Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is Passivity and Forgiveness an Aphrodisiac for Murderers?

Since the Amish schooting, I have read articles such as this one discussing how the Amish have forgiven the killer who took the lives of five beautiful girls and injured six more before taking his own life. Forgiveness may be the Amish way, but frankly, in my eyes, it gives license to the sick and twisted, and cruel among us to continue their mayhem. What is appalling are comments like this--that compare the Amish reaction to the shooting with the tragedy of 9/11 in the following way:

The Amish show the power of forgiveness, a power that is given us by God. It's strength is far greater than the anger and violence with which we try to right the wrongs in our world. There is a lesson to be learned here. Just imagine what could have happened if the US were capable of forgiveness after the 9/11 attacks...

Yes, just imagine, we could have been perceived as even weaker by our enemies and further attacks might have followed, but instead, we have had nothing of the sort. Often, perpetrators can smell weakness a mile away--it is like an aphrodisiac to many of them-including terroists--even Bin Laden has laughed at the perceived weakness of the US.

In the case of the Amish school killer, he targeted the weakest people he could find who he knew would not fight back. I am not so sure that forgiveness and acceptance of the death of innocent girls is the answer to reducing future acts of violence such as the Amish shooting--in my eyes, it gives license to the next killer that he will be forgiven for his atrocities--yes, I understand that the Amish feel that what happens is God's will and that a violent reaction is against their religion--I am speaking to the rest of us.

In addition, this perception of weakness is enhanced with calls for gun control and passivity in response to violent acts. But perhaps reducing violent acts and protecting our citizens is not the point, but rather, it is feeling morally superior and denying the acts of the sick and twisted, or terrorists or other perps, for political gain--rather that be gun control, or a call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Passive solutions in response to violent actions can often bring more violence, not less. But passivity is most alluring to the most "humanitarian" among us, as with it, comes a very seductive psychological satisfaction--little call for responsibility and accountability, while feeling morally superior--even if it means that the next murderer will flourish in our midst.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Give that Kid an EKG

Podcast on Voter Fraud

Have you ever wondered how much fraud goes on in the election process in America? (hint: our system is sloppier than Mexico's). If so, you should listen to our guest, John Fund, author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. Mr. Fund is a writer for the Wall Street Journal and has been studying election fraud for some time. He talks about both electronic and paper fraud, dead people voting, the lack of prosecution for shameful acts of voter fraud, and finally, why we need to use voter ID's--hey we use them to buy alcohol and tobacco and to apply for public benefits, so why not use them for something as important as voting?

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or downloading directly here. For dial-up users, click here. You can visit our archives at

School Killers--Evil, Sick or Socially Toxic?

Last night I had the pleasure of discussing school killers and the characteristics of mass murderers on the Hugh Hewitt Show (welcome to his readers and thanks for stopping by). Mr. Hewitt, like everyone else is America, is struggling to understand what would lead a man to kill innocent young Amish girls execution-style yesterday. One of Mr. Hewitt's commenters is wary of psychologists who discuss psychological reasons for extreme acts of violence:

We have become inured to the idea that such a thing as "pure evil" exists, despite the constant evidence of its existence.

I heard a bit of Dr. Smith's commentary. In my opinion, to try to find a pschological root cause for this man's behavior is to attempt to excuse it.

What could be more evil than terrorizing the children of one of the most innocuous and inoffensive religious sects in existence?

I understand this suspicion of mental health professionals, after all, many of us are Whores of the Court. That said, psychologists can add to the discussion of why people commit mass murder. After all, who has more access to the minds of killers and criminals than we do? If information is used in the proper way, without a political agenda, mental health professionals can help laypeople to understand and make sense of the worldview of a murderer. Does this excuse it? No. Does it mean that evil does not exist in the world? Not in my opinion. However, psychological data can be useful in preventing the next round of senseless killings, and I, for one, am not willing to say that doing nothing is the best tactic to take in protecting innocent victims from the next atrocity.

In my opinion, school killers -- and other mass killers -- are a combination of many variables--all of them complex, yet rational in the mind of the killer. Why choose an Amish school house? Because there is no or little security and the victims you are looking for are readily available. Why did Charles Carl Roberts kill innocent Amish girls in the first place? We may never know, but there are a few clues. He said he was avenging a wrong done to him 20 years ago and he had an infant daughter die 9 years before, meaning that his female victims were close in age to the daughter he never held. What does this mean in his mind? Who knows? But it is possible that someone could have understood and helped him make sense out of his anger, depression and suicidal feelings before it was too late. I believe that this could have happened, for I have seen patients who have teetered on the edge be brought back again to functioning without killing. Male suicide is prevalent in this country. 24,000 men take their lives every year--yet no one gives a damn. Now that they are taking others with them, will the country listen?

For those of you who wish to learn more about the characteristics of mass murderers and school shooters, take a look at the FBI report on school shooters or read the more in-depth work of J. Reid Meloy, author of Violence Risk and Threat Assessment: A Practical Guide for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Professionals.

Update: You can read a transcript of my radio show with Hugh Hewitt on school killers here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Podcast with Michael Totten

Well, eventually, everyone comes through Knoxville at some point--Glenn and I had the pleasure of meeting up for dinner and discussion last night over barbeque with Michael Totten, of For those of you not familiar with Michael's work, he is a blogger and writer who travels to the Mideast to bring his readers first-hand interviews and political goings-on in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Israel and soon, Algeria. The conversation was so interesting, we thought our listeners would want to hear more so we persuaded him to come to our studio for a podcast on his past and recent travels around the Mideast. Listen as Michael talks about his travels to Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq and Israel.

Most fascinating to me was Michael's discussion of the different political mindsets between those in the more secular areas of Israel, such as Tel Aviv, who identify more with leftist Europeans and those in Jerusalem who are seen as more right-leaning in their views. The psychology of why this political split is there is fascinating to me (as a Jew, why would you want to identify with leftist Europeans?)--if you have some thoughts about this, let me know in the comment section.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or directly (no downloading necessary) by clicking here. For dial-up users, you can listen here. If you would like to view our archive of podcasts, go to

This podcast is sponsored by

Update: You can see more about Michael Totten's trip to Knoxville including pictures here.