Neither Salon nor Michael Kimmel will help you understand rampage killers at all - blog by Gurdur


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Neither Salon nor Michael Kimmel will help you understand rampage killers at all
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Posted 30-Jul-2015 at 05:04 PM (17:04) by Gurdur

Salon won't help you understand rampage killings at all. What's worse, neither will Michael Kimmel, an American sociologist. Salon published an excerpt from his book, "Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era". In that excerpt, he tells us all that:
"Let’s be clear: just as we cannot understand rampage school shootings by focusing on the fact that they are always committed by boys, neither can we understand these cases simply by recognizing that they’re all men."
There's already three howling false claims in that, which we'll get to in a minute. Just to make sure you don't miss what Salon wants to tell you, Salon headline the excerpt, "Why is it always a white guy: The roots of modern, violent rage", which adds a whole new layer of false claims, agenda and confusion to the mix. Let's examine it all clinically.

For a start, Kimmel's claim that all school rampage killers are boys simply isn't true. For one thing, Kimmel seems to have forgotten all about Brenda Ann Spencer, who on January 29, 1979, at the age of 16, opened fire at an elementary school in San Diego, California, killing two adults, and injuring eight children and an adult (the incident was the basis for the song, "I Don't Like Mondays"). Kimmel also doesn't mention that the worst school rampage-killing in the USA was in 1927, and it was committed by a 55-year-old man, Andrew Kehoe, i.e. not a boy, who killed 44 people (including 38 children) at a school in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927. Like that incident, a lot of school mass-shootings are committed by non-students. Of course, that leaves his next claim, that all rampage killers are male. That claim is almost true, but not quite, as not only Brenda Ann Spencer but also Amy Bishop and other cases can testify. On February 12, 2010 - only 5 years ago - Amy Bishop, a professor of biology, stood up at a routine department meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and began shooting those near her. She killed three people and wounded three more.

Nonetheless, almost all rampage killers are male. The gender disparity is striking. Counter-intuitively, and something Kimmel doesn't mention at all, it is quite different for serial killers - in the history of the USA, between 12% and 15% of known serial killers are female. That seems to be reflected in the rest of the world too - and contrasting data with cases in the rest of the world is something Kimmel and Salon fail to do at all. Both Salon and Kimmel talk as if conclusions drawn from cases in the USA were universally applicable for the whole of the world, a gross failure which underscores Salon's own agenda.

And Salon does have an agenda, which it overlays Kimmel's own agenda. Salon, apparently, wants to tackle racism against black Americans; so what it does is ... make odd statements repetitively about white men. Salon does this in over-abundance; a great deal of Salon's stories and tweets in June and July show an obsessiveness about bringing up "whiteness" or, especially, "white men" . The big question is of course if that helps whatsoever in combating racism against black Americans. From what I've seen, it doesn't; in fact, it's counter-productive, one reason being Salon like many others now almost routinely use "white male" as a slur in the most unconnected of cases. This will most likely cause backlashes, as well as diverting attention away from whatever is the real issue at hand, towards the whole red herring of white maleness. It's ironic in view of the fact that almost every single such Salon story was written by a white American. Salon is substituting symbols for real issues, which means nothing gets solved or resolved. Moreover, Salon seems to be only indulging itself in "moral signalling", that is, ostentatiously showing itself to be virtuous at the expense of whomever is its target of the moment. Such posturing doesn't decrease racism one bit. Both Kimmel and Salon leave out any data from the rest of the world on rampage-killings; both Kimmel and Salon, in their obsession with alleged angry white males, conveniently forget all about Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people and injured more than 30 more on November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, Texas. Both Kimmel and Salon totally ignore the origins of the word "amok" as in running amok - which we'll get to in a minute.

