My heart goes out to those feeling the loss of the victims in Charleston.
There are so many different issues and emotions at play here for me. Mostly, I see an entitled white male (told by society that he always has a pass card) with easy access to firearms and an upbringing that included an intolerance for others. For a moment, I bought in to the idea that bullying creates dissociative behavior and psychological stress that can lead to lashing out. Hurt people hurt people. But that’s not enough, it’s not an excuse. Here’s why…
First, I blamed entitlement. A racist, young, white, male feels so entitled and so elite that he thinks he has the right to murder nine people in their place of worship because of their race? He reportedly said not only that he was there to “kill black people”, but that “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Six of the nine people he murdered for “raping our women” were women themselves? Grandmothers? Not only is this murderer the worst kind of hateful, destructive, disgusting person out there – he justified their deaths by saying he is protecting the very people he killed!
My knee-jerk is to blame patriarchy and a culture in which only one demographic doesn’t experience decreased self esteem after watching TV – white males. My gut reaction includes no sympathy or empathy at all for the shooter. I blame him. I hate him.
It is true that perpetrators of high school shootings are almost exclusively male. Wikipedia could only find 3 female school shooters to reference (a 30 year old in 1957, a 16 year old in 1979, and a student at LA Tech in 2008). Roughly 4 out of 5 school shooters are white males – the most entitled demographic in our country. Coincidence? It doesn’t seem to be. If our culture tells them every time they turn on the TV that they are better than everyone else? That might start to empower some to act on that prejudice.
Next, I blamed the acceptance of racism. A friend posted the following today and I agree:
“In the wake of this recent tragedy: friendly reminder that while AllLivesMatter sounds like a really positive message, in using it you are actively making it harder for this nation to address the issue of black lives mattering less than others. Please be conscious of this, yeah?”
I blame culturally sanctioned racism. White Americans, especially males, are always excused for their actions while minorities are forced to be examples of their demographic’s obvious flaws. This can be seen in most profiling, police brutality, and police shootings. When a school shooter is black or latino, they’re a thug or gang member. When a school shooter is middle eastern, they’re a religious terrorist. When a school shooter is white, they’re mentally ill and not to be confused with normal white people – who don’t shoot people apparently.
From Political Research Associates: “TV newscasts “disproportionately show African Americans under arrest, living in slums, on welfare, and in need of help from the community.” However, men of color do not represent the majority of school shooters or mass murderers.”
In the last 30 years, school shooters are 90% white and typically upper-middle class.
Also, I’d like to take this moment to apologize to everyone who is battling a mental disorder and succeeding daily in not killing a bunch of innocent grannies in their church. This killer is not his mental disorder any more than any of you. If he raised a gun in hatred against another human of a different ethnic background, that’s on his head, and that’s on our culture’s head for excusing his actions because he’s white and male.
I hate the idea that “boys will be boys”. It expects little of males and robs society of the ability to hold males accountable for their actions. White Americans are given a similar carte blanche – we aren’t held accountable for our actions because we are allowed to be victims of mental illness or stress or environmental factors. A black man from a low income area gets involved in a crime? All of the disenfranchisement, self fulfilling prophecies, lack of opportunity and environment pressure in the world is not enough of an excuse to exercise empathy. A white man from an affluent area shoots someone? Poor guy must have had a mental illness.
Yes, #AllLivesMatter, but not all lives are subject to the scrutiny, oppression, fear, profiling, and mistreatment that Black Americans’ (and other racial minorities’) lives are. #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean other lives matter less. It means that apparently everyone needed a reminded that Black lives DON’T matter less.
Third, I blamed lax gun control. That’s right, I’m looking at you right wing gun nuts. A June 15th study titled Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use found that in 2015 there were 8,342 murders by gun and 258 deaths by self defense with a firearm. If someone gets shot and dies, it’s self defense .03% of the time. Yup, I definitely feel safer with MORE guns…
And who is most likely to have a stringent background check? I’m just going to go ahead and guess that white males have the easiest access to firearms. Seems likely.
Lastly, I could blame bullying, but I won’t. It is a known fact and favorite saying that “Hurt people hurt people”. Yes, those who lash out are often displacing abuse they receive elsewhere – like a chain of screaming. I think everyone has experienced bullying at one point or another and can easily empathize (and likely remember a time they fantasized about killing someone too).
But if everyone is bullied, why is it young, white, males who deal with it by shooting others? White males are the group that society naturally bullies the least.
Is it because white males always expect to be top dog that they can’t handle a little attack now and again? Do minorities assume bullying and oppression are things they just have to deal with and get through it like they get through life?
Is white culture mollycoddling it’s boys so much that we’re actually setting them up to snap at the slightest disappointment or bought of depression? Are white males expectations of getting everything they want in life higher, leaving them feeling more frustrated and disappointed when things do go their way?
To me, these school shooters look like spoiled children throwing a fit in a grocery store because they didn’t get every little thing they wanted.
The Buck Stops Where? Is it directly the shooters’ fault? Not entirely. Sure, I hate that kid on the grocery store floor pounding his fists and getting snot everywhere. I want to yank him up by his ear, give him a look that could kill, and tell he can’t have everything he wants but he damn well better start appreciating everything he has. Okay, let’s be honest, I want to smack him upside the head and throw duct tape over his mouth. But I always blame the parents.
If this horrific behavior can be drawn to a gender, a race, and an age – that’s obviously where we need to be making some changes as a society. What sets a middle class, white, male teenager apart from everyone else? Entitlement and the imbalances of puberty. Nature isn’t going to let up on the latter any time soon, so I say it’s time we start tackling the former.
Changing our society is going to take everyone working together (or a lot of people working really hard). Thanks to everyone who attempts to combat entitlement, racism and oppression in everyday life.