Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mind of a Killer

As a final insult from beyond the grave, he points his pistol at you, as if ready to shoot. You stare down the barrel of the gun, transfixed. Behind them, hooded eyes with no remorse, no hesitation, not even desperation, only smug menace. This is how his 32 victims saw him, and this is how he wants you to see him. "It could have been you...."

But the killer is dead by his own hand, and this, after all, is just an image. He took it not long after he gunned down two young students, before a spree that took down dozens more. This hateful legacy to the world. He wants you to see it, he wants you to remember it.

Modern media carries it gleefully, his willing accomplice: via satellite, via fiber optics, via wireless. There's no escaping the image. It's on the Internet, it's on TV, it's in the papers. And though the intent is clear, the reasons behind it are not. It simply leaves us frightened and confused.

How could someone hate so much?

We can go through the laundry list of grievances: child abuse, parental pressure, social exclusion, etc. But none of it will fit except in his deluded mind. He wants us to see a martyr, but all we can see is a madman. He wants to show us he had no choice, but all we can see are the choices he failed to take.

He hated because simply because he chose to hate. His hate likely became the only source of self-worth. He magnified the slights, he piled up imagined wrongs, perhaps even invented new ones. He was his own persecuted hero on his own imagined journey.

In the face of the larger problems of the world, in the face of the smaller problems of the people around him, he chose to dwell only within himself. He was the center of his microscopic universe, a miniscule and insignificant god who could only look inward. In the end, he consumed himself.

When there was nothing left to consume inside, that hate consumed others.

And there, perhaps, we have the glimmer of an answer: he hated so much because he only chose to concern himself with himself. He was in hell before he even pulled the trigger.

It would have been better if he had merely killed himself, instead of snuffing the lives of so many others. Yet the end result, the intent, is the same. If he could have, he would have killed all of us. That is his final message, gun pointed at us. "I will kill you."

So the words of Chesterton ring true:

"Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world... The suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront... There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man's crime is different from other crimes - for it makes even crimes impossible."


  1. Well.. in his own mind he might have been right. the world may see him as a madman.. but he might have certain reasons that he alone can understand.

    from his actions we can see that he was a lesser evolved human being.

  2. In his mind he might have thought he was right (I think he just didn't care, though), but that *doesn't* make him right unless he really was logically right. That the guy had his own "reasons" to make himself look mad in the eyes of the world does not make his actions reasonable, definitely not justifiable and not worth defending. Whatever his disturbed logic was, there is nothing subjective about whether a premeditated 30+ civilian massacre is wrong or not.

  3. Hence, the pitfalls of a subjective morality. If he can define his own "right", then where does that leave the rest of us?

  4. nice article. blogged it in mine