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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The larger picture
Posted by Jill | 8:53 AM


Are you getting as tired as I am of the same old arguments about guns every time something like this happens? It's the same old arguments, the same "experts" being trotted out to speculate about What Could Have Made Him Do It. Last night Mr. Brilliant pointed out that I said something like "Every time this happens...", and how it meant that some guy going off his nut and shooting a bunch of people for no reason is no longer all that unusual.

The blather about the sort of massacre that took place in Aurora, Colorado the other night is always framed in terms of gun control or the Second Amendment or the NRA, or speculation about whatever the Cause Du Jour is (in this case it seems to be bullying). Last night I ventured for a few minutes into the fetid swamp of right-wing talk radio, just to see how the right was spinning, as they do every time some guy goes off his nut and shoots a bunch of people, which causes people to start rationally thinking about some kind of responsibility to go with the right to amass a military-style arsenal. It seems that ABC News rumormonger Brian Ross, who is rarely right about anything, had decided that James Holmes was some kind of Tea Partier. Ross had to apologize later on when his speculation turned out to be baseless, but that hasn't stopped the Usual Suspects from continuing the Breitbartian meme (I'm not going to link to Breitbart, look it up for yourself) of some kind of Mass Liberal Media Conspiracy to make the Tea Party look bad. But on the radio last night, Mark Levin was ranting about how liberals hate conservatives and want to destroy them with baseless allegations like this, never once mentioning, or even thinking, about the Kenyan Muslim Terrorist Anti-Colonial Drug Addict kind of filth that people like Mark Levin have been flinging at this country's first black president for the last three-plus years.

I may have strong political leanings, but my first as-yet-baseless-speculation, especially in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting last year, was schizophrenia, a disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, an altered sense of self, lack of motivation, flat affect, depression, and social withdrawal. Schizophrenia tends to manifest for the first time between the ages of 10 and 25, which puts Holmes right in the ballpark. Research is mixed about a correlation between high intelligence and schizophrenia, so the fact that Holmes graduated with honors from the University of California with a degree in neuroscience may or may not be significant. Neuroscience is hardly the sort of major that someone looking to slack his way through college would choose.

The other aspect of this evolving story that leaped out at me is that a guy who is described by everyone who knew him as being ferociously intelligent ended up working at a McDonald's after getting this honors degree in neuroscience. With all the talk we hear from Barack Obama on the stump about education, and about science education, we are still a nation in which an honors science graduate can't find a job and ends up slinging hamburgers. There aren't any reports about how much, if any, college debt Holmes ended up with, but when you live in a society where the president preaches about excellence in science but where science has no value in the job market, it's easy to imagine someone deciding to pursue a Ph.D. and then deciding it's all bullshit and might as well go out in a blaze of glory.

Was Holmes affected by mental illness? The planetary alignment in his birth chart? Fueled by economic rage and a sense of futility? A combination of all of them? Or are the Aurora shootings just a case of Shit Happens? We just don't know yet.

The only thing that's certain is that today this country is just a little more frightened and a little more confused. And that never bodes well.

UPDATE: Let the finger-pointing begin:

Rick Warren blames the teaching of evolution. Because if James Holmes had just stopped all this science nonsense and studied Jesus like a good boy, he wouldn't have left grad school and none of this would have happened. Or something.

The stupidest fucking person on the planet not named "Michele Bachmann" blames "attacks on our Judeo-Christian beliefs."

Are people really blaming Batman?

And there is at least one blogger who blames Obama. I won't link to the site, just google "Your n----- president", only spell out the word. Warning: Highly foul, vile, toxic stuff. AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Inevitably, everything with these people comes down to "Liberals Liberals Liberals We're Going To Heaven And You're Not Nyaah Nyaah Nyaah".

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Anonymous The WP said...
You wrote:" With all the talk we hear from Barack Obama on the stump about education, and about science education, we are still a nation in which an honors science graduate can't find a job and ends up slinging hamburgers."

Well, the other seemingly-half of the country wouldn't consider neuroscience science at all because it didn't address G-d's creation of the earth in seven days and that because G-d created people are they perfect until they are exposed to crazy ideas like science.

The Romneyites and their ilk offshore because keeping manufacturing here would probably mean creativity, research, and development would have to happen here....again....and that goes against their grain.

Half of this country considers science education to emerge from places like creationcurriculum.com

And you really wonder why scientists, engineers, and researchers can't find jobs?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think that high intelligence people with mental illness tend to take courses in psychology, neurology and medicine to try to figure themselves out. I subscribed to psychology today magazine at 16 trying to figure myself out. Biological depression it turned out to be but not confirmed until age 31.