Another mass shooting in a crowded venue over the weekend, this one at Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The shooter, described as a Caucasian male in his 30’s, murdered six congregants and wounded numerous others, including a police officer, before he was shot and killed by another officer. There is much yet to be learned about the shooter, but at this point, the most plausible theory seems to implicate an ignorant psychopath who mistook Sikhs (the vast majority of whom trace their ancestry to the India Subcontinent) for Muslims.
But what about the timing? Was this shooter influenced or “inspired” by the Colorado movie theater massacre, or was he planning an attack at that temple this weekend regardless? We may never know, but the same Wisconsin temple had apparently been targeted by various threats and acts of vandalism in the recent past. It may be that this shooter, as is often the case, engaged in an escalating progression of psychopathic acts, culminating in mass murder this weekend.
That’s why I’m always saying how important it is, when we have an opportunity (and we may not have one in this case), to stop those kinds of escalations early and decisively. What do I mean by that? I mean when somebody threatens and vandalizes a temple, we hunt the person down as if he had already committed murder and lock him up for years — none of this misguided “Oh, but we don’t want to ruin a young man’s life over a little impulsive vandalism” b.s.
How many temples have you vandalized? Zero, right? Me too. So let’s go ahead and err on the side of “ruining the lives” of individuals who choose to commit crimes rather than err on the side of “second (and third, fourth,…) chances” that all-too-often end in murder. (And again, I’m not saying that anybody, other than the shooter of course, erred in this case — the shooter may not have even been involved in the prior incidents at the temple — I’m just making a general point about psychopathic escalation and how our best defense is often a good offense, i.e. throwing compassion for the offender to the wind and getting tougher earlier in his progression.)
A key difference between the recent attacks in Wisconsin and Colorado is that the Wisconsin attack ended in the shooter’s apparent “suicide by cop,” while the Colorado shooter went to great lengths to survive that attack. This suggests to me that the Wisconsin shooter’s “statement” is the attack itself, while the Colorado shooter’s “statement” may yet be made (or clarified) through the “megaphone” of global media coverage of future proceedings in his case. Stay tuned.