I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve thought on more than one occasion that I’d like to strangle someone with my bare hands until their eyeballs pop out like in a cartoon. I’ve considered what would be the easiest way to kill a person. I have to stop myself from ramming every Prius I see on the highway. Part of the reason why I talk about and plan for the zombie apocalypse a lot is because I would be allowed to kill zombies with impunity.
The previous paragraph is mostly hyperbole, but there is a kernel of truth. Who hasn’t thought about killing someone? Be honest. Everyone has at least had a flash of a thought about how nice it would be if that school bully or horrible boss didn’t exist, especially if they didn’t exist because you strangled them. We’ve all thought it, but the great majority of us never have and never would act on it.
So, what makes those people who do act on it so different? What is it about someone, who seems otherwise normal, that allows them to shuck off the shackles of normal human behavior and go on a killing spree? The thought positively terrifies me. It terrifies me because, given the right circumstances, that could be any one of us.
Unlike most other spree killers who take the suicide by cop route, the one in Norway is still alive. I heard this morning that he pleaded not guilty, not because he didn’t kill and injure over 100 people, but because he doesn’t think what he did is a crime. He thinks he was protecting Norway from Islamization. He thinks he did the right thing and he is clearly crazy. Either that, or he’s craftily trying to avoid punishment through seeming insane.
What made him do it? What made the kids at Columbine decide to kill their peers? Or the Oklahoma City bombing or the Dublane Massacre or any of the people who think they are doing right by indiscriminately killing multitudes of people? How do we stop it from happening? What is it about society that monsters like that are allowed to hatch their plans and carry them out? Is it a societal defect? Is there something in our very nature that most of us suppress that these people don’t or can’t?
Then there’s the inevitable finger-pointing. Blaming it on Muslim terrorists before any facts were known. This guy couldn’t have been any farther from a Muslim terrorist. Blaming the police for a 45 minute reaction time when the island was an hour away from Oslo where they were already dealing with a bomb blast. Is there really anyone to blame besides one lunatic so divorced from reality that killing as many people as he could seemed like the right thing to do?
It’s horrifying that we live in a world where these kinds of things happen over and over. It’s terrifying that any one of us could snap like that if our lives took a wrong enough course. It’s appalling that this guy thinks he did the world a favor. It’s scary that we will never really know the reasons why.