Everybody and nobody

The mass killings committed by a lone man with a gun continue in America. Days after the slaughter in that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a military veteran walked into a Sikh temple in a small town in Wisconsin and murdered several more people. Early this week, a man killed a policeman and another person in Austin, Texas. And, once again, the attempts to come up with a psychological profile of the killers proliferate.

Lee Siegel,

19 de agosto de 2012 | 01h00

I hope this does not seem audacious, or in bad taste, but I thought that I might write a sort of all-purpose profile of the killer, so as to give the pundits more space and time to write about other important matters, like celebrities who wear yoga pants, or the genius of Apple. So here is my own offering. The following profile of a mass killer is a composite of all the details now known about mass killers:

His neighbors said that he was nice but withdrawn, polite but distant. People at work found him angry and vindictive. He was gregarious. He was shy. He had a remarkable aptitude for algebra. He became flustered and frustrated at a a bank once while filling out a deposit slip. He dropped out of high school. He had a Ph.D. in physics. He was illiterate. He corresponded with Jurgen Habemas.

He was an anti-semite. His mother was Jewish. He lived in Israel. He wore a kaffiyeh and read the Koran. He hated America. He had an American flag hanging in his room. He vowed to burn down the White House. He was a registered Democrat. He grew up with his mother but was estranged from his father. He grew up with his father but was estranged from his mother. His parents, both prominent heart surgeons, never noticed how much time he spent in the basement.

When he was in elementary school, he wrote a poem about a butterfly:

Pretty butterfly that flutters across my yard

I want to gently touch your wings and help you to fly.

I want to kiss you and taste the sun.

When he was in middle school, he wrote a poem about a squirrel:

Come here gray garbage.

Stop eating our flowers.

Come here. I want to tear you limbs off

And bury you alive while you scream.

He once had girlfriend named MaryLou to whom he used to sing songs that he composed himself while he gently stroked her face. He once had a girlfriend named Annalee at whose legs he threw bowling balls. He saved a gerbil from an oncoming car. He buried a kitten in the back yard up to its head and ran it over with a lawnmower.

He was molested by his mother and beaten by his father. He protected his mother against the rages of his alcoholic father. He protected his father against the rages of his drug-addict mother. Neighbors said he was close to his mother. Neighbors said he was too close to his mother. Neighbors said they never saw him with his mother. He was the apple of his father's eye.

He was always beating up smaller boys. He was always being beaten up by bigger boys. He once beat up a bigger boy who was beating up a smaller boy. He was proficient in the martial arts. He ran sobbing into the woods when other boys made fun of him. He had a pet rat named Marlon. He loathed animals.

He loved football, hated track, excelled in swimming, cried when he tried to box, almost strangled another boy in a wrestling match, accidentally shot himself in the foot with a bow and arrow, won the state fencing championship, bench-pressed a record 200 pounds, broke his wrist while trying to open a bottle of wine.

He was a liberal, he was a conservative, he was a communist, he was a socialist, he was a fascist, he was a Trotkyist, he was a Stalinst, he was a Keynesian, he was president of his local Harry Potter fan club.

When the police searched his room they found copies of The Catcher in the Rye, The Fountainhead, Lord of the Rings, Myra Breckinridge, The Protestand Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and How To Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Minutes.

He stalked Anne Hathaway. Kate Moss stalked him. He was obsessed with Michael Jackson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had no heroes. He followed his high school gym teacher everywhere. Everyone hated him. Everyone loved him.

Neighbors said, How could he do this? Neighbors said, We knew he would do this. Neighbors said he was the last person in the world they thought would do this. Neighbors said they were surprised he didn't do it years ago.

He was the product of his environment, of a bad education, of chemicals in his brain, of bad genes, of bad luck, of bad hygienic habits.

He is everyone and no one. He lives everywhere and nowhere. He is impossible to characterize, describe, diagnose or predict.

The only constant in his incessant murdering is the weapon he uses. A gun is easy to find, characterize, describe or predict. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: gun is a gun is a gun is a gun. But why regulate a solid fact when you can speculate on a vapid mystery?

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