US Shootings and the Myth of the 'Crazed Gunman' - Page 2
So why do we want to run to the 'crazy' card? Because it gives us a false sense of security. We don't do awful things, damaged people do. We are good, we are decent, we would never be like that. Every time a serial killer is caught, the neighbors go on tv and say the same thing - "He seemed so normal, we never suspected.". That's the point - he was 'normal', but he was also an awful person. Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer, worked for the city, was a scout leader, former head of his church, and methodically killed 10 women over a 17 year period. He knew exactly what he was doing; he knew it was wrong; he did it anyways. He was evil - he wasn't insane.
It may explain why when a person of color commits an atrocity, they are evil, but when a white dude from our country does it, he's nuts. No one called for psych evals on the 9/11 bombers, they just talked about how evil the people involved were. Yet here, we immediately play armchair Freuds and proclaim a pre-emptive insanity defence. It's the us-vs-them situation. They are terrorists; we are just a lone nut. They are evil; we are mentally unstable. They could have stopped themselves, we had no control. We separate ourselves from evil acts by assigning insanity to the aggressor to soothe ourselves as a society. Problem is, it doesn't stop the next killing.
It's all academic in the end. After all, in a week we'll all take down our commemorative avatars, and go back to obsessing over whatever reality show is popular, and the NRA will continue its tireless quest to keep para-military equipment in the hands of everyone. Nothing will actually change, and we'll all pretend to be surprised when the next mass shooting occurs. But at the very least, the next time around, maybe we can assume the assailant is bad before we assume they are 'nuts'.