Getting Carried Away – Punishment Psychosis

Getting Carried Away – Punishment Psychosis

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these mass shooters are punishing their victims.

It’s NOT a new thing, and it’s not remotely anything different than what we all do, what we all approve of, violence as a response to things we don’t like.

They learned it at home.

We all agree with their basic premise: we should hurt people who do stuff we don’t like.

Because that’s supposed to straighten them out, as if our punishing stimulus is the only stimulus, as if nothing else in the world has any bearing on what people do, as if we’re all living in one of Skinner’s boxes. Manson, Brevik, probably all of these idiots, they have such an unconscious, un-formed idea of what they’re doing – those two apparently thought the spark of their violence would ignite the whole world in race violence – that it betrays a kind of blindness, a sort of blind faith in the power of violent punishment, that all they thought they had to do was begin and some sort of chain reaction was going to start the race war that cures the world of whatever they don’t like. This seems to be the fantasy of the mass shooters, one violent act of punishment and the world is changed. This is perhaps what may be referred to as Punishment Psychosis, when this fantasy takes over your life.

I repeat: we agree with this idea. Punishing what we don’t like is supposed to change the world for the better.

Yes it is, and we agree! Well – YOU do. I’ve seen through it, I’m working that poisoned insane logic out of my system, but trust me, I spend a lot of time online and in person fighting what I have determined to be a terrible scourge, the practices of punishing. Almost no-one doesn’t think we shouldn’t hurt people to make them do what we want; in positive wording, almost EVERYONE thinks hurting people to make them do what you want is the way to live.

It’s not. It’s really, really not, and we’d all agree if the only example is these mass shooters, but we’re corrupted. We get our own payoffs, we get things to go our own way in this system, so we can’t or won’t admit the connection when we see the obvious logical extreme versions of it in the news. Repeat: obvious. Really, really obvious that murder is nearly always a punishment, yet somehow that fact is irrelevant, and I find myself baffled, echoing the Aboriginal view of the environment.

How are basic truths somehow irrelevant?

How is it that the basic, obvious motive for the mass shooters – punishment – somehow not a part of our attempt to solve the issue? It’s because punishment is ubiquitous, invisible. It’s something we do, actively, it’s not something that happens by itself, yet we can’t factor it in to anything, we can’t imagine it as an option, we can’t imagine taking it out of our equations as a factor.

OK, look. I know you see this as quixotic and stupid, I know the point I’m making looks like this: people get poisoned, and poison one another, and that’s all because we all eat. If we didn’t eat, we couldn’t be poisoned, what’s the point? You gotta eat. If that seems a good objection to you, I respectfully submit that you’ve given the game away, suggest that you have maybe just proved my point, if you can equate punishing with eating: you think punishment is like food, we can’t live without it.

That’s just not true, despite that we all think it.

My wife and I raised our kids without using punishment once, and my girls did not grow up wild and amoral. They are moral and brilliant, and if they do anything wrong, it’s never anything punitive or violent. Because that’s just crazy when it’s supposed to be for a good reason, let alone when it goes pear-shaped.

My model, my hypothesis predicts this: that this phenomenon, angry mass shooters, is not going to change and it’s not going to end, because the prime driver, punishment, has something like Diplomatic Immunity. It isn’t going to improve because of ideas about gun control, because in the Punishment Culture, or the Punishment Cult, the tools of violence are held on the ‘solutions’ side of the ledger. If we could change that, then real change could be possible. But until we do change that, this thing isn’t going away.

Because the basic thing happening there? You LIKE it.


Crimes, not Victims

       Crimes, not Victims

I’ve said this elsewhere, but – damn.

It’s one more example of the political Right’s nastiest bit of spin-doctoring – the “liberal media.” How long have we been talking about women’s rights, black and Hispanic rights, gay rights, children’s rights? All these groups.  The national conversations about whether it’s acceptable to discriminate against them or not are really starting to piss me off.

The focus on the specific marginalized group is what gives it the lie. Don’t know if we all noticed the difference, but when we were talking about the Catholic Church, did we question whether children were on the no-molest list? No, we blamed the priests and their bosses. When we see the ISIS atrocities, do we discuss whether the victims are Christians or Muslims and which if any of those victims are on the no-decapitation list? No we’re talking about the perpetrators of these crimes, of course.

So why is discrimination different?

Why, when the crime is discrimination, is the focus on the victims? I believe the wording of the discrimination laws offer a clue: “race, creed, religion, sex, age . . .” – so anyone who wasn’t on the radar when they drafted those statutes is still fighting to get into the text, to get on the no-discriminate list, I guess. But why?

