On collective shame and mass murderers

We all knew he’d be a loner, right?  Even before we learned the identity of the man who shot to death 32 people at Virginia Tech, we could probably all picture the killer: male, a loner, an angry guy with fantasies of revenge and access to weapons.  I was glued to the news, shocked and horrified as I waited to hear who he was. 

Then I found out he was an Asian male and my heart dropped even further.

I know this is supposed to be a blog about writing.  And maybe I can justify addressing this topic here because, 1. I write crime fiction and this was a crime, and — 2. The shooter was an English major with very disturbing samples of creative writing.  But what I’m really struggling with here is the fact the killer’s Asian.  And that alone is freaking me out.

Here’s a childhood memory of mine: our family, about to leave the house to go out to eat at a restaurant.  My mom looks at my dad’s jacket (a favorite old U.S. Army-issue jacket) and she notices that the shoulder seam’s coming apart.  “You can’t wear that out of the house!” she says.  “If people see that, they’ll think that all Chinese people are sloppy dressers!”

All Chinese people.  That’s what growing up Asian taught me: that if I step one foot over the line, if I do something embarrassing or shameful, it will reflect on every other Asian person in the country.  Conversely, if an Asian anywhere in the country does something horrible, it will reflect on me. 

I don’t know if this is the sort of thing that crosses the minds of other minorities in this country, but I suspect it does. 

I was born in the U.S. and consider myself an American right down to my marrow, but it only takes an incident like this to make me feel as if I’m standing on quicksand in this country.  I never forget that Japanese Americans were once herded into concentration camps, and that a terrorist act can leave every Muslim American vulnerable to vandalism or assault.  When we got into a tiff with Spain a few years back, there were idiots on American radio urging Americans to boycott Taco Bell!  So now I’m sure that hate radio is already burning up the airwaves with anti-Asian and anti-immigrant rants, while ignoring the fact that mass murderers in this country are almost always white males.

So no, I don’t think I’m being paranoid when I, and other Asian Americans, start wondering when Korean grocery stores and Chinese restaurants are going to get burned to the ground because of this shooting.

What I wish everyone would remember is that this is not about race.  Nor is mass murder a peculiarly American phenomenon, although it seems that this country plays host to the most shocking examples. 

Sudden mass assault by a single individual (SMASI) is an international, cross-cultural phenomenon.  It was described as far back as 1770 by  Captain Cook, who reported examples of it in Malaysia, where it was called “mangamok.”  From this came the term “running amok,” which is a state of homicidal frenzy in which the killer (almost always male) would run around with sword or machete or knife, attacking everyone he encounters, until he’s killed or controlled.  Granted, a guy running amok back in 1770 couldn’t inflict nearly the number of casualties that a guy can today, armed with an automatic gun.  The point is, these incidents have always happend.

But today, with access to guns, the death toll for a single incident is far higher.

The May 2000 issue of Journal of Forensic Sciences has a cross-cultural review of SMASI and it made the following observations:

— 90% of SMASI cases, the killer was set off by a precipitating event.  Most commonly, it was job related or a romantic rejection.   

— Virtually all are male

— SMASI happens everywhere, in every culture.

— Of those studied in North America, 77% of the killers where white, 15% were black, and 7% were other.  (This, it seems to me, is simply a reflection of the racial picture of the U.S.)

We are always going to have angry men.  And some of those men are going to react with violence.  They could be anywhere, of any race, and we can’t predict which ones will go berserk and start killing. 

We just know that some of them will.

 

45 replies
  1. SassyDevil
    SassyDevil says:

    I have little time to respond, but I agree with you. I see so many people who judge a whole race or group because of the actions of one or a few. I try not to do that, because it’s not factual, and it’s paranoid. While gender issues (in terms of males and females; I’m not talking about more difficult gender issues, like intersexuals) don’t usually lead to violence against the whole opposite gender, there are blanket judgements made, and I’ve felt what that’s like. It’s bad enough when (some) men think that all women are the same, because of the way they feel women should be and the way some women treated them. When you throw violence towards a group for your fear of them, when only a few have shown themselves to be dangerous, it’s really scary.

