5th Girl Dies in Amish School Shooting

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Police say a milk truck driver carrying three guns and a childhood grudge stormed a one-room Amish schoolhouse, sent the boys and adults outside, barricaded the doors with wood planks, and then opened fire on a dozen girls, killing three people before committing suicide.

Early Tuesday, authorities confirmed reports that two more girls died, bringing the death toll to five plus the gunman.

Five other girls are in the hospital.

Police say notes and phone calls show the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, was "angry at life, he was angry at God." While some who knew him saw no signs of trouble, others say his mood had darkened and he'd stopped chatting and joking with co-workers and customers.

This is America's third deadly school shooting in less than a week.

More here.

Nothing diminishes the sorrow and sadness of this sort of event, but arguably one of the things that makes it more difficult to deal with is the sheer random nature of it and what appears to be the individual pathology of the perpetrator.

Reason wrote about the Columbine school shooting–which did seem to be rooted in a larger psycho-social context, though one that was hard to pin down exactly–here and here.

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  1. There is probably no clear solution to this, but what bothers me especially are family members and close associates who don’t intervene when someone starts exhibiting clearly psychotic and violently anti-social tendencies. I refuse to believe that these animals have the sophistication to have a secret identity.

    I don’t have an easy answer, and maybe there isn’t one, but I think there should be some way that people who are in close contact (including mental health professionals and law enforcement who rubber-stamp someone through the system) should be held accountable.

  2. It comes to you courtesy of soap opera women’s thirst for more soap opera. A perfect audience for perfect news media!

    That plays into the nutball criminal’s wish for notariety.

    Everybody wins.

    Except that any adult national debate is driven with shamed wing from the scene by this crap.

    Soap opera edits the nation’s news.

  3. family members and close associates who don’t intervene when someone starts exhibiting clearly psychotic and violently anti-social tendencies.

    some way that people who are in close contact (including mental health professionals and law enforcement who rubber-stamp someone through the system) should be held accountable.

    Psyhosis and anti-social tendendcies are by definition unresponsive to persuasion. Apart from preventive detention based on thought-policing, or universal disarmement, how are first offenses preventable?

  4. M:

    You make very good points. But do you think a man, who obviously was a very sick fuck, never, ever acted out his dark tendencies in any way, shape, or form in 32 years?

    This animal’s wife is actually singing praises about him. It’s fucking sick. The mental illness doesn’t seem isolated. People are living in a perpetual state of denial. I consider it to be criminal negligence.

  5. But do you think a man, who obviously was a very sick fuck, never, ever acted out his dark tendencies in any way, shape, or form in 32 years?

    Maybe not. That’s like saying anyone who intends to commit suicide walks around in a nappy, crying constantly with ‘depressed’ written on their forehard in black marker pen.

    I’m sure it’s entirely possible for a person to ‘snap’ in such a manner and go from being regular depressed, quiet and anti-social (in the gentlest sense of the work) to out and out psychotic.

  6. My question wasn’t an objection, but rather a thought-experiment. Example: How predictable were the following individual’s actions, and who should have intervened, when, and how?

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hinckley/HBIO.HTM

  7. Ron Hardin: Seriously, you need to seek therapy to get over your ex-wife. I know she ripped your heart out and stomped it into itsy-bitsy pieces, which was just too much for a sensitive guy like you to take, but I think blaming a school shooting on soap operas is probably an indication that you have officially lost your fucking mind.

  8. How predictable were the following individual’s actions, and who should have intervened, when, and how?

    I wouldn’t want to go down that road. It would end up with me telling, in a slightly brusque manner, the female cashier in Walmart to stop talking to her friend on her mobile phone and zap my shopping and then being reported and detained in an underground facility somewhere outside New Jeresy with electrodes on my testicles jolting me until I showed signs of regular normal behaviour.

    Crazy just happens.

  9. Tim:

    I don’t know what is setting you off, dude. Ron makes a very good point. This and other recent events is clearly being packaged for one big, collective, emotive jerk-off led by high priestesses like Oprah and Rosie.

    And, of course, this will be heavily exploited to openly attack the basic right of self-protection of peaceful, law abiding citizens.

