there is no room for sense. It is the argument which assumes all guns will be taken away, not regulated, taken away and will admit of no other outcome.
            thomas- If you have come back to read here – your argument is fallacious. It falls within the boundaries of hasty generalization, straw man, and false dilemma and maybe others.
            Please go study up on logical fallacies

            And I reiterate, if people are the problem, let us ,by all means, limit access to guns by people.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          Well- there you have it thomas.
          It is the people we need to stop.
          How easy was that?
          The perfect argument for limiting people’s access to guns.
          Well done!
          And when those people break those laws we’ll lodge their hineys in jail along with the scofflaw drunks who get back into cars and aim them at the rest of us.

        • Zen says:

          What gun do is provide a lethal method that can be delivered quickly and at a distance. Sure, you can go get a knife and kill people, but perhaps a knife would be more easily extracted from the hand of a killer. A killer with a gun an kill you as you approach to stop them. Killing someone with a knife takes more skill, accuracy and physicality. Shooting someone is easy… just pull the trigger. We are talking about killing a room full of kids. With a knife, this would be less palatable to even the most angry person. I still believe that common-sense limits and more strict gun registration/regulation would keep as many from dying in these times of incidence.

          I also agree that there is a lack of coping skills among Americans. Once upon a time, people just killed THEMSELVES without trying to take out a large number of innocent people with them. Our culture has changed for the worse. People do need easy access to competent mental health care. And real Parenting would also help! Know your kids.

        • COalmostNative says:

          I agree: stupid argument. If you’re referring to the knife attack in China on Friday, there were injuries to the students- but no deaths.

          There are reasonable actions our state and federal governments can take to greatly reduce the chances of another massacre: ban the sale of assault weapons, all guns must be registered, mandatory in-person training and testing in order to own a gun, mandatory background checks for all purchases- including online (40%of all purchases) and gun shows.

          Israel has mandatory military service, and gun training- lots of gun ownership, but very few deaths.

          Contrary to gun lobbies, the Second Amendment does not promote easy gun ownership for all.

          And a pox on the MI Republican legislators for pushing through a bill to allow concealed carry in schools.

        • slipstream says:

          Oh, blow it out your butt. If you give me the choice between outrunning a psychotic armed with a knife, or outrunning a psychotic armed with an AR-15 who can put twelve bullets into my back in three seconds, I will take my chance with the psychotic armed with a knife.

          That’s an important difference.

        • Julian says:

          You might just as well say “All dogs are black. This cat is black. Therefore this cat is a dog.”

        • Julian says:

          I am so bloody SICK of “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

    • CorningNY says:

      I agree with you 100%. My fiance’s six-year-old son is already frighteningly violent–when he doesn’t get his way, he hits, kicks, bites, throws things, draws blood with his fingernails, and verbally attacks–but his mother continues to send him to the same therapist he’s seen for two years who has failed to change his behavior at all. His school (he acts out there, too) made a plan that basically involves tiptoeing around him so he doesn’t get mad. This child is being raised by a sociopath, a woman who locked my fiance out when he lost his job (she changed the locks on the door when he was at an interview and put his belongings in the Dumpster, then withdrew his signature authority on what she had told him were joint bank accounts). She lies to everyone, including the court, about everything, so my fiance only gets to see him for six hours a week.

      My point is that damaged people do not just turn damaged for no reason; there’s often something in their upbringing that damages them to the point of making the decision to hurt others. Their behavior doesn’t happen in isolation.

      • nvak says:

        Wrong! Some people are just flat-out born evil. Check the research.

        • beth. says:

          Balderdash! Show me “the research”. beth.

          • nvak says:

            Look it up yourself – do some work on your own. Not going to hand it to ya, dear.

            • beth. says:

              If you have “research”, show it. Your response reminds me of waaaaay too many ‘talking point’ memes mindlessly repeated without an ounce of solid evidence of support to justify them; nothing more than an empty ‘deflect’ and ‘redirect’ the reques/issue, cop out. beth.

