Friday, December 21, 2012
Talking about Sandy Hook
I'm finally ready to talk about the Sandy Hook thing but it's not really a thing I'd normally discuss on this blog. You see, I like to stay on topic and keep all of my posts about Autism and Asperger's Syndrome - and Sandy Hook is about neither. Still, I guess there are some things which need to be said.
In case you don't know, Sandy Hook is the latest in a number of school shootings in the US. In many ways, it's being considered the "worst" because of the number of victims involved and their young ages. In truth, whichever shooting affects your own family is always the "worst". There no ranking. All of these "crazy gunmen" incidents are bad.
Over here in Australia, where among other things, we have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world, we're constantly shaking our heads at our US cousins who are ruled by powerful gun lobbies under a constitution which was written more or less to close to a period of war. Getting rid of the guns won't solve the problem. We still have gun violence but it's much reduced. Of course, since all of our borders are ocean, it's also much easier to patrol Australia.
When incidents like this occur, all eyes turn towards the perpetrators rather than to the victims. We spend time scratching our heads and trying to "profile" the killer as if this is just another episode of CSI. We look for patterns even when there are none and we try to pin these tragedies on minority groups because then we can say, "that person wasn't normal". We can convince ourselves that we're not all cold blooded killers waiting to snap.
I'm here to tell you that there will always be people like this in the world and that they won't necessarily fit a given profile. Even worse, although sometimes it's an illness, the truth is that we as a society are often responsible for them snapping. Merciless bullying can often cause people to snap as can media exposure which makes these killer famous. History has shown that there are plenty of killers and regardless of the availability of weaponry or the manner in which society locks up those deemed to be mad, the killers will often remain undetected and will strike when the time suits them.
There is no profile. These killers are normal people in abnormal situations.
This brings me to the reason I've posted this here. A number of people have seized upon the idea that the gunman had Asperger's syndrome. They've suggested that several other gunmen may also have had it. They've decided that this is a common thread even though it's simply not true. Many of the other shooters and possibly this one do not have Asperger's syndrome. From here, it's a small step from panicking parents who ruin their children's lives with fear to calls for genocide. I've seen posts on Facebook recently suggesting that people with autism should be locked up or even randomly set on fire.
It underscores my point nicely. We're all killers. There is no profile and as evidenced many times in our history, the human race as a whole is always only one small step away from madness.
It's time for us to stop profiling and to stop looking for minority groups to pin the blame on. It's time to tell the media to stop contributing to the problem by sensationalizing the news and by publicly profiling killers. It's time for better gun laws, better services and better support for people who may be depressed or otherwise excluded from society. There is no one solution to the problem but many small steps which will help us make the journey.
In the meantime, we need to remember that tragedies are about victims, not perpetrators - and there are many victims. The victims of this latest madness are the students and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. They are the families and friends of these people. They are the children who are unfairly labelled as a result of mad profiling and they are the communities which are ostracized because we want to pin the blame on a minority.
Let us not make any more victims. Let's remember the victims we already have and then pick up our lives and move on from this tragedy. Let's show some human spirit and do the best we can to reduce he likelihood of further incidents while ensuring that we don't infringe upon each other's freedoms.
Together we can make a difference.