Daily Archives: April 3, 2009

Binghamton NY Rampage – Why people go on rampages.

14 Die in Binghamton Rampage – NYTimes.com.

Today, April 3rd 2009, a single man of Vietnamese background entered an immigration support centre and proceeded to gun down many people, leaving at least 14 dead.

President Obama remarked on this tragedy- but while this story is topping Google Trends as I write this post – it’s declining rapidly in popularity. It’s spurring much speculation – is the motivation illegal immigration? (No, the killer was a frequent user of the immigrant resources at the location he went berserk). Is this why we need to eliminate gun control – so people can defend themselves? (There’s much evidence that an armed populace experiences more routine gun death). Is this a consequence of not enough gun control?(Canada hasn’t our experience with gun killings despite tremendous freedom to purchase and own firearms).

I’m going to share my insight, it’s not something anyone is mentioning. I don’t know why this guy went on a rampage, I don’t know why anyone goes on a rampage. But people going on rampages theses days, is barely news. And that’s something very new. Gathering guns to go to a public place and shoot as many people as possible, it’s become almost common behaviour.

So what happened?

It’s not the fact that someone goes berserk and kills a bunch of people – that’s a human behavior we’ve dealt with for a very long time. It’s the fact that the killing of a bunch of people isn’t any longer a truly freakish behaviour. In the 21st century it seem no year passes without many such killings.

Now here’s my insight. I’ve mentioned before, the Law of Attraction applied to interpersonal relations. The art is one of creating an expectation for a behaviour. If you expect positive behavior from someone, they may or may not behave in that positive way – but it is easier for them to do so, you’ve created space for the behavior. The same is true for negative behaviour, if you expect a negative behaviour – it no longer is unthinkable, indeed it’s almost permitted as it’s expected anyway.

Yes, we live in very stressful times. This killer with the Vietnamese background likely dealt with American xenophobia and economic tragedies. But it’s not like this is the first time in history America has experienced a economic troubles. Our elected officials refuse to compare what we experience now to the Great Depression of the 20th Century. Back in the Great depression, there was suicide – but no mass killing. The circumstances explain to some extent why people are snapping – but it doesn’t explain why a man snapping takes on the form of mass suicide/murder when it only did as a freak occurrence before our time.

But something has changed that I believe may be the explanation. It’s how America dealt with Columbine, where two teen age boys went on a killing spree at their school. It’s not the first time a young person snapped and went on a murdering rampage. But it is the first time – we allowed ourselves to EXPECT the behavior in ANY school. Kids that didn’t fit in and suffered abuse and taunting from peers, we feared them now – and on a national scale. Before we never let a single incident of mass murder convince us it could affect us. Before Columbine, if someone went nuts and went on a murder spree – it was an isolated event – it had nothing to do with our state, our local school.

So I believe that’s why people will kill and no longer limit themselves to suicide – it’s part of our culture now, a behavior that’s no longer unthinkable:  we fear because we expect murderous rampages. And murderous rampages are no longer unthinkable, because we are thinking about them in our collective fear.

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