In the aftermath of the horrific murders in Newtown, Connecticut, a lot of questions are being asked. Here are some pointed questions that deserve attention:
1) Have mass-murders becoming more frequent in recent years?
The general consensus seems to be “yes”. According to Psychology Today:
According to the 2010 FBI crime data, since 1980, single victim killings have dropped by more than 40 percent. While that’s very good news, there’s a new sobering trend: Mass murders are on the rise. This New York Times article researched the frequency of mass murders. It found during the 20th century there were about one to two mass murders per decade until 1980. Then for no apparent reason they spiked, with nine during the 1980s and 11 in the 1990s. Since the year 2000 there have been at least 26, including the massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
If such killings have become more common, we should be asking: What has changed over the last few decades? We’ll deal with this later.
The same article states, “As for demographics, the mass murderer is typically a white male.” And this brings us to our next question.
2) Are most mass-murderers, in the U.S., white males?
The above Psychology Today article links to another article from goodmenproject. In that article, Christian Piatt quotes David Lohr:
Typical mass murderers are usually conservative, middle-aged, white males from relatively stable, lower-to-middle-class backgrounds.
Piatt goes on to consider factors that could cause white males to be more inclined to this kind of violence. He lists: “Hate group” propaganda, role models such as Hitler and Stalin, Isolation, access to weapons, shock and awe and hopelessness. I’ll leave it for others to debate the details of his claims, but I will point out that “hate group propaganda” is extremely hard to come by except on the internet, and even there anti-white hate groups predominate. Furthermore, if any sort of pro-white literature were behind the shootings, how do we explain that the vast majority of victims are white? As for role models, I’ll point out that for every negative white male role model, there are dozens of positive ones. If anybody has easier access to weapons, it’s ghetto blacks and Hispanics.
But to the question, are most American mass murderers white males? Apparently so – but so are most American males in general. The trend is to take a quick look at mass murderers, conclude that most of them are white males, and then assume that this means white males are more likely to be mass murderers. This is faulty thinking.
Motherjones has a comprehensive analysis of the mass murders that have occurred in the U.S. since 1982. They consider a total of 62 mass murders in their analysis and write:
The killers: Half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 19, respectively); the other 31 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases. Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old.
That comes out to about 71% of them being white males. Assuming that the male proclivity for violence is universal across races, this figure is roughly what we would expect if whites were as likely to be mass murderers as any other race. In other words, white males are no more likely to be mass murderers than other males. So all of the soul-searching about white males supposed higher risk for such crimes is for naught. Well… almost for naught. Whites are less likely to commit violent crimes than blacks or Hispanics – but, when it comes to mass killings, they are just as likely. So it’s all relative; compared to overall rates of murder, assault and rape, whites are more likely to be the culprits. But, outside of this context, no more so than anybody else.
3) Can we honestly blame the proliferation of guns?
In a nutshell, the answer is “no”. Attempts have been made, and debunked, to claim that guns were uncommon in early America. As a matter of fact, guns have always been an important part of American culture. A glance at a “homicide by firearm versus gun ownership” table at wikipedia doesn’t seem to show much correlation between gun ownership and homicide. Even if it did, the argument can be made that more dangerous environments prompt more people to own firearms for protection. I think it’s more likely that the main contributors to such violence are 1) Ethnic diversity and the conflict it entails 2) Political factors such as the War on Drugs 3) Cultural factors such as alcohol us and religion and 4) Racial composition of the population in question.
Each time there is a mass shooting, the reaction is predictable. “Gun-control” advocates demand more “common-sense” gun laws and gun rights advocates respond that, had a responsible person been present at the time of the shooting, he could have saved many lives. Gun control advocates seem to believe that there should be an inverse relationship between the number of people killed by firearms and the gun rights we enjoy. According to them, the more gun murders there are, the more laws should be passed to restrict the ownership of guns. This is like saying, “The more dangerous your neighborhood is, the less right you have to defend yourself and your loved ones.”
There is little doubt that politicians will feel the pressure to “do something”. Obama will take advantage of the recent mass murder and advance his anti-gun agenda. It almost makes me wonder if Adam Lanza was working for Obama. It’s almost too convenient. Then again, it was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this happened.
4) In what ways has America changed, since 1982, that might have brought about the increase in mass killings?
How has America changed? Let’s list the ways:
a) Technology has advanced. We now have cell phones, flat-screen T.V.s, personal computers and digital cameras. According to the Motherjones article cited above, 1982 was the “magic year” when mass killing really took off. Getting back to Christian Piatt’s list of why white men are more likely to be mass killers, one of the items was “isolation” and, to be fair, 1982 was the year that the internet protocol, TCP-IP was standardized. While there can be little doubt that the internet has contributed to social isolation for some people, it didn’t really take off until the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. I doubt there were any young white men wasting away on the internet in their mother’s basements in 1982.
Can a society advance technologically without experiencing an increase in violent crime? If Japan can do it, why can’t we? I think that, while technological advancement may contribute to violent crime, we cannot honestly point to it as playing the decisive role.
b) Our population has vastly increased. Obviously, the population of the U.S. has been increasing every year for a long time. This increase has strained our infrastructure, altered our way of life and put pressure on ecosystems. But there was no spike in population increase in the early 1980′s. Our population was steadily increasing at about two million per year. While it’s possible that we reached some sort of threshold in those years, where something in the human brain snaps and human life loses some of its value, I’m not aware of any such theory. Two of the most densely populated regions of the world are relatively safe: Hong Kong and Malta. Japan is another example.
c) We have become more “diverse.” A USAToday article sums it up:
The number of nearly all-white communities has plummeted since 1980, dramatic evidence that the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity has spread far beyond large metropolitan centers into smaller towns and rural parts of the heartland, new research shows.
Communities where whites are the majority are still the norm (82.6%), but those where they dominate are gradually disappearing, according to an analysis of Census data by Penn State‘s Population Research Institute. In 1980, about two-thirds of all places were at least 90% white. By 2010, only a third were. The number of places where no group is a majority has more than quintupled.
“This trend is pretty geographically pervasive, and even residents of small towns and rural areas are encountering diversity face to face,” says Barrett Lee, Penn State sociologist and demographer and lead author of the study released today. “It’s not something they just read about in the newspapers anymore.”
Indeed, the increase in the non-white population is probably the most visible difference between the America of 1980 and the America of today. This is a direct result of the 1965 immigration act and lax border control. It was whites who created this country, and it had belonged to whites, for the most part, until the great push for “diversity”, which defined itself early on with forced busing. We read, in Wikipedia:
In the 1970s and 1980s, under federal court supervision, many school districts implemented mandatory busing plans within their district. A few of these plans are still in use today…
I was a victim of forced busing back in the late 1970′s. I wrote about my experiences here. Even for those white youngsters who didn’t experience the horrors of forced busing directly, the cultural impact was immense. Just as Native American children were taken from their native culture, and introduced to an alien culture, so too were white children forced into close proximity with inner-city blacks. The difference being that there was little protection, for the white children, from the brutality of the black ghetto. Safety was not a priority. “Diversity” was the priority.
The loss of one’s culture has many ramifications. Among them are a loss of self-esteem, higher rates of suicide and higher rates of substance abuse (including alcohol and tobacco). Whites suffer from all these at higher rates. It’s not much of a stretch to view the increasing incidence of mass murders as a symptom of a wider mental/social illness. It’s not far-fetched to say that the sense of loss, persecution and alienation that accompanies the overwhelming drive for “diversity” (AKA “fewer white males”) can trigger violent reactions in a few. These violent reactions do not make white males more dangerous than non-white males, but they may make them as dangerous in some circumstances.