Fatherlessness, "glorious" infamy, and murderous young men

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From a Leftist publication, a surprising report focused not on weapons but on the copycat aspect of mass shootings:

Journalism can be a powerful force for change, and news organizations should not flinch at reporting on mass shootings. But what the Daily News editors didn't realize was that this sensational approach can possibly do more than perturb or offend. Such images provide the notoriety mass killers crave and can even be a jolt of inspiration for the next shooter.

The next one struck just five weeks later, in Oregon. The 26-year-old man who murdered nine and wounded nine others at Umpqua Community College last Thursday had posted comments expressing admiration for the Virginia killer, apparently impressed with his social-media achievement: "His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."...

Evidence amassed by the FBI and other threat assessment experts shows that perpetrators and plotters look to past attacks both for inspiration and operational details, in hopes of causing even greater carnage. Would-be attackers frequently emulate the Columbine massacre; one high-level law enforcement agent told me that he's encountered dozens of students around the country who say they admire the Columbine killers. "Some of these kids now weren't even born when that happened," he said. The 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech and other attacks that generated major publicity have also spawned many copycats, according to several law enforcement officials I spoke with....

As part of our investigation into threat assessment, Mother Jones documented the chilling scope of the "Columbine effect": We found at least 74 plots and attacks across 30 states in which suspects and perpetrators claimed to have been inspired by the nation's worst high school massacre. Their goals ranged from attacking on the anniversary of Columbine to outdoing the original body count. Law enforcement stopped 53 of these plots before anyone was harmed. Twenty-one of them evolved into attacks, with a total of 89 victims killed, 126 injured, and nine perpetrators committing suicide. (See more about this data here.)

More from their research on the Columbine effect:

In at least 14 cases, the Columbine copycats aimed to attack on the anniversary of the original massacre. Individuals in 13 cases indicated that their goal was to outdo the Columbine body count. In at least 10 cases, the suspects and attackers referred to the pair who struck in 1999... as heroes, idols, martyrs, or God. And at least three plotters made pilgrimages to Columbine High School from other states.

But this data only raises the question: Why did these copycats seek the glory of infamy? What psychic void were they trying to fill?

Here are three writers that see a pattern: The absence of a father.

Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., "
Obama Ignores the Obvious in Oregon: Yet Another Fatherless Killer

What Obama did not say in his impassioned address, what would have truly been a break in the "routine" and rhetoric that inevitably follow tragedies involving firearms, was that 26-year-old shooter Chris Harper Mercer was the umpteenth example of a fatherless boy who grows up to be a violent criminal.

It is, of course, much easier to blame guns for our problems than to address the underlying causes of American violence. For one thing, gun control is a popular, quick fix. All it takes is a law and legislators can pat themselves on the back for having "dealt with" the problem.

Fatherlessness, on the other hand, is a trickier affair that requires more complicated and unpopular solutions, such as dealing with America's ridiculously lax no-fault divorce laws and a culture that privileges independence over personal responsibility.

And no one wants to face the ugly truth that our current redefinition of marriage from its historical identity as the union of one man and one woman has effectively made the role of fathers optional. By putting the desires of adults above the needs of children, we inadvertently feed the fire of violent crime....

As University of Virginia Professor Brad Wilcox pointed out in 2013: "From shootings at MIT (i.e., the Tsarnaev brothers) to the University of Central Florida to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga., nearly every shooting over the last year in Wikipedia's 'list of U.S. school attacks' involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place."

Wilcox has noted the overwhelming social scientific evidence connecting violence and broken homes, which suggests that boys living in single mother homes are almost twice as likely to end up delinquent compared to boys who enjoy good relationships with their father.

Another researcher, Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson, has written that "family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States."

And criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, have further documented the fallout from fatherless families, writing that "such family measures as the percentage of the population divorced, the percentage of households headed by women, and the percentage of unattached individuals in the community are among the most powerful predictors of crime rates."

As long as politicians and the media choose to focus exclusively on firearm availability in their response to violent crime, they will continue to miss the most important element involved.

A more mature response to America's current crisis would begin with a serious discussion of what factors have come together to produce the breakdown of American families and what can be done to reverse this trend.

Dennis Prager, "The Right does have answers on guns, Mr. President."

Why does the left focus on more gun control laws, and why doesn't the right?

One reason is quintessentially American. Most Americans believe that it is their right -- and even their duty -- to own guns for self-protection. Unique among major democratic and industrialized nations, Americans have traditionally believed in relying on the state as little as possible. The right carries on this tradition, while the left believes in relying on the state as much possible -- including, just to name a few areas, education, health care and personal protection.

A second reason for the left-right divide is that the left is uncomfortable with blaming people for bad actions. The right, on the other hand, is far more inclined to blame people for their bad actions....

The third reason for the left-right divide on guns is that the two sides ask different questions when formulating social policies. The right tends to ask, "Does it do good?" The left is more likely to ask, "Does it feel good?"...

On gun violence, the left doesn't ask, "What does good?" It asks, "What feels good?" It feels good to call for more gun laws. It enables liberals to feel good about themselves; it makes the right look bad; and it increases government control over the citizenry. A liberal trifecta....

One thing that would make incomparably more difference than more gun laws is more fathers, especially in the great majority of shooting murders -- those that are not part of a mass shooting. Why aren't liberals as passionate about policies that ensure that millions more men father their children as they are about gun laws? Because such thinking is anathema to the left. The left works diligently to keep single mothers dependent on the state (and therefore on the Democratic Party). And emphasizing a lack of fathers means human behavior is more to blame than guns.

