Shootings in US suburbia, what would J.G. Ballard make of them?

15 December 2012

11:54 AM

15 December 2012

11:54 AM

These shootings. I think we need J G Ballard back. Looking back through previous such apparently random events, we might observe that:

• The perpetrators are almost always white.
• They are almost always lower middle class or middle class.
• The areas in which the shootings take place are almost always comfortable, although not luxurious, suburbs, a good distance from the local metropolis. In demographic terms they tend to have a rather lower racial mix than is average for the state.
• The median income is always bang on average for the state. They tend to be places with otherwise low crime figures.

I don’t really know what this tells us.

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Show comments
  • blandings

    “I don’t really know what this tells us.”

    How banal killers are, I guess.

  • rndtechnologies786

    Good view.

  • Kevinc

    Nothing will change. The US obsession with firearms has nothing to do with self-defence, government tyranny and all the other shibboleths trotted out by the NRA and other likeminded nutters at times like these but is clearly fetishistic, much like a primitive society’s obsession with foreskins and female genitalia, and our own fixation with, say Dad’s Army, or Morecambe and Wise. To challenge it, however ridiculous the “it” is, is to challenge the very foundation of society itself. Chaos and mayhem will ensue if “it” is destroyed, therefore “it” must be maintained at all costs. I read recently that over 80 people per day are kiiled by firearms in the USA, so in fact a massacre of sorts is taking place daily, 365 days per year. Expect it to continue.

  • Simon Fay

    “I think we need J G Ballard back.”

    I’d like to see him raised Lazarus fashion only to be killed almost immediately, riddled with bullets fired by an Opus Dei hit-squad. Doubtless he would croak “How absolutely fascinating…and entirely beyond morality!!” then peg it. I’d make sure they had enough ammo to finish off Will Self too, along with most of the broadsheet columnists.

    • Baron

      well said, Simon, the best of the lot

  • statman

    Schizophrenia affects 1percent of the population.Paranoid Variants affect around 5percent.These people are potentially pretty dangerous.Borderline personality disorder (BPD)-a polite term for’ almost barking ‘ affects 5percent . There is a lot of overlap. I’m only amazed there aren’t more people killed by these nutters.

    • Baron

      good point, too, statman, hence the reaction of the media to the tragedy stinks, any one of the 1 or 5 per cent of the nutters watching the messiah and the rest of the show will say ‘hey, that’s the route to become a celebrity, the whole world will notice the big me, the messiah will know of me, let’s go’.

      Only those eager to clip our freedoms rejoice, so far, here, they’ve banned the hand gun, the carrying of the knife, offending anyone… what’s next, banning toy guns? the thinking of offending someone?

  • Wilhelm

    Ebonic speakers run amok in London stabbing people every 10 seconds.

    Yet I don’t hear calls by the media to ban cutlery. ( the latest weapon of choice now is scarves, good for strangling the casual passerby on a bus. )

    Note how ITN says it’s a ” unprovoked attack ” yet if a white man strangled the black man, it would be called a ” racist attack.”

    White on Black crime hardly exists.

    • Eddie

      No, but eBay won’t allow anyone to sell antique silver-handled cake knives! Obviously, there is such a problem with ethnics buying antique cake knives off eBay and then using them to stab people, that it obviously makes sense. Never mind that anyone can just go and buy a knife from Argos at any time…

      I agree with your analysis of media assumptions that all attacks on blacks or Asians are ‘racist’ but those on whites never are (in fact most mugging is black on white – and some blacks are ‘let off’ being mugged or attacked just because of their skin colour: footage exists from the riots on this.)

      Me, I have lived in inner city London areas, so nothing surprises me about the casual violence of blacks on buses and rampaging through the streets mugging, hitting and stabbing people.
      I bet all the poor sod said was ‘could you stop kicking the back of the seat please?’ or something similar. We got a whole load of abuse a few years ago when we turned round to some black kids (no older than 14) behind us at some Friday night trashy comedy showing at the multiplex and asked them to stop kicking the back of our seats. Fortunately, they left soon after. I do so hope they have now been stabbed or shot to death by their fellow vibrant and diverse brothers.

