Social Question

filmfann's avatar

Is this reaction to the latest school shooting appropriate?

Asked by filmfann (47839points) November 1st, 2014

Last week, there was another school shooting that left 4 dead, including the shooter. He was Jaylen Fryberg, and appears to have been a very popular student. His targets were mostly family members and friends.
There is now a memorial to the victims of the shooting in Marysville, Washington. The memorial is for all involved, including the shooter.
This is the first time I recall that a shooter has immediately been embraced as a victim as well.

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49 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, it’s true. They are victims. If they had received help, they would not have struck out at others.

Buttonstc's avatar

You write that he was “immediately embraced as a victim as well”.

Embraced by whom? The local community at large? the school community? Does this include the parents friends and relatives of the other victims as well?

If that is indeed the case, that he is embraced by all as a victim as well, is it really anybody else’s place to say what is appropriate for THIS community?

Perhaps if we had lived there and were indeed a part of THAT community, we might be voices of dissent. Or maybe we wouldn’t because we would be seeing the situation through their eyes.

All i’m saying is that since we have NOT lived there or known Jaylen, how can we second guess their hearts and say they’re inappropriate to look at it through merciful eyes rather than vindictive ones?

Yes, it is rather remarkable, but each place and each set of people are unique unto themselves and what each finds appropriate or not isn’t really for onlookers to decide.

Jaxk's avatar

It is interesting but I can’t help wondering if this creates a sympathetic message for others with similar mental issues. The shooter is obviously looking for this kind of attention and giving him what he wanted may encourage others seeking attention. I have mixed emotions.

ragingloli's avatar

The correct response would have been to evict all male teenagers from the country.

jerv's avatar

Well, I suppose the American thing to do would be to vilify him, and all those like him. I mean, these school shootings have turned those who like first-person shooting games into pariahs, but since we keep doing the demonization thing, that must be the correct way to do it, right?

Seriously though, I think our reaction to shootings in general illustrates how poorly we handle those who have any sort of problems whatsoever. In this society, you are either 100% perfect and rock-solid, or you’re unfit to survive. That makes many people with even the smallest problem avoid seeking help, with the potential to lead to… well, shootings like this.

In this case, I think treating the shooter as a victim may be the first step towards an actual solution. Our society is notably lacking in empathy and sympathy, and just looks for “reasons” to punish without ever even thinking about helping/rehabilitating.

Maybe if we had a mental health system better than, “Suck it up!”, and a society that didn’t ostracize those who needed help, it’s possible that they could get attention without shooting anyone. Just a thought.

ucme's avatar

All things considered, probably.

Buttonstc's avatar


That last paragraph you wrote is so accurate.

A few months ago there was a 60 Minutes report on State Senator Creigh Deeds of Va. who desperately tried to get help for his severely mentally ill son who was off his meds and spiraling down rapidly.

It was heartbreaking listening to him recount the trip to the ER, their failure to hold the son long enough to allow for finding an available bed at a private facility, the subsequent knife attack upon him and shooting suicide of the son (despite the fact that Deeds had previously removed all ammo for any guns on the property).

Here was a case of a parent who WAS aware and doing all he possibly could. If a govt. official cannot get help from the broken mental healthcare system, then how much hope is there for the rest of us.

I hope that everyone reading this thread puts his name into search on the CBS website (or Google if you prefer) and reads the details of just how totally inadequate is the mental healthcare system in this country.

In a subsequent investigation into the son’s suicide, there were no charges filed but the report placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the healthcare system and failure to enact care guidelines since 2012.

Obviously Creigh Deeds is doing all he can to enact legislation and proper care guidelines for the severely mentally ill fully realizing that his son did not have to die had proper measures been in place.

gondwanalon's avatar

It is not a good idea to memorialize mass murderers.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

that sounds kind of crazy to me.

where I live a mentally deranged 32 year old man who lived with his 66 year old mother killed his mother last week. He actually cut off her head and threw her in the front yard. Some people actually thought it was a Holloween display.

anyway, today I read in our local newspaper that the family of this woman (sister and brother) are having a joint funeral for the mother and son. I mean is that nuts or what??

both situations are totally wrong.

ragingloli's avatar

and yet you have their heads on your money.

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon By that argument, you must be opposed to any and all memorials to military personnel, and to the fact that November 11th is a holiday (Veteran’s Day to be precise). Or are you merely doing the usual “demonize those who are different” thing? Or is it something where you think that trying to erase this particular shooter from history will somehow either undo the harm he caused and/or prevent future shootings in some weird “ignorance is bliss” way?