  2. Randy Johnson
    Randy Johnson says:

    There’s already a letter on Crimerant railing against legal foreign residents. He said they are told to sit tight, bide your time, and wait for the right moment. Fortunately, he’s already been put down by several letters. I’ve never understood people’s attitudes toward people different from them. Look at one of the worst terrorist killers: Timothy Mcveigh. Blond hair and blue eyes. No one ever suggests that people that fit that description are all terrorists.

  3. dustinhood
    dustinhood says:

    The VA Tech massacre seemed to me like a story that occurs countless times; a boy is picked on at school gets feed up and goes to school and decides to take matter into their own hands. One thing that I found horrifying about the incident, which I don’t know for sure if it is 100% true, but a girl covered herself in Does anyone know if this is true?
    Also, isn’t weird that all, or I should say most, of the mass murderers are white males? Being a white myself, I find it hard to believe. Not to stir up racial comments or anything disrespectful, but a vast amount of the crime rate are due to street violence by African Americans, or other gang-affiliated persons. It is also said that serial killers can be predicted at an early age with symptoms of “bedwetting, shoplifting, and animal mutilation and torture.” Even the ideas of Dr. Joyce O’Donnell in the Rizzoli/ Isles series are true. I find that bewildering.

  4. l.c.mccabe
    l.c.mccabe says:

    Tess,

    I could not watch very much of the news yesterday. It was too painful.

    It’s weird, I had a much different reaction to the news due to my own political activism. I was relieved that there were no reports of the gunmen having any particular targets, but instead shot people indiscriminately.

    Strange huh? That anyone should be relieved that a homicidal lunatic simply shot whomever was handy.

    Last year when I heard the story of the gunman who attacked the Amish school and sent all the boys outside, I was chilled. Because it was too close in particulars to a previous gunman who specifically attacked women.

    That happened in Canada on December 6, 1989. Better known as the Montreal Massacre. Fourteen women were killed on that day, and six wounded. The gunman apologized to a man when a bullet hit him, because he said he didn’t want to hurt men.

    He only wanted to kill women.

    After he killed himself, a three page suicide note was found on him where he detailed his resentment towards women and had a list of prominent Canadian women he hadn’t had time to kill.

    Then in the aftermath, there were some people who tried to dismiss the role misogyny played and tried saying that no one could understand the workings of a lunatic mind. I’m sorry, Hitler may have been insane but his hatred towards Jews is indisputable. Similarly the cretins who slaughtered women in Nickel Mine, Pennsylvania and in Montreal, Canada perpetrated their crimes because they hated women and girls.

    I feel bad for the families of those killed or injured yesterday, and for the people of Virginia. They’re all hurting, because lives were stolen from them due to the acts of a mentally tortured individual.

    Your comments about feeling like a representative of your race is common. I have heard similar stories from other people in under-represented ethnic groups. I would probably feel that way if I moved to another country and became a minority, either racial or country of origin.

    Unfortunately, in regards to another aspect of your post there are ignorant people among us who consider “others” as a monolithic entity and will take out their frustration on anyone who is not “like them.”

    Just one more aspect of our society that needs changing.

    We are overdue to have a national discussion on mental health and start allocating resources to address those needs. Otherwise, we will continue to pay to high a price as the people of Virginia did yesterday.

    Be well,

    Linda

  5. spyscribbler
    spyscribbler says:

    The thought never crossed my mind, but it’s entirely possible that that’s the long-term effect of what your father instilled in you.

    Frankly, I hardly hold a people responsible for the actions of their government, unless they are part of that government. Even then. I definitely wouldn’t hold a race or minority responsible for one criminal or insane person. There’s only one person responsible for the tragedy yesterday, not a race, not a minority, not a gender.

  6. Ekiushi
    Ekiushi says:

    Watched a report on Network 10 yesterday. The main concern was one Australian woman who was in the general area. Otherwise the report didn’t consist of a great deal of information. It went for a while, but yet, you didn’t learn much.