  • In2minds

    Mother and apple pie. They do say the guns were legally owned and bought by
    a woman with a ‘difficult’ son. Also she taught him to shoot. Perhaps
    what is needed is not more gun control but more mother control. The
    apple pie can stay as it is.

  • Sarah

    Aren’t these just the young, white guys who can’t get into the army where they can kill masses of people legally?

  • Sarah

    “The perpetrators are almost always white.”

    Always male.
    Victims always include females. Often predominantly.

    • Eddie

      Ah yes, trust manhating psycho Sarah to make that point. The victims were CHILDREN you UTTER fuckwitted loon – and moreoever, it is YOUNG MEN who are most at risk of violence in society, NOT women. You tit!

      But don’t forget, gormless bint, that behind every psychotic murdering man is a mother who made him that way. Well, you can’t say ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ without saying the equal and opposite, eh?
      Maybe this young man who cracked had a mom just like you huh? No father probably either… Men with fathers and stable homes rarely do stuff like this.

      • Sarah

        You know when people say “with retrospect we should have done something to prevent him”? Well you saw him here first folks.

    • Hugh

      “Victims always include females.”

      What are the odds, eh?

      • Sarah

        Well high odds if you consider that the perpetrators point their guns at women and pull the trigger. Unless you were thinking victims occurred at random?

        Female politician, female mothers of gun man (not fathers), destination of choice: kindergartens and schools, victims: predominantly female teachers and female pupils. In every case, this one included.

        I think it’s a relevant factor that needs considering. These men may be out of the same box as family annihilators with their frustrated masculinity.

      • Sarah

        “What are the odds, eh?”
        2.3 : 1?

        Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female (age 6)

        Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male (age 7)

        Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female (age 6)

        Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female (age 7)

        Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female (age 6)

        Dylan Hockley, 03/08/06, male (age 6)

        Madeleine F. Hsu, 07/10/06, female (age 6)

        Catherine V. Hubbard, 06/08/06, female (age 6)

        Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male (age 7)

        Jesse Lewis, 06/30/06, male (age 6)

        James Mattioli, 03/22/06, male (age 6)

        Grace McDonnell, 11/04/05, female (age 7)

        Emilie Parker, 05/12/06, female (age 6)

        Jack Pinto, 05/06/06, male (age 6)

        Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male (age 6)

        Caroline Previdi, 09/07/06, female (age 6)

        Jessica Rekos, 05/10/06, female (age 6)

        Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female (age 6)

        Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male (age 6)

        Allison N. Wyatt, 07/03/06, female (age 6)


        Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female (age 29)

        Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female (age 47)

        Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female (age 52)

        Lauren Russeau, 1982, female (age 29)

        Mary Sherlach, 02/11/56, female (age 56)

        Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female (age 27)

        • Hugh

          So the evidence for this being gender-based is that he killed eight boys against 12 girls?


          Perhaps he chose a school because that best reflected his hatred of women, but it seems a touch more likely he picked on a bunch of kids and their teachers who he knew wouldn’t be shooting back at him.

          • Sarah

            Did you not notice the 5 female teachers and 1 female mother?

            The same patterns are found in previous mass killings in US, UK and elsewhere. These men go looking for women and children.

            • Hugh

              Did you spot that mothers and primary school teachers tend to be female? Curiously, the experts say these go looking for places where guns are banned, which would explain in this and other cases why once there they shoot quite a few young boys as well. Had there been more male teachers it seems likely the balance would have been more equal.

              • Sarah

                But everyone knows most primary school teachers and mothers are female don’t they?

                Had there been more male teachers he might not have gone there. Why didn’t he go to a university campus or an engineering firm or sports bar?

                You seem to be suggesting that venues and then victims are chosen at random; I don’t believe that is how most premeditated murderers behave.

                Maybe it’s just coincidence that the girls in this venue were almost two and a half more likely to be targeted than the boys. And that he narrowed down the possible victim profile to women and children by choosing a primary school. But I think it’s significant that these spree killers are young men and their victims overwhelmingly aren’t.

