26 August 2015
Amoklauf on the air
It was only a matter of time before an amoklaufer filmed his fatal exploits, and this time the killer was a veteran of the TV news business. His phone made him a player in the ultimate first-person shooter game. So absorbed in their work were his targets -- to him, his tormentors, -- a TV reporter and her cameraman, not to mention the woman being interviewed, that the gunman could stand, from our perspective, right in front of them and level his gun more than once for the camera's benefit before finally opening fire. Then the victim's camera caught the reporter screaming and stumbling out of frame as the cameraman fell, and then this camera, with the new objectivity of death, captured the killer as he surveyed his handiwork. It's the ultimate "found footage" horror film when you put the two streams together, but for the murderer it was, as usual, revenge for a lifetime of slights. White people were mean to him because he was black. Black people were mean to him because he was gay. Gay people probably had some reason to be mean to him, and probably all these groups had good reasons. He didn't match the typical amoklauf profile of the angry white man, but he did take inspiration, so it's said, from the Columbine killers, just as he supposedly was galvanized to take up the gun by the Charleston massacre, and in the end he's just another disgruntled former employee taking things out on his former co-workers. We really ought to have a national employment database so we can track people who've been fired under particularly intense circumstances -- the TV station reportedly had to call 911 when they let this guy go -- and that should factor into whether you let such a person buy a gun, as this guy did without any known hitch earlier this year. I don't know whether this would be practical, but the idea hasn't got a chance in our political environment whether it's practical or not. Because too many people who refuse to trust government or almost any other institution demand that we trust them absolutely to be "good guys with guns," the bad guys with guns will keep on killing.