  10. It comes to you courtesy of soap opera women’s thirst for more soap opera. A perfect audience for perfect news media!

    What exactly do you think soap opera is, Ron? I’ll cop to not having watched much myself, but it seems to be mostly about sex affairs, love triangles, and bickering. I’ll even grant that sometimes the news can put that sort of spin of cases. But this case?

    What would you put on the news?

  11. I’m confused. I thought we had already determined that school shootings were caused by listening to Marilyn Manson and playing Grand Theft Auto. I remember there a proven positive causation.

    I’m sure Nancy Grace will let us know the low down later tonight.

  12. Yep. Nancy Grace must be creaming her jeans right about now.

  13. MNG,
    Mental health professionals aren’t anywhere near as omniscient as you seem to think they ought to be.
    Yes, it would have been helpful if someone had intervened. Perhaps even institutionalized him against his will if needed. Still, I wonder how that would have gone over here.
    It’s a bit of a conundrum for those of us who believe in liberty and promote individuality. A lot of individuals are profoundly fucked-up. I work in Mental health and I see them every day. It hasn’t caused my mind to change on anything, but I don’t think it serves anyone to act as if these things won’t occasionally happen in a free society.

  14. Mr. Nice Guy:

    A friend of mine growing up – the kid voted “most likely to succeed” in our eighth grade class, and arguably the nicest, kindest, and most popular – walked into a fast food restaurant a few years ago and started shooting. None of us saw it coming.

    So, yes, as Mark VIII said, crazy just happens.

    JMJ

  15. Yep. Nancy Grace must be creaming her jeans right about now.

    Only if police can implicate an accomplice whom she can declare to be guilty. She can only work with cases where no one knows what happened and she can scream that each “person of interest” did it.

  16. Perhaps it is crass, but the simple fact that humans can go shithouse crazy for no apparent makes me more inclined to have a firearm available for my personal protection.

  17. MNG: It’s one thing to say that, hey, there’s a lot wrong with the 24-hour news cycle, it’s another to bring it around to “the guy did it because women like soap operas.”

    I mean, is the 24-hour news cycle sometimes disturbing and always obnoxious? Sure, but I can’t really make any sort of reasonable, logical connection with what that has to do with women and soap operas. I’m sure Mr. Hardin will enlighten me on that point.

  18. Here’s highlights coming up at 9am, as given by the news babe to Imus on MSNBC

    “It’s a serious national story, and you soap opera fans are the serious ones. We mean you women by your TVs. Stay tuned. We’ll sell you products. Don’t tune away.”

    http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/imuscut.upcomingnews.ram

    It will stay a national story until there’s a better copycat shooting, and then it will take over.

    Something even better finally ends the cycle, and we’re off on a new soap opera craze.

    As to shootings abstractly, it’s a big country, and they’re so infrequent as to be not worth worrying about.

    Clue bat : 100,000 people die in the world on a normal day. 10,000 in America.

    They pick out the best stories in terms of their product, which is you. News media produce audience. They sell you to advertisers. That’s the business they’re in.

    The other 999,995 people don’t matter because this is a story they can suck you in with, and they’re not.

    People say they want hard news, but they don’t watch unless there actually is hard news. Soap opera women tune in every day, and they’re easy to satisfy, so that’s the business model for news organizations. It’s that or go bankrupt.

    The problem is that it takes over all the terrain. Women edit the nation’s agenda.

    So you see a post in Reason, which ought to know better, on the problem of school shootings.

    There’s a problem of what the other 999,995 people died of, too.

    Or, you could say, it’s all part of life.

  19. Or maybe the guy did it because he was holding a grudge for 20 years like a sociopath. That’d be my guess, but you go with the soap-opera thing, Ron, this is America, you can think what you like.

  20. Soap operas? Hell no. It’s the gad-danged game shows!

  21. If you want to discuss the issues with how bloody stupid the news has gotten, I’m all up for that, but I think it has little to do with gender and everything to do with the natural human tendency to look at trainwrecks. We’ve got rubber-necking news, it’s stupid, obnoxious, and dumb: but, that’s what people want. It ain’t just the womenfolk either. I mean, women’s preferences is probably about 50% to blame, with the other half falling squarely on “non-women” or, as I like to call them, men.

