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End of innocence
by Asa Butcher
2007-11-08 11:02:38
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Numb, simply numb, is the only word I can use to sum up the reaction of the citizens of Finland yesterday when they became the latest member of a growing list of countries who have undergone high school shootings. A layer of innocence was cruelly ripped away from Finnish society as they realised that even their relatively safe haven is capable of unthinkable horrors committed by its youth.

There will be knee-jerk reactions, emotional outrage and full inquiries, but today Finland is just trying to reconnect, trying to find a way to internally deal with the actions of one 18-year-old boy. The Finnish media have never had to cover a story of this magnitude and it was painful to watch some of the news outlets stumble through their coverage, unable to give the waiting nation any scrap of information, primarily the answer to the biggest question: why?

The victims included the school's principal and the school nurse, as well as five male students and one female student. This morning the families and friends of the eight cruelly murdered individuals will desperately be looking for answers, some consolation, and I truly hope they find something to ease the pain.

My greatest sympathy, however, is for the parents and family of the shooter, who eventually died after a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. They must be the loneliest people in the world today, as they realise that the son they had raised for 18 years has just committed Finland's most brutal act in the 21st century. What do they do? Where do they go? Like so many smaller Finnish communities everybody knows one another and I can only hope that they are not ostracised by friends for an act well out of their control.

It is only seven months since the tragedy at Virginia Tech and, as saddening as that was, you come to expect it from a nation of 300 million people, where guns are a part of society. However, when a country of five million manages to produce an individual that is capable of justifying his act through "natural selection & survival of the fittest" you have to stop and think. How does natural selection equate to killing a nurse, a teacher and six fellow students?

That is where we come back to the why. Answers may explain some aspects, but it will never recover the loss of innocence, it will never make the children of Finland's schools feel as safe as they once did and it will never bring back any of the nine victims – nine, not eight, because the boy with the gun was just as much a victim of his own world view.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-11-08 16:47:59
Yesterday as I drove to teach my one of my philosophy classes I heard about this tragedy over national radio. A bruef ubterview with the headmastr of a school in Helsinki was transmitted. The intervieing journalist asked the headmaster of a Finnish school this pertinent question: did you believe previous to this that this sort of thing could only happen in the US? to which he answered: no, it has happened in Europe too but it has never happened here except for the killing of one teacher some years ago. A technically correct answer this but the basic causes of thi nihilism among the young remain to be explored and reflected upon. A good place to begin is Rousseau's statement in his Social Contract that Man is born innocent and then society corrupts him. Here in the US we have a man who has been in jails for decades and he is still incomprehending as to why he is there for he thinks that the fault is society's. His name is Charles Manson.

Smilesdl2007-11-08 22:36:58
In front of this tragedy I would think that one should ask questions now...
What could make this happen?
What are we teaching our kids to solve problems and face reality? Is it peace? What is our desire of protection is telling when military draft is mandated?
What is our media and multimedia game system telling them?
What are we supporting as fun and excitment? Is it peace and teasing games?
I think some of the why of this tragedy are clearer when we answer these questions. Note that many of the answers are the same for countries like US, Finland, Uk, etc... One can ask them... what can be done if we know the answers?

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-08 23:37:45

Some facts to ponder as we all mourn and lament this terrible tragedy. Finland has the dubious distinction of being third world-wide when it comes to possessions of guns, after the US which is first and Yemen which is second. As per the Geneva based Graduate School of International Law, 56 out of every 100 Finns own a gun.