  7. sabrinawstan
    sabrinawstan says:

    Yes, we can feel the same even way down under here in New Zealand…..

    Sometimes the Asian migrants feel like we’re always on ‘under people’s roofs’… though we are born and bred ( put country citizenship here), but you’ll always be penalised for something someone your ethnicity did wrong.
    Sadly, even if we go back to China, we aren’t true Chinese and we won’t feel as welcomed anyway…

    I guess that’s the same for some of the other ethnic groups too… if only race is not an issue in this world….

  8. ali
    ali says:

    Hi Tess,

    18 / 04 / 2007

    I’ve lurked for a while and your post rang a chord with me so I end my silence –

    I have to agree with you totally. I also shared the self-same feeling [gut-clenching]yesterday when it was revealed that the gunman was Asian-American.

    Growing up in England in the 1960’s and 1970’s was tough – My parents would say the self-same thing. Ensuring we were smartly dressed and behaved well. My father [now a retired Doctor], would tell us to never bring shame on the family, to work and study hard, as the media would always say ‘Asian man did whatever..’ and my mother who is an English teacher always made sure we were well dressed, for the same reason your own mother mentioned.

    My Aunt who is now in her 90’s is German, and told me that when she came to London in the early 1950’s as a nurse [where she met my late Uncle, an Asian Pilot], she had to work nightshift. This was so she didn’t have to endure the anti-German abuse she suffered from the English nurses and patients [during the day shift], as if, like she was responsible for the bombings in London during the blitz’s of the second world war? As many of her family were killed by Allied bombings, it was very painful for her to endure that kind of abuse.

    I recall when I got married many years ago; my wife who is Irish, would get a lot of problems due to the media talking about Irish Terrorism, and even a member of the royal family [who should have known better] called the Irish ‘Pigs’ – as if every Irish Person was a terrorist.

    Then after 9/11, I recall taking my elderly mom shopping. A car with a gang of thugs pulled over, they wound down their window and spat at my mother and I, and hurled obscene racist words at us. My mother ignored them, as they shouted a tirade of abuse. My mother gently opened her handbag, took out two paper tissues and we wiped away the pit from our faces, and walked on retaining our dignity. And do you know, the people on street, just watched and did nothing, like it was our fault. We never talked about that incident again, as my mother is a proud woman.

    The human condition is a difficult one.

    Terrible things happen and we have to remain calm, even if the media adds petroleum to the fire, I just hope they act responsibly.

    In an attempt to cheer you up – I was at the London Book Fair and thanks to Uber writer Margaret Atwood, she enabled this fan-boy of Dean Koontz to ‘meet’ him and get a book signed – I have written an article about the event at THE RAP SHEET :-

    http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/2007/04/longpen-is-mightier-than.html

    This might be away of doing some long-distance signings.

    Best always Tess, your work rocks my world.

    Ali
    http://www.shotsmag.co.uk
    http://www.therapsheet.blogspot.com
    http://www.januarymagazine.com
    http://www.crimespreemag.com
    http://www.deadlypleasures.com
    http://www.booksnbytes.com/reviews/_idx_ak_all_byauth.html

    Loved seeing you at Thrillerfest –
    The Surgeon’s Apprentice – Tess Gerritsen :-

    http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/SHOTS%2017/Tess%20Gerritsen/gerritsen.htm#top

  9. struggler
    struggler says:

    I can relate to the sense of ‘ethnic shame’ you refer to, Tess, because as a white British male, if I hear on the news that a white British male has killed or raped someone in another country my instinctive reaction (before any other, sometimes) is to feel embarrassment, humiliation, regret and other emotions that are related to what I have in common with the killer or rapist: that I am the same type of person. So for what it’s worth, incidents such as the VT horror doesn’t make me think anything negative about Asian people for one second. It’s merely information but I have no emotional reaction to that aspect of it at all.

