A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
MURDER MOST FOUL
“Murder itself is past all expiation, the greatest crime that nature doth abhor.” – William Goffe
The Alabama tragedy last Tuesday where Michael McLendon killed 10 people and then shot himself still has the small towns of Geneva and Samson reeling in the shocking aftermath of his crime. Some details are beginning to emerge about this “polite and ordinary” man’s life but the people who knew him are still trying to understand what drove him over the edge. The victims were identified as McLendon’s mother, Lisa McLendon, 52; his uncle, James Alford White, 55; his cousin, Tracy Michelle Wise, 34; a second cousin, Dean James Wise, 15; and his grandmother, Virginia E. White, 74. Also killed were James Irvin Starling, 24; Sonja Smith, 43; and Bruce Wilson Malloy, 51.
McLendon was briefly employed by the police department in Samson in 2003 and spent about a week and a half at the police academy, dropping out before he received firearms training. He then worked in various places including a metal factory, the place where he took his own life in the end. The people who may have helped us to understand the actions of the murderer are all dead. His family were all but destroyed, but also some strangers paid the price of being at the wrong place at the time and suffered the fatal outcomes of McLendon’s random shootings. The members of the terrified community are still considering the fact that any of one of them may have been victims seeing he shot more than two hundred rounds as he was driving through the town.
In the wake of this rampage, another meek killer, a 17-year-old boy dressed in black opened fire inside his former high school in southwestern Germany yesterday killing 15 people before he turned the gun on himself. His name was Tim Kretschmer and authorities have no idea why he did it. Some students died with pens still in their hands. Most were shot in the head. Most of the victims were women and girls. The father of the murderer was a member of a gun club and had numerous weapons at home, not all of them securely locked away.
It is suspected that perhaps, that the boy was influenced by the 2002 German shooting, when 19-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser shot and killed 12 teachers, a secretary, two students and a police officer before turning his gun on himself in the Gutenberg high school in Erfurt, in eastern Germany. Or maybe he was even influenced by the McLendon murders. In all cases some secret grudges worked over unbalanced minds may have been enough to make these people totter over the edge of reason and commit these heinous crimes.
Is it our society that is to blame for these random acts of extreme violence where people seem to lose control of their reason, their faculties, their normal patterns of behaviour? What is it in our society that cause these people to crack under the strain and become executioners of some crazed plan of punishment and retribution for perceived wrongs that have been done them? What can cloud someone’s mind so completely and utterly, what can make someone go berserk and open fire on people that until then he loved, or knew, or interacted with daily? In the case of the random killings, what madness possesses someone to kill utter and complete strangers, against whom he cannot have a grudge?
I am trying to rationalise the irrational. Surely these must be the works of madmen, it cannot be otherwise. What is it in our society that is driving these young men to murder and kill themselves in these copy-cat crimes? We are surrounded by violence and murder daily, but most of us are not as affected by it as these three examples of mass murderers were. We see violence and murder in our films, in our documentaries in our news reports. We read of it in our novels, our newspapers. Our children see it on TV, we are confronted by violence every day. Some people snap. How do we prevent it?
berserk |bərˈzərk; -ˈsərk| adjective • (Of a person or animal) out of control with anger or excitement; wild or frenzied: After she left him, he went berserk, throwing things about the apartment. • (Of a mechanical device or system) operating in a wild or erratic way; out of control: The climate control went berserk and either roasted or froze us. • (Of a procedure, program, or activity) fluctuating wildly: The stock market's gone berserk, with sugar at 15.27 cents a pound. ORIGIN early 19th century (originally as a noun denoting a wild Norse warrior who fought with frenzy): From Old Norse berserkr (noun), probably from birn-, bjҩrn (bear) + serkr ‘coat,’ but also possibly from berr ‘bare’ (i.e., without armor).
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.