The Toll Keeper
“The Killer awoke before dawn…
He put his boots on…
He took a face from the Ancient Gallery…
and He walked on down the Hall…”
Someone must be punished
On October 3rd, 2017…Stephen Paddock rented two rooms at the Mandalay Bay Casino overlooking a concert venue. After hoarding an arsenal of weapons, two days later he opened fire on the concert goers below. The Mandalay Bay shootings were the most horrific in the history of gun violence. Some 59 people lost their lives and some 500 hundred others were injured by a lone gun man.
The only person close to him was an Australian woman, of Philippine decent by the name of Marylou Danley. A few days later Danley entered the United States and promised to tell all, vowing that she had no prior knowledge of such a plan, which was meticulous, and that she deeply mourns the loss of all those lives. She claims that she is innocent, and by all accounts seems to be a carefree person having no malice towards anyone.
Yet, While watching CNN yesterday a commentator swore that he was ninety nine percent certain that this woman is in some way guilty of something or other. And that he is nearly certain that her “guilt” will prove to be the key insight into this man’s motivation for shooting all those people. Someone must have helped Paddock…it was just too complex for one person to amass so many guns over thirty years..and to do this by himself? Someone else must have cooperated…someone else must be guilty.
But in reality it seems unlikely that any other person helped him. The woman seems to me, at least from this vantage point to be innocent. Perhaps she was the only one innocent enough to love a man this troubled.
As for the gun collection, and the planning and she being responsible for it in some way it would seem to me that the ordinary person cannot be expected to pry into other people’s affairs. Guns are legal, gun collection is legal, and unless this guy told the woman that he definitely intended to commit a high crime, there is no cause for hanging this woman.
Moreover it is quite possible for anyone to plan and execute an attack of this nature. Its easy actually. We are so used to conspiracy theories today that we cant possibly accept that some people are real good at killing. Real good at executing mass murder on a grand scale. But Someone must be guilty besides the shooter?
There was a certain vehemence with which CNN pursued this woman right after what seemed to be an innocuous statement by her lawyer, that in effect said she had nothing to do with all this and intended to cooperate in any way she could. CNN’s staff seemed to go ballistic, as if there was no chance that she could be telling the truth no matter what. There was no way she could be an innocent. As if someone had to pay, someone must be guilty, even if they were innocent. Someone’s blood must flow besides the killer’s own.
But this is not what a civilized people should want. They should not want blood for blood, innocent or not. If she is guilty of anything then she should be held accountable, but if not, then she should not in any way suffer for it. If she is innocent, she will suffer a lifetime as it is.
Guilt by Association
The reason I mention this at the beginning is because the manner of assigning guilt to dark events as this has some serious implications on our freedoms, and our moral obligations to the society we live in.
We should not be held automatically responsible for what people we know might do. No matter how heinous the crime. If you know a person, even intimately, and it turns out that you had no direct knowledge, or direct responsibility in the action then you are innocent. And must be presumed innocent. Doing otherwise will in effect make us all guilty by association.
Moreover, and more importantly, we should not be liable for not spying on our friends or countrymen. It seemed to me that CNN insisted that she had some kind of obligation to tell the authorities what Paddock was doing. But the truth is there are many people who collect guns in large numbers- wives, girl friends, daughters, brothers or sisters, or just friends and neighbors should not be in the business of ratting on their relations, even on suspicion. If I know someone who collects guns, it should not be up to me to “inform” the police. This is what would be expected in NAZI Germany, not in the United States. This is not serving the interests of freedom or democracy. We are not obligated to “Spy” on our fellow Americans, and we should all resist being goaded into doing so.
If in effect we are all to become liable for whatever crime someone we know commits, our freedom will be impinged upon, and sooner or later we will be living in a police state dictatorship where any failure to rat on our fellow American may become grounds for our own incarceration. If the woman Marylou Danley did not know directly what Paddock was doing then she would not be expected to inform the authorities of his actions. She cannot be expected to be a rat…even if not being a rat should have terrible consequences as in this case. She cannot be held guilty simply because she didn’t inform the authorities in the way the authorities, or the media demand retroactively. It would be an extremely dangerous precedent that sets our nation on the very slippery slope of constant surveillance and all privacy, and freedom would soon disappear.
