Althouse | category: murder



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

I'm going to read "Fear pervades Tennessee's trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter's gender identity."

At NBC News. 

The headline signals that we are to prioritize empathy for members of the trans community because they are experiencing fear rather than to want to find out what happened and what role transgenderism may have played in the murder spree. This is the idea that just to talk about the subject or to want to understand and analyze something having to do with transgender people is already inflicting a harm: fear. The message is: Don't even think about it, move on, because your attention is hurting vulnerable people.

This, though three 9-year-old children were murdered, along with 3 adults, and our natural empathy would go to them. Instead, we're expected to look away because trans people feel fear of what you might think if you think about it. Indeed, fear pervades the trans community — at least in Tennessee.

From the article:
Within 10 minutes of police saying that the suspect was transgender, the hashtag #TransTerrorism trended on Twitter.

I added the link and scanned some of what is on Twitter. I can see that there are some people trying to put together a pattern that would show that trans people have a propensity toward violence or a plan, as a group, to seek vengeance for perceived wrongs. 

Around the same time, Republican lawmakers — including Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, and conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. — insinuated in social media posts that the shooter’s gender identity played a role in the shooting. And by Tuesday morning, the cover of the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post read: “Transgender killer targets Christian school.” 
“We are terrified for the LGBTQ community here,” Kim Spoon, a trans activist based in Knoxville, Tennessee, said. “More blood’s going to be shed, and it’s not going to be shed in a school.”....
Denise Sadler, a drag performer who is transgender, said... “You don’t know if [the shooter’s gender identity] is going to trigger a community of people who already hated us to come and try to shoot us to prove a point,” Sadler said. “At the end of the day, there’s a lot of hurt going on, there’s a lot of anger going on, there’s a lot of confusion going on.”...

It sounds as though everyone is afraid of violence. Some people are afraid that random transgender people are going to become murderers, and some transgender people are afraid some of those fearful people are going to go on the offensive and randomly murder transgender people. This is an amorphous but specific fear of violence. Both groups are afraid of each other. 

So far this year, Tennessee lawmakers passed two bills targeting LGBTQ people: A first-of-its-kind law that will criminalize some drag performances takes effect Saturday, and another that will ban gender-affirming care for the state’s minors becomes effective July 1. Nathan Higdon, the chief financial officer of Knoxville Pride Center, is helping organize protests against the new drag law in Nashville and Knoxville this upcoming weekend. 
Higdon said that while he and other organizers are “scared sh–less” that the conservative backlash over the shooter’s suspected gender identity will prompt violence, they’re going forward with the events as planned. “The people who hate us are always going to hate us,” Higdon said. “We can’t not do these things. We just can’t not show up.”

Are the protesters of the new laws in danger because of the school shooting? I'd like to think that human beings can think straight and would not hold the acts of an individual murderer against the group that murderer belongs to (or may belong to), but passion and irrationality are high, and protests are not exemplars of rationality and impassivity.

Not usually.

They can be. 

"A Maryland appeals court on Tuesday reinstated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the 'Serial' podcast who was freed last year..."

"... after he had spent 23 years fighting charges that he had killed his former high school girlfriend. The Appellate Court of Maryland ruled that a lower court had violated the right of Young Lee, brother of Hae Min Lee, the victim, to have been notified of and to attend a hearing on the state’s motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction. The appeals court ordered a new hearing on the state’s motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction. The court wrote that it 'has the power and obligation to remedy those violations, as long we can do so without violating Mr. Syed’s right to be free from double jeopardy.' 'We can do that, and accordingly, we vacate the circuit court’s order vacating Mr. Syed’s convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence.... We remand for a new, legally compliant, and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee is given notice of the hearing that is sufficient to allow him to attend in person, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision."

I presume Syed will remain free, Lee will be given a respectful hearing, and the result will remain the same.

"I've never seen the video. But what I’ve heard is very horrific, very horrific. And any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it."

"To the five police officers that murdered my son, you also disgraced your own families when you did this. I’m going to pray for you and your families, because at the end of the day, this shouldn’t have happened. This just shouldn’t have happened. We want justice for my son, justice for my son.” 

Said RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols’s mother, quoted in "Tyre Nichols Live Updates: Memphis to Release ‘Appalling’ Police Video/People who have seen the footage say it shows five police officers, who have been fired and charged with murder, beating Mr. Nichols, who died three days later. His family and officials have called for peaceful protest" (NYT).
Tony Romanucci, a lawyer for Mr. Nichols’s family, said the family is asking the Memphis Police Department to disband the specialized unit that was formed to help halt a surge of violence in the city. “The intent of the SCORPION unit has now been corrupted,” he said....