It’s not that he’s being celebrated either. There is a memorial to 9/11, yet that is more a cause for reflection than for celebration. I think you might want to look up the difference between “memorialize” and “celebrate”.

Forgive me if that sounds snarky/rude, but I couldn’t think of a nice way to express my thoughts.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@gondwanalon I don’t necessarily agree. Do you think it might be possible, if we remember them as human beings, for people to take a closer look at the potential reasons shooters do these things? To examine the ways we can help them better, before they act out? He was also, after all, still in high school. Old enough to know better? Yes. Immune to mental health problems? No.

Maybe he’d been struggling for a long time. Maybe his family was abusive. Maybe he showed signs of needing help in the past, but no one really ever bothered. What happened was horrible, yes, but he was still a human being – and a young one, at that. What happened to him, to make him give up?

gondwanalon's avatar

Thank you guys for making me stop to think! Love ya!

It makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every street’s a battlefield and every door’s a jail
never the sword and not the shield, can stop the widow’s wail.
I cannot understand, I cannot understand,
why terror rumbles in our land.

And it makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every day’s a lonesome day, that lasts a lonesome year
when in churches children pray
they don’t chase away the fear.
I cannot understand, I will not understand,
why freedom stumbles in our land.

And it makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every door’s a battlefield, every street’s a jail
never the sword and not the shield can stop the widow’s wail.
I cannot understand, I will not understand,
why terror rumbles in our land.

And it makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.


It makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Let’s do that chorus again…

Well it makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another
makes me cry to see the things some men do.

It makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another.
makes me cry to see the things some men do
(from “Sold Out Rod McKuem live at Carnegie Hall” 1969)

Buttonstc's avatar


You wrote:“that sounds kind of crazy to me”.

That’s precisely the point that some of us are trying to make. Without medical intervention to put it colloquially, crazy people do crazy things.

I realize that your comment was directed towards the people in that community who view the shooter as also being a victim but it’s generally the perpetrators who are the crazy ones.

In the situation you’ve described, are those the actions of a normal rational person? Who on earth in their right mind cuts off his mother’s head ? I mean really???

Isn’t it far more likely that this person is severely mentally ill? (or in common parlance, crazy)

In the case of Creigh Deed’s 19 yr. old son (who up until a few short years ago was an intelligent highly functioning kid with an outgoing personality until mental illness struck); would a normal kid attack his father with a knife and then turn a gun upon himself ending his life? Are those the actions of a normal rational young man?

Do you honestly think that the more we villify them (severely mentally ill violent people) and the more hatred we heap upon their memory that it will prevent even one similar act?

Does a severely mentally ill (crazy) person comprehend that if he does this that everyone will hate him? Does it matter to him one iota? Is heaping more hate any kind of solution at all for delusional, violent states of mental illness or should this country get it’s shit together to enable parents and family members to get prompt and effective care for their dangerously ill family members.

We say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But do we really believe that and follow through with adequate access to effective care? Apparently not.

In almost every case of these “crazy people with weapons” there was at least one SOMEBODY who recognized the potential danger. But there was nothing they could do to get this person adequate care and supervision.

But I guess you figure if we hate them vehemently enough then that’s enough to prevent others from acting likewise.

How’s that been working out lately?

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

@gondwanalon I wish you hadn’t backed down to pressure and stood up for your beliefs. The person who mentioned our money has murders on it just sounds like sour grapes as usual. some people hate the U.S.A. while finding nothing wrong with their own country’s history.

Jaxk's avatar

So there are no criminals only victims. Not exactly a new theory, society’s to blame. Here the 60s version from West Side Story.

gondwanalon's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat I’m sorry for the bad things that I do. I get lazy sometimes. HA!

It fascinates me how other people think about things. How they can justify their position that is so radical compared to my thinking. It forces me to think how and why are they wrong and why am I right? Where is the rhetoric, spin/distortion, propaganda and lies? How much of what we think is factual truth is actually B.S.?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk Funny how the “gangs” of the 50s almost seem to belong in musicals. I remember as a kid watching that movie trying to imagine anyone being frightened of the “hoodlums” portrayed. Those kids wouldn’t qualify as respectable delinquents today. In fact they’re an outright insult to the “profession”. There isn’t a good automatic weapon to be found in the entire combined crowd of Jets & sharks

jerv's avatar

Well, @Jaxk, not really. There are some truly evil people out there. Many of the truly sociopathic are into white collar crime though. (There’s been enough scientific studies of the link between sociopathy and success in business to at least warrant investigation.) And there are people who do bad things simply because they are twisted. So no, there are plenty of non-victim criminals.