                • Hugh

                  I haven’t suggested the choice of venue is random; I’ve suggested they’re chosen as those that explicitly ban firearms – as with that last shooting at the cinema (which, while not the closest to the killer, was the only to advertise its ban on concealed weapons), and all but three of the mass shootings in US history.
                  And, yes, it does seems likely it’s just coincidence that 12 girls were shot against 8 boys (leaving aside the teachers), because he clearly was taking no special pains to avoid shooting little boys.

                • Hugh

                  And, by the way, the only study I have been able to find on such incidents (taking in US victims from 1975 to 1999) found females accounted for 30.9% of the victims of mass murder.

                  So, in short, it seems that while these spree killers are young men their victims are too actually.

                • Sarah

                  The study says that in several cases it looked like female victims had been specifically targeted. In the case of Marc Lepine’s massacre on a university campus in 1989 and Carl Roberts massacre of Amish children, all the murdered and injured were female. And in others they made up over 50% of victims, as in Dunblane. In others this was not the case.

                  It’s a 13 year old report though.

                  This recent shooting 75% of the victims were female.

                  “Impact of guns on women’s lives”
                  Amnesty International, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Oxfam International, 2005.


                • Hugh

                  Er, if in several cases females made up the majority or all of the victims and yet the overall proportion killed is 70 per cent men, then that would suggest men made up an even greater majority in the remaining incidence, wouldn’t it?

                  What the study says is this: “This variation in victimization, does not support the notion that equates mass murder with femicide, although there are certainly some incidents in which females are specifically targeted.”

                  What you said was: “these spree killers are young men and their victims overwhelmingly aren’t” and “The same patterns are found in previous mass killings in US, UK and elsewhere. These men go looking for women and children.” and “Female politician, female mothers of gun man (not fathers), destination of choice: kindergartens and schools, victims: predominantly female teachers and female pupils. In every case, this one included.”

                  And yes, it is 13 years old. If you have a more recent study on these types of attacks suggesting the trend of male victimization has changed, I’d be interested in seeing it; the study you’ve linked to appears to say nothing about it, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, the overall levels of gun deaths are even more heavily concentrated among men.

    • Time Traveller

      “Always male”.

      Except Sylvia Seegrist.

  • Lungfish

    Its Affluenza ,computer ‘shootem up’ games and mental illness all stirred in a pot of insecurity,paranoier, unemployment and availability of high powered guns with a bit of drug abuse on top. Its a diet of shit TV and crap morally defunct movies and bent politicians alongwith money grubbing banks and a 24 hour diet of internet porn and shit news channels with salacious bad news and more bad news. What the fuck does anybody expect?

    • Baron

      Lungfish, you should avoid getting as angry as this, it’s bad for your heart, my friend.

      You may be right about the trash in our media, but then in Japan people read comics called Manga, many depicting unbelievable perversion, violence, filth, every one devours it, the young and the old, the underground is littered with copies of it, and yet the Japanese seem to be quite civilized, mild mannered, refined. You reckon it’s the genes or what?

      • headsofbirds

        Not the genes, though many would love you to think so. On closer inspection civilisation and refinement seem to be a veneer. Only last week I watched in horror as a man groped a teen hostess in a “snack” bar (admittedly one of the only places to see cleavage here, it seems). And while the rhetoric is of a Safety Nation, it’s not long ago that cut-up bodies were being found buried in oil drums. When plied for opinions on such misery business, the last colleague I asked blamed an influx of Chinese immigrants.

  • William Reid Boyd

    The two constants I believe are easy access to guns and a lone social existence. It might be that white middle-class society is less cohesive than coloured or hispanic in the US, that it’s easier for a white teenager to remain alone and become progressively more disassociated from reality.

  • Augustus

    Perhaps it tells us that there is no way that you can totally police the actions of someone who was obviously mentally sick. And wasn’t the school a ‘gun free zone’? And it provided a target rich environment for the shooter, just as it was at Columbine, and Virginia Tech. But the ugly fact is that most homicides are perpetrated by people who are not legally permitted to carry their weapons in the first place.

  • FrankS

    It tells us you got struck by lightning on that Italian mountainside, causing a serious lapse of judgement.

