You know, those who decide they are really boys and then go and shoot up a school, killing three pupils and three grown-ups.
That’s what Audrey/Aiden Hale did in Nashville, Tennessee, at the same school where she was once photographed as a cute eight-year-old. You can use your own adjective to describe that act. Just look up monstrous, adj. in your trusted thesaurus and you’ll find some fifty synonyms, most of which would fit.
What interests me isn’t so much the mass murder itself as everything that surrounds it, especially the press coverage.
What wasn’t covered in the press is the increasing frequency of such incidents in the US. When I lived there long ago, mass shootings were much rarer than these days… The moment I wrote that I decided not to go by personal impressions but actually look up the statistics.
Sure enough, between 1982 and 2011, a mass shooting occurred roughly once every 200 days. However, between 2011 and 2014 that rate tripled to at least one such crime committed every 64 days.
In 2023 alone there have been 130 mass shootings already, and the year is still young. This sort of acceleration begs for an explanation, yet our ability to find one is greatly curtailed by extraneous factors, mainly of a political nature.
Conscientious objectors to the Second Amendment blame American culture in general and the ready availability of guns in particular. Modern America, they claim, can only be understood against the background of the westward expansion, Indian Wars and the way those events have been depicted in Western films.
It’s John Wayne and not Woody Allen who portrays your quintessential American, they claim. And a quintessential American is gun-crazy, which madness is encouraged by the Constitution with its politically incorrect amendment.
Even assuming that a direct correlation exists between the availability of guns and the murder rate (which assumption, by the way, was convincingly dispelled by John Lott in his 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime), this still doesn’t explain the lighning-speed acceleration in mass shootings over the past two decades.
Guns are no more available now than they were, say, in the 1950s, when many men had already tasted blood in the Second World War followed by Korea. And yet not a single school was shot up during that decade.
Dismissing this argument as lazy and politically motivated, let’s look at the next batch, featuring the shooters’ mental health. We are getting warmer: as the National Rifle Association correctly maintains, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill People”.
Yes, but what kind of people would carry two rifles and a handgun into a school and start firing indiscriminately? Crazy, possibly. Evil, definitely.
Yet evil is a difficult concept for our post-Enlightenment modernity to get its head around. And the media have been affected by that regrettable cultural shift even more than the population at large, certainly in middle America.
Hence the word ‘evil’ seldom appears in crime reports. Most journalists, even those who have never read Rousseau, implicitly accept his fallacy of man being good to begin with and only ever going bad under the malignant influence of civilisation – specifically of Western, which is to say Christian, civilisation.
The concept of innate evil is thus awkward. Accept that, and before long you’ll start talking about original sin, which simply won’t do.
This leaves mental health as the clear winner among the possible explanations of mass shootings. This isn’t wrong per se: I doubt too many such crimes are committed by perfectly balanced, well-adjusted individuals. However, the general notion of mental disorders has many subsets, both internal and external.
The coverage of Audrey/Aiden’s shooting spree is typical in that it concentrates on the external factors affecting her/his/its psychiatric health. And in the good Freudian tradition, the principal external factor is Audrey’s parents who treated her perverse nature without due sensitivity.
When that sweet girl grew up, she declared she was a lesbian first and a man second. That came as a surprise, although, according to the neighbours, Audrey was always a bit of a tomboy. Yet they, along with her parents, missed her ‘transitioning’ from tomboy to putative boy.
It has to be said that Audrey herself didn’t make it easy for the neighbours to see her as a man. She always introduced herself as Audrey and didn’t correct those who treated her as a woman.
But it’s the parents who are the real culprits. You see, they are devout Christians, which is suspect in itself and oh so yesterday. Worse still, they take their religion seriously, which is why they refused to accept Audrey for what she insisted she was. Why, they even forbade her to wear men’s clothes at home.
After that the poor person simply had to go to her erstwhile Christian school and start spraying bullets around her.
I know how she felt because I had a similar problem with my parents. They too refused too accept my teenage transitioning from a well-read boy raised in a good family to a drunk. My mother in particular threw an insensitive wobbly every time I staggered, or was carried, home.
And she wasn’t alone. All of my drinking mates had similar mothers and suffered from a similar lack of understanding and acceptance. However, and I know this is inexplicable, none of us committed mass murder, nor indeed any other crime either (except perhaps running a red light in later life).
Audrey was born 28 years ago and grew up during the same decades when mass murders in the US shot up, as it were. If we agree that it’s emotional instability that impels young people to whip out semi-automatic weapons, then logically we have to believe that in the past two decades young people have become crazier.
Coincidentally or otherwise, it was in those same decades that public education, indeed the whole public ethos, went haywire throughout the West, including America. Specifically, things like homo- and transsexuality have come to be treated as a perfectly normal exercise of free choice.
Young people are now encouraged to express their innermost urges, whatever they might be, freely and without any fear of opprobrium. The worst thing is to suppress such urges. There’s no need: they are perfectly normal. Thus if an Audrey insists she is really an Aiden, any disagreement will make her go off the rails.
Such a laissez-faire attitude is based not on facts or reliable medical evidence, but on politically inspired make-believe. For youngsters who want to change sex don’t become unstable when their parents refuse to accept it. They want to change sex because they are unstable to begin with.
And since they are taught the opposite at school and by most media, they can’t handle the resulting dichotomy. The pressure gets to be too much, and a youngster’s head explodes – along sometimes with the heads of the innocent bystanders on the receiving end of his bullets.
We’ll never know how far-gone Audrey was – she was shot dead by the police. It’s possible that no amount of psychiatric treatment would have helped her. Then again, she could have been a more marginal case, where doctors could have helped. The problem is that even suggesting that homo- and transsexuals have mental problems is these days impossible, borderline criminal.
I detect a causal relationship between the Walpurgisnacht that goes by the name of public education and the rapidly accelerating rate of mass shootings. This may or may not be a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. But the issue certainly requires further and deeper study – something I confidently predict it’s not going to get.