Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Tylenol killings and the mystery of murder

Voodoo figurines, The Field Museum

     Domestic terrorism is a young man’s game. I have no idea why. You’d think it would be the other way around — old men, having lived most of their lives, tempted to go out in a blaze of imagined glory for whatever grudge is stuck in their wrinkly craws.
     But no. It’s the young who pitch away others’ lives, and their own, too, for what always amounts to nothing.
     Take the idiot who shot up the 4th of July parade in Highland Park last year. He was 21. You shouldn’t include the killer in the circle of sympathy, but I do think about that guy, sitting in jail, night after night. For the rest of his life. What must he be thinking? Maybe if you’re the kind of person who could do something like that, you don’t have the usual human feelings you’d expect to find in a person.
     Timothy McVeigh was 26 when he blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children in a day care center. He was executed in 2001; McVeigh is as eloquent an argument for the death penalty as I can imagine. Yes, it’s sometimes administered unjustly in an overburdened and racist criminal justice system. But some crimes cry out for it.
     Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was a little older — his first bomb exploded, at Northwestern University, two days after his 36th birthday. Living in a cabin in Montana, he conducted his bombing campaign — 16 bombs over 17 years — while the government fruitlessly tried to track him down, distributing a drawing from a witness who saw him at a post office, a man in sunglasses and a hoodie. It wasn’t much help; his brother ended up turning him in, after recognizing the style of the writing in the rambling manifesto he forced two newspapers to print.
     Kaczynski died in June, a suicide — finally hurting someone who deserved it — bringing up his crimes all over again. The media is funny that way. We only need a pretext, a transition, any excuse to unspool the tale once again. “Tylenol? Funny you should mention that....”
     I guess the justification is that some people don’t know.

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  1. Homocidal ideation while fairly common , is fortunately not acted upon in most cases. Young men with their excess of testosterone are more likely to act on these urges than others. Drug and alcohol abuse coupled with with various forms of mental illness or distress can increase the likelihood of turning rage into action. Old men just dont have the juice. Its not that easy to kill people. unfortunately the proliferation of firearms makes it much easier. Often resulting in mass killings of strangers.

  2. Through my career as a police officer people would ask "how do people think that way, or do that (thing)?" I always said and felt that the normal person's mind cannot fathom thinking in such awful ways. Maybe "I hate this traffic" but not (thankfully) "I'm going to put cyanide in pill bottles" or "I'm going to shoot rockets at hospitals in the Ukraine."

  3. Your final line, “ We want to understand something that cannot be understood.” is the basis for religion. It is the source of comments such as, “Everything happens for a reason.” “It is God’s will.” “The lord acts in mysterious ways.” “He’s in a better place.” etc.
    It’s good to try to find legitimate reasons for occurrences but life is easier when you accept the fact that many things are simply unexplainable.

  4. Terrorism in general is mostly carried out by the young.. the anarchists, the assassins of presidents, the Weather Underground. But not always — I'm thinking of old Palestinian men in the Middle East, having lived most of their lives under Israeli oppression, strapping on the backpacks or the suicide belts. Dropping the coins right into the slot, in fare box on the bus. And trying to kill and maim as many Jews (and non-Jews) as possible.

    Who's to say it won't eventually happen here? An oldster can aim an automatic weapon or push a button just as easily as a youngster can. Especially if they feel that their time is short enough, their hatred of the oppressor is strong enough, and that they have nothing left to lose.

    1. I would like to think that the reason older people aren't already doing this is because the young and stupid have already killed themselves off, and the older ones are still around because they were never predisposed to off themselves or others in the first place.

      I know I'm speaking only in broad generalities, and that there are certainly exceptions out there, but the point is well-taken that the young seem far more erratic than the old, for whatever reason(s). If a much older person goes on a shooting spree, it will dominate the news cycle for quite a while thereafter.

  5. Maybe a damaged brain from previous head injury, faulty wiring, poison chemicals in the blood stream.
    We are complicated animals, still evolving or possibly de-evolving...grateful we have moved past drawing and quartering each other, at least for the moment.

  6. Older guys seem to be shooting people in movie theatres, on their porches, and from windows in the MGM Grand. So some of them have still got the itch.


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