  • Stuart Eels

    What a sad tired article, why don’t you go and lie down you obviously need a rest. The Black kids are too busy in the cities killing each other, you really should do a little research.

  • Rockin Ron

    One thing it tells us is that you may be looking in the wrong areas to draw meaningful conclusions from randomly drawn points. Is it too much to expect jouranlists to be analytical, thoughtful, insightful? You might as well have listed the location of fire hydrants, the frequency of hairdressers and the prevalence of red jumpers. Gormless.

    • rod liddle

      Possibly, Rockin. Which is why I said I’m not sure what this tells us. And Maris may have a point too, as is often the case. It is too much to expect journalists to provide all the answers, yes, even if you are a fucking halfwit.

      • Rockin Ron

        I wasn’t expecting you provide all the answers – that would be too much too expect. But it would have been good if you paused to think before you post. If you are not sure, why not try to think about it first? Unfortunately, with most journalists it is just reaction, reaction and more reaction. What is now called analysis is what used to be a brief overview. No depth, plenty of range, though.

  • Eddie

    Probably the same number of children get shot in an average week in the projects populated by black Americans. Though no doubt some African-American racists are trying to make out that white people are less moral than blacks for shooting up schools.
    Maybe this just tells us that most middle class white American homes have guns – to protect themselves against the (mostly black) American criminal classes?
    Or maybe just that most of America comprises suburbs like this – so statistically such shootings are more likely to happen in such places?
    I tend to more or less ignore such news stories – we all know there’ll be shoot-ups like this every year or two – it’s inevitable in a country full of guns, and esp now school shootings have been glamorised by movies and books and make the shooters famous!
    Fame was probably the motivation here – even though it was posthumous. Or maybe the man was a total mental case. Whichever it is, the factg remains that shootings like this are dramatic and good news copy – the drudgery of daily shootings and murders in the USA is boring and hardly makes the US newspapers – yet that is the real tragedy.

  • Austin Barry

    And they’re always male.

    • Baron

      and never gay? Hmmm, what about equality then?

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      Almost all are, although the one who arguably kicked off the trend, Brenda Ann Spencer, is a notable exception.

  • Baron

    That’s the price a free society pays for gun ownership as a right.

    Before anyone gets tempted to enlighten Baron of the evil of guns – by far more kids die in swimming pools in the US than by the gun.

    • Daniel Maris

      You think that means anything?

      • Baron

        Yup, it means more children die in or around swimming pools than get shot. The messiah seems oblivious to it, otherwise he would have made a speech, promised a ‘meaningful action’ such as closing the pools down. That would save more young lives than banning guns could.

        You follow, Daniel?

    • OldSlaughter

      There are free societies with lax gun ownership which don’t put up with it so much.

    • Hugh

      I’m guessing far more people use swimming pools than shoot, so it doesn’t seem a terribly good comparison.

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        In the US far more households have guns than pools.

        Having a (private, residential) swimming pool is far more dangerous to children than having a gun. According to Steven Levitt there is one child death per 11000 residential pools, whereas there is one child death for every million household guns.

        • Hugh

          That’s why I said “use” not “have”.

        • Hugh

          That’s why I said “use” not “have”.

  • Daniel Maris

    You left out: the perpetrator nearly always has a record of depression and has been treated with state-sanctioned psychoactive medicine.

    • Daniel Maris

      I see I was right to draw attention to this – he had been on a medication regime.

      My tentative theory is that these appalling acts are often the cries for help of people whose emotional lives have been virtually obliterated by these drug regimes. To be “zombified” in that way is a terrible fate for a conscious human being.

      • Austin Barry

        “cries for help”?

        Nonsense. That is the unthinking cliche for the unequivocal act of finality: suicide.

    • Shakassoc

      Peter Hitchens has been looking into this connection for some time, and reckons it is real and significant.

    • OldSlaughter

      But so many are, that if you are a little weird now and again you are on the drugs. It would be statistically hard not to be.