Why is obvious, of course. It’s about who is dominant in the culture, and they’re not in the habit of prosecuting themselves. So, there’s a for-real why, making my rhetorical one kind of stupid, but still: why, when this is what might be rational? That discrimination is a crime, and I don’t much care who your victim is! There is one important group to mention in this conversation, and that is white people (here in Canada and the USA), most importantly rich white people. Discrimination is a crime engaged in by the dominant ones, by definition, so that’s the group we’re talking about. Discrimination by minorities is a lesser problem, also by definition.

Why can’t discrimination just be bad? It always is, isn’t it? Why can’t we just let it go, why are we hanging on to the pure essence of something that we have already outlawed for many major minorities? Is it that we feel we have to discriminate against somebody?

This is a quickie, so here’s the upshot: if you’re watching your TV and some talking heads are going on about gays, or women and their rights, switch them off. If they’re talking about victims, that’s our clue: that talk is the perpetrators’ game. The liberal considers all people to be citizens and worthy of rights and protections, and so the conversation is not about who the victims are, they are the victims, that’s all we need to know.

This is about crime, which means we should be talking about criminals. We should be talking about crime. Only the criminals sit around discussing whether their victims have rights.

Murderous Madmen and Their Victim Groups

Posted in a shorter form on May 27, 2014

A bunch of girls didn’t do what he wanted, so he set out to hurt a bunch of girls and teach them all a lesson. Folks, yes that is misogyny, yes it is gun violence, but mainly


The reason all these killers find it reasonable and rational to hurt the people who don’t do what they want, is because EVERYONE finds it reasonable and rational to hurt people when they don’t do what they want. That’s the concept of punishment. And we all know where he learned it, where they all learn it, where WE all learned it. Right?

Now how is it that what these crazies are trying to do and why is somehow not front and center of the conversation? Why are we talking about sex rather than the roots of violence, why are we talking about who the victims are instead of what these killers are doing and why?

The way we and our media focus on the victim group is making me uncomfortable, there is something very wrong with it. Everything I’m going to list may be hyperbolic, but hyperbole would not be possible if it didn’t contain a substantial kernel of truth. Plus, taken together, the power and possible truth of the situation may be unavoidable. So these are the ideas that make me uneasy about it:

  1. The focus on the victim group (women, LGB&T people, racial or religious minorities) seems to call into question issues of the groups’ human rights status; the status of the group is reviewed in media coverage in terms of public opinion and public policy. This seems to put such crimes into a category of ideology where they do not belong. In our society, everyone has a right not to be victimized, and especially not to be murdered. Are we pandering to those who may support these crimes?
  2. Focusing on the victim group contains the implicit idea that there is, at least theoretically, the possibility that some groups can properly be targeted for victimization and murder, otherwise, why would the particular group identity of the victim be an issue? For proof of this, of course there are groups that many of us are OK with killing, people outside of our society, such as enemy combatants, and some within our society, perpetrators of heinous crimes, etc. I don’t intend to debate capital punishment here, but it shows precedent, and our sometime willingness to victimize and kill. The message is also inherent that there is a certain amount of flexibility in the list of who can and who cannot be justifiably harmed.
  3. By at least appearing in our media and private discussions to ignore the common factor –  the criminals and their apparent feeling that it’s justifiable to harm or kill those of whom they disapprove – we are subjecting the victim groups to a kind of ‘divide and conquer’ situation. Are we not condemning the use of force to change people’s behaviour generally, in favour of having each marginalized group address it’s particular abusers, and on their own? Must every identifiable group fight their attackers by themselves, when all various groups’ enemies are of one kind, and all doing the same thing?
  4. By directing attention to the victim group, we are detracting attention away from the psychological and social ground that produces the bad fruit of these criminal victimizers. I see it as analogous to the one of the points batted about in the gun control discussions: just as gun are inanimate and not to be “blamed” for what people do with them, so too is the practice of punishment, of hurting people to change their behaviour, not to be “blamed” or called into question. The difference is that punishing is even more sacred, and more so in more places than the freedom to own guns.

So, as I said, hyperbolic perhaps, but with a core of truth. Perhaps it is a matter that the victim groups simply make sexy headlines, and media discussions are so often sensationalist – but reasons why a thing is are a proof that the thing really does exist.

Please, let’s try to learn to talk about the bad guys and why they do what they do, and if it is a fractal of our culture of punishment, let’s go there too. Let’s not blame the victims, let’s not always be dropping the hint that if they don’t want to be victimized, they should just shut up and conform. OK?