Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aurora shootings

   Reaction to James Holmes's shooting spree reminds me of something the first ritual abuse child victims' advocate I met, Rick Doninger of Evansville, IN, told my classes how Children of the Underground founder Faye Yager (also a repeat guest in my classes, at whose home I stayed, whose child victimization dossiers she shared with me), had taught him to ask a question he had never in his training and experience even thought to ask a forthright victim: HAS ANYONE ELSE HURT YOU?
   I am time and again amazed at how we reduce violent outbursts like Holmes's as a problem of psychopathology.  I gave that assumption up when I forsook my (grand)parents' field of psychology for sociology: WHY PRESUME THAT DID WHAT HE DID ALL BY HIMSELF?
   Time and again in my socio-criminology career, I have time and again been amazed at how glibly we accept that the triggerman lived an "isolated" life in which he planned and executed, and surrendered, and had crazy hair, and refused to talk to authorities, and who in video coverage in court appears totally oblivious--either drugged or dissociating or both in combination, who knows?  Who even asks, except time and again to interview the owner of the shooting farm who wouldn't admit weird Arthur to membership on the family farm?
  Of course I don't know who else might be involved, but if I were investigating for the law or the press I would go out of my way to find out who Mr. Holmes DID have contact with, and do snowball interviewing if possible...and as a police interviewer I would figure it was perfectly okay with me if what he told me was legally inadmissible.  You simply present evidence that Holmes was the shooter and that people died and that the shooting was planned in advance, and settle for life without parole.  Otherwise, I might explore ways of talking with him and testing whether other personalities could be drawn out, asking him about associations with others, and so forth, Miranda be damned.
   I say it is more parsimonious to presume organized covert assistance, guidance and encouragement more than Holmes alone put the elaborate plan together over an extended period of time during which Holmes suddenly disappeared from public view.  It's like asking whether anyone else hurt you to ask who else DID meet with Holmes over that period.  It can begin simply by interviewing sellers of Holmes's paraphernalia.
  I don't mean that some particular conspiracy ought to be presumed, but as Rick Doninger discovered, the only that covert conspiracies come to light are by at least exploring the possibility that the Aurora shooting was planned and executed by more than one person.  We are reduced to psychologizing when we don't bother to look socially.  l and p hal

Hal Pepinsky, pepinsky@indiana.edu, pepinsky.blogspot.com, 519 Evergreen Circle, Worthington, OH 43085-3667, 1-614-885-6341

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