  • Caroline Gurney

    If you look at the world-wide lists of rampage killers on Wikipedia:, and click through to read a number of their stories, I think you’ll find there are no common factors other than the state of mind of the perpetrators. Professor Craig Jackson, Head of Psychology at Birmingham City University and an expert in spree killings, said yesterday that all spree killers have certain things in common – they are unstable, narcissistic, immature and consistently blame others for their failures: The worst school killing in the USA actually took place back in 1927: and the perpetrator, Andrew Philip Kehoe, absolutely fitted Professor Jackson’s description: He blamed the local school board for the failure of his farm.

    • Daniel Maris

      And there was I thinking the killers were all going to be well adjusted young men with a stable family background…thanks for letting us know that.

    • Eddie

      they “have certain things in common – they are unstable, narcissistic, immature and consistently blame others for their failures:”

      Sounds like the average feminist to me actually! Or perhaps an ill-educated member of the African-American community craving victimhood and ‘positive’ racial discrimination. Or perhaps most celebrities!

      Thing is, the profile of these killers is always that they are ‘loners’. Well, so are most writers, artists, great entrepreneurs, thinkers, inventors, scientists etc. Those people who are natural team players are usually bimbos and himbos who plod along in their mediocre lives making more profit for corporates or pen-pushing and paper-shuffling in some state-funded job.

      The biggest factor is the easy access to guns in the USA. The second biggest factor is the huge number of boys who grow up with no fathers – they know, even if politically correct persons promote the opposite fabricated reality – that being brought up in such a way is damaging and that they are massively disadvantaged by it. Time to have policies that stop most divorce and stop subsiding single mother messes then eh? A great deal of child abuse occurs in such ‘families’ too.

  • Unenlightened_Commentary

    Are they normally white? There have been quite a few asian killers- the V-Tech killer most notoriously. The last big massacre in Connecticut was by Omar Thornton a black man who blamed racism on his massacre.

    • Adam Nixon

      Surely you mean he blamed racism FOR his massacre?

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        Yes, you are right.

  • John Court

    Come on Rod, let’s have a conclusion. You’re not normally afraid to voice an opinion. I think it’s all about seeking attention – somehow trying to get a society that doesn’t know or care that you exist to notice, or punishing them for not having noticed already.

    • Walter Ellis

      I fail to see how Lanza did what he did in order to gain attention. He had killed himself before anyone even knew who he was or what the Hell he was on about.

      • Austin Barry

        Well, these nutjobs tend to believe, I suspect, that will they be looking at their handiwork from some crisp-strewn couch in the Elysian Fields

  • James Strong

    I don’t know what this tells either.
    But I do know that if a few staff members at the school had been carrying concealed firearms it is likely that fewer innocents would have died.
    And the guns must be concealed; the criminal must not have the advantage of knowing which of his law-abiding adversaries has a gun.

    • Baron

      James, sir, what you’re suggesting is a rational response, something that no longer exists in our enlightened society, we’re running on emotions, the preferred fuel of the pseudo-liberal fruitcakes.

      • Austin Barry

        Evil is, evil exists.

        • Daniel Maris

          Is that your Thought for the Day?

          • Austin Barry

            No, my thought for the day is: What’s the deal with the Question Time audiences?

            Where do they get these people? Are they assembled and brainwashed in the Guardian labs? Do they represent the authentic product of the English state school system – leftist, dreary and full of pokerwork platitudes for some undeserving constituency of the inert?

            Are they real, with their paradoxically sad yet enthusiastic applause for every inane panegyric delivered by the vote-wheedling catchfarts on the panel, or are they just Central Casting’s return on the BBC’s request for those extras who can, with some conviction, pretend neon-lit concern and simpering sincerity for the self-disadvantaged?

            • Daniel Maris

              I guess rich successful Tory-voting businessmen have better things to do of an evening – like sh*gging the secretary for instance. Even if the BBC wanted to be fair and balanced it would be difficult. And these devious SWP types know to tick the “I vote Tory” box.

            • Lungfish

              Its fixed Austin-it must be. I watched this week for the first time in ages. Those people in the audience were not representative in any way shape or form. Even Mrs Lungfish who is not political was yelling at the screen. Just don’t watch it and refuse to pay the enforced BBC tax.

