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Stop Making Martyrs Out Of These Idiots

It’s been over a week since the Boston Marathon bombings. One suspect is dead and the other one is in custody. Now the nation is demanding to know why. This is exactly what I expected to happen even though I sincerely hoped it wouldn’t. To those asking why, what do you expect to find out? What answer are you looking for that will suddenly have it all make sense to you?

I agree that there is value to knowing why someone commits a horrible act if we learn something to prevent it in the future, but we take it too far. We SHOULD strive to prevent violence in our society. Absolutely. And yet how are we doing that when, once they're in custody and no longer a threat, we keep plastering the suspects' faces all over the news, making those faces as famous as possible? What have these people done to deserve the same sort of high profile we reserve for movie stars and athletes?

We’ve had our share of horrible mass killings in this country in the past few years. Everytime, we ask why and everytime, the answer is in the same ballpark. The killer is either mentally ill or angry/radicalized in some way. That's really it. It always boils down to a variation of those two things. What are we expecting to be different this time?

There was an editorial this week on Huff Post declaring that we need to continue to ask “why” because we have to find out why we have so many disaffected young men in this country. Want to know why we have so many disaffected young men in this country? Because we have so many young men in this country. Being disaffected is a normal part of growing up. So is puberty. Neither is why people resort to mass murder.

I was an angry disaffected young man. Granted, I had some legitimate reasons to be. If you asked any disaffected young man they’d say that exact same thing. I’m talking about that age range from about 18 to mid 20's. You’re seeing the world for the first time with adult eyes. You’re questioning things, rebelling against the norms, society, The Man. You’re trying to carve out an identity for yourself and you’re trying to do it on your own terms. Sometimes you succeed in that, more often you don't because reality is very different from your romanticized version of it.

Throw in the fact that your brain is not yet fully developed and you have everything you need for a very angst ridden time in your life. The human brain doesn’t fully mature until about 25. What’s one of the last parts to mature? The prefrontal cortex, the part that's “associated with planning, problem solving and related tasks”. In other words, it's the part of your brain that can see the big picture and the consequences for failing to think your actions through BEFORE you act. It’s why everyone I knew in my early twenties, myself included, were a bunch of unbearable, instant gratification obsessed, self-absorbed assholes.

This isn’t just men, women are no different in this regard. It’s a very frustrating time. Throw in a lean job market and the perception of scarce opportunity and you have disaffected young people.

Many young people have outlets to vent their frustration. I made angry, profanity laced student films. Some form rock bands and write angry rock songs. Some blog, some write poetry. Some suck it up and get on with, taking solace in their friends, getting drunk, and having a laugh. People find healthy ways to deal and relate. It all comes down to a need to be understood by someone, to feel validated in your troubles. We all want to be understood, especially when we’re feeling down.

Now let’s say you’re some dope with no patience, no talent or discernable useful skills and no desire to learn any. What do you see this week when you turn on the news or open a paper? You see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s baby face plastered everywhere. Even worse, you see an entire news media organism wanting to understand him, wanting to know why he did what he did; to validate him. We already know why. His uncle couldn’t have summed it up more perfectly. Dzhokhar and his brother were both losers who couldn’t settle themselves. That’s really the full and complete explanation of why they did it. Any other details we try to throw into this are letting them justify their actions. We're letting them get away with blaming anything and everything but their own failure to find a better way like the rest of us. We’re letting them give their actions some meaning and worth. And then we make mass murder an attractive option for someone who’s young, troubled and has a brain that’s not yet developed enough to fully comprehend consequences. We do this every time we have a mass killing in this country. Every time.

I'm all for empathy, I applaud it even. But enough is enough. Mass killing is not something to be celebrated. I think we can all agree on that. Yet we go ahead and inadvertently celebrate it every time we turn a killer into a celebrity. I’m willing to bet at this moment that more people know who the Tsarnaev Dipshits are than who Carlos Arredondo is. Even less of them know who their own Senators are. Why is that? If the killers are no longer a threat, what purpose does it serve to keep them in the public eye? That question is directed at us, not the media. The media is only giving us what we want. Our need to know "why" is in danger of becoming a morbid fascination with people who haven't done anything worth the recognition. 

Yes, it’s important to investigate these acts further to make sure no one else was involved and nothing else is in the works. For instance, there was also a New York attack planned. This should absolutely be reported if for no other reason than to further appreciate how quickly law enforcement brought this thing to a close. How did these two get radicalized? That’s also very good to know. It's a problem we need to find a solution for as soon as possible. 

But delving into the killers' pasts, talking to their friends, hearing all the stories about their lives and how they were such normal people, what is the purpose of that? It only serves to romanticize them for people like them. It removes them from the thing that made them famous, which let me stress, is mass killings. If that’s how you choose to leave your mark then that should be the only mark you get to leave. And we, as a society that's trying to prevent violence, should be big enough to make sure that their fifteen minutes are as short as possible by not keeping some sort of mythology alive.