    No, my emotions are simply the anger and frustration I feel for the EASE with which any adult person in the USA (or at least Virginia) can buy or access weapons of mass destruction. And the hypocrisy of that nation’s government who invaded Iraq using that very reasoning. Yes I know a nuclear or chemical bomb will cause far more fatalities than one crazy man with a few automatic weapons, but to me these ‘concepts’ are not that far removed from one another. The Korean student wanted to kill as many people as possible, and as far as I know did not select any one person in particular (although this may have changed by the time I post this). So I wish something could be done that could change what to me is an unbelievable element of the American Constitution: the right to bear arms, the legal entitlement to own – and use – guns and rifles that can cause multiple deaths in a matter of minutes. In Britain, while we definitely have a growing problem with regard to fatal attacks involving firearms, the fact that such weapons are illegal must surely explain why, while some 11,000 Americans are killed each year by a firearm of some kind (source: FBI), in the UK the figure is less than 100. Even if you multiply the UK figure by 6 (i.e. to 600) to represent equal population, the difference is still enormous – so although I have no idea how it could be done, my only suggestion for an answer of any kind that would at least lessen the number of victims when ‘loners go mad’ would be to make the possession, ownership and use of any firearm illegal. A hopeless cause I guess, but if the disturbed student at Virginia Tech could not have obtained the weapons that he clearly did, then while he might have been just as disturbed at least he would have been unlikely to have been able to claim as many victims as he did, for example if (to use Tess’ example) he had used a machete.

  10. Lorra Laven
    Lorra Laven says:

    Frankly, my first thought when I saw a photograph of the killer was, “Thank God, he’s one of us – he’s not a terrorist.”

    My next thought, was, “Oh my God, he’s so young. I bet he’s a loner and that he had untreated mental illness and/or that he was the victim of either physical or sexual abuse.”

    Why would I associate him with other Asian Americans (or Caucasians or African Americans for that matter?) My Asian in-laws and friends are all emotionally healthy individuals who are lovely human beings.

  11. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    What I am wondering is why his own parents did not see these problems much sooner? His roommates say he stared at the walls for hours on end, had no friends, talked about an imaginary girlfriend, etc. How could he have possibly kept this kind of anti-social and increasingly disturbing behavior a secret from his own parents?

    Is there some stigma in Asian culture or South Korean culture about seeing a psychiatrist or going for mental health help?

    If my child who was a senior in college was not introducing me to or talking about any friends, I think I would question his mental stability or at the very least suspect he might be suffering from depression.

  12. Joshua James
    Joshua James says:

    This really hit home for me, too . . . I was at the University of Iowa in 1999 when Gang Lu shot and killed five people . . . had he not taken his own life right after that, he could have very well gone on and done more . . .

    We, the students, had no information or real warning what was going on, no emails back then, nothing.

    He left disturbing letters, too.

    Of course, the fact that he was Asian means less to me . . . serial killers and mass murderers are, in America, still overwhelmingly white and male . . . the ease of the killings that semi-automatic weapons enhance are what gives me nightmares . . .

    Now it seems, they’re making a movie about Gang Lu –

  13. Cynthia Reese
    Cynthia Reese says:

    Oh, Tess, I do understand.

    As the mother of a Chinese-American child AND as a former reporter, I found myself wondering, “Why was it necessary at such an early stage for major news medias to release the RACE of an individual, when they didn’t even have his name? If he’d been white, would they have done that?”

    Probably. I’m just too sensitive, I guess.

    I also felt shame — and empathy with his parents, who from what I’ve read/heard were church-going people with little skills in English who worked hard and wanted the best for their children — and who had tried over the years to get help for their son.

    What must his parents be going through? And what must the parents of those who were so senselessly killed going through?

    A Georgia VT student, with a triple major in biology, psychology and (I believe) English was set to graduate next month — and all that promise is gone with a single bullet — as is the promise of all the victims.

    Oh, that we could have prevented this — for that old saying about an ounce of prevention is so true.

