The Shooting in Connecticut

It is next to impossible to find out what really happened because instead of communicating the news and describing the events, people keep delivering pre-fabricated narratives where the names of actual participants and places only serve to create an erroneous impression that what is being discussed is related to what really happened.

Here are some of the pre-fabricated narratives that are being rolled out under the pretext of the CT mass shooting:

1. An idyllic place in CT with a low crime rate and a tight-knit community is plucked out of its innocence by a tragedy. I’m away from a computer right now, so I can’t provide links. If you need, though, I can give you half a dozen links to major media outlets that push this version of the story. I don’t know what the story’s creators are smoking but it is so ridiculous that there has got to be some medication involved. I lived in CT for years and it’s an economically devastated, extraordinarily ugly, hopelessly crime-ridden place that is depressing and tragic. Out of all the US states that I lived in or visited, Connecticut is by far the worst. I have no idea what made it this way but it is what it is.

Of course, I’m not saying this because I think the hopelessness of the state somehow made the shooter kill his victims. You understand that, right? What I’m saying is that the cheesy “trouble in paradise” narrative that is being created around these events makes me want to vomit.

2. Autistics are creepy and unpredictable. And even non-autistics who happen to be unsociable and shy are also a mass murderer waiting to happen. Adopting this narrative allows people to feel self-righteous and vindicated. “I’m good, I’m not a mass murderer or one of those crazy autistics.” It isn’t that hard to find people with worse social skills than you do, which is why dumping on autistics (who get unfairly equated with bad sociability) allows anybody to feel better about oneself for no real reason.

3. And, of course, there are the “gun whisperers” who are delighted of yet another opportunity to engage in the “guns-good-guns-bad” debate. Both sides of this debate like to inflict their phallic obsession on the world whenever they can, so I expect a major flare-up of activity from them in the coming weeks.

I have only been able to look at about a dozen articles on this subject but I have no doubt that more narratives will emerge over time. Of course, it is absolutely normal and very human to see everything in terms of a story, a neatly packaged, well-plotted narrative that has no loose ends and that answers all questions. I just wish that the stock of stories we operate with expanded a little bit.

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19 comments on “The Shooting in Connecticut

  1. You raise an extraordinarily good argument in your second point. We try and distance ‘those who are capable of such things’ from ourselves, so we can know we’re not like that. I think the distancing itself is a fear of admitting evil lurks in all of us. There’s a great mix of circumstances, decisions, nature and nurture involved, but in the end, I believe we are all rotten. Knowing this might help way more than finding what might separate the decent people from ‘those others’.

    I know we both don’t like social psychology as a science, but you can see the so-called fundamental attribution bias at work when this happens. I know I see it in myself.

    PS. I know your readership can place this in the right context, but you never know what way people may find you. The way I’m grieved by such horrors can never be reflected in comments like these.

  2. “CT [is a] hopelessly crime-ridden place”.

    I looked at statistics from the FBI on violent crime rate per US state. In all categories except “larceny-theft” and auto theft, the rate per 100,000 was below the national mean. Even when I remove the outlier of Washington DC, the rate is still below the mean, except in the category of robbery. I therefore conclude that CT, is on average less crime-ridden than the US as a whole. I therefore have no idea what you mean when you claim that “CT [is a] hopelessly crime-ridden place” (unless, of course, you mean that the entire US is a “hopelessly crime-ridden place.”) Could you please clarify?

    • I don’t know a single person who lived in New Haven when I did and who wasn’t a victim of at least one violent crime. But these crimes are impossible to report. The police officers I called to report being assaulted treated me in a way that made me never want to report anything ever again. And they never actually filed my report. So I wouldn’t trust those stats.

      In New Haven, I was too scared to leave my house after 8 pm. I’d regularly hear or see shootings from my window. And that was on Yale campus. I can only imagine what goes on in Bridgeport.

      I still have no explanation for why CT is so bad. But it is a disaster of a state. IL and IN are paradise in comparison. I can even go outside without fearing for my life.

      • I sort of say this below. But I know safety and crime can vary wildly within a state. For instance, Gary IN is marked by blight, poverty, and crime while other parts of IN are lovely. So I think something similar might be happening with CT.

      • Yes, I’ve been to Gary, IN and it’s horrible. Bit when you drive across Indiana, you see that Gary is different from most of the rest of the state. CT, however, is ugly, dilapidated and just plain horrible all the way through. And it isn’t just my opinion. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a Canadian whose very first visit to the US was to CT. He also was horrified by what he saw.

        CT is quite small and I rode through it many many times. Didn’t see a single village, hamlet, or crossroads that wasn’t scary. It looks like a place at war. The entire state does.