    And it’s also pretty pathetic that school shootings are only news when they happen to white people in the suburbs, but that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

  22. Soap opera does it because it produces copycat shootings, by staying in the news.

    It stays in the news because women watch it, and the women can be sold the advertisers.

    So the guy thinks : I can validate by 20 year grudge by shooting up a school.

    His grudge will be in the news for weeks, he figures.

    Best idea all day, as far as he’s concerned.

    And the media profit too!

  23. Timothy,

    Good photo. Do you think he might have been angry because he looked like a montage character from the Cheers’ title sequence?

  24. Men are into crash photos page 4.

    Unfortunately there aren’t good crashes anymore, and they’re too infrequent to support the news business.

    So it’s women or nothing.

    Damn jet planes leave nothing but a field of debris.

  25. Ron, you seriously need to chill the fuck out. I doubt Amish-shooter-guy was inspired by a desire to replicate some plot point on General Hospital or All My Children or whatever the hell soap operas are out there these days, and furthermore I doubt a country containing nothing but men would have news shows free of sensationalism, blood and gore.

    By the way, when I saw this on the news last night I saw a bunch of ads for those over-the-counter impotence pills, as well as some beer commercials with the message “Drink our product, and bikini models will materialize out of thin air and beg to fellate you.”

    Hint: these ads are meant to appeal to members of a certain gender, but it’s not the female one.

  26. “Drink our product, and bikini models will materialize out of thin air and beg to fellate you.”

    Personally, I’m getting pretty damn tired of those bikini models materializing when I’m trying to get something done.

  27. I imagine the guy was inspired by getting on the news, showing his grudge to the very women he has the grudge against. Perfect symbiosis.

    He’s not duplicating a plot but borrowing an audience.

    The media in the meantime take what’s available new (unanswered questions! stay tuned. can it happen here? etc. Scaring women is the greatest news hook available.) and provide him the audience. See the tidbits upcoming above clip, from MSNBC. No guy would watch that.

    The audience for news magazine shows is almost entirely women.

    The nightly news is watched by the same woman and her husband, just to take a wild guess.

  28. Be honest, Ron: Mr. Mobius was inspired to invent his one-sided, endless-circular strip after a discussion with you, right?

  29. and furthermore I doubt a country containing nothing but men would have news shows free of sensationalism, blood and gore.

    It would, however, be free of soap opera.

    Probably news as genre would not survive, and be replaced by sports talk entirely, picking up the male morons to replace the female morons.

    Only 40% of women are soap junkies, so it’s not as if an entire gender were being slammed here. Just a lot of them.

  30. Ron,

    You are a fucking idiot.

    Go fuck yourself.

    You don’t belong on a site called “reason”.

  31. I imagine the guy was inspired by getting on the news, showing his grudge to the very women he has the grudge against. Perfect symbiosis.

    Ron,

    You need to stop watching 24. No one, in the history of the universe, has ever done anything for the express reason of achieving ‘symbiosis’.

  32. Be honest, Ron: Mr. Mobius was inspired to invent his one-sided, endless-circular strip after a discussion with you, right?

    Moebius. The umlaut adds a half twist.

    I think he got it from Gauss.

  33. Clue bat : 100,000 people die in the world on a normal day. 10,000 in America. They pick out the best stories in terms of their product, which is you. News media produce audience. They sell you to advertisers. That’s the business they’re in.

    As an official member of the mainstream news media, I must admit Ron has a point. People die every day. Just yesterday, in fact, we had somebody die in our city, yet for some mysterious reason my editor (who is a man, by the way) didn’t think 97-YEAR-OLD DIES IN HIS SLEEP was as headline-worthy as CRAZED GUNMAN MURDERS FIVE SCHOOLGIRLS.

    Verily, ’tis an enigma.

  34. Jennifer : I bet you a quarter that there were 10 schoolgirls who died yesterday in the normal course of daily events.

    The audience is unaware, and is provided no reason to be aware, how editing happens, and for what reason.

    Unless they pick it up because the damn news is aimed at some other gender, and you ask yourself the fatal question : “Who watches this crap?”

  35. Ron Hardin,

    Everybody wins.