Another is to cultivate participation in organized religion. Young men who attend church weekly commit far fewer murders than those who do not. But this too is anathema to the left. The secular left never offers religion as a solution to social problems. To do so, like emphasizing fathers, would shift the blame from guns to the criminal users of guns.

I would ask every journalist who cares about truth to ask every politician who argues for more guns laws, and every anti-gun activist, just two questions:

"Which do you believe would do more to decrease gun violence in America -- more gun laws or more fathers?" "More gun laws or more church attendance?"

Barack Obama says, "Our gun supply leads to more deaths. The GOP has no plausible alternative theory."

The GOP does. But as usual, few Republicans say what it is. And no liberal wants to hear it.

Matt Walsh, "Our Kids Don't Need Gun Control Laws, They Need Fathers":

In all of these cases, the media and Obama -- and this time even the perpetrator's father -- diligently counted how many guns the killers had in their homes but failed to notice how many parents they had in their homes. That seems like quite a detail to overlook. Before we wonder if a guy's access to guns turned him into a murderer, you'd think we'd pause to reflect on whether his lack of access to his own father might have played a role.

These mass killings happen with relative frequency, and they are usually not perpetrated by men who grew up in strong families with both biological parents present. Divorce and fatherlessness are the two elements that tie most of these cases together. No other factor -- gun laws, politics, racism, etc. -- comes close. Dylann Roof was a white guy killing black people, Vester Flanagan was a black guy killing white people. Their races were different, yet the one line that cut right through both of them was divorce. Even in cases where the killer's parents are still married, a closer inspection will often reveal a home filled with instability and chaos.

Indeed, it's not just the high publicity tragedies that seem to always involve broken homes. The statistics across the board are staggering and conclusive: 90 percent of homeless kids are from fatherless homes; 63 percent of kids who commit suicide are from fatherless homes; 71 percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes. Children from fatherless homes are at a much greater risk of developing drug addictions and are four times as likely to be poor. Out of all the youths in prison, a full 85 percent are from fatherless homes. In the inner city where violence and drug abuse are rampant, four out of every five children are growing up without their biological fathers.

You name the societal ill or problematic group -- from violent boys to promiscuous girls to everything in between -- and right there in the middle you'll find broken homes, unstable families and absent fathers.

So why aren't we talking about this?...

Fathers and mothers both play an integral role in the spiritual and emotional formation of a child. Take one or both away, and there's a chance the child becomes emotionally and spiritually deformed. It's a very simple formula. There's no disputing it -- just ignoring it -- and I think we choose to ignore it for a few reasons.

For one thing, the left-wing cultural narrative requires us to deny the distinction between men and women, which means denying the distinction between mothers and fathers. According to progressivism, the nuclear, biological family is but one type of arrangement, one variant equal in every way to families with one mom or two moms or three dads or whatever, and none can be judged more ideal than the others....

Even though progressives obsess over organic milk and free-range chickens, they pretend that the natural, organic family -- the family as it was meant to be -- is in no way superior to the modified versions. But to connect violence to broken homes is to admit that (shock!) kids benefit from having mom and dad in the same house. Progressivism can make no such admission, so it continues blaming bad things on inanimate objects, rather than fatherlessness and divorce.

But for another thing, beyond ideology, I think we ignore the family's role in all of this because it hits, literally, too close to home. Some single mothers bizarrely see a discussion about fatherhood as an attack on them, and some men, especially divorced men, see the hand wringing over fatherlessness as an affront against them. Both groups make it impossible to have this conversation.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are equally hesitant to speak categorically in favor of the nuclear family. We know it's challenging and difficult to be a parent and a spouse.... If we acknowledge that our kids need us, that they depend on our presence, that they require our full-time love and support, then we've backed ourselves into a corner. If the going gets tough, we have to stick around.... We minimize the importance of families to provide ourselves with an escape hatch, should we need it.... These are scary propositions -- all this duty and responsibility stuff. We'd rather not dwell on it. Let's get back to talking about gun laws and mental health, we think. That's a much more comfortable debate. Much more removed from our daily lives. It requires much less of us. Actually, it requires absolutely nothing -- which is ideal.

I don't think all of our problems in society can be solved through stable families, but I do think that, if we want to address them, we should begin with the simple but hard things: staying married, raising our kids, being examples, instilling faith and values, teaching them how to be good people, etc. It's not foolproof, but it's a start.

We just have to be willing to do the work.

On his Facebook page, Walsh emphasized that he was speaking about patterns and principles:

I'm not saying these people turn into killers solely because they come from broken homes. I'm not saying every kid from a broken home will be a killer. I'm not saying a kid from a broken home can't grow into a fine adult. I'm not saying any of that, so please don't derail this conversation by pretending that I am. What I'm saying is very simple: in principle, kids are meant to have two parents. A mom and a dad. In principle, this is the ideal arrangement. In principle, the more we stray from this arrangement in our society, the worse things get. The statistics absolutely back me up here.

And that means we should probably at some point start discussing the real solutions. Not gun control. Not policies. Not politics. Parenting. If we REALLY want to cut down on all of these bad things, we should begin by getting married before we have kids, staying married, parenting our kids together with our spouses, and guiding and teaching and raising them so that they can grow into well adjusted adults. Simple.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 6, 2015 11:18 PM.

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