Vail Valley Voices: Conspiracy of violence?
Vail, CO, Colorado
My heartfelt sympathies go to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other families that had loved ones murdered or wounded in Arizona last week.
The media has embraced the story of Jared Lee Loughner, a person described as a psychopath, loser and dropout. The press will not rest until it somehow pieces together a sinister plot (conspiracies bolster newspaper and magazine sales).
In this case, however, the media is likely to conclude that the man acted alone and is a product of his own warped mind. Violent rhetoric in Congress, on TV and by extremist groups, wasn’t his inspiration and didn’t contribute to his terrible actions.
Every time a deranged person starts killing, Americans look for deep-seated reasons for the murderer’s hatred and desire to ruin other people’s lives. And you want to know something? It’s almost never part of a larger conspiracy.
In some situations, the speech of a public figure or loss of a job can enrage a borderline psychopath and set him into motion. But there have been very few Kennedy-like conspiracies in the past 50 years.
In the worst cases, killers attack doctors who perform abortions, people of color, gays, military personnel, former lovers, co-workers and fellow students.
The most inane suggestions are from those who attribute deviant behavior to harsh words spoken in Congress or on cable TV. Give me a break. An insane person who fights his demons every day isn’t going to go on a killing spree because of a left- or right-wing talking head diatribe on Fox or MSNBC.
Most serial killers are social outcasts who hate everything about their lives. Most should not be executed, as they are certifiably insane. In fact, many prosecutors and juries never seek, or endorse, the death penalty in horrid crimes because they don’t believe the accused are truly responsible for their acts of violence. Most aren’t, by the way.
Susan Smith (murdered two of her sons), Theodore Kaczynski (killed and injured more than 20 people), Buford Furrow (shot four children), Eric Robert Rudolf (detonated a series of bombs in 1995 at the Summer Olympics, two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub) and Zacarais Moussaoui (affiliated with the 9/11 attacks) all were spared death sentences for sanity reasons, according to a story in The New York Times on Wednesday.
From time to time, mass murderers or would-be murderers have some connections to terrorist groups, such as one man who put a bomb in his underwear and another who tried to detonate a bomb in his sneakers. But in these situations, the perpetrators were morons and not cold-blooded, calculating assassins.
Surely, we need more amity in Congress, at school, on the job and on TV. America is a great country, and all citizens should be thankful that they are in the U.S. rather than in some oppressive place dominated by religious fanatics or Napoleonic misfits.
If we can all learn to respect the right of others to speak their minds and tolerate different lifestyles, America will be an even better place.
Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail over the past 20 years.