              • Robert Taggart

                Oneself has applied three times over the last seventeen years to be in the QT audience – when they deign to come uop nourf !
                The snail mail / paper questionnaire does ask you to divulge how you voted at last general election and how you think you will vote at the next. Cannot recall if these questions were mandatory, but, perhaps more fool moi – one answered honestly – and ‘rightly’ !

                Result ? – no invite !

            • William Reid Boyd

              I’ve only watched once a few weeks ago when that Owen Jones ceature was on that Rod wanted to know from us how much he should hate (a lot).

              I thought it unreal and toe-curlingly excruciating. I actually found it massively depressing. I really do hope that audience was a beeb ‘representative audience’, an entirely artificial construct of their market research and not a cross-section of our society.

              Else we are doomed.

              • Wilhelm

                The last Question Time I watched was the one after the 9 / 11 twin tower attacks, several muslims in the audience squealed in delight ” America had it coming to them” It made the America Ambassador who was on the panel, cry.

                Anti white, man hater Yappin Ali baba Brown along with pompous bore Tam Dalyell was on the show, incidentally Dalyell fiddled his expenses, bought a £18,000 bookcase and got the taxpayer to pay for it, check out his castle, the House of Binns.


                10 years later, London is now majority black / muslim, one by one, our towns and cities will fall to them. Yes, we’re doomed.

                Just look at the demographics of the audience, the woman in the burqu is at 2.50


                • William Reid Boyd

                  Yes, thanks for reminding me of that. I was living in France at the time and so missed it, but I remember reading about it and I’ll check your link out. Thanks.

        • Baron

          you what, Austin, my blogging friend, eager to qualify for the competition of the bleeding obvious?

          The point the poorly educated Slav was trying to make is that the response to this tragedy will be to ban guns, instead of doing what James was suggesting, which would be more rational. Banning guns to prevent crime is not unakin to covering a festering cancerous growth with a plaster to avoid dying from the disease. In any case, this was an act of a deranged individual, what should amaze more is that in a 300mn strong nation of mostly medicated macho egos tragedies like this don’t happen more often.

          • Shakassoc

            ‘…not unakin…’?! Who do you think you are, John Major?

            • Baron

              Come on, Shakassoc, sir, say it few times, it grows on you, rolls off the tongue beautifully. The blue veined barbarian pinched it (as he pinches virtually everything else he likes, is incapable to think of himself) from James Delingpole’s Watermelons, hopes the great James will forgive him.

              BTW, since we are as likely to get the tome the great Rod was penning down in the sunny Italy as we are to see the film he was making in South Africa earlier this year, James’s Watermelons would make an ideal gift for this Christmas. Well written, full of useful facts, many revelations and not only on the AGW front. Worth buying, sir.

              • Shakassoc

                Nicked from Dellers, eh? I suppose I shall have to chastise him for it now. Which means I’ve got to buy the book (which I was going to do anyway).

                Anyway, I have tried saying ‘not unakin’ a few times and it sounds not unlike (ahem!) the title of a book by Beatrix Potter about an eponymous squirrel.

              • Lungfish

                Baron- The USA is awash with guns because its a new country. You must have seen those moving picture shows where the cowboys win new ground from those pesky injuns etc.

                I think its time to join the rest of the civilised world and restrict gun ownership.

                • Baron

                  Lungfish, my friend, gun ownership got clipped not because we’ve become more civilized, on the contrary, because we’ve become less so, the crime rate in England and Wales (per 100,000 of population) has now got back to a level last seen in the the 18th century; it had been falling since then up to the 60s last century.

              • puss-in-plimsolls

                I’ll second that, Baron, you generous soul. Give Watermelons for Christmas!

                • Baron

                  For you, puss, it should be Watermelons and a couple of large diamonds before the messiah confiscates everyone’s money to prevent the over the cliff collapse of the Republic. You take great care, you hear?

                • puss-in-plimsolls

                  I certainly shall, my dear :^ *

          • Terry

            well said. keep boys from being boys.

    • D B


    • D B

      And what if a teacher, carrying a gun, lost his cool and shot half of his cless? I despair when I read comments like this.