By now virtually the whole world has heard of the mass murder/suicide in Virginia two days ago.
We, as human beings, try to categorize things to understand them. We search for meaning and for signals, that we may avert tragedy the next time. We want understanding of motives that would push someone to randomly kill innocents.
The one thing that I have not heard, that I have been fearing that I would, is the "A" word. Someone saying that the shooter was somewhere on the spectrum. Earlier this year we had the Odgren case, where a student with Asperger's fatally stabbed a fellow student. In the search for meaning in that case students with Asperger's were characterized as potentially violent.
In the aftermath of this tragedy in Virginia, I have heard the gunman described as basically non-verbal, as well as being totally socially isolated. In his only attempts at interaction with the opposite sex, he was totally inappropriate, engaging in behaviors that the women took to be stalking. One "expert" on mass murderers opined that the shooters total social isolation was a "red flag" that he was potentially very dangerous.
I am so sorry that the event happened. And so relieved (for now) that the "A" word hasn't been associated with it. Autism has gotten such a bad rap when it comes to violence.
School officials have no reservations when it comes to having children as young as 5 or 6 arrested by the police for acting out in class. I fear that they will call in police now to investigate all of those who are deemed to be "totally socially isolated".
I have no way of knowing whether the shooter in Virginia was on the spectrum. But I also have little doubt that, had he survived, his lawyers would have trotted out someone to say that he was, and that this was the "cause" of him acting the way he did.
I also know that when it comes to violence and autistics, that they are most often on the receiving end. But no one gets too upset about that.
People are calling Cho Seung-Hui "pure evil". I see him as a seriously disturbed young man who did a terible thing. Being disturbed does not excuse his actions. It does not even "explain" them.
Some things are beyond explanation.
I mourn for the victims of Monday's shooting.
Edit: After coming home today and seeing some of the material that the shooter had sent to NBC, it is obvious that he was anything but autistic. Possibly paranoid schizophrenic, but definitely not autistic.
Memorial Day redux
11 months ago