Academic journal article Military Review

Response to J. Michael Waller's "Weaponizing Ridicule"

Academic journal article Military Review

Response to J. Michael Waller's "Weaponizing Ridicule"

Article excerpt

The Cowardice of the Mass Murderer

(Military Review, September-October 2017)

The occurrence of mass murders, particularly those allegedly related to religious beliefs, has become almost commonplace. Efforts to reduce the incidence of mass murders have not been successful. We can speculate as to the reasons for this lack of success-the wide variability in circumstances, in methods employed, and in attributes of perpetrators. I will suggest another approach, recognizing that there is no magic solution.

This approach focuses on the potential mass murderer, on altering implicit rewards entailed in the murderous act. Perpetrators may see themselves as heroes, as exacting justified revenge, as bearers of religious righteousness. They appear immune to negative attributions such as "evil," or "monstrous," or "traitors." Indeed, they may expect, even gloat, when defamed. However, an attribution that is unexpected and not readily dismissed is that of COWARD, a description used by President Obama in commenting on the killings in Baton Rouge and Dallas. That label is justified because the victims of the mass murderer are defenseless. The prospect of being regarded as a coward may well have an inhibitory function for many potential murderers. …

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