Here in the US every time a law is proposed to limit possession of guns the NRA comes out with demented slogans such as “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Earlier this year when the EU parliament tried to raise the legal age for possession of guns (for any purpose) to 18, Finland was the only one who opposed the legislation citing the popularity of hunting in the country. So the question arises: how wise is it to imitate the worst of the friends one admires or of the enemies one despises? After that “how” question perhaps we can proceed to the “why” which is the more important question by far and has to do with a silent and undetected killer among the young. It is called nihilism.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-09 03:16:03
For example:
"What is our media and multimedia game system telling them?"
It is telling them that it is fun to kill, at least virtually. Of course disturbed kids will take this literally, and enjoy more than anyone the sordid details of these games. Mr. Kalamidas is quite right that such personalities don't know how to distinguish good from evil, the so-called psychopatic personalities, or the sociopathic ones. They have always existed, they just can't be given the means to operate their destructiveness freely. Mr. Paparella is right in relating them with a nihilistic determinism but, more than a philosophical issue for them, it is the position which fits better their inner vacuum. To analyze it on a social level, I'm afraid western societies are trapped with terrorist "heroes"(!!!) inside their own belly. Kids finding no sense in life (generally and persistently thinking "life is shitty, crapy and a senseless thing") which will follow distorted paths in trying to aknowledge their own "importance" or "mission" (don't forget these kids face what they do as a mission). The wrong paths imply showing how by means of violence they can have power over others and feel they can controlm something, even if it is their suicidal destiny.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-09 03:28:24
In fact, they can't control where they are born, they can't control the system, they can't control parents nor teachers, they can't control their hidden anger, they can't control the others' feelings, they have no control over colleagues' behavior, over inequalties in the world, over their own exclusion. For a small percentage of kids who cannot do the mourning of all these things they have no control over (kids who were supposed to be in control of everything, small self-tyrants) this can be disastrous. And also for the ones who were around them and cannot realize it on time.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-09 03:52:23
Defyning himself as a "cynical existencialist, an antihuman humanist, an anti-social social darwinist, a realistic idealist and a god-like atheist", it seems to me this boy tragically acted his contradictions and the poor relationships he had (the poorness was above all an inner emotional poverty of himself, not to say a complete desert where "humans" have no forgiveness for what they have done to him and "to themselves and the world in general" at a racionalizing level, racionalization he certainly used, to try to attenuate the shock between his intellectual development and his extreme emotional immaturity, his uncontrollable anger). Of course we can analyse it at a social level, triggers and preventions, the hypocrisy of western societies, the wrong hiding policies or even more concretely the fallacy that national freedom was not negotiated but conquered and nazis were good allies, ecc., but only certain types of personality will go for that, and at an individual level it was this.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-09 04:01:48
Individuals are not disconnected from societies though, and it is true that there are increasingly more reports of psycophatic/sociophatic personalities. In old times they were just called mean. A symptom of schizo societies or intemporal phenomena?

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-09 04:03:11
I believe the way evilness is expressed, that's what is social.

Alexandra2007-11-09 04:06:03

Sand2007-11-09 05:49:46
No doubt many of the anti-social factors contributed to the horrible incident but it should be noted that it is not a wave of popular nastiness. It is one incident that is extremely unusual in a relatively sane society. One guy with a small pistol can, obviously, create considerable mayhem but it does not demonstrate a total social breakdown. Of course it should not be ignored, but it is not symptomatic of the total society as it seems to be in other countries.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-09 12:14:30
...a "cynical existencialist,an antihuman humanist, an anti-social social darwinist, a realistic idealist and a god-like atheist"

There you have it Ms. Pereira as quoted by yourself. We can dismiss the whole Nazi phenomenon by analyzing Hitler as a nut and deviant case who took a whole nation down the abyss with him, thus getting ourselves off the hook; or we can seriously explore the historical, social, cultural causes that allowed such a nation, one of the most civilized in Europe, to follow the madman into the abyss. I think the second option is the more enlightened.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-09 12:20:16
P.S. The larger point being, Ms. Pereira, that it is delusional to think that one can find the garden of Eden any place in Western Civilization as we know it today calling the enormous tragedy that happened two days ago a mere abberation, not to be too concerned about. Even in the garden of Eden there was a snake.

Sand2007-11-09 13:10:15
The comparison of present day Finland and one psychotic 18 year old with Hitler's Germany and the mental state of Germany during his rise indicates very clearly how far from reality Paparella's view of the situation is and how incompetent his analytical capabilities are.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-09 15:22:25
That is not my voice Sand but the voices in your head urging you to by now familiar argumenti ad hominem parading as objective logical thinking, but they are only rationalizations. Sometime ago you declared yourself the hygienist and intellectual pooper skooper of this forum...but I wonder who has been designated to pick up your intellectual poop liberally dispensed in this forum. Or are you some sort of spirit who does not crap himself, only picks up that of others? Had you read without biased lenses, you would have noticed that the analogy was not with Finland per se. What was mentioned was Western Civilization as a whole and its continuity of the last three hundred years of its history. You need to rearead also Mr. Kalamidas' "Something is changing" where the point is made that we are not dealing with an isolated psychotic which remains the symptom not the cause. In any case, thanks for proving my point of how convenient it is for those who do no wish to take any responsibility and share any blame for what happened to blame it all on a lonely spsychotic. That way we do not have to examine the cause of his twisted world-view. Charles Manson too has a swastika on his skin and he is quite lucid in blaming society for his monstruosiies rather than taking responsibility for them. If he was not lucid no journalist would ever go and interview him. Moreover, to consistently slander the one who delivers unwelcome truths that you have exhibited is the stuff of charlatans; but I suppose it is nearly impossible to teach old dogs new tricks, to utilize a canine analogy of which you are so fond.