  3. These are good points. I don’t know if CT is “crime-ridden”, but I always notice in these shooter stories that the old narrative of “it could never happen here, this is such a wonderful place” is trotted out. Regarding autistics, I have to say, these kind of attitudes “against” autism, for instance believing autistics are people to be feared, are making me nervous about the future. Autistic people face enough difficulties with neurotypicals already, and this growing narrative is alarming. Regarding guns, yes, now people on both sides of the issue are going to be even more rabid.

  4. For what it’s worth, I think New Haven CT (which where I presume you lived) is different from other parts of CT. I think there are parts of CT that are wealthy and represent “idyllic Anericana.” I have no idea what this particular town is like though: it might be like New Haven for all I know!

    I know what you mean about the annoying narratives that get circulated after a tragedy: one that I find particularly repugnant suggests that these shootings have been happening because prayer is not allowed in public schools. So insane and wrong. Ugh.

    So do you think that that this shouldn’t provoke a discussion about guns and gun laws? I admit that my response to the tragedy is to focus on the ridiculously lax gun laws in this county; I think that the repeated occurances of these mass shootings suggests that we should ban semi-automatic weapons and that we need to make all weapons harder to get. I really hope we have some gun legislation soon: but I don’t consider myself a “gun whisperer.” ;)

    • Germany has had multiple mass school shootings and has very restrictive gun laws, but it doesn’t prevent the mass shootings from occurring. I don’t think gun control is the answer here. Also remember that CT has some pretty strict gun laws, and this guy stole his mother’s guns.

      Banning semi-autos I think would infringe on people’s right to protect themselves too much. Most all handguns are semi-auto, unless one expects people to protect themselves with level-actions, bolt-actions, etc…it just doesn’t seem workable. Also, there are so many guns already in the country that banning semi-autos would just leave them in the hands of the criminals.

      • Last year 42 people died in Germany from gunshot wounds. Over 10,000 American died from gunshot wounds. Germany and the US aren’t even in the same planet when it comes to gun deaths.

      • Mass shootings still happen in Germany. In terms of gun deaths themselves, a lot of the gun violence in the United States occurs in the inner cities with hand guns, due to things such as gang violence, drugs, a breakdown of the family unit, and so forth.

      • 15 out of the 25 mass shootings in 50 years happened in the US. No other country comes close to us in gun violence or mass shootings. We can attribute this to many causes (although I do think our lax gun laws make it worse) but we can’t that Germany or any other country is on par with the US when it comes to this.

      • No other developed country, you mean? I’m sure things are a lot worse in the Congo.

        In my native city of Kharkov something horrible happened on Friday, too. Several unidentified persons entered the apartment of a district attorney, cut off his head and those of his family members and left taking the heads with them.

        I hope people understand that I’m not saying this to advance any argument. I’m just sharing this tragic news.

      • Yes. I mean developed country. I should have been more clear! :) And we should be comparing ourselves to developed countries, I guess I’m just trying to say that we can’t say that Germany’s murder rates compare to the US’s. It simply isn’t true.I think our death rates from gun violence are a national travesty.

  5. I doubt that this incident has much to do with whether or not CT is relatively crime-ridden or crime free. Criminals rarely mow down little kids in a school. Nutcases do that and they are difficult to spot in advance. With one exception. Parents almost know if a child is off his rocker. The mother was a disgrace to leave weapons and ammunition accessible in a household where a creepy individual lived. Of course she died, But I always think first about parents and siblings when evaluating how lunatics walk free and end up killing innocents.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiences about living in Connecticut. I’m going to stay clear of that state if I’m ever to move out of Georgia even though when I lived in Rhode Island and drove to New York City with my family every so often, the state itself didn’t look too bad along I-95. Certain cities in New Jersey also sound similar to New Haven in terms of the hopelessness in reducing the rampant crime (Newark, Trenton, and Camden for example)

  7. I suspect that your experience in New Haven exaggerates your views about the state as a whole. New Haven is a dump. Yale University – full as it is of left-wing ideology, shamelessly ignores the poverty that surrounds it. That, of course is typical of wealthy left-wing ideologs. Their comparative wealth makes them feel so superior. Limousine liberalism is the name that best identifies that attitude of mind. Every time that I visited Yale law school, I came away depressed by the shallowness of its faculty and the intellectual emptiness of its student body. All the walls were plastered with socialist drivel. And the inhabitants did not know their way to the real world bathroom.

    • Yes. Yes, this is exactly how it was. There is this brand of liberalism whose representatives feel enormously superior to the people whose rights they claim to defend. And yes, most people were hugely vapid there. I had a really bad time there because I didn’t find a community of scholars I had envisioned. I found a community of spoiled whinnying babies.

  8. “I lived in CT for years and it’s an economically devastated, extraordinarily ugly, hopelessly crime-ridden place that is depressing and tragic. Out of all the US states that I lived in or visited, Connecticut is by far the worst. I have no idea what made it this way but it is what it is. ”

    The insurance industry had big problems there way before the last financial crisis.

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