  14. Gabriele
    Gabriele says:

    What got me was the fact that a teacher had wanted to send him to a psychiatrist because of his writing. I hope that‘s not going to become an attitude to spread. Just because someone writes dark and violent stuff doesn’t mean(s)he’s in need of help. Ok, this guy probably was (and there were other symptoms besides his writing), but I’m afraid more teachers of writing courses will now have a look at the content of their pupil’s stories – a possible development that makes me uneasy.

  15. Therese Fowler
    Therese Fowler says:

    I don’t think you’re being paranoid at all. Your reaction to the killer’s ethnicity is warranted–so many people are quick to make sweeping judgments and then behave accordingly.

    Sad, but true.

    I lived in Asia for three years. As a blonde, white, American female I was a minority, and I felt it! The American part especially. If one American behaved idiotically, all Americans were tarred with the same brush.

    Minorities are always most vulnerable, everywhere.

    I can understand that. I have a much tougher time understanding mass murder.

  16. SassyDevil
    SassyDevil says:

    Several of you have said things I feel and agree with. Right now, NBC News is talking about the package sent to them. I, too, wonder if there were signs his parents and others ignored or missed.

    I also agree with you, Gabriele, that writing dark and violent stuff doesn’t automatically signify a mental illness or violent tendencies. I have been a horror fan since I was little, but I am appalled by this and other tragedies, the same as everyone else. I have many friends who enjoy and write and film horror, dark fantasy and thrillers. Most are normal, everyday people, who are great people and treat others with respect.

    Cho said he did it to get back at the rich, and Christians and others he felt hurt him, but that’s B.S. He killed random people, and there’s no excuse.

    There were many “red flags.” He stalked an ex-girlfriend. The police had him on their radar. They say that sometimes these things can’t be prevented, but in this case, I think someone could have done something.

  17. Angelle Trieste
    Angelle Trieste says:

    Gabriele,

    You’re not alone.

    I already read a blog post by a published writer who said people should be locked up for their inherently disturbing and deranged writing that demonstrates some mental illness. Good lord.

    I feel for that guy’s family and the tragedy hits really hard. He’s from Northern Virginia, where I grew up, and like my family, his migrated from Korea when he was a small kid.

    Last night I spoke with my mom, and she said the family’s gone, and that she doesn’t believe they’ll be back for a while. And she also said that it wouldn’t surprise her if his parents committed suicide, although she hoped it wouldn’t come to that since so many died already.

    You know, what bothered me so much about the media? They reported Cho’s family members’ names (father, mother, sister), where his sister went to school, their job, their street address, and how much their house is worth now. It’s 100% intrusive and a total violation of privacy.

  18. Craig
    Craig says:

    Well, being a caucasian with a tiny bit of Osage blood I can honestly say that I don’t know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of hate speech. I’m also fortunate enough to have been brought up in a home where I was taught to not judge the many by the few so when I saw this report I’m happy to say that I didn’t come to some snap judgment about a group of people. That being said my heart does go out to you, Tess, and everyone else who will probably be victimized in some way by hate speech.

    That being said I do want to make a few other comments. I heard with dismay tonight on Chris Matthews Hardball Show (MSNBC) that the school officials at Virginia Tech were aware that this young man had problems and kept that fact from his roommates. I find this astonishing. You know, it seems that every time that there is a mass shooting the gunman turns the gun on himself. Here we have another instance of a missed opportunity of professionals getting inside this troubled human being to see if they can determine what caused this. I am not suggesting leniency here nor do I feel that anyone captured after committing an act of evil of this magnitude should ever even be considered “cured” and turned out into the population again. I am against execution of these folks because I honestly think that with in depth analysis we might learn more about them and look for signals in others.

    Finally, tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of the Murraugh building disaster here in Oklahoma City. I was only 3 or 4 miles away when it happened and the entire ground shook.
    We thought at the time that a major gas line had ruptured. Tomorrow is going to be rocky for us. There are some things you never get over.

  19. Tess
    Tess says:

    Just a comment on people who write “dark” stuff and whether it means they’re in reality frightening people.