    Except for the girls who are shot, and their families, and their friends.

    Nice to know you’re such a humanitarian.

  36. My father-in-law also passed away yesterday morning. A man in his 70s, succumbing after a long fight with cancer–why isn’t this making headlines throughout the world? Surely this is rare and unusual enough to warrant notice.

  37. I forget, was Hardin one of those people who whined about 9/11 dominating the news that week?

  38. Except for the girls who are shot, and their families, and their friends.

    Their grief is entertainment for millions. That’s the news biz.

    In airline disasters, one of the stock stories is coverage of keeping the reporters away from the grieving relatives, a second-level grief story. “So bad is the grief, that reporters are kept away.” Women love this stuff.

    It’s one of the great immoralities of the news biz, that disaster is converted into entertainment.

    People don’t realize that they’re being entertained, even. They think entertainment means happy. But women get off on grief even better, and tune in for more of it.

    John and Ken long ago proposed “The Grief Channel.”

    The shootings are a blow to relatives and friends of these girls, and entertainment to everybody else.

    My rap on sympathy : when you say “sorry about your father” to somebody, you’re not saying you’re sorry. You’re not sorry. What you’re doing is cutting him some social slack for a while. You’re saying he doesn’t have to laugh at the same joke you’ve told a thousand times as if it’s funny, and you’re saying it’s okay if the work project is late. And he has a use for that. That’s why sympathy is offered, and why it’s a decent thing to do.

    If you have no connection with the guy, your sympathy is you entertaining yourself. He has no use for it. Only you do.

    Well worth $4.95 to the hated NYT, buy the article “Diana’s Death Resonates with Women in Therapy” Sept 13 1997, by Jane Gross.

    Read by John and Ken here : http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/diana2.ram

    Death is distributed in the world, and each one is probably important to somebody. But it’s different somebodys, and it becomes a background of the fact of life.

    Unless the news biz picks one out as attractive for business reasons. Then it’s all you can talk about, until the next news biz event prepared for you.

    Ridicule of this process is on the side of good.

  39. Ron-You have one fair point buried in a mountain of misogyny and fuzzy thinking.

    One thing- “I’m sorry” is not a social lubricant, at least among the non-psychotic. It means, roughly, “I like you and hate to see you in pain because of event x. I regret that the event making you unhappy occurred and that the pain you will feel as a result of that accident will be with you no matter once. Perhaps this sincere expression of sympathy from a friend will make things slightly less awful.”

    That’s a lot to say, and “I’m sorry” conveys those senitments rather nicely.

  40. Sorry, folks, I’m with Ron on this. I watch the daytime news channel feeds all day at work, and they are specifically tooled to attract all-day viewers who crave continuity and sensationalism. This trend is deeper than one could imagine. It is not about news, and it never has been. After reading the number of viewer mails we get from people who think their cat would make a good news story, or demanding that they be hired for football commentary, it takes no stretch of the imagination whatsoever to infer that a nutjob is inspired to perform inhuman crimes solely to be a top story.

  41. “No one, in the history of the universe, has ever done anything for the express reason of achieving ‘symbiosis’.”

    Uh… Heaven’s Gate? Jonestown? Anyone? Anyone? Buelllllerrrrr….

    Didn’t Hinckley think he had some sort of “psychic link” with Jodie Foster?

    Just sayin’… Crazy people frequently believe they have connections to other people that don’t exist.

  42. First thing I thought of when I read this story was we need a law that every adult over 25 should be armed at all times.

    Those pregnant/nursing school aides and the teacher could have punched this nut’s clock before any innocents were hurt.

    Universal gun ownership: It’s for the children!!

  43. Jeff P.,

    That’s a plausible theory, but there is ultimately no way to prove his motive, so why the speculations? Also, I’ll agree the media likes to keep sensationalists watching, but I know just as many male drama-addicts as I do female ones, and just as many men who watch the stupid local news as women. I don’t see what gender has to do with it…Ron Hardin could just as easily make the same ridiculous claim and attribute the perceived problem to black people or jewish people or another group, and any rational person would be easily able to see that it is completely misguided and unfounded bigotry directed at that group.

