This great evil. Where does it come from? How’d it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who’s doin’ this? Who’s killin’ us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin’ us with the sight of what we might’ve known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed through this night?
– James Jones, The Thin Red Line
I’d like to say that I was surprised by Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree this week, but honestly, at this point, I can’t even pretend that I am. Sadly, I think most of you reading feel the same way. Horrific events like these are so common place in our modern world that we’ve reached a point where we almost expect mass killings on a clock work schedule. While talking to my mom on Saturday morning I casually mentioned how there was spree killing a few hours before. “Another one?” she asked casually, almost off handedly. She’s not a callous woman, but she, like so many others, has seemed to have developed a kind of numbness to these tragedies. I, regrettably, have not.
Always curious as to what people other people think about such extreme events, I started to read various news sites and blogs with posts already up about Rodger. One of the standard sites I go through for stories like these is the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation). The articles on the CBC tend to be extremely biased and contain numerous intentional omissions in order to sell the progressive narrative of the CBC’s staff, so I gave the article on Rodger itself a quick going over before I scrolled down to the comment section. I do this mainly because, although the CBC article itself is usually a biased mess, if they allow comments on it the article’s comment section is a fairly unbiased representation of what Canadians on the whole are thinking.
For such an extreme situation, I was foolish to think that the comment section for this tragedy would be unbiased. The top comments (in terms of likes) were a mixture of those who blame guns for everything and those exposing the worst cultural attribute Canadians possess—our holier than thou attitude toward Americans. Here’s a couple of examples of what I mean, taken from the top of the Most Liked comments from when I was browsing through:
When are the American public going to realize that the fight against terrorism has to begin with the NRA, the biggest urban terrorist group in the US or possibly the world?! The rant by the father of the victim was well put and well needed. May he be granted peace and justice in his loss.
This guy was suicidal, but why the hatred, the lust to kill? Is this what America is about—blame others, externalize your problems, kill ? I think America is one of the most dysfunctional countries in the world. No public health care, satisfy your own lusts and desires at any cost, and don’t settle for good enough. Sick place.
Three legal semi automatics and 1000 legal rounds legally sold to a 22 year old legal wacko. Wake up Americans, this doesn’t happen to countries with gun controls. What about your theory of good people with guns being able to stop these? Oh well, we can debate it again next week with the next legal slaughter.
Obviously we Canadians are so much better than Americans. It’s strictly guns and American values which are the problem. No frustrated young men ever go on a rampage in Canada, right?
On April 15, 2014, a fifteen year old male stabbed four people in a mall in Regina, Saskatchewan. The fifteen year old’s motives weren’t immediately apparent and as Canadians like throwing their dirty laundry under a rug while they turn their nose up at America’s, there has been little public interest or outcry to determine why this young man went on a rampage. It’s likely that all we’ll hear is that he was fifteen, a male, and stabbed four people for no apparent reason.
On the same day, a Province over, Matthew De Grood went to a house party in Calgary, Alberta, and stabbed five people to death. Matthew was twenty-two years old, a University student with good grades and hopes of furthering his education in Law School. His father was a senior Calgary Police Officer, and a gun was likely available for Matthew to use though in the end he chose to murder five people with a knife. So far his motives for doing so have not become clear.
Clearly we Canadians do not a have a moral high ground from which to cast judgement at our American neighbours. America is not the only country producing angry young men.
The April 2014 Canadian stabbing sprees both happened just six days after sixteen year old Alex Hribal went on a knife rampage at his school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He stabbed and wounded twenty-one people.
So perhaps stabbing sprees committed by young men are simply a North American phenomenon.
On May 21st, 2014, Cheng Chieh, a twenty-one year old university student , boarded a subway train in Taipei, Taiwan and proceeded to stab several passengers, killing four and wounding at least twenty-four others.
So besides the fact that these were all young men, most of whom were students, what is the common factor in their sprees? All used knives, not guns, to commit their violence. Taiwan has very strict firearms control, but that didn’t stop Cheng Chieh from killing.
My home nation of Canada has three classes of firearm control (non-restricted, restricted, prohibited). You can’t just walk into a hunting goods store, lay down some cash and walk out with a handgun. Nothing stopped Matthew De Grood from walking into a party and leaving five bodies in his wake. Even in the supposedly gun crazy nation of America, Alex Hribal chose to stab his fellow students. Even if America had the most stringent system of gun control on the planet, blood would still have been spilt.
Young men the world over are engaging in horrifying acts of violence against their peers. It’s far overdue that society stops touting bumper sticker solutions such as More Gun Control. Three bodies were removed from firearm spree killer Elliot Rodger’s apartment, and they were stabbed to death. The underlying reasons as to why so many young men feel the need to lash out against people who have done them no harm are complex, and these reasons need to be examined instead of being airily dismissed with a call for more legislation, more laws and more control over the law abiding rest of society. If people want to cause mass harm, they’ll do it any way they can.
Ban guns, ban knives, ban bats, ban violence, ban everything, and we’ll still have solved nothing. Our cultures need to take a good, long look in the mirror and think about why these young men, so many of them at the dawn of their lives, are so angry with themselves and us that they feel the only solution they have is to kill. Why are we creating so many monsters when we live in such an age of comfort and luxury undreamed of by our ancestors? Why do so many young men feel like they have no hope of ever living a fun, fulfilling life in our times? It’s a tough question to answer, and I hope one day we will actually try to do so.