Copy of Blog at DailyKos --
Sunday Jul 17, 2016 · 11:48 PM CST
Like everyone else, I have been gut-punched by the violence against police and the senseless brutality by a few police towards minorities. That is compounded by the insanely violent attacks in Orlando and in Europe. I have heard all sorts of theories about motivation from all sides of the argument … it’s guns … it is racism … it is radical Islam … it is homophobia … its is something or other.
None of that really makes sense. These all sound like tools and enablers to me. None of them sounds like a root cause. So let me suggest two possible root causes we might constructively explore. I don’t suggest that they are the only causes, or even complete causes … merely ones we shouldn’t ignore.
Young male rage
If you look at all of the recent attacks … here, in France and elsewhere in Europe, the common element is the fact that the perpetrators shared similar histories and behaviors:
It is not clear how much their “cause” actually drove their actions. It might have been as much a pretext or excuse … allowing them to rationalize that they should do what they probably wanted to do anyway.
How many young men (and the odd woman) in America feel this way? My guess … A LOT.
If that isn’t scary enough, let me drive it home.
The most recent two … Micah Robinson and Gavin Long … were vets, fairly recently returned from service in Iraq or Afghanistan. The VA just released an extensive report on suicide among veterans. The VA estimates that 20 vets per day!! commit suicide. Most of them apparently commit suicide in quiet, personal ways. But suicide is typically the product of an intense anger that the individual cannot resolve any other way.
Now that a recognizable pattern has been laid down, how many vulnerable individuals are watching and thinking about these recent events and planning their own grand exit? What if just 5% of the current veteran suicide candidates were to decide that they were so angry that, instead of killing themselves privately, they would go “out with a bang” over their favorite gripe? That would be 365 violent outbursts a year … one per day!
While we focus on “political motivations” and talk about the weapons they use, is it just possible that we are missing the point that there is a generation of young men who are scarred by war, trained in weaponry, discarded by the job market, alienated by society, may have been incarcerated unfairly and/or treated like modern-day lepers?
If so, what else would we expect?
Worse, it is a numbers game. If we were to have one of these attacks a week, it might literally send the US off the deep end. But that number (50 or so a year) is peanuts compared to the known number of angry, alienated young people who will likely commit suicide next year … one way or another.
- There were signs of alienation, poor economic outlook, and trouble with authority long before their final violent outbursts.
Their attacks were fueled by enough rage that they blew themselves up, sought “death-by-cop” or were indifferent to their survival.
They came to their “cause” fairly late in the game. Their personal anti-social views were fully formed long before they became “radicalized” or radicalized themselves.
Weapons with high lethality were close at hand. They didn’t even need to be assault weapons. Now an 18 wheel truck is just as effective.
Instantaneous police over-reaction
There was not a lot of indication that the individual officers involved in the various recently recorded shootings had extended histories of racism or abusive behavior. Several were barely more than rookies. Why would they react as impulsively and recklessly as they did? In most cases, their behavior directly violated widely accepted training guidelines. Even if we vilify them, surely we need to know if there is some causal pattern or trigger that we might somehow counter.
One thing to consider is the role that a combination of fear and substance abuse may play. Fear that they will encounter physical threats that they cannot handle and steroids or PEDs that they may feel compelled to take to face those threats.
The problem of steroid use among police officers is not new, nor is it the invention of people with an anti-police bias:
Ironically (or maybe not), Omar Mateen was a long-time steroid user.
Think about how “roid rage” might play out in a confrontation or arrest. Adrenalin spikes, reactions are faster and less controlled and fear and anger explode.
Would the outcome look any different than what we saw with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile? Is it possible or plausible that, rather than being the product of overt or premeditated racism, what we witnessed was a juiced-up cop struggling with black (and therefore somewhat scarier) guy?
Frequent, random drug testing of cops for steroids (at least any that can alter judgment) would seem to be a minimal precaution.
2008 study reported in Police Chief Magazine
- Blog article about police steroid use, including this gem:
James reports that Gene Sanders, a Spokane, Washington police psychologist, says that nearly 25 percent of all police officers in urban settings with gangs and high crime use steroids. That’s one in four officers you see downtown – they’re using steroids.
Article at Officer.com … Police Blog
- Dr arrested for supplying steroids to hundreds! of NJ police officers.
- lots of others, just Google “police” and “steroids”
People will continue to relate these events to broad, societal movements, prejudices and fears. I just have a suspicion that maybe we should also be exploring causes that tie more directly to the situational patterns and histories of the individuals involved.
Just a thought.