The release of the video is scheduled for sometime after 6 p.m. Central time on Friday.... Officials and the Nichols family pleaded with the public not to let outrage over what they see on the video spill into unrest....

"The 6-year-old, a first grader at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Va., shot a teacher with a handgun on Friday afternoon...."

"The boy and the teacher had been involved in an altercation in a classroom before the boy shot the teacher once, the police said.... The boy was in police custody Friday evening, the authorities said, but the unusual nature of the situation leaves the path forward far from clear.... Under Virginia law, a 6-year-old cannot be charged as an adult. And while it is possible the child could be charged criminally in juvenile court, the minimum age to be sentenced to a juvenile prison in Virginia is 11. 'The juvenile justice system is not really equipped to deal with really young kids who commit criminal offenses and is probably the wrong place to deal with a situation like this,' said Andrew Block, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law...."

From "After 6-Year-Old Is Accused in School Shooting, Many Questions and a Murky Legal Path/The teacher who was shot was in stable condition on Saturday, the police said, but details surrounding the gun remained unknown" (NYT).

The question cannot be what to do to a 6-year-old child. What has already been done to him that he is so ruined at the age of 6?

The teacher suffered life-threatening injury but has not died, but I wanted to see how young a child has committed murder. Here's a list at Wikipedia. A 4-year-old named Retta McCabe is said to have committed murder in 1897. The "beautiful, blue-eyed, golden-haired child" threw her infant brother onto the floor and "sprang upon the babe and beat it with all her might." The next youngest children on Wikipedia's list are 6 year olds. There were 3, including the killer of Kayla Renee Rolland in 2000:

Kayla Rolland was killed by a six-year-old male first grader at Buell Elementary School in the Beecher Community School District, located in Mount Morris Township, Michigan.... His father, Dedric Owens, was in jail for violating his parole.... The boy had been living with his mother, Tamarla, and his eight-year-old brother. She was evicted from her home... and both boys then shared a single sofa as a bed at their uncle's house. The home, where his uncle lived with a 19-year-old man, was a crack house where guns were frequently traded for drugs....

The boy was known to have behavioral issues, and was made to stay after school nearly every day for swearing, giving people the finger, pinching, and hitting. Some weeks before the shooting he stabbed a girl with a pencil. Chris Boaz, a seven-year-old classmate, claimed the boy once punched him because he would not give him a pickle. The boy had previously attacked Kayla Rolland and, on the day prior to the killing, tried to kiss her and was rebuffed....

"On the night in November when four University of Idaho students were murdered in a home near campus, another roommate awoke to a noise..."

"... that she thought was her friend playing with her dog. Then she heard someone crying, and a man saying something like, 'It’s OK, I’m going to help you.' When the roommate peered out of her room just after 4 a.m., she later told investigators, she stood in 'frozen shock'... Authorities have yet to detail a motive in the killings, nor has there been any explanation for why the two surviving roommates, who are also students at the University of Idaho, did not call 911 until shortly before noon the next day...."  

From "A Knife Sheath, Phone Pings and Trash: The Hunt for a Killer in Idaho/On the night four college students were killed, a roommate saw a man clad in black walk through the home. It took a cross-country investigation to find a suspect" (NYT). 

"All four victims, as well as the two surviving roommates, were back at the home before 2 a.m. The new documents suggest that [victim Xana] Kernodle was awake around the time of the killings, receiving a DoorDash delivery around 4 a.m. and apparently using the TikTok app on her phone 12 minutes later. Police said the murders likely happened before 4:25 a.m. In addition to hearing the crying and the man’s voice, the roommate on the second floor also heard one of her roommates say something like, 'There’s someone here,' around 4 a.m. At roughly the same time, a security camera from a nearby home picked up distorted audio of a whimpering sound and a loud thud. A dog could be heard barking several times...."

ADDED: When I first wrote this post — a few minutes ago — I mistook "Kernodle" as the name of the surviving roommate who is discussed at length but not named. Given what she heard, why didn't she call the police much sooner? Another way to look at that is: Why didn't the killing of 4 persons make much more noise, noise that obviously required calling the police (and/or escaping from the house)?