Kimmel's own agenda is a bit more complex, in that it's much about what he thinks of as masculinity issues. He also lays claim to class issues, but in so poor a way as to be ridiculous. I will be examining Kimmel's own agenda in following blog posts; for the moment, let's concentrate on Salon's bugbear. Salon find Kimmel very useful, and include this as part of the excerpt they published:

"... In the near–ghost towns of America’s factory cities, white workers seethe into their beers, wondering where it all went wrong—and how it all went to hell so fast. Perhaps more menacingly, some of these obedient men have now been replaced by violent men, who lash out at their spouses, while their sons learn their lessons well, as they drive through suburban neighborhoods looking for immigrants to beat up, and even to kill. Despite these enormous class differences, these different groups of white men are angry—angry at a system that has so let them down. ..."
Now there's an invocation of nightmare terrors; the image of millions of angry white men seething into their beers as they look around for immigrants to beat up. Neither Kimmel nor Salon will let the facts interfere for a second; this is the politics of fearful fantasy. Kimmel only talks about rampage killings as a way of promoting his own agenda about his masculinity issues; Salon find such demonization useful. Both Salon and Kimmel refuse to tell you the one single most important fact:

Rampage killings are the very last thing you ever need to worry about.

Violent crime throughout the USA, including overall murder rates, have been decreasing for many years. Another fact is "... fewer than 1 percent of homicide victims in 2010 were killed in incidents where four or more people died", i.e. in anything that could be described as a rampage killing.

Source: "A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report from 2013 identified 78 'public mass shootings' between 1983 and 2012, which claimed 547 lives. For context, 11,068 people (more than 20 times the mass shooting toll over three decades) died in gun homicides in 2011 alone ...
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, has found that the number of mass shooting victims, perpetrators, and incidents didn't change much from 1980 to 2010"
Most people, almost all males anywhere, will never kill another human. The politics scientist Glenn D. Paige has estimated that less than 0.5% of all humans that ever existed have intentionally killed another human. Even in wartime, even officially as soldiers, even when firing on an enemy firing back, it is very difficult to get all soldiers to fire to kill; a good many will effectively refuse or self-sabotage.

Three graphs below emphasize how rampage-killings are the last thing you need to worry about - and also do not serve as any kind of evidence for the agendas Kimmel and Salon promote. If even soldiers will often refuse to kill other humans, if we are born, as it consistently seems across eras and cultures, with extremely strong inbuilt inhibitions about killing another human, then why rampage-killings at all? Throughout the world, there are cultures in which rampage-killings happen, and some cultures in which rampage-killings are almost unheard of. From my own research into this, which will be detailed in following blog posts, the salient facts are:
1) Rampage killings are qualitatively different from the usual homicide rate and from serial murders. The nature of the offender also seems correspondingly different.

2) From the data of the USA, serial killers are around 1/6 female, and 5/6 male. Ethnicity does not play a significant role; serial killers come from many demographic layers across society. Many cultures around the world have experienced serial killers.

3) In contrast, rampage killers are almost always male, and almost always come from whichever group of males is the majority one in any given culture. Thus, for the USA, rampage killers are usually white males - but in the history of Malaysia, rampage killers are almost always Malay males (in contrast to Chinese and other groups who live in the Malaysian region). It is from Malaysia we get the word amok. In this too, rampage-killers are almost the obverse of the usual killers as per class; rampage-killers, unlike usual murderers, do not most often come from the poorer sections of society.

4) Rampage killings across all eras and cultures are always a tiny, tiny fraction of the total homicide rate; for all the attention they receive, they're negligible as a threat to be calculated when considering one's personal safety.

5) You are far, far more likely to be murdered by someone you know than by any rampage killer.

6) Almost all males, of whatever ethnicity, will never kill, will never murder. The number of males who will kill is a very small fraction; the number of males who will become rampage-killers is an extremely small fraction of the small fraction that is those who will kill.

7) By nattering on about white males, all Salon and Kimmel have done is to add much confusion and heat to the issues without bringing any positive contribution at all. It also risks causing backlashes with the perverse effect of increasing racism and racist incidents, rather than decreasing them.
In following blog posts, I will be looking at what increases and what decreases the incidence of rampage-killings, and the psychology behind much of that.

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Murders as a whole throughout the USA are actually decreasing, not increasing:

In the USA. while there has been a small increase in suicides using guns, there has been a small decrease in homicides using guns

There has not been any significant increase in rampage killings in the USA in the last decade:

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