Chilling – probably correct – explanation of mass school shootings

I just read at NRO a piece by David French, who in turn gives us the substance of an explanation of what is driving the increasing phenomenon of school shootings.  I sense that the explanation – which provides quite the opposite of comfort – is correct.

He also, rightly, pointed out that no amount of laws restricting gun ownership will reverse the trend.  This “slow motion riot” has to be addressed in another way.

What way would that be?

Off the top of my head, I suggest that fatherless homes, drugging children, continuous images of violence in games, artificial entertainments on screens, the brutalization of girls and women which renders them unable to civilize males, and no sense of God or the transcendent may have something to do with it.  And let’s not rule out demonic influence.

How to reverse those trends?   How to wake people up to seek solutions?  I fear that only something approaching societal cataclysm can do that.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. bobbird says:

    Things may be even worse that what Fr. Z speculates. DO mind control drugs exist, or are they fiction? If they DO exist, what might the minions of an Evil Mind do with it, especially when enhanced by all the cultural baggage Fr. correctly observes? Why would they want to do it? The parade of these incidents always seems to have a damage control factor when the “official scenario” backfires in the face of contradictory and changing narratives. And when all that fails, it goes down a Memory Hole. Remember Las Vegas?

  2. Fr. Z said, “Off the top of my head, I suggest that fatherless homes, drugging children, continuous images of violence in games, artificial entertainments on screens, the brutalization of girls and women which renders them unable to civilize males, and no sense of God or the transcendent may have something to do with it. And let’s not rule out demonic influence.”


  3. colospgs says:

    That is frightening. I fear it may be true. It also reminds me of the famous video from the Sasquatch music festival where one man dances like a fool, then slowly many more join in. A perfect example of what the author is talking about here. It’s chilling when watching the video to think of killers instead of dancers.

  4. JustaSinner says:

    Home school. Problem solved.

    [Perhaps that’s just a little too simple.]

  5. mike cliffson says:

    By no means in conflict with what Fr.Z has written, and most especially loose demons, I often remember that pushing half a century ago as-then Mother Teresa of Calcuta said one thing(legalized) abortion would do is come out in violence all over society. St Augustine berates us any-other-times-were-better-than-what-we’ve-got querulous fussbudget fogies, still the now unimaginable preabortion sheer gentleness and honesty of Brits , the generous touching French hospitality to complete strangers, the anarchic bonhomie of Spaniards …, school shootups may be more Usa, but roadrage ,French malice , and so forth, the violence and anger and intolerance, the gloating…. I’m an old fogey that doesn’t pray nor fast enough for his times but people , not just young men, are far nastier and more violent on default setting.

    [Okay. I was with you through Mother Teresa. Then you lost me.]

  6. tzard says:

    I’ve been explaining to people how these are “copycat” crimes – a word you no longer hear in the media.

    I’ve been musing how people of my generation and before would never think of acting out like this. However, just from the media attention, people are thinking “Hey, this is an option!” and seeing the publicity – their interior rage can be heard. It’s just like homosexuality – now it’s seen as just another “option” – so it’s something people consider – when it should not be considered.

  7. tamranthor says:

    Is it hopeless? I don’t believe it is, but then, I’m not in charge.

    Hope, pray and don’t worry are words to live by, but I would add a healthy dose of the Epistle of James, wherein actions speak of lively faith. Raise your kids to be faithful, and if you cannot shield them from evil, mitigate it as best you can.

  8. Huber says:

    “Off the top of my head, I suggest that fatherless homes, drugging children, continuous images of violence in games, artificial entertainments on screens, the brutalization of girls and women which renders them unable to civilize males, and no sense of God or the transcendent may have something to do with it. And let’s not rule out demonic influence.”

    Father, are all these things not tools of Frankfurt school’s critical theory? School shootings are happening because Marxists have been polarizing, poking, prodding and whipping up every quarter of society wearing thin the already thin line of civil tolerance and creating an underlying social tension until people are just one tipping point away from snapping. Everything from the main stream media, to “entertainment” to social media feeds this social tension. It is all be design and school shootings and other people going postal are just proof that its working.

  9. Akita says:

    Mr Cliffson,

    Your stream of consciousness could be very compelling if you used shorter sentences. Also, try starting a new paragraph with the introduction of a new idea.


