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July 1, 2015

Portrait of A Mass Murderer

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – He looks 13. The mop head and slanted blue eyes could easily pass for an eighth grader. One can just imagine him placing a carton of milk onto his cafeteria tray.

He would pass onto high school, date girls, get a little drunk and graduate with a solid B. In college, probably a state school, he would major in history, smoke a little dope and earn a teaching degree. Summers would be spent as a life guard at a resort or around a pool. Nancy would be his girlfriend’s name.

The neurons with their synapses, axons and dendrite branches usually grow normally in the frontal lobe of the brain. By the time the teenager reaches 21, all the connections are made, the electricity running through then is correct and the chemical reactions go bubbling along.

However, something got twisted in the young man's brain. Something awful, sinister and evil managed to insert itself in one of those cells and turn him from a normal teenager into a hate-filled psychopath.

They beginning seems to be in the first years of high school. He failed the ninth grade twice. The sinister molecules were just beginning to be entrenched in his frontal lobe building bit by bit. But for seven years he disappears. There is talk about him experimenting with drugs, a landscape business where they will hire anyone who can push a wheel barrow and some Internet pictures.

Then there is the so called manifesto. I call it an essay. It’s well organized, grammatically correct and spelling is near perfect. I would put it at the level of a college sophomore. While one part of his brain was harboring thoughts of destruction, another was intellectually growing, becoming stronger. The boy was not stupid.

However, as the atoms built one-by-one from the hatred devised by the Internet sites, it slowly built within him a dome of energy that would burst forth in a church in Charleston. It could just as well been anything else though. We just have to look at the other mass murderers to see that.

America's reaction to the senseless murders was to blame a flag. Somehow, this piece of cloth flying over the Statehouse in Charleston leapt down and caused all those enzymes in the boy’s brain to pile up and scream murder. It, of course, didn't. The cause was all those brain waves doing a loop-de-loop that sent the boy running for a gun. Voices in his head and a beautiful mind that he couldn't control.

The problem is we have no idea why or how these small pieces of tissue develop in such a way that make a mass murderer. We don't know why one day things go so awry that the person decides to enter a church, movie theatre or classroom and blast away. We are long past locking up guns, blaming society for the behavior or even a flag.

There are things we could do, of course. More guidance counsellors in schools may have prevented him from failing the ninth grade twice or sent him off in a different direction. Mental health people could have caught him in jail and changed the twisted molecules as they started their turn.

We will never know how many people these persons stopped a molecule from forming and growing. But it is worth a try because that is all we have.

Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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