Curtis Dahlgren
February 6, 2013
Very important: regarding shooters, shootees, and shootings
By Curtis Dahlgren

Policeman: "Your son just held up a gas station, raped the clerk, and tried to kill her."

Mother: "That's funny. He's not that way at home."


I never attended Harvard, but I know a thing or two about mass shootings and shooters. I spoke at a funeral for a mass murderer. He was a friend of mine and I was trying to comfort his family. This is a story I've been trying to avoid for almost eight years.

The eight dead friends had all been to my house, including my minister about a month before. I had been in their homes, including the shooter's. I had often sat in the chair the minister was sitting in that day, but I wasn't there (I'd been on my way there, but went back home due to a car problem). The news was so numbing I couldn't shed a tear for six months. Just going to the funerals forced me to get PTSD counseling later.

The Sandy Hook shooting and subsequent debates have forced me to write this column. I'm hoping that Sandy Hook will be the last-of-a-kind, something like Kent State was the last-of-a-kind. However, Chicago had 26 murders in the first 13 days of 2013 they say. What's going on here?

A lawless generation. An undisciplined generation.

In some places it's a spoiled generation hooked on drugs, not phonics. What we have here is not a failure to communicate but a failure to grow up. I call it the Euripides hypothesis: you sow-a-dese, you-reap-a-dese. The results aren't as surprisiing as they are predictable. In the Rocky Mountains, climbing guides like to say "Gravity isn't just a 'good idea'; it's the LAW." Sort of like garbage-in/garbage-out.

My friend the shooter wasn't into drugs and I never saw him drink either. I had known him for almost 20 years and we traveled to out of state church activities three times. I don't know what was bothering him the most, but he was a bit embarrassed about being single. One time we checked into a hotel in Casper, and he said "I wonder what they think when they see two guys traveling?" Sometimes bachelors don't quite "fit in" in church either.

I didn't realize that he had been bullied as a teenager on the school bus. He was a little socially awkward, but not "gay." I think he was picked on for his haircut and a somewhat odd-sounding last name. And what set off his final outrage, we don't really know.

[As an aside, part of the problem with gay bashing is that suspected "gays" (falsely suspected) suffer too. But an anti-bullying campaign doesn't mean that we have to support "gays" politically! Liberals say "Stay out of our bedrooms!"; well, they should stay out of OURS too (Boy Scout camps).]

But back to the story. What can we do to stop the killings? We can arm school personnel, but I think the most important thing parents can do is "teach your children well," to coin a phrase. Life Lesson #1 is that temper tantrums will never be tolerated from an early age.

Corporal punishment out stage right and grief counselors in stage left. God out the back door and killers in the front door!

My friend the shooter came from a broken home, raised by a single mom. He treated her and his sisters well. But somewhere along the way he picked up a root of bitterness that ruined an otherwise bright mind, and the missing factor in discussions about shootings is the role of the spirit world.

Marx and Hegel, et al, believed that the physical is all that there is, and if science learned everything there is to know about the physical, we would know all there is to know about everything (academe's new paradigm).

I was talking to a guy in his 80s who believes that the physical is all that there is. I said to him "There's more to you than just your body, y'know." For a split second it looked like the light was going to go on. Then it went out like the Superdome, that paragon of green energy (your EPA at work). But anyway this senior citizen said later that "that stuff" – religion – is nonsense.

Animal, vegetable, or mineral?

How much is a good memory worth, and what exactly is a memory? What is a thought or what's an idea (animal, vegetable, mineral, or spirit)? What about 6th senses, ESP, premonitions, or even "women's intuition." And where do your dreams come from every night? Who writes that stuff?

To make a long story short, I believe that my friend-the-shooter was taken over by a 'stronger power' on the last day of his life. Under conditions of totally psychotic delusions, a shooter may be so twisted as to think he's doing something good. I told the family of my friend at his funeral that "he [probably] didn't know what he was doing." At least I should hope not.

I also hope that the Sandy Hook shooting turned the stomachs of some potential shooters out there. Maybe even in Chicago!

To be continued next week.

P.S. Happy birthday to Ronald Reagan and Ethan (the Alabama boy) on February sixth.

Survivors of shootings should know: Post-traumatic Sress Disorder CAN be treated. Don't procrastinate!

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in the frozen tundra of Michigan's U.P., and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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