Sand2007-11-09 17:34:47
Goodness! You do blather on!

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-09 19:54:29
How condescending and off the point, as usual!

Sand2007-11-09 20:26:45
Your understanding of Finland is so without any grounding whatsoever that it practically screams for condescension. I merely fulfilled the request. And your perception of the "spsychosis" is likewise a demand for contempt.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-09 22:35:29
If that is whay the voices in your head have told you it must be so. Or is it?

Sand2007-11-10 02:16:34
Why do the voices in your head insist my head is similarly inhabited? We all judge people by ourselves. I keep trying to converse with a reasonable you that you keep proving doesn't exist and you keep trying to prove I am as psychotic as you.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-10 07:37:55
"...I must admit that I do have silent conversations with somebody else or perhaps with several somebody elses."

Do you recognize the eminent author of that profound statement? If not, I suggest you call on Freud at the earliest, from among "those guys in your head" of course.

Sand2007-11-10 08:31:31
If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.
Thomas Szasz - psychologist

Alexandra2007-11-10 14:08:51
Gosh, take it easy please.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-10 15:59:39
Ms. Pereira, don't take it too seriously. Take it as a circus act and have fun too. As Fellini has well taught us, sometimes one learns a lot from clowns.

Sand2007-11-10 16:09:53
Don't be too optimistic, Paparella, the laughter you clowns inspire is not out of admiration.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-10 18:39:05
Indeed, I don't admire your antics in this forum but something can be learned from them albeit in a negative mode, and they do provoke at least an internal smile, if not a guffaw. How does the song go? Bring in the clowns.

Hank W.2007-11-10 21:46:55
You three assclowns don't know anything of Finland or the Finns, so please shut up.

America is the land of idiots, which shows in the Baptist church letter.

And the hunters owns guns, 3-4 to each. Handguns, 9mm pistols, revolvers, try find a furnished flat, its easier.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-10 23:24:22
But of course Mr. W. Anybody who does not belong to one's tribe or one's pet ideology has to be an idiot. That used to be called nationalism and racism and we thought that the new European had superseeded them. Apparently it is alive and well in some quarters. Definetly, "something is changing" but only a super-intellect would consider the change for the better.

Hank W.2007-11-12 16:16:26
Go back and look at your own country and ask why you are "idiots"? You are an exemplary model of an arrogant imperialist who comes and pushes their culture before us. You should be apologising for your the gun-crazy culture instead of blaming us for being unable to protect our youth from foreign ideologies.
No to mention the crazy people from Kansas. Where is your responsibility?

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-14 01:50:59
Mr Hank W:
I don't think anyone in Finland, Portugal or Australia can blame America for a local killer, even if a teenager one. There are limits for responsability... of course outer influences are important, but I don't think they are decisive to such behaviors - do all the millions of teenagers who watch violent american movies every week kill their colleagues? I don't think so... so it's not a problem of nations, it's a problem of human race, and maybe western societies or the so-called democratic ones, to which it says respect, and which values such behaviors question. So don't take it too personally, nor make a nationalistic issue out of it. The fact that hunters own guns is interesting, but doesn't justify either. And as far as I know the majority of finnish youth prefers other hobbies than hunting bears...

Alex2007-11-14 01:55:05

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-14 05:21:06
Mr. W., since I happen to have dual citizenship, which country of idiots are you referring to: the US or Italy? The operative word here is hardly responsibility. I think xenophobia fits better.

Sand2007-11-14 08:31:58
Considering this item, the distinction seems irrelevant.


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