    From the writers I know, I would say that the gentlest, most unviolent people I know are horror writers. I don’t think there’s a correlation between what you choose to read or write and what kind of person you really are.

    Ditto for mystery writers who write noir.

    There are a few romance writers, however, who really scare me!

  20. wendy roberts
    wendy roberts says:

    Oh good, I was beginning to wonder if I should get myself “checked out” … guess I should just be glad I no longer write romance LOL.

    When I heard about the shooting I wanted to grab my four children and surround them in bubble wrap. Every time there is another school shooting, we are all scarred.

    As for the racial aspect, my grandparents went to great lengths to hide their ethnicity. We’re Russian. I think I’ve watched half a dozen crime shows lately that’ve had Russian gangs as the bad guy. It makes me uneasy in my gut.

    I feel for all the Chinese Americans who will receive backlash (both spoken and unspoken) because of the shooting yesterday.

  21. Ali M
    Ali M says:

    There is always a sense of collective shame in light of horrible incidents like this. I can sympathise as an Irish person because of the troubles here and elsewhere. I hope the chinese americans don’t suffer because of the actions of an individual.

  22. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    Yeah, the killings were horrible. But if we branded everyone who wrote horrific stuff a soon-to-be killer then Stephen King would have been drawn and quartered many moons ago!!

  23. laykuan
    laykuan says:

    My colleague, who is a Malaysian Chinese (same as me) reacted by saying “Luckily the mass murderer was a Korean, not a Chinese.” Yes, although we are all Asians, we are still trying to differentiate him from us.

  24. SassyDevil
    SassyDevil says:

    I also want to mention another group who receives discrimination because of the acts of people like Cho: The mentally ill. We are not all violent or about to freak out. We aren’t all dangerous. But because some people act that way, anyone with a mental illness is automatically feared and discriminated against. It’s not fair to those of us who are good people.

  25. Angelle Trieste
    Angelle Trieste says:

    I really bothered me a lot when a blog post by another crime writer really emphasized the fact that the killer was from another country — a foreigner. Obviously some people don’t realize that you don’t have to be a foreigner to be capable of crime.

    And SassyDevil — I also hope that this doesn’t lead to more discrimination against mentally ill people. They already have a lot to overcome and need help and understanding, not bias and bigotry.

  26. Mikal
    Mikal says:

    I think what you felt, Ms. Gerritsen, is what every other Asian and Asian American felt after it was found that the killer was a Korean.

    I also found it ..interesting — and I’m not sure if this is because I am Korean American — that the media repeatedly announced the killer as “South Korean Cho Seung Hui.” I don’t recall the killers of Columbine being referred to as “Caucasian blah-blah.”

    But I agree with your entry and feel that this is a societal problem that is beyond race. Any person of any ethnicity can go about killing people.

    Acts like this cause paranoia, which close minds, and give people an excuse for racism.

  27. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Just read today that he was diagnosed as autistic when his parents moved to this country. Now, I’m concerned that people will be looking at autistic children as potential mass murderers.

    Not sure why no one has heard from the family…even through a letter or something. We’re getting news from a distant uncle in South Korea and his perspective. I am sure there is a lot more to Cho’s story than what his uncle might know.

    Wish NBC had kept that tape to themselves. It serves no purpose beyond showing other potential killers that they can become “famous” if they follow the same path…

  28. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    tess- as a jew(by background if not belief)i am familiar with the notion of being blamed for the sins of others-i have learned it does no good to be ashamed of jonathan pollard,the rosenbergs,or many other jews who i think are despicable-i am responsible for what i do-period-four of this maniac’s victims were asian-so why feel any shame??-he was a delusional individual who took out his paranoia non anyone in the vicinity-i noted his alias-“ishmael”-very telling-he was an engliah major-so he must’ve read moby dick-ishmael is the loner,the outsider who is not really part of the society that makes up the crew-and he alone survives-in the bible ishmael is he whose hand is turned against all and all hands against him-i don’t blame guns for this at all-i blame poor decision by the campus authorities,especially the police who didn’t call on the state and county police in the wake of a double homicide-and the administration who allowed a person commited as dangerous back on campus-these mass killers always give demonstrable warning signs-the gun dealer should have had access to the fact that he had been committed-he wouldn’t have sold him the gun-but no-our “privacy” laws have run amok-i think the right to privacy ends when it threatens another person-the aclu needs to take a look at what they’ve pushed for-these privacy laws prevented the college from contacting his family-does a person walking around with sars or ebola have a right to privacy?-nbc should never have displayed his “manifesto”-why abet his purpose after his death and possibly influence other unbalanced minds?-i was much more interested in the lives of those murdered-what a terrible waste of

