There they go again making excuses for the Paddocks
Earl O. Hutchinson | 10/12/2017, 6 a.m.
The predictable began the instant Stephen Paddock mass murdered 59 persons and wounded hundreds more. That is, the almost by now ritual handwringing, soul searching and pop psychology rationalizations to explain the behavior of white mass murderers. There is the round the clock, non-stop coverage of investigators’ effort to find his motive for the carnage. In Paddock’s case, there is the dash to talk to every family member, friend, acquaintance, teacher, priest, rabbi, or even a parking attendant, that ever had any contact with him. The questions are always the same: “What was he like?” “Did you notice anything odd about his behavior?” “Did he say or do anything out of the ordinary?” Then there’s the almost obligatory revelation that the shooter suffered depression, high anxiety, was distraught, or in Paddock’s case, had aggressive tendencies. This leads to the equally inevitable revelation that he was on meds to treat his condition.
None of this is deliberately done to create public sympathy or depict the mass killer as an object worthy of sympathy. That’s impossible. However, it does inadvertently do something that, given the bestial nature of his crime, is equally despicable: namely humanize him and his actions. The rush to try to understand, make sense of, and come to grips with the killer as a real person is treatment that’s only reserved for white males. With few exceptions, they are the ones who routinely mass murder in America. And they are the ones who get the intense glare of media character studies and deep personality probes.
Countless studies have been cited that compare and contrast how whites who commit crime, even mass murder, are routinely apologized for, sanitized, psychoanalyzed, or simply ignored. This in brutal comparison to how blacks, even black victims of white crimes, are depicted. Following the slaying of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, the Huffington Post did a telling compare and contrast of the ritual apologetics for misbehavior or lawbreaking by whites and blacks citing several well-publicized recent cases. In an Alabama multiple murder case in 2010, the white suspect, a college professor, was described as “brilliant, but a social misfit.” In the shooting death of a Black in Montgomery, Alabama, the description was “the homicide victim had a history of narcotics abuse, tangles with the law.”
A New York man, who was a star athlete, killed his parents in 2010, was depicted as mentally challenged “brilliant, athletic — but his demons were the deaths of his parents.” Trayvon Martin, murdered by George Zimmerman, was repeatedly raked over the coals for alleged drug use, and his school suspensions. This in contrast to the 15-year-old Oregon school shooter who shot up his school in 2014, a headline read, “school shooting suspect fascinated with guns, but was a devoted Mormon, his friends say.” When mass murderer, Elliot Rodgers, went on his shooting rampage at U.C. Santa Barbara in 2014, there was much media soul searching trying to get inside his head. This was neatly summed up in a headline that read, “Suspect was soft-spoken, polite, a gentleman, says ex-principal.”