The Archetypal Killer
Stephen Paddock was from what we can see now at least-only a few days after the event- an archetypal “Killer”. For whatever reason he was angry. Perhaps he had the gambling blues, perhaps he felt he was losing everything he ever owned and perhaps he blamed the Casinos, or society in general. In this lottery economy we are all either winners or losers, and if the latter, all of us will in some way be angry with the world.
Of course we are not supposed to murder innocent people, and lets make it clear- this is not the mindless point I am in any way adhering to. What I am saying is that our lottery economy is conducive to creating great, fantastic expectations that are more likely to be met with ultimate disappointment, than success(in large part due to general mismanagement of this society.) And I think this archetypal reason is the true reason that Stephen Paddock murdered all those people. He was simply angry at his luck.
The archetypal murder suicide “killer” as a literary theme in Europe goes back three thousand years at least. In Greek mythology, the stalwart hero Aias(Latinized Ajax) who defended the Achaean army in their most dire time of need, was so enraged in being denied the arms of the fallen Achilles that he awoke in a rage, went to the pen where the sheep were sleeping, and began to slaughter them indiscriminately. When at last the rest of the Greeks heard the commotion and found him, he realized that he was not killing his fellow Greeks, as he intended, but only sheep,and so he rammed his sword into his own heart ending his heroic life in shame and tragedy. The cause for the “hero’s” tragic anger was that he had great expectations followed instead by great disillusionment; and perhaps an underlying conviction of a perennial injustice in our society where cunning, and carelessness are prized over true devotion and loyalty. The arms of Achilles were ultimately awarded to the glib and cunning Polymechan Odysseus master of machination, the ultimate schemer who concocted the Trojan horse rouse by which the Greeks defeated the Trojans through utter treachery and deception.
The causes of such violence are often quite simple.
Murder, on the street is often spontaneous. A flash of violent anger. Although the Mandalay Bay shooter planned his violence meticulously, the ultimate psychological cause was relatively “simple”. Which is why no one can find a rational motive, as if its possible to find anything rational in this kind of violence.
Stephen Paddock likely wanted to “get even” with the casinos, and all those who support them. He may have resented the fan fare that surrounds the glitzy outgoing concert goers…feeling perhaps that he could never again be part of that carefree world, plagued as he was by isolation, disease and rage. This was probably the “real” cause of his actions- “simple” and perhaps needing little more in the way of psychological insight. This “simple” rage and isolation seem to be a common thread for all such high casualty murder suicides.
Nightmarish violence, the result of anger, isolation, and resentment long fomenting into a toxic disease of never ending rage which only “the end of all” can cure. Simple.
The Second Amendment
Fifty eight people died in this assault, and some five hundred others injured. There is again debate over the availability of guns.
Yet, we should know this…had the founding fathers been told that some two hundred people a year will die in this kind of violence, -or even a few thousand if we take into account urban violence- in order to guarantee the autonomy of the American people, it is unlikely they would be much moved. Freedom has a terrible price, and only in our day do we dare presume to be rightfully free of that cost, or feign pretend we are immortal and beyond account.
Today many think in curves that slither around corners and disappear behind large buildings. The founding fathers thought in straight lines.
The second amendment is meant to guarantee the sovereignty and freedom of the American people. Having an armed public makes it harder for any government to usurp the power of the people, and this is exactly why the second amendment follows the first: the right to free speech, followed by the right to fight for that freedom if the need arises. It is a kind of insurance. That in the event the government becomes too corrupt to allow for the choice of leaders the American people will have the arms necessary to overthrow that government. We should no longer tolerate the illusions as to why the second amendment came into existence, or why it has survived for so long. Why, even today, there are so many supporters for it. The second amendment guarantees that the American people will remain free under any circumstances, even if violence against the government becomes, in the last resort, necessary.
This is a key difference between the American people and their European cousins. The revolutions in Europe never quite did away with the sovereignty and absolute authority of government. The American people chose instead to guarantee the absolute sovereignty of the people. And this carries with it an awful price…for nothing comes without cost.
