|Only psychopaths (the older brother) and sociopaths (the younger) are capable of taking delight in inflicting human suffering. We have to stop 'legitimizing' them by calling them 'terrorists'.|
I’m sure you get your share of fan mail as a result of your keen insight and reasoned points of view, and likely even more incoherent hate mail (as do I), but this note falls into the former camp.
Your piece in the NY Post: “Forget About ‘Motive’” spoke to a very key issue in the world’s approach to a frightening global issue for humankind, the increasing power that technology puts in the hands of very, very few of us to create and put to use destructive power on a mass scale. Where I take issue with your excellent points on the difference between motive and narrative, I believe you missed the key point by stopping short of getting to the bottom of the debate over the use of the word ‘terrorist’ (and the ease with which the media bandies the ‘lable’ about).
What I mean is that, yes, the odd individuals who not only come up with plots to launch attacks on innocents, but actually go to all the trouble of executing their plans, are not motivated by ‘jihad’ or any of the ‘teachings of the Quaran’, but rather by ‘voices in their heads’. The fact that Islam manages to be a somewhat more ‘radicalizing’ religion than others (and certainly Christianity has and continues to radicalize some oddballs today, and did so with many during the Crusades) is really beside the point. The point is ‘voices in their heads’.
My point of contention when anyone blathers on about the Muslim religion in connection with terrorism is that for any individual to actually contemplate, and be motivated by, the concept of indiscriminately killing and maiming many fellow human beings with a weapon of mass destruction, they are looking for the type of pat, simplistic, easy solution we humans LOVE to look for in trying to grasp psychotic thoughts. Again, as a species we would not be here if this kind of thinking was common. We would not be gradually strangling the planet with our over-population if it was possible for religion to motivate people (generally young males) to annihilate others on a mass scale.
What science is now revealing to us is just how common, at about 1:99, psychosis is among members of our extremely complex-brained species. Our big brains come with a built-in incidence of faulty wiring that leads about one in an hundred of us to be psychotic. Add in those who are sociopathic, at about two to three in every hundred, and you get the Boston Marathon bombing brothers, the psychotic leader older brother and his easily manipulated ‘follower’, the younger sociopath. (When we further recognize that there really is not a definitive 'tipping point' at which someone who has all the tendencies on the 'spectrum' but isn't QUITE a dyed-in-the-wool diagnosable pscho/sociopath suddenly becomes diagnosable, then we really have about 10-15% of the human population who are fairly high up in the low-empathy spectrum and are 'at risk' to tip over to 'the dark side'.)
Some genetic factors come into play (see the killing of four female family members by a Montreal father and son duo a couple of years ago in Canada), as does indoctrination by the leader upon the follower, but at the root of all of these acts of madness, whether by a ‘home grown’, small-time nut-job like Timothy McVeigh, or a global player like Osama Bin Laden, is the faulty brain wiring of a member of a very smart social species that leads them to take intense pleasure in the idea of raining death and pain upon many fellow members of their species. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with ‘motivation’, and little to do with ‘narrative’. It is aberration. It is crazy. It is entirely and completely unconnected with rational thought (no matter how clever the perpetrators are).
The sooner we begin calling these perpetrators ‘nut-jobs’ and removing the false legitimacy of ‘terrorism’ (i.e. The mantle of some inexplicable, but ‘legitimate’ political motivation) and religious inspiration, the sooner we can all begin identifying them at an early age and doing the right thing for them and the rest of us by monitoring and guiding them. These same individuals tend to be the ‘quiet types’ who are estranged in public school or are the aggressive lead bullies. They are some parents’ ‘perfect little angels’ whose odd tendencies are studiously ignored in our new age of ‘political correctness’, but they need help and special support to steer them away from the dangerous thoughts and impulses brewing in their heads.
Should you have any interest, more on these insights of mine here:
Best, Kevin Lenard
- There’s no such thing as a “Terrorist”: http://justonecynicsopinion.blogspot.ca/2009/09/using-label-legitimizes-psychopathy.html
- Bullying: http://justonecynicsopinion.blogspot.ca/2013/03/bullying-isnt-victim-problem-its-bully.html