  29. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    struggler-i have to respectfully disagree with you-we have our constitution and society and you have yours-i wouldn’t suggest any changes to uk law since i’m not a citizen there-everyone in my family has firearms and i have carried them for over 40 years-in the military,law enforcement and as a civilian-i am highly unlikely to commit a gun crime-and by the way the largest school massacre in us history happened in holland,michigan in the 1920’s-it was a public school-over 40 people,mostly young children were killed-the weapon??-dynamite-readily available in rural areas-the “reason”-a disputed tax bill-madness will always find a way unfortunately

  30. Craig
    Craig says:

    I would like to echo Mr. Bernstein’s comments. Although we will not allow firearms in our house, that is a personal decision. I group up in a family of hunters and my dad and older brother went often. I never did but I learned to respect firearms this way. We never had hand guns, only rifles and shotguns which were kept in a closet and dismantled to the extent that there would be no accidents. We never had even one incident in our home and I learned a very valuable lesson–that firearms can be kept safely in a home. To suggest that we confiscate all firearms is ridiculous and isn’t worth a response. I repsect Mr. Bernstein’s right to have guns and I’m sure he respects our decision as well. What troubles me are all of those assault weapons and body armor piercing bullets. Why in the world does the normal non military non police citizen see the need to have those? I find that troubling.

  31. SassyDevil
    SassyDevil says:

    I also agree with Mr. Bernstein. There are people who are responsible who own guns, as well as collect them. There are people who aren’t. And outlawing guns won’t stop anything, because then, the bad guys will still get and make them, and the innocent won’t be able to protect themselves. Yes, there are tragic accidents that happen with guns, but in virtually every case, it’s because of irresponsibility.

  32. NewMexicanAnn
    NewMexicanAnn says:

    I heard that the shooter was a South Korean and then I heard later that day on the news that South Korea had apologized! Oh, my goodness!!!!!!!!! I didn’t feel like anyone had to apologize but the shooter himself. Yeah, it floored me that a country would send an apology to the US because of one of its former citizens. I kind of have a unique perspective because I work for a neuropsychologist and I’m here to tell you, we see patients of every age and every race. I firmly believe it’s something within a person, not in his or her particular race. BTW: The people who come through my office that I get the worst vibes about? Believe it or not, it’s generally a patient’s relative.

  33. Craig
    Craig says:

    NewMexicanAnn, I think you have a heck of a plot here, maybe a first person narrative or something.

  34. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    craig-i appreciated your comments,but in reality any hunting rifle round will penetrate most body armor like cheese-armor piercing ammo is illegal to possess by civilians-i spent 4 years on an entry team serving 2 or 3 warrants a night on barricaded drug houses-we did have some vests that would stop a rifle round,but they made you into the tin man-no mobility-and the blunt force trauma might kill you anyway-there are no easy answers-just look at the carnage caused by drunk drivers-we need to spend time and money on methods to intervene without violating rights capriciously but by using common sense to get people into secure treatment settings for as long as necessary for their own safety and that of the general public-the question arose -how can you tell a budding stephen king from a malevolent psychotic?-for one thing the budding stephen king probably socializes well as opposed to the easily observable anti social behavior of a cho or kleybold or harris,etc.