  10. Kathleen10 says:

    The cultural powers use gun control threats to keep us all busy and our minds off the real source of the problem which is all that was stated here and more. This multi-faceted behavior cannot be solved by single-step solutions. If gun control was the answer Chicago should be a paradise. But if the progressives can keep us off balance by getting their culture parrots to yak about gun control it keeps everybody busy while they get things done. Oh they’d love to disarm the American public, positively, but that is one thing that doesn’t seem likely. Law abiding Americans are not going to give up their guns because some teenagers want “their story to be told” (the words of the latest shooter who confused getting on American Idol fame with shooting up his fellow teenager fame).
    Another factor to add to the mix is that boys today can only get noticed if they shoot up their friends. Otherwise it’s all girls all the time. I work in education, and it’s girls that get all the attention and encouragement to be “leaders”. Boys are a problem, and if they aren’t a problem, they’re ignored. Boys are not encouraged to be leaders, girls are. Feminists have identified male behavior as a disorder that needs fixin, and this is one reason so many boys are on mind altering drugs even in elementary school. On the playground games like Tag or (God forbid) wrestling, are not allowed. It’s physical and pits boys against other boys and emphasizes masculinity, and may make girls feel badly if they can’t cut it, so out it goes, because we all know men are too violent. “Hands to yourself” is what boys are told, for the mildest things. This is just a fraction of it, boys are not encouraged to do worthwhile things, they aren’t told it’s wonderful to be a man, they are given incredibly violent video games that they can play by the hour and which turn them into snipers and turned loose in a godless culture.

  11. KAS says:

    I think that primarily the demonic is behind every bit of the social engineering that is leading to the violence in society. I do not think it is computer games to blame, I think it is the devil. People I have known my entire life are speaking and acting in ways that are strange to me. They know the Bible yet they support what is insupportable. Where reason is not, there you will find the devil involved. Where civility is not, there also you find the demonic. I find what is going on more disturbing that my skill with words can express.

    To laud the socialist and muslim as peaceful and good while vilifying and fearing the Christian– is this not insanity? If all are not insane, then the devil is at the core of it. Americans are like children who grew up in Camelot and are now confused because the freedom promised by Mordred has destroyed Arthur and ended the peace they though unbreakable.

  12. maternalView says:

    Yes all the things Farher Z suggests are part of the problem. (Also several of these individuals were consumers of pornography. )

    It is cultural and social problem. People that age want to belong. They want to feel significant. That need used to be met by family (and the community/neighborhood). That doesn’t exist any more. Parents have allowed school to replace the structure and safety of a family.

    These shooters then find an attraction to various activities that fill that hole in their soul. Those activities lead them down the wrong path. That first brick as described in the NRO article gets picked up and then wanting to belong others follow suit.

    Parents have come to believe children are as well off being institutionalized for years with minimal contact with their family as the children years ago who spent a few hours a day at school and the rest of the time in the embrace of their family where they learned they were loved and important. And if it happened that school was awful a kid could find solace at home with grandpa fishing or mowing the yard with dad or baking with mom. Family used to be the “safe space”.

    Schools are soul crushing institutions. And in the society today certain at-risk individuals are going to lash out at the one thing that represents their life.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    Yet, another school shooting. Yet more explanations.

    David French cites the Threshold Theory of Mark Granvetter, developed in 1978 as an explanation. French writes:

    In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyone around him was grabbing cameras from the electronics store.

    1978 was a heady year for these sorts of theories – in the same year, Thomas Schelling published his book, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, which posits a very similar threshold theory under the guise of, “tipping,” behavior; the British mathematician, Christopher Zeeman, published his paper on prison riots, which used the new mathematical techniques of Catastrophe Theory, which is all about the different types of sudden, radical changes that can occur in a system. These are older theories. If one were to propose these sorts of theories, today, one would use reaction-diffusion equations, where an initial reaction diffuses in a system, then, another reaction occurs and that diffuses, etc., until patterned behavior starts to emerge.

    In contrast to these sorts of bifurcation theories, I would rather talk about cheese.

    According to Wikipedia, the first commercially available, individually wrapped, cheese slices were introduced in the U.S. by Arnold Nawrocki, working for Clearfield Cheese Co. in 1956. How American: each man has his own slice. During the same period, from 1951 to 1957, the race was on to produce, yet, another triumph for the individual man: birth control. A year after cheese was separated from the conglomerate cylinder, sliced, emulsified and modified, sex was, likewise, separated from society, sliced into individual encounters, sweetened with temptation and promises, and modified from an encounter with the other to a satisfaction with oneself.

