Monday, November 09, 2009

Warning Signs? What Warning Signs?

Sigh. "No warning signs"...

See the NY Times story: Fort Hood Gunman Gave Signals Before His Rampage. Or these 2 via Sullivan, from the Telegraph, and NPR.

NPR reported:
The psychiatrist [who worked alongside Hasan] says that he was very proud and upfront about being Muslim. And the psychiatrist hastened to say, and nobody minded that. But he seemed almost belligerent about being Muslim, and he gave a lecture one day that really freaked a lot of doctors out.

They have grand rounds, right? They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he - Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don't believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You're set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.

And I said to the psychiatrist, but this could be a very interesting informational session, right? Where he's educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, excuse me. But I'm a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the Koran, and then I don't believe what you say the Koran says. And then Hasan didn't say, well, I'm just giving you one point of view. He basically just stared the guy down.
Note, this may not be true (why would the Feds investigate some things Hasan said online but not when he gave an unprecedented religious rant about the Joy of Murder?), but hey, when you need to reduce the 'warning signs' to zero, some evidence gets thrown out.

Yet, back on The Styx's planet, it's predictable: every time there's some massive disaster or mass murder, the news agencies are quick to say that there were no warning signs. Besides the problem of retrojecting warning signs (Hasan was quiet! Killers are quiet!) there happen to be in almost every case huge red flags. As we saw with the VTech killer (a psychotic off his meds who published videos and stories about mass murder) Hasan gave numerous signals. Sure, most people seem to be dense, and it would have been nice had he told people explicitly - like John David Stutts - that he was about to go nuts. But honestly, what more do we need?

New Rule of Debate

I guess one step is to make it harder to buy a gun, but that would be unconstitutional. And guns don't kill people - nutjobs who easily buy guns do. And anyway, the media people - including most blogs I read - have emphasized that it is unseemly to use a mass murder (using handguns) to advance my partisan position of gun control.

Except, uh, two things: (1) In general, I don't take ethical lessons from journalists, and more importantly, (2) I am not a partisan on gun control. Were I to have an emotional connection to guns (e.g. an innocent loved one was gunned down, or I was saved by a gun) then you can say that I am partisan. But when do the Grand Ethicists allow a neutral person, like me, use evidence to make a decision about gun control?

In fact, the only people who demand that an incident not be used as evidence are the partisans themselves. So, OK - you can accuse me of being a partisan, but when that can be demonstrably gainsaid, then I claim that the incident is fair game.

Application of this Rule

So here goes: (1) I am neutral about guns. I happen to like them and would love to own one, shoot one every day, and if the opportunity presents itself, to kill someone who - if allowed - would have killed me or someone I care about.

(2) Yet, as an intelligent, judicious, and educated person, I have determined that the chances of my using a gun correctly is low while the possibility of inadvertent tragedy is high. I have three kids.

(3) It appears, from numerous major tragedies, that easy access to firearms has led to mass murder. As such, I believe that our gun rules are more likely to hurt me than to help me.

(4) When a new mass murder occurs, I see ways to prevent another one. Hence in this case, I want to bring up - as it is very relevant - that the killer used a handgun to destroy innocent people.


To be honest, I think - beyond the gun control issue - the real 'cause' of this - and the reason why the warning signs were ignored - is from the breakdown of resources in the military. If we weren't stretched to our limit, it's more likely that this guy would have been stopped earlier. But, IRONY ALERT, because we needed mental health professionals to help with crazy soldiers, this crazy solider was forced to keep his crazy.

Quick Update

A quick clarification, and prediction: I predict that we'll discover (and if not, then it's a probable coverup) that Hasan would have been diagnosed as a security risk had it not been for our insane need for active-duty retention. The army paid a lot of money to make this psycho a doctor and they were not going to allow his being psycho make them lose their money. Even if we find out that he was convinced to go on a suicide mission by a Crazy Cleric, all that will show is that the crazy clerics could recognize the warning signs. As such, if we *was* recruited, it will show that his psychosis was even more evident. Take it from me, there are always warning signs. I'll expand on this with my long-awaited "Jaws" Essay.

First pic was self-made, second from this site.

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