To test this hypothesis, ask yourself if you can imagine, at this point in time, any politician suggesting that we ask the question whether society itself might be responsible for producing children who go to school with the premeditated intent to kill? They would be laughed off the air and blamed for shirking their duty, possibly even for cowardice. In today’s media environment, dominated as it is by the logic of psychopaths and evil monsters, the suggestion that society might have some culpability in recent mass shootings is unthinkable. Those in positions of authority seem to believe that it’s far easier for everyone, from victims to mere spectators, to grasp the logic inherent in evil and bad genetics. It’s also far easier to pretend to address the problem by fortifying society with prayer and/or guns.
When politicians and policemen use the words psychopaths and evil to describe horrific situations like Sandy Hook or even September 11th, they’re effectively diverting questions away from themselves or society. Evil and psychopaths are a bright red line between us and them. They are the monsters living beyond the pale of society. They relieve society of having to look inward at itself and allows it to muster its forces to go after the monsters who besiege it. This is the story of Beowulf. This is the story of the aftermath of September 11th. And, as we arm ourselves and further lockÂ down our schools in response to Sandy Hook and Columbine, so, too, is it the story of mass school shootings.
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If the psychopath diagnosis attempts to offer a scientific understanding of monsters, the application of the word evil strives to respond to non-scientific questions. How, for example, could God allow this to happen? After all, isn’t America, by and large, a Christian society? And, following colloquial perceptions as promulgated by the media, if the white middle class, such as what is represented in Newtown, CT, isn’t representative of Christiandom in America, what is? For many, this, of course, makes Sandy Hook all the more inexplicable: how could God have let this happen to elementary school children?