  44. Sorry, folks, I’m with Ron on this. I watch the daytime news channel feeds all day at work, and they are specifically tooled to attract all-day viewers who crave continuity and sensationalism.

    That’s not what Ron said, Jeff; he said it’s all the fault of those damned double-X chromosome people.

    Sigh. If only men ran the world. No more sensationalism, no more stupidity . . . nothing but sensible news, like the events leading up to the Spanish-American War and the War of Jenkin’s Ear. You know, the important events that were dubbed newsworthy back before women were allowed to vote and earn our own money, thus persuading the news media to switch from sober importance to squalid yellow journalism.

  45. Sorry for the threadjack, but my rant reminds me of the Texas Tower shooter, and how men (not of law enforcement) appeared out of nowhere with their rifles and pinned the freak down. From what I understand, it was because of them that the killer wasn’t able to claim more victims.

    If this happened today, no doubt these riflemen would’ve been thrown in jail and vilified by the press.

  46. “I bet you a quarter that there were 10 schoolgirls who died yesterday in the normal course of daily events.”

    the normal part of the above is what makes the abnormal deaths newsworthy.

    in other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.

  47. That’s not what Ron said, Jeff; he said it’s all the fault of those damned double-X chromosome people.

    Women like irresolution not because they’re stupid but because they like to relate multiple aspects of unsettled situations. It’s invigorating to them.

    A guy abstracts out a single aspect and solves that, and then goes on to the next.

    Each way of being interested has its merits.

    Soap opera news aims to hook the way women are interested in things, and a large number are hooked. This pays the bills every day, and so it’s a business model for the news biz.

    It leads to the stupidity we have taking over all the terrain.

    The solution is ridicule of this audience.

    What will replace it is an open question. Probably sports.

    I do think that giving women the vote is fatal to democracy. There’s too big a bloc of state-as-daddy lovers. The 60% of women who vote like men are likely to prefer a man-only election as well, since this swing vote no longer exists.

    The prospects of this are zero, however. So ridicule is the way to go.

    When sports takes over, then ridicule that.

  48. Mr. Nice Guy:

    Seems on-topic to me, so I wouldn’t call it a threadjack. (It’s probably more so than the John Bogart-esque “man – er, woman? – bites dog” discussion going on.)

    And along those lines: at the time of the incident I mentioned, someone in town – a guy known for carrying on a fairly regular basis – stated that had he, or another armed citizen, been in the restaurant at the time, there would have been one less shooting victim (albeit a dead shooter – FWIW, Mike surrendered to police, and at present sits rotting in a prison cell). As uncomfortable and profoundly sad as it made me, I had to concur that it would have been the better outcome.

    JMJ

  49. Rule One: Before he makes you helpless, fight like hell.

    Rule Two: Carry something to fight with, preferably a handgun.

    Rule Three: Multiple murders like this one almost invariably happen in the small part of the U.S. where concealed carry is illegal. Avoid such areas whenever possible.

  50. I just can’t believe all the adults just filed out and let this nut take 10 young girls hostage. I don’t care if they are Amish pacificsts there comes a point were you have to fight back.

  51. I don’t care if they are Amish pacificsts there comes a point were you have to fight back.

    Reader’s Digest _Fun Fare_ (1949 anthology)

    A gentle Quaker, hearing a strange noise in his house one night, got up and discovered a burglar busy at work. So he went and got his gun, then came back and stood quietly in the doorway. “Friend,” he said, “I would do thee no harm for the world, but the standest where I am about to shoot.”

    (Quakers Feel Their Oats, p.100. with memorable illustration.)

  52. I just can’t believe all the adults just filed out and let this nut take 10 young girls hostage. I don’t care if they are Amish pacificsts there comes a point were you have to fight back.

    I’m sure the women are to blame for the men all walking out.

  53. I just can’t believe all the adults just filed out and let this nut take 10 young girls hostage. I don’t care if they are Amish pacificsts there comes a point were you have to fight back.

    I’m sure the women are to blame for the men all walking out.

  54. I just can’t believe all the adults just filed out and let this nut take 10 young girls hostage. I don’t care if they are Amish pacificsts there comes a point were you have to fight back.

    I’m sure the women are to blame for the men all walking out.