"[Amber] McLaughlin spoke quietly with a spiritual adviser at her side as the fatal dose of pentobarbital was injected."

"She was pronounced dead a few minutes later. 'I am sorry for what I did,' McLaughlin had said in a final written statement. 'I am a loving and caring person.'... The clemency petition cited McLaughlin’s traumatic childhood and mental health issues... [and] said that McLaughlin had received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.... But McLaughlin’s sexual identity was 'not the main focus' of the clemency request, her lawyer, Larry Komp, said. She was originally convicted in 2006 of the murder of Beverly Guenther, 45, who had taken a restraining order.... 'McLaughlin terrorised Ms Guenther in the final years of her life but we hope her family and loved ones may finally have some peace,' [said Missouri Governor Mike Parson, who denied clemency]."

From "Amber McLaughlin: first transgender woman is executed in Missouri" (London Times).

ADDED: The London Times used the term "sexual identity," which made me think maybe in London the preference for "gender identity" has yet to take hold, but searching the Times archive, I see that "gender identity" is more common. For example, here are 2 pieces from a couple weeks ago: "The gender issue is now a religion. Fear of blaspheming keeps sensible people quiet" ("This is what happens when you legislate based on faith. And gender identity is a faith...") and "Parents lose court fight against gender lessons/Sex education is about tolerance, says judge" ("A group of parents has lost a legal challenge against the teaching of gender identity and sex to seven-year-old children in Welsh primary schools").

"Students said [Bryan] Kohberger had a strong grasp of the subject matter but was a harsh grader..."

"... giving extensive critiques of assignments and then defending the lower marks when students complained as a group. Later in the fall, roughly around the time of the killings, [Hayden Stinchfield, 20, one of the students in that class] said Mr. Kohberger seemed to start giving better grades, and the assignments that once had his feedback scrawled across every paragraph began coming back clean."

From "Idaho Murder Suspect Had Been a Student of the Criminal Mind/The arrest of a graduate student in the murder of four University of Idaho students eased fears but raised a troubling new question: What was the motive?" (NYT). Kohberger studied criminology and served as a teaching assistant.

"Actually, if you google the word senicide you’ll see that many parts of the world have a push/pull relationship with their older members..."

"... the push of veneration, the pull of elimination. The United States with its chrome-plated dreams of spit-shine modernity was never much for the admiration of its senior citizens. Way before taunts of 'Okay, boomer' and the calling of people with experience the pejorative term 'olds' this country has had a tendency to isolate the grizzled dotard, if not on an ice floe then in retirement camps where they could gum pudding and play bingo away from the delicate eyes of youth. It would be easy to blame the sixties, with silly slogans like 'Don’t trust anyone over thirty' or even sillier movies like Wild in the Streets, where anyone over thirty-five is herded in camps and given mandatory doses of LSD."

So writes Bob Dylan, in "The Philosophy of Modern Song."

So, of course, I google "senicide," and I'm reading this Wikipedia article "Senicide," while picturing 81-year-old Bob Dylan reading it too. Highlights:

The Heruli were a Germanic tribe during the Migration Period (about 400 to 800 CE) [who]  placed the sick and elderly on a tall stack of wood and stabbed them to death before setting the pyre alight....

Herodotus says of the Padeans of India: "... It is said to be their custom that when anyone of their fellows, whether man or woman, is sick, a man's closest friends kill him, saying that if wasted by disease he will be lost to them as meat; though he denies that he is sick, they will not believe him, but kill and eat him...."

In Nordic folklore, the ättestupa is a cliff where elderly people were said to leap, or be thrown, to death. While the practice has no historical evidence, the trope has survived as an urban legend, and a metaphor for deficient welfare for the elderly....

Herodotus tells us about the Massagetae that: "Though they fix no certain term to life, yet when a man is very old all his family meet together and kill him, with beasts of the flock besides, then boil the flesh and feast on it. This is held to be the happiest death; when a man dies of an illness, they do not eat him, but bury him in the earth, and lament that he did not live to be killed.

Contemporary Culture — In modern day western-culture, senicide often takes the form of placing senior citizens in overcrowded conditions where preventable diseases can easily spread. More often than not, these spaces are separate from other generations of people so problems such as quality of life, hygiene and isolation are less detectable to the wider population.

There are 3 citations for that last proposition, and all 3 are about Canada. 

I'm giving this post my tag "gerontocracy," thought the topic is only implied. We currently have a gerontocracy in the United States, but when these old people were young, there was "Wild in the Streets":

"He talked to you like he ran the store. … There’s always people in jobs that aren’t liked — Andre was one of them...."