Militias may serve to anchor gun owners Before advocating for a general ban on gun ownership we should consider that cars kill tens of thousands of people a year, yet no one would think to ban the use and ownership of automobiles.
Yet it is true that too many people die in these horrific acts of violence. Too many innocent people die in gun violence, too many suffer the life long aftermath.
The key may lie in the wording of the second amendment, “a well regulated militia”. Perhaps we should accept the legality of ordinary people having a weapon or two to protect their property, and the lives of their loved ones at home, but should require that having access to an arsenal of high powered weapons requires a more general authority. Perhaps only those who are members of a private, legally sanctioned militia should have such access. If Mr. Paddock had been a member of a militia it is likely that someone would have noticed what he was doing, someone would have intervened, someone would have questioned him because someone would have had some co-responsibility. Access to an arsenal, even gun collection should require the co-responsibility of a well regulated militia and membership within such a militia.
Moreover the rise and sanctioning of such militias can have great benefits for the nation. It would provide a means for the American people to organize, and to pursue their political objectives and rights. It would involve more people in a common cause. We should note that the majority of “shooters” are loners, even when they are a couple as the pair in San Bernardino. These two, although claiming they were shooting for the cause of ISIS seemed rather to be two very isolated people acting out in anger. Perhaps this archetypal “aloneness” can be alleviated by requiring affiliation in a private militia.
In this way the second amendment would be served, and the risks of indiscriminate violence minimized. Such militias could also help to police the state in some auxiliary fashion. Had for example a private militia had been present at Mandalay Bay, it would have been far more difficult for a lone shooter to kill so many people without receiving return fire from the patrolling militia. Such militias can in some way ease the burden on the local police forces, and make them far more efficient.
Of course we may one day have a “Militia” problem, but it would still be better than to have illegal gangs in their place, as is now happening.
Belonging to a group in many ways addresses the problems of isolation and lawlessness. Militias could act more like organizations once evolved, concerned not with just guns and arms, but also with the well being of the nation. They would in effect take a private responsibility for the health and protection of the national order while minimizing the potential destructive effects of lone gunmen or gun collectors..
Be it said here that if the founding fathers intended by the statement “well regulated militias” they would mean an army, or navy, then they would have clearly said that. They knew what an army was, and knew what a navy was. What they wanted was a people’s army, a state army that would be hard for any external power to usurp. This is one reason it took so long for the American nation to develop an official army and navy. The founders knew that these will almost always lead to some corruption on some level. They intended a people’s militia as a balance to the government’s authority, and as a fail-safe in case corruption rendered any government oppressive and inflexible.
The price paid
Today we attribute such violent murder suicide events to some shallow cause or other. But in reality most of these killers, whether they kill for no apparent reason in a mall, or in a school, or even as “inspired” terrorists have causes that are most likely primordial in nature. People deeply disappointed with the outcome of their lives, and with society, and perhaps too proud to accept the fate they have been given.
These killers are archetypal incarnations of grievance. Of incurable anger and dissatisfaction.
They are in some ways, the “Tax man” and the “Toll Keeper” of our society. They are a price we pay for our freedom, folly, and our lives.
You can gloss over these phenomena as being only random aberrations of psychology but these killers are what goes “wrong” with our society on a regular basis, and perhaps one of the “tolls” collected by our social order. Its been this way since the beginning of civilization and is unlikely to end by any elementary changes.
There is a price for freedom, and occasional violence of this nature may be part of it. A natural occurrence that is in some ways never to be completely avoided no matter what we do.
P.S. I am not here making heroes of these people, do not misunderstand. But if ever we are to mitigate their effects, we must have some real sense of what they are. White washing these events as being merely aberrations attributable to some shallow political or religious cause or psychological circumstance does not in the end do justice to the phenomenon. To say these killers are “mentally ill” may be true for example, but it gives no usable information as to why they are “mentally ill”. Why are they so “Mad”? Knowing this cause is important. Perhaps seeking solutions on an “individual basis” is simply not enough. In effect they may actually be a naturally occurring phenomenon inherent in the overall primal nature of human social order. They may not be an “individual” occurrence that can be addressed on a case by case basis but a general malady that must be addressed on the societal level which will be far more complex and difficult to contain.