There has been another random mass murder, in Toronto, on the Danforth. Toronto, or Canada, is not any longer the peaceable kingdom it used to be.
The first reaction is of course for people to call for gun control.
This is not the solution:
- more guns in public hands are logically no more dangerous than fewer guns. Note that most mass shootings in the US actually happen in “gun-free zones.” These ensure for a shooter that victims are defenseless: shooting gallery conditions. Secondly, the frequency of mass shootings is actually fairly comparable across developed countries—NOT most common in the US, which supposedly has the loosest gun control. And these various countries have different levels of gun ownership, and different gun laws.
- guns if completely banned can be replaced with bombs, vehicles, or—as we see recently in the UK—knives, for similar random mass attacks. Banning guns would do nothing for this reason.
The second reaction is for people to call for better mental health care, so that deranged people no longer “fall through the cracks.” More funding!
Neither is this a solution.
- Seemingly without exception, these mass killers are already under psychiatric care. They did not fall through the cracks.
- Any number of studies prove that the mentally ill are no more prone to violence than the general population. And, again, the incidence of mass killings is about the same across the developed world, despite different funding models for mental health.
So what is the solution? Can we do anything?
One obvious suggestion, that nobody wants to make, is to end Muslim immigration. Such shooters do seem to be disproportionately Muslim, as in the current example. Surely this is an argument for ending the immigration of Muslims into any country?
It must immediately be said that Islam or Islamism was not involved in this case. The perp was mentally ill. Nevertheless, as any police department will tell you, there is a “copycat” element in crimes, especially spectacular crimes. One person does it, and others are inspired to do the same. Especially the mentally ill, who tend to be suggestible. Recall for example the spate of assassinations in the US in the late Sixties and Seventies.
The model of going on a killing frenzy against unbelievers will resonate among Muslims who are insane, creating a special danger. Regardless of whether the vast majority of Muslims would never even think of doing it. And such killing sprees against unbelievers are genuinely a longstanding element of Islam. They have been a problem for centuries in, for example, the southern Philippines. Not some new or transitory thing. Ergo, without individual Muslims being at fault, it is still a higher risk to the general population to let in Muslims as immigrants. This is a valid consideration in selecting immigrants. There is, the US Supreme Court to the contrary, no human rights question involved in discriminating on the grounds of religion for immigration purposes. This is an issue of freedom of association for those already here, or anywhere else. Any more than there is a human rights issue in discriminating on the grounds of language ability, or illness, or likelihood to need social assistance. None assume moral fault in the applicant.
Again, nobody wants to say it, but there is another reason to want to restrict Muslim immigration. On a vital issue, Muslims will tend not to assimilate, on religious grounds. Unlike in Christianity or Buddhism, or, at least for historical reasons, Judaism, in Islam there is no separation of church and state. Any government that is not specifically both religious and Muslim is, in Muslim terms, illegitimate. Accordingly, if and when a group of Muslims forms a majority in any area, however small, there will be an inevitable demand for a separate government, with their own laws, on a religious foundation. They will therefore never consider themselves any more than transitionally and regrettably “Canadian.” Witness Bosnia, the southern Philippines, or Chechnya. Letting in a large Muslim minority creates an inevitable future conflict, probably bloody.
But, you may argue, not all Muslims will think like this. So just let in the “good” Muslims who recognize the separation of church and state.
Problem: these are not the good Muslims. These are the Muslims who do not take their religion seriously. Accordingly, they are just as likely to be fast and loose with its other requirements, most of them involving objectively good morals. From the Muslim perspective, to be secularized is to be wicked, and such Muslims will see themselves as having defected to "the wicked West." No rules any longer need apply.
But none of this really does much regarding the immediate question of mass shootings. You cannot deport Muslim Canadians, and there are a good number of them.
The real problem is, I think, a critical diagnostic failure in the psychiatric profession. Psychiatry does not distinguish between two opposite conditions, melancholia, and narcissism. This is the only way you can end up with mass killers always being mentally ill, but the mentally ill not being any more likely to be mass killers. We must have two separate groups being given the same diagnosis of “mental illness.” One has to be less likely than the general population to be violent, and the other more likely, so that the two statistically balance out.
Melancholics, the product of some abuse or trauma, and narcissists, who have mostly simply chosen to do wrong, show similar symptoms, of depression and anxiety; and all psychiatry is capable of seeing, because of its empirical prejudices, are symptoms. So both are treated with antidepressants, or antipsychotics, which give purely symptomatic relief.
These helpfully dull the floating anxiety, the troubling thoughts, or, in the case of psychosis, the hallucinations. In a melancholic, it allows them to function more normally, without unjustified anxieties caused by systematic abuse or PTSD. In a narcissist, however, the anxiety and depression are really the voice of conscience, expressing genuine guilt. Giving them the pills allows them to continue to function narcissistically, and ramp up, by stilling this troubling voice of conscience.
If the former group, the melancholics, experience a crisis, they want to kill themselves. If the latter group, the narcissists, experience a crisis, they will want to kill everyone around them. Big difference. Give them antidepressants and antipsychotics, and this will happen. This itself explains the growing incidence of such mass murders.
How to tell the difference? Not hard, on several bases.
Both groups will also tend to seek similar relief in alcohol, as a form of “self-medication.” But there are two kinds of drunks, aren't there? A melancholic drunk, who drinks to ease the pain of abuse, will get funnier and more outgoing when drunk, or just dopey, or fall asleep. A narcissistic drunk, who drinks to still the inhibitions of conscience, will get belligerent, or self-pitying, or nasty.
It might be a good diagnostic tool, if psychiatry knew what it was doing.