However, even those that society doesn’t cause, society can prevent. Have you ever in your life seen a small problem that could become a major one? Imagine you had a pinhole leak in one of the pipes under your sink. Would you ignore it until it burst and flooded your kitchen, or would you fix the pipe before it blew? Or is it your contention that society should not have to protect itself from anything?

I counter your whimsical fastasy West Side Story with something far closer to reality; Les Misérables.

eno's avatar

That is pretty insulting to the actual victims. Fryberg was an offender, the opposite of a victim. Less than 1% of court cases use an insanity defense and when there is an insanity defense, the success rate is only 26%, so the probability that Fryberg was insane is slim to none.

Even if he was insane, rehabilitation doesn’t do justice to the actual victims. As a minimum, there must be lifetime retribution (if he were still alive).

jerv's avatar

@eno Three things.

First, the insanity plea has been altered in many jurisdictions to mean ”guilty with extenuating circumstances”.

Second, when someone causes certain things, a strong argument could be made that any resulting damage is self-inflicted. If you poke a bear with a sharp stick, whose fault is it when you get mauled? “Failure to prevent” pretty much equals “cause” in this case too. Which ties a bit into #3.

Third, you , like many Americans, seek to punish, blame, and then act as though everything is now perfect now that someone has been punished. Justice and logic don’t matter so long as blood has been spilled for the sake of vengeance.

JJark's avatar

I’m surprised the family and friends of these victims didn’t find this offensive. That is sick. Piss on this murderous turd’s grave.

filmfann's avatar

@JJark Keep in mind that several of the victims families are the same as the shooters. They were cousins.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m struggling with where society let this guy down. Apparently he tried to date his cousin’s girlfriend and she turned him down. So he shot them both along with a few other friends. @jerv equates this to poking a bear and they got what they deserved. I’m reluctant to go down that path. Other than being turned down by a girl he liked, I don’t see what we need or want to blame on society. Maybe he didn’t get his full scoop of raisins in his cereal. Whatever his problem was it seems it was his problem and he should not be memorialized for it. IMHO

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Think about this then; in how many societies is that sort of violent outburst even really an option? I could be wrong here, but I think we are pretty unique in the developed world in that regard. And then there is the matter of scope. You see a bad kid shooting innocents kids, I see a larger pattern and what that pattern says about our culture..

We are molding these kids. They are a reflection of our society. A society where violence is a viable option, and we aren’t allowed any flaws lest the rest of society blame us for being less-than-perfect and pile on.

“Whatever his problem was it seems it was his problem ”

The sheer solipsism (for lack of a better word) of that line that line summed up exactly what the problem I see is. And he made his problem our problem with a bang. (Several, actually.) But given our differing ideologies on many things, I am not surprised that we see things differently here as well. C’est la vie.

Jaxk's avatar


Actually we are not unique. Scotland, Sweden, Finland, France, and others have all seen school shootings. We see it more often but we have a much larger country in both population and land mass. If you want to say we have societal problems, I would agree. Painting these guys as victims is one of them.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Thank you for the numbers there. At a glance, I don’t think the greater numbers here are solely a result of our larger population. I mean, the per capita rates don’t look right for that.

I agree that getting a bit too soft and “hippy dippy” would be a bad thing; I just don’t see us going that far in this case. I see them more as symptoms of a larger problem rather than as the problem, and prefer solving things at the root cause rather than blame someone/something in the middle of a chain of events.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – I see this as a symptom as well but symptom of our lack of personal responsibility. No education, that is not your fault. Society dealt you a bad hand. No job, that is not your fault, society dealt you a bad hand. Shoot a few people, that is not your fault, society dealt you a bad hand. Some people have higher hills to climb and that is truly a shame. But it’s not an excuse.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk There are degrees though. No education may be because you had to drop out and get a job at McDonalds to keep you and your family from starving, or because your school system just sucks. No job kind of assumes that skills and degrees are easy and free to acquire; not always the case. The fact that we cannot fill skilled positions here says something about our highly for-profit education system; those unwilling to take on six-figure debts are generally locked out of those jobs, creating a virtual oligarchy, while forcing employers to look at places where higher education is considered a taxpayer-funded right instead of a privilege.

But I digress.

Society can deal bad hands, but doesn’t always. There is a middle ground there, between “all your fault” and “no culpability at all”. Unlike many who play the “personal responsibility” card, I am not the type to blame JFK for not ducking. I believe that there are some things that you would consider a choice that I would not. I believe that things can happen that are beyond your control. I believe that one’s environment has an effect on their thoughts and actions.