"Andre was kind of picked on a little bit by some associates at the store.... There were definitely other employees that made fun of him.... He didn’t have a social life.... It was work, home. Home, work. It didn’t seem like he had much of a support system, if any.... He was known in the store for being hostile at times.... He had too many moments where he’d be overly aggressive."

Said Nathan Sinclair, a former Walmart employee, quoted in " Walmart shooter described as aggressive, angry, but motive unclear" (WaPo).

"Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs said that someone in the club had acted quickly to grab a handgun from the gunman, then hit him with it..."

"... subduing him. Two patrons then pinned the gunman down until police could arrive, according to the club’s owners, who viewed security video."

From "Here are the latest developments in the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting" (NYT).

It's hard to picture grabbing a handgun from a man who is in the middle of using it. But then to use the gun to hit the erstwhile gunman.... I guess your hand is not in the position to fire the gun. It's reversed and pointing more or less at you. And isn't the gunman's hand grabbing to get back to the trigger and shoot you? Once you've gone that far, perhaps the only thing you can do is to grip the barrel and clobber the guy with the grip.

Is that what happened?

Whatever happened, kudos to the man who disarmed the murderer.

CORRECTION: Oh, no. The difficult tangle I tried to picture is wrong. The murderer was using a rifle and carrying a handgun. That made the handgun easier to grab and to grab by the grip. If you got that far, would you use the handgun to hit the murderer?

IN THE COMMENTS: Enigma reminds me that there is a standard term for hitting someone with a gun: "pistol-whipping." Actually, there are 2 terms — "pistol-whipping" and "buffaloing," as I learned from the Wikipedia article, "Pistol-whipping":

Pistol-whipping or buffaloing is the act of using a handgun as a blunt weapon, wielding it as an improvised club....

The term "buffaloing" is documented as being used in the Wild West originally to refer to the act of being intimidated or cheated by bluffing. It would develop into a term meaning to strike someone with a handgun in the 1870s when Stuart N. Lake reported Wyatt Earp doing so.... The new use of the term developed because the act of hitting someone with their revolver was seen as an additional insult to the character of the victim....

The practice of using the handgun itself as a blunt-force weapon began with the appearance of muzzle loaders in the 15th century. Single-shot weapons that were tedious to reload were used to strike opponents directly in close-quarters combat after their projectile had been expended. It was entirely up to circumstance whether the user had time or chose to reverse the gun in their hand and strike a blow with its handle or merely swung the heavy weapon as a club or baton holding it normally....

Author Paul Wellman notes that clubbing an opponent with the butt of a gun held by its barrel, as seen in some Westerns, is problematic. First, the danger of an unintentional discharge could fatally wound the wielder. Second, many early revolvers of the black-powder cap and ball era, were relatively fragile around their cylinders relative to solid single-shot weapons. Third, rotating a gun so that it can be held by its barrel takes extra time, potentially crucial in a conflict.

To avoid the risk of damage or potential delay, pistol-whipping may be done with the gun held in an ordinary manner, hitting the target with an overhand strike from either the barrel or the flank of the gun above the trigger. It was a fairly common way to incapacitate a man in Western frontier days....

The practice was seen as a means of avoiding fatal confrontations. Instead of opening fire, an officer could knock someone unconscious with the barrel of their revolver which they claimed lowered mortality rates. This technique would later be considered a form of police brutality....

AND: The NYT has more detail on the man who took down the killer: "An Army Veteran Says He Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Gunman/Richard M. Fierro, who served for 15 years in the military, said he was at Club Q in Colorado Springs with his family, and took down the man who killed five people."

Fiero was at the bar with his wife and daughter to see a drag show. When the shooting began, he got down on the floor, but when "he saw the gunman move through the bar toward a door leading to a patio where dozens of bar patrons had fled... he raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him."

The gunman, who Mr. Fierro estimated weighed more than 300 pounds, sprawled onto the floor, his military-style rifle landing just out of reach. Mr. Fierro started to go for the rifle, but then saw that the gunman had a pistol as well.

“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Mr. Fierro said.... [H]e yelled for other club patrons to help him. A man grabbed the rifle and moved it away to safety. A drag dancer stomped on the gunman with her high heels....


"Actually, if you google the word senicide you’ll see that many parts of the world have a push/pull relationship with their older members..."

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