Serial Killing in the US

Serial Killing in the US
AKG
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Posted Apr 20, 2007 - 4:25 PM:
Subject: Serial Killing in the US
Why does America produce more serial killers than any other country in the world? Just curious. Does it have something to do with the fact that they have a very liberal society in some ways, but in other ways have one of the most conservative socities? People grow up with a confused message, etc...
Havoc_Vulture
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Posted Apr 20, 2007 - 5:55 PM:

Does America produce more serial killers? Per capita? Are there any statistics to back this up, or is it simply a perception that results from the extraordinary media coverage that mass killings in America get?

Another question would be are American wanna-be-mass-murderers more 'successful' (i.e. acheive a higher death toll) because of the relative ease with which they can acquire firearms? (Compared to other first-world countries).

Is any of this particularly 'philosophical'? I doubt it ...

Edited by Havoc_Vulture on Apr 20, 2007 - 7:27 PM. Reason: spelling mis-steaks
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Posted Apr 20, 2007 - 7:26 PM:

AKG wrote:
Why does America produce more serial killers than any other country in the world? Just curious. Does it have something to do with the fact that they have a very liberal society in some ways, but in other ways have one of the most conservative socities? People grow up with a confused message, etc...


Well, suicide bombers, or other bombers, cannot be "Serial killers" since they can only do it once. Nevertheless, suicide bombers have sucessfully killed, as individuals, far more people than serial killers or mass murderers using guns. This is true both in Iraq and in the US (Timothy MacVeigh in Oklahoma city). Also consider the incident in Russia of the bombs set off in a captured school--which killed far more people than any US incident except possibly the Oklahoma City bombing.

If the US holds a record, it is for 9/11. Do you hold this to be a US domestic problem?

So the US hardly holds any records for numbers of persons killed either in a single incident, or as a result of a series of incidents. What is the basis for your assertion?

Why exactly do you think otherwise?


lucretius
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Posted Apr 20, 2007 - 7:41 PM:

It may not be philosophical but it is psychological, and to all intents and purposes, with our vague knowledge on how the human mind works, that is almost saying the same thing.

What we need to ask is what drove this man to commit such a frightful act. The easy availability of firearms is just part of the political hypocrisy of politicians who put their own self-seeking agenda first above everything else, but is certainly not the cause. Clearly he was isolated, wretched and utterly dejected, rejected by all around him in a foreign land, and being unable to cope he resorted to this extreme act as his only mode of expression. He too is the victim and not the cause.

Humans by their actions create circumstances for themselves, often not within the ambit of their understanding, which lead to outcomes not necessarily of their own intention or volition.
Darkphilosophy
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Posted Apr 20, 2007 - 11:48 PM:

After watching the virginia tech killer clips, I sympathize with him, I don't condone killing a bunch of random people, but I have to admit I use to be a nice guy like this dumb bastard and there's only so much you can get pushed around before something snaps, for me I made a conscious decision to never be a sucker, I'll still be nice but only to nice people, everyone else is in for hell. I don't know if that helps understand the psychology of it, but it's kinda like you can't turn the other cheek forever some people will just keep hitting you harder until you you lose it and kill them and their whole family. So I kind of think that's one of the screwed up ways of thinking we have in our society, that nice people really have a good life is very far from the truth, I lose sleep thinking about all the times and ways I've been screwed over, the only reason i can think of to turn the other cheek is to make sure they deserve what's comming to them. I think if I hadn't realized that I'd probably be that dude, but I would have had a hitlist and knockedoff people who had said unkind things to me you know trivial stuff like that.

I think it all boils down to hate, we all need our education in productive and unproductive hate, but I'd step it up a notch say an eye for 2 eyes.
dclements
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Posted Apr 21, 2007 - 1:01 PM:

I think serial killers are just one small problem on top of other ones that seems realy big, but is not as bad when you consider the larger picture.
Check out this article that compares the number of young people killed in shootings to deaths cause by suicise and drinking.

www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/17/D...7/Dobbs.April18/index.html

Just like 9/11, people make the mistake of thinking the problems that are covered by the media are bigger than everything else. And because of that larger problems are all but completely ignored. I think people are overly worried about security and don't realize the number of people that die from terrorist and shootings are a drop in the bucket compare to automobile fatalities, and preventable physical and mental health realted issues.(Of course inner city crime claims alot of people too though.)