“Excuse” is a bit strong though. I think that, in this case, “mitigating circumstance” would be a bit more appropriate. Just putting 100% of the blame here on the shooter without looking into the the hows and whys is part of why this happens so often; we just cast blame and close the book without learning a damn thing. To me, that is irresponsible.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Something else I feel like people fail to keep in mind is that people get so judgmental without knowing all of the facts. Is there a possibility that this kid was just a horrible person? Yes. But there’s also a possibility that he was mentally ill. None of us know for sure, because we don’t know the personal details of his life. If people in his community chose to remember him in a positive light, frankly, that’s their business and people have no right to judge them for it.

There was just breaking news here that a mother threw her six-year-old son off a bridge in a local beach town. She called 911 immediately afterward and said she did it because voices were telling her to. Many people are saying that she should be killed and are describing a violent death for her in detail even if she is mentally ill. And for me, and I think a few other people here, that is what we’re trying to say is wrong with our society. It shows a gross misunderstanding of people who suffer from mental illness, and it illustrates perfectly that the people calling for “justice” can be just as monstrous as the people they claim to hate.

The point is not to say that there aren’t any people out there who aren’t just bad. The point isn’t to say that no one should suffer consequences or relinquish personal responsibility for the crimes they commit. However, the issues run deeper than most people are willing to acknowledge – whether or not we’re talking about people who commit crimes that do or don’t suffer from mental illness.

longgone's avatar

I agree with most of your post, but this:

“The point is not to say that there aren’t any people out there who aren’t just bad.”

is confusing me. How did those people come to be bad? Were they born that way? In that case…shouldn’t they be pitied, instead of drenched in hate?

If the people you are describing as “bad” were not born that way, but made to be due to early childhood experiences, again – shouldn’t they be pitied, instead of drenched in hate?

“The people calling for “justice” can be just as monstrous as the people they claim to hate.”

I so agree with that!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@longgone I can’t answer in a satisfying way. I wasn’t trying to say that’s how I feel about certain people personally, but that maybe it’s a possibility. My main point was that regardless of whatever people choose to believe about others who end up committing crimes, it’s never as black and white as most people want it to be, and it would be great if people could open their minds more, if only to explore the possibilities – before going into the gory details about how much the perpetrators deserve to suffer.

Personally, I think that if people are so focused on causing the suffering of another human being… they aren’t so different from whatever perpetrator they wish to harm. It’s one thing to want “justice” – it’s a thought process that I can comprehend (even if I feel some people are misguided about what justice means), but getting enjoyment out of someone else’s suffering? I just don’t understand that.

longgone's avatar

^ I think we agree, in general. Your last paragraph describes my feelings, exactly.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m feeling a lot of love here. This poor kid just had a bad day and we need to be more understanding. Is that really the point here? This guy brought a gun to school. He called his friends (?) together so they would all be in place for easy killing. Then he shot them in the head execution style. Premeditated murder is what I call it. And I’m glad he’s no longer in the Gene Pool.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk That isn’t the point, but if that is how you’re reading this thread then no amount of anything will ever alter your preconceived notions. You’ve proven that over the years. And I suppose that the majority who disagree with you are likewise rather set in their ways.

Yes, your opinion is an unpopular one, but I think that is because it comes across as short-sighted, narrow-minded, and with less empathy than an inanimate object. Many of us here look beyond the immediate and look at things like “causation”. We ask “Why….?”. And those who (like you) just don’t bother looking any deeper than that are seen in an uncharitable way.

But this thread is about opinions, and you have stated your’s. You’re entitled to do so, just as we are entitled to disagree. I must say that it’s nice to disagree with you in a civilized manner for once though. You are not entitled to us loving you or your opinions though; you have to earn that luxury.

Jaxk's avatar

Wow. Guess what, I’m not running for Prom Queen here and I really don’t care about popularity. When I start trying to earn your love, I’ll shoot myself.

filmfann's avatar

Thanks @Jaxk. You have certainly earned our love.

Jaxk's avatar

@filmfann – GA!!!!! I walked right into that. :-)

JJark's avatar

With this kind of logic, no one can be held accountable for anything because from the moment one is born, they’re influenced by their genes and environment. Thus their choices are all based on a prior influence that has shaped them into what they’re now and how they respond to any given situations.