    Every act of contraceptive sex is an act of desperation, of despair. Even more so, abortion. This is where the theology of personal judgment, so popular with Protestants, has led us – to sliced cheese, to sliced lives, to a theology that even when it proclaims social justice does so one indivdual at a time. Society began the long march into numb detachment and despair in the 1950’s, when social cohesion was shattered by those who returned from WWII. Sadly, The Greatest Generation saved us from one kind of slavery only to plunge us into another more subtle and deadlier one. They saved us from one madman only to release us to another – the madman within.

    Well did St. James explain this (Jas 4: 1 – 10):

    Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
    Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
    You covet but do not possess.
    You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
    you fight and wage war.
    You do not possess because you do not ask.
    You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
    to spend it on your passions.
    Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God?
    Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world
    makes himself an enemy of God.
    Or do you suppose that the Scripture speaks without meaning when it says,
    The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy?
    But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:
    God resists the proud,
    but gives grace to the humble.

    So submit yourselves to God.
    Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
    Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
    Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
    and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
    Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep.
    Let your laughter be turned into mourning
    and your joy into dejection.
    Humble yourselves before the Lord
    and he will exalt you.

    It takes humility and hope to allow God to control ones fertility. We have lost that humility, we have lost that hope, but more than that, we have lost the sense that our neighbor’s life is really our own. It used to be that their concerns were our concerns. No more. We have become slices of cheese, individually wrapped, individually shielded from our neighbor by the overriding thoughts of our own passions. We kill, we envy, we become adulterers of the charity that must exist if a society is to be worthy of the name. We are no longer Catholic in our charity, we have become individuals, Protestants, if you will, each deciding that his own interpretation of life is Holy Writ.

    What Granvetter and Schelling seem to not understand is that there are martyrs, individuals who cannot be flipped, tipped, or thresholded into a behavior that they know to morally wrong. Why? Because they have seen the Hope. They know that it does not reside in this life. They know that one day in the threshold of God is worth resisting the invitation to the threshold of any other passion.

    Duh! Hello scholars. Every single one of these school shooters have one thing in common: they lack a moral sense that makes them want to do good and avoid evil. Indeed, if The Good is nothing more than that which inhabits our own little cheese slice, then the Communion of Saints has become the Commotion of the Envious and Granvetter is right to discuss lemmings and lawlessness. If, on the other hand, The Good is a person, then we must strive with all of our might to unite ourselves, purely, humble, to that Person.

    How, I ask you, is a society that cannot even unite itself to a baby (for contraception and abortion are cutting knives) ever going to unite itself to the Living God?

    Okay, one school shooting occurs, then another, but just because one person starts something does not mean that anyone else must join them, if everyone else is committed to a different path. We are not a moral society in any sense of reality. That is the problem. Nothing more, nothing less.

    There are two ways to stop school violence: change the cause or change the effect. Either society will look with horror on its own selfishness and objective sin, or it will continue the long slide into the morality of the individual. One could execute the school shooters on the spot. No trial, no mercy. That would, certainly, slow down the growth of school shootings, although few would even think to suggest this sort of drastic discipline – the on-sight killing of the immoral, the cancer, but isn’t it better, instead, to resist the killing of morality? The latest, best cancer treatments lie not in cutting out the cancer, but in stimulating the immune system.

    In other words, one can become a martyr for the truth, a T-cell of hope. People, we are not getting out of this, alive. One might as well decide on which hill one is going to die. Die to self. Say no to evil. Be the martyr, the witness you were meant to be and perhaps someone else won’t have to be a martyr at the hands of a crazed moral-besotted youth.

    It is better to use a mental detector than a metal detector, but how can society examine its own conscience when there is no unity in what constitutes a sin? Every year, society breaks a little farther from the Church. Every year, things get a little hazier in terms of knowing right from wrong. Here is a prediction: school shooting will end when society begins to respect the Church, again.

    That may be a long time unless we enter a new age of martyrs. It was the martyrs who confounded the Roman moral sense. May we confound the moral sense of our age. The modern world isn’t so modern, after all. It makes one wonder what Vatican II could have been thinking about when they wrote about The Church and the Modern World. It looks as lost, old and desperate as ever, to me.