The reason that people don't think of automobile accidents as that bad because it is part of our way of life. Trying to prevent these deaths would likely require us to rethink about who we let drive and how many people we do. Health care isn't thought of because it effects poor people who can not afford care deserve to die since they are too lazy to be able to pay, plus covering them would hinder insurance companies from making a profit.

Anyways back to the orignal question, I think that people should be surprised that even more people don't go on shooting/killing rampages. The only two things that keep it from happening too often is of course that most people do not want to go to jail or be killed and most people are socially conditioned to not be able to kill others. When a soldier is trained to fight, they are taught to think of the enemy not as other people but as a 'thing'. By thinking of other people as 'things' and not as other people like you and me it is much easier to kill.(Of course soldiers sometimes still think of the people they are killing as other people, but are able to kill to protect their own life.)

If it is not hard for a soldier to think as the enemy not as people but as a thing, why should it be hard to imagine that there are people that view those around them as things? Once you remove the social conditioning to value other peoples lives the only thing stopping you is that you may still value your own. However if they do not vaue even their own life there is little left that can control them.

Megalopsuchos
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Posted Apr 28, 2007 - 2:22 PM:

Back to the serial killer question. Yes, I read some statistics about that a long time ago, I think in an introductory sociology class or something. I think the question AKG poses is a good one. I didn't have the philosophical tool box to ask the interesting philosophical questions back then. I would like to discuss that, if anyone is interested. If I remember, one of the major concerns from a statistical standpoint is that the US may just catch more serial killers. This may account for som eof the numbers. But, I doubt that it could account for such a big disparity. I wish someone could find this information. I seem to remember a comparison to Russia, which seemed to suggest that Russia had a large number of serial killers as well, but much lower statistics. Anyway, the next question to ask, which I think AKG wanted to do, is why are there more serial killers in the US (if that is in fact true)?
enkidu
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Posted Apr 28, 2007 - 2:40 PM:

My guess, without any specific study of this matter, is that the two main causes of the frequency of serial killing in USA (if indeed there is more than in some other countries) are:
- The availability of firearms
- The romanticizing of serial killer in pop culture (movies, novels,...)

Another point I want to raise is that serial killers, or rather the serial killing is just a symptom of a given society. In some other, the very same individual who would become a serial killer in USA opts for another behaviour. It is very obvious in the case of Va shooting, the person was more suicidal than anything else, had he not been able to get automatic guns, he would have commited suicide alone.
All societies create exclusion and neurosis in one way or another (at least until now), those excluded people find way to express the unbearability of their situation according to the means they have at their disposal, in USA, they have guns...

Edited by enkidu on Apr 28, 2007 - 2:50 PM
Megalopsuchos
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Posted Apr 28, 2007 - 7:01 PM:

I'm not sure if most serials killers are suicidal or want to be caught. Isn't there a difference between serial killers and murderers? I'm thinking more of the kind you're saying is "romanticized" in US culture. Here's a lazy wikipedia definition: "A serial killer is someone who kills three or more people in three or more separate events, over a period of more than 30 days, including an "emotional cooling-off" period in between the homicides." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killers) So, I think your point about firearms could explain why there are more murderers in the US but not serial killers (if this is true).
enkidu
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Posted Apr 28, 2007 - 8:15 PM:

Yes you are right, this is my confusion in relation to the mass killing in Virginia. This case is one of mass killing, not one of serial killing.

So I guess it leaves me only with the romanticizing of the serial killer character in pop culture.
However, if you limit serial killer to this definition, very justifiably I believe, I am more doubtful there is more serial killer in USA than in the rest of the world.
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