What are you suggesting then? That we restore the practice of eugenics and have a totalitarian society so that we can control the environment in a way that helps prevent people from being shaped into being violent?

jerv's avatar

@JJark Are you really that binary? There are degrees of accountability. When something like this happens and you look at the totality of the circumstances, the blame is not 100% on the shooter here. But just because he doesn’t deserve 100% of the blame, that doesn’t make him innocent either. There is enough wiggle room there due to a thing called “free will” that the shooter bears some responsibility, but not so much that society itself is entirely blameless either. Thing is, with that being the case, you can’t just punish a scapegoat and wash your hands of the mess, so many (like yourself) cannot accept that reality.

Other nations/cultures get by without totalitarianism. They manage to prevent people from being nearly as violent as we Americans are. I suggest that we look at what makes us different in the bad ways, and see what sort of ideas present themselves. This is something that needs to be looked at; if we keep turning a blind eye to the fact that we have problems (and both @Jaxk and I agree that we do have problems; if we agree then you know it’s bad!), then things are only going to get worse.

@Jaxk You can have a dissenting view and still be loved… if you are decent about it. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about here; I have many unpopular views, but only about 40% of the people I know hate me, Since that’s less than half, I call it a win!

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – You’re a liberal on a very liberal site. I’m not sure being hated by 40% of the people you know, is something to brag about.

JJark's avatar


The blame is not on the shooter at all. Choices are influenced by a prior cause, thus invalidating “free will”. In this case, it is epigenetic. Has nothing do with binary modes of thinking. It is science. Genes and environment are to be held accountable, not the person.

You cannot do anything on the genetic end of violence unless you practice eugenics. Perhaps the American gene pool has more aggression than those in other countries. As for environment, you would have to do a myriad of categorical studies and comparisons. Parental influence, geographical, societal (economical, technological, cultural, social). Good luck with that.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I do know people from places other than Fluther. Some are even almost as conservative as you… and I get along quite well with them. Left/right has far less to do with how well I am liked than one’s willingness to listen, understand, and respect dissenting views. The ones I tend to not get along with are those that twist my words, intentionally misinterpret things, and generally go out of their way to be difficult… regardless of which side of the aisle they’re on.

@JJark An unwillingness to split the blame is binary. Maybe it’s just that I’m not using quite the right words to convey the concept in my head though. You seem to want to blame society or the shooter, and allow for no in-between, no splitting; how would you describe that?
No matter what, bad things will happen, but not taking steps to minimize and mitigate makes one an accomplice/accessory. Yes, you would have to do a bit of studying, but I would rather at least try than revel in ignorance. I like to think society has advanced in the last 400–4000 years.

JJark's avatar

I’m saying the environment (parental influence, geographical, societal, economical, technological, cultural, social) is at least 50% to blame for the offenders actions and the other 50% is the genes of the shooter. The word is determinism.

Regardless of this technicality, an offender is a threat to stability and must be demonized, not memorialized. I would like to see public torture brought back to make an example of these offenders. It acts as a decent deterrent to potential future offenders. Also, to act lightly on an offender sets a bad precedent.

jerv's avatar

@JJark The way I see it, if there is any truth to that then society is a threat to stability and must also be demonized, tortured, and made an example of. But I disagree with your percentages as well, along with your omission of other factors. I don’t buy that strict determinism tripe.

Also, if deterrence worked then Texas and China would be totally crime-free by now.

Regarding “acting lightly”, are you saying Vlad Tepes had the right idea? Your desire for public torture makes it seem that way, and is also rather…. American.

JJark's avatar

What are you talking about? Criminals are tiny % of the population.

The percentage is irrelevant. The point is that it is epigenetic (genetic and environment). Each category has its own percentages).

Texas does not publically torture. You talking about the execution? That is amateaur hour. I’m talking medieval style. It also doesn’t help when the media is telling everyone it was a mistake.

I didn’t say it was a crime-free solution. Now who is binary?

jerv's avatar

It might be that we are looking at things in irreconcilably different ways then, or perhaps it’s simple communications issues :/

Regarding Texas, death is a pretty common fear amongst humans. Some regard the death penalty as the ultimate deterrent, yet it really doesn’t seem to stop people, just as torture didn’t stop people “back in the day”. Of course, the fact that both were/are applied a bit capriciously, punishing innocent people while letting enough guilty people get off scot-free probably doesn’t help credibility much.

Regarding the “crime free” comment, that was merely my way of saying that we aren’t really deterring anything effectively.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@JJarkI would like to see public torture brought back to make an example of these offenders. It acts as a decent deterrent to potential future offenders.

”...many authorities in the Middle Ages stopped using torture because they realized it was unreliable and ineffective.” – Dr. Larissa “Kat” Tracy, a specialist in medieval literature who has studied, lectured and written about torture and brutality in the Middle Ages.

flutherother's avatar

@JJark That is exactly the way ISIS thinks.

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