    The Chicken

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Insightful article by David French. I second semperficatholic’s comment on Fr. Z’s take on all this. Helpful video, colospgs. Fr. Z: please excuse the length of this comment.

    Please allow me to start here, fatherless homes is later on.

    Kathleen10 makes a good point about one important factor causing this slow-motion riot: “Feminists have identified male behavior as a disorder.” Compounding that feminist error are the feminists who do not object to Sharia law or who (Linda Sarsour is one example) actively promote it. Also contributing to the “slow-motion riot” are an increase in: female gangs, female suicide bombers, female teachers who prey on boys (though relatively rare), and the female prison population.

    A female friend emailed this article, written by Olga Khazan, about one factor adding to the increasing unhealthiness of society. (She also noted with an eyeroll that this article appeared in The Atlantic so it took an obligatory swipe at Donald Trump.)

    She highlighted this excerpt:

    “Shannon [a recent law school graduate who took a job at a high-pressure law firm in part to pay off six-figure student loans] admits that she can be a little sensitive, but…“Almost every girl cried at some point,” she says. Some of the male partners could be curt, she said, but others were nice. Almost all of the female partners, on the other hand, were very tough.

    “Still, the senior women’s behavior made sense to her. They were slavishly devoted to their jobs, regularly working until nine or 10 at night. Making partner meant either not having children or hiring both day- and nighttime nannies to care for them. “There’s hostility among the women who have made it,” she said. “It’s like, ‘I gave this up. You’re going to have to give it up too.’?”

    “After 16 months, Shannon decided she’d had enough. She left for a firm with gentler hours, and later took time off to be with her young children. She now says that if she were to return to a big firm, she’d be wary of working for a woman. A woman would judge her for stepping back from the workforce…”

    One more excerpt:

    “Large surveys by Pew and Gallup as well as several academic studies show that when women have a preference as to the gender of their bosses and colleagues, that preference is largely for men. A 2009 study published in the journal Gender in Management found, for example, that although women believe other women make good managers, “the female workers did not actually want to work for them.” The longer a woman had been in the workforce, the less likely she was to want a female boss.”

    Of course, polling is polling and one can agree or disagree with Olga Khazan. And on a case-by-case basis there are outstanding male and female managers, and then there are not.
    As commenter Huber points out above, Marxists (and degenerates and the diabolical) have been working toward revolution and the destruction of society for quite a while. Hopefully, more of our fellow citizens will realize: the value of children having a library card and reading books that encourage a healthy imagination and critical thinking; the downside of bombarding children’s senses with Grand Theft Auto games, Death Metal, and certain toxic TV and movies; that the most suitable and rewarding jobs for parents are usually those that are not the most high-paying or “celebrated” by pop-culture; and that altar rails are profoundly beneficial.

    Perhaps the greatest problem in society is fatherless homes. Men, generally speaking, have some work to do. Here is Michael O’Brien writing about his actual experiences with his own family in an essay on his website:

    “Every father knows that there are seasons in the life of a family when troubles seem to mount up and spirits burn low. It had been one of those months around our house…

    “St. Francis de Sales says that “the state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other: it is a perpetual exercise in mortification.” The cost of a happy family is the death of selfishness. The father must die if he is to give life to his spouse and children. An entire lifetime can be spent avoiding this truth…

    “Not only had I stopped laughing, I had stopped praying. In the notorious wee-small-hours of the morning, around three a.m., the baby resumed a desperate cry from her bedroom. Her mother’s body and will had resigned after four nursings since midnight. She simply could no longer answer the baby’s cry, being herself very sick and exhausted. She had only enough energy to groan, “Please, will you get the baby?”

    “So I heaved a weary sigh and maneuvered my back out of bed and made it across the hall to the hurricane of noise. Outside, the snow was falling in heavy, wet flakes, as it had for three straight weeks. I was beginning to resent it a little.

    “When will it stop?” I murmured to myself. “This isn’t fair!”

    “She was all of one and a half years old, the apple of our eye, shining, crisp and sweet. A baby who emerged from the womb actually cooing, and now possessed a wonderful gift of smiling and laughter. But on the night in question she stood there loudly protesting her predicament, a very tiny being gripping the rungs of her crib with all the outrage of a prisoner unjustly condemned. There was a note of terror in her voice too, because she was having trouble breathing. The soft glow of the night-light revealed eyes and nose completely clogged.