  35. lizzytish
    lizzytish says:

    As an Asian American, that is the first thing I thought of as well! In addition, my friend from Korea also was worried about the stereo typing and I had not even mentioned my concerns to her at the time. It is sad how a person’s race can affect the thoughts of millions of people in such a negative way instantaneously. For those who will become paranoid of Asian Americans, they will not once think that all college students are psycho killers. I was born in the United States and only my father is from Asia; my mother is American. My father left when I was very young so I have not grown up with his strong cultural values. I think of myself as a true American, yet the remarks people say to me are unreal. Its amazing how people just assume I did not grow up in America and that I must know another language. I hope people could become more understanding and realize that one man does not represent his whole race. A white business man embezzles money, does that mean all white men are greedy and participating in illegal activities?

  36. montieth69
    montieth69 says:

    I was just as shocked to learn that the shooter was Asian, it never crossed my mind. Its a horrible tragedy and my heart goes out to all the victims’families and friends. It just shows us that we should not take our lives and loved ones for granted. Peace.

  37. maatlockk
    maatlockk says:

    dear tess,

    it sucks knowing that when one asian person behaves badly, everyone thinks that we’re all the same.

    and those people who were shot – i was quite disturbed when i heard the news on the tv.

    life is really fragile….i’ve been through a bit, and i’m glad to say that its made me a stronger person. sadly, some people just don’t see it that way…

    ps

    i love your books. is there another book coming up after The Mephisto Club’?

    will be so happy to hear from you

    -your adoring fan, Izatiekins-

  38. deesavoy
    deesavoy says:

    I think this is the most logical, cogent post on this topic that I have seen. Thanks for the post. I will be linking to it on my blog.

    All the best,
    Dee

  39. JA Konrath
    JA Konrath says:

    You can’t attribute causation after the fact, because it leads to false conclusions.

    If a 34 year old white male flight attendant shoots ten people, we automatically want to point our fingers at that demographic. All males are bad. All 34 year olds are bad. All white people are bad. And flight attendants… don’t get me started on how bad they are. 🙂

    The fact is, the majority of 34 old white flight attendants DON’T go on killing sprees. But our brains make associations that aren’t rational. Observation can (and does) lead to incorrect assumptions.

    We’re all human. We need to stop placing blame on race, and start placing blame on species.

    People are flawed. Genetics may be to blame, but there isn’t a racial gene pool above reproach. Every race has had examples of acting badly.

    It’s in our genes to associate with people who look like us, and to snub the people who don’t.

    That doesn’t mean our genes are correct.

    We need to top focusing on race and pay more attention to the warning signs of the flawed. When a guy goes on a shooting spree, and everyone who knew him says it isn’t a surprise, that’s a big-time failure.

    It isn’t that hard to spot the messed-up people. But it is hard to acknowledge them.

  40. Frank Hood
    Frank Hood says:

    Tess,

    Just wanted to let you know that many Americans if not most didn’t have the reaction you feared. Certainly I know and have worked with a number of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese Americans, and would certainly consider none of them to be likely shooters or in any way disreputable, nothing but good upstanding people. People tend to put the group identities on people when they don’t really know anyone in that group. Some people in true denial of course exempt those they do know and insist that those they don’t know in that group are all bad.

    Mental illness in our society is all too common, and good luck getting someone in authority to do something about it. In some ways this is all to the good. It shouldn’t be too easy to take someone’s freedom away. But then that leaves it up to us as individuals to learn to protect ourselves when we encounter someone who’s a ticking time bomb.

  41. BernardL
    BernardL says:

    As long as you think of your national background with a hyphen, you will have problems. Think of yourself as an American only, and you will no longer obsess over what other hyphenated Americans obsess about. Believe this, the rest of us Americans are not sitting around in our houses obsessing over your heritage, and its connection to a complete stranger. To assume we do is as racist as anything you’ve mentioned. This type of irrational assumption can be avoided completely by accepting the simple fact you are an American, not a hyphen.

  42. Ellieex
    Ellieex says:

    Different essays writers suggest different information just about this good post, so buy essay or buy term papers to see some facts about this topic.

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