  55. The fact that Reason’s server sucks syphilitic ass is also women’s fault.

  56. Are the squirrels female?

  57. Are the squirrels female?

    No, but the server is overwhelemed by women looking for bullshit soap-opera articles like “Why Tim Cavanaugh Likes Star Trek,” thus making it impossible to access more important stories about stuff like civil liberties and taxes. You know, the stories that men care about. Manly men.

  58. Guys know to post with two windows, one to check whether the comment made it.

  59. Actually, Ron, I view sports as a little worse than daytime TV, insomuch as they eat up a significantly larger chunk of the economy.

    And sports has taken over. Time how long between incidents of sports references crossing your path.

    However, I must repeat, daytime news channels (the ones that set policy and foster talking points, and also set the news agenda for other media, including much of the internet) are specifically targetted at short-attention-span, low-to moderate-intelligence people. It is designed to stoke thier passions or incite their rage. It is not there to inform them, it is there to push buttons. It is TELEVISION before it is NEWS. No less than 100,000 hours of News Channel focus groups were held and studied in the last four years (figure from Spots & Dots, an ad newsletter for salespeople. I’ll try to find a link), and Fox, CNN and MSNBC each have Demographics departments, not a demo guy in the promotions department, but and entire department. This is market-targeting the likes of which Ped Xing from Max Headroom would be proud of.

    News channels know what they are selling, and who they are selling it to.

    Daytime news TV is at best a wholesale embarrassment of western culture, and at worst a threat and invitation for the target audience to try to get their own ongoing story graphic at the bottom of the screen. They are responsible for modern political discourse falling to the level of professional wrestling, and have skewed journalistic priorities by beating viewers over the head with non-stories.

    And I’ll also say this: if you watch more than two hours of a news channel a day (unless, like me, it’s part of your job) under any pretense other than irony, you’re probably on the slope to idiocy.

  60. “Rule Three: Multiple murders like this one almost invariably happen in the small part of the U.S. where concealed carry is illegal. Avoid such areas whenever possible.”

    That seems like a statement that would need some numbers backing it up. You must have them, because I know you are very informed on the issue.

    The recent mass shooting here in Seattle (at the jewish center) was perpetrated by a man who had a concealed-carry license, for a recent counter example.

  61. Catron County NM attempted to implement just such a law. It is very un-libertarian.

  62. In re: the discussion at the top of this Comments section:

    “Mr. Roberts had no criminal record or history of psychiatric illness, the authorities said.” (NY Times)

    My laptop is glad I’m a pacifist; this is attempt #6, taking 30 minutes so far.

  63. Fucking servers!

    Ok, I don’t watch the news on TV – can’t stand it. They must be paying you a lot to work in the sort of environment, Jeff.

    Ron, you make some good points but then attribute it entirely to women. No wonder our beautiful ladies are upset with you. Are women the only people at home watching TV in the daytime? Can’t you think of any other reason that daytime news is how it is? Jeff had a suggestion.

    MSM – how many people carry firearms in Seattle? Maybe the shooter there had a good idea that not a lot of people are packing and figured he could put his CWP to “good” use and not have to worry about someone firing back at him.

  64. Just walked pass our news room, where I heard one editor say to another “looks like shootings will be hot for another week, let’s move that airport security story to later in the month.”

    I keep washing my hands, but they never come clean…

  65. You don’t belong on a site called “reason”.
    And your moral outrage qualifies you somehow?

    The audience for news magazine shows is almost entirely women.

    Pretty close – women are about 1.6 times are likely as men to watch TV ‘news magazines’ and about 1.75 times as likely to watch ‘Network morning shows.’ (IOW viewers are about 2/3rds- women and 1/3rd+ men). The difference is less for other types of televisional edutainment.
    http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=834

    About the only TV news I can stomach for more than a few minutes are boring things like the Asian Business Report.

    And yeah, this guy was a nut and the timing of his nuttiness was probably not a coincidence, and his actions were pretty trivial in the overall scheme of things – far too trivial to warrant the soap-opera-style coverage he’s gotten and will continue to get (same goes for Columbine and the recent Bailey shootings). Soap-operas appeal to the simian mind.

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