    “I gathered her up, murmuring our little code-words for consolation, silly sounds that I would not care for anyone other than her mother to hear. But these old favorites were just not working that night. She refused to be consoled. I slumped into the broken rocking chair beside the crib and began to wipe her nose and crusted eyes. Her limbs were tense, hands clutching my robe, her body shuddering and wailing in my arms…

    “In the night a father’s raw nerve ends may begin to show, his hidden neuroses begin to push up through the darkness like mushrooms. The innumerable little trials and strains of raising a family can add themselves up to a considerable weight, especially if in coping with the storm of a thousand daily demands a father begins to forget bit by bit where his strength comes from…

    “I began by croaking out the broken words of an old poem. Then I tried to sing it, and the sheer oddity of this caught the baby’s attention.

    “I looked at my daughter and she looked at me. The melancholy verse suited us both. I gave her a reassuring smile, though our moods were identical. The rhythm of the song melted into the cycle of the broken rocker, as the man and his daughter were swept gently into the sea, the great waters of God’s silence. Her cries sputtered and failed. She was quiet under the weight and warmth of my hand. “Well,” I thought, “when everything’s taken away from you, maybe they leave you a few little things like this: the only kind of power that means something. A warm hand and a song.” Her bird hands fluttered and she gave me little pats on the shoulder, a small mother consoling the consoler. We were both feeling somewhat better.

    “As we continued to rock and listen to the wind and snow blowing outside the rattling windows, I now found himself with a great deal of time to think. “It is winter; it is night,” I thought. “And Christmas is very much over.” I remembered that this would be about the time of year when St. Joseph and Mother Mary were heading into big trouble. The angel told Joseph to take Mary and the child and flee to Egypt, and so the father of that family took them and set off into the unknown. Did Joseph know what was happening behind him in Bethlehem—the city of the Messiah now bathed in the blood of children? Did it seem strange to him, the angelic instruction to flee back to Egypt, into the ancient site of Israel’s bondage? What thoughts and feelings went back and forth in Joseph’s heart as he camped somewhere at night in the desert? Did he fear, did he have a moment’s doubt?

    “…Yet within my own arms lay a child as pure as an angel, and something more than an angel, for she is a living icon of Christ, an image of the unseen God, a strong and beautiful word made flesh, never before seen, never to be repeated…

    “I began to pray the psalms whenever I could not sleep or whenever I lost my bearings in the desert of the modern age. The psalms, I found, were the words of the Holy Spirit uttered in King David’s heart, and those words were the cry of humanity calling for the Father’s hand to come to them. By praying them I was united with God’s children of all times and places.

    “I had thought that God was silent. I discovered that I was deaf. I am still learning to hear, but on that night in the darkness I first learned to listen…

    “I lifted her and carried her to the crib. She sighed and turned, arranged her own body. I laid the quilt gently over her, then paused to pray in words that are soundless. I saw that, outside the window, snow continued to fill up the universe like God’s mercy poured out over the world.

    “As I closed the door she sang softly, “Night-night, Dad!” As fragile as a Bethlehem stable, as poor as Nazareth. I laid my body down in bed. Then, from the material of my little sufferings I weaved a word of thanksgiving.”

    And in closing a brief excerpt from O’Brien’s “Historical Imagination and the Renewal of Culture”:

    “On some summer nights I like to take my children up the hill behind our house. We live far out in the country and no lights from other houses can be seen. The sky is like black glass reflecting nothing, but dazzling with billions of stars and planets. At the crest of the hill we lie in the grass. It takes a little time but we eventually grow quiet and still. The children lie on my chest or snuggle under my arm and look up. We gaze up, up into the infinite pool which bears the stars into being. Above us, on especially clear nights, with the aid of a low power telescope we can locate a tiny smudge of light which is the closest galaxy. It is spinning, spinning, but it is so far away that one could look for a whole lifetime and not see it alter. There are other galaxies out there, I tell my children, that whirl into each other like discs blending in space without colliding. They pass through each other, those billions of worlds, at thousands of miles per second, yet they do not appear to move at all. The children can just barely believe it, but they do believe it because I am their father and they trust me.

    “The universe is deep,” I tell them. “You can look into it forever.”

    And so they look with new eyes.

Comments are closed.