              • nvak says:

                Dear Beth – you are responsible for researching this on your own. To put if off onto me as my responsibility is a pathetic, transparent cop-out. Having been a mental health clinician for 21 years, I have done, and still do, my own research and do not rely on others to provide it for me. It would appear that you have no/little understanding of human nature and the intractable dynamics of personality disorders. Good Luck!

              • beth. says:

                nvak — all I can say is that I hope the people you see in your practice –and theirfamilies/loved ones– are extended the courtesy of having proof of your assertions/statements given them, should they request it. I shudder to think you practice the expertise of your craft without that very basic and essential component as a core part of it. What good is an educaton if the information you’ve garnered is not shared? Of course, if there is no proof, I can understand the reluctance… beth.

            • If you had any research that showed this you wouldn’t hesitate to share it with the world. Since you aren’t willing to do so, I can only conclude that it’s all in your head and there isn’t any proof.

              And you say you were a mental health clinician for 21 years? I’m not buying it.

              • Alaska Pi says:

                There is a fair amount of research and pontificating about evil in multiple fields including psychology- problem is the definition of evil is a moving target amongst that literature and therefore lacks the specificity necessary to be understood in a definite way.
                Its depravity here, immorality there, whatever over there. Also, in some literature it retains religious baggage, in some it makes the argument that evil people are inhuman- which is dumber than a doughnut , because they are still human, no matter how much folks want to be separated from them.

                beth- check out Welner and Peck. Erich Fromme was trying to get at a useful definition of evil which for his time and place was the standard way of looking at sociopathic and psychotic behavior. He came up with “necrophilous” — interesting idea.
                While I agree some people are born broken I don’t buy the “evil” thingy. It carries baggage we don’t need AND has the interesting side effect, all too often, of releasing the community of dealing with it seriously.
                and – holy moley , nvak! what’s up with the ‘tude?

    • Just Sayin says:

      scary part is that you don’t need to go to a store and apply to get a gun to have a gun…the black market is flooded with guns…and assault rifles…lord of war is live and well in the USA it appears…I like my version of a gun…four legged and furry all over…lol..

  21. Gale says:

    Thanks. The Monsters operated 24/7. Circle the wagons 24/7 around the business of life. What’s our business? Being the best to ourselves, and radiating out. If we “let” our minds circle this drain, we loose balance, our minds. We loose more capacity for spotting and circumventing or shutting down these Monsters among us.

  22. Lorna-Jean Souza says:

    Thanks Klink for your article. It makes so much sense and I hope people will read it and appreciate what you have written.

  23. Shea says:

    I completely agree with you. I am so tired of hearing the excuses and watching the media and others make excuses for “why” someone did something. By the time these people get to court the media has written the entire case for the defense all because society wants to believe there is a why and that some other incident caused it to happen. The truth is the world is full of sadistic psychopaths who simply kill to kill or those so cowardly the only way to achieve (their version of) fame is by committing some atrocious act. In the end it is all self serving on their part.

  24. Angel says:

    Thank you Glen, for sharing your story n wisdom, It is somehow comforting to know, that I don’t need to know Why. I can work on processing what happened and move forward to the healing of those left behind. Thank You. Angel

  25. bonefish says:

    Thank you.

  26. Mo says:

    Yes, there are monsters.

    No, we don’t need to make it easy for them to obtain lethal weapons.

    This did not solve the problem of mental illness or end the primitive capacity of human beings to commit murder and mayhem. Those are huge problems that their society, like all societies, is still grappling with every day. But it did end the epidemic of mass shootings. They have not had even one since then.

    The lesson is this: End the epidemic and then we can talk about root causes and mental health facilities and our violent culture. But first things first — shut down the damned pump.

    http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/shut-down-pump-little-parable-for-our.html

  27. Thank you for that wonderful statement ….for sharing your experiences and observations…. They are healing for ALL OF US.

  28. Kate says:

    Thank you for this.

  29. joanne says:

    Thank you Glen, thank you.

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