Cheap Seats 2017
Mondays - 11/29
By Rich Trzupek
On Monday, January 29, 1979 .22 caliber rounds fired by an unknown shooter hit targets at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. The school’s principal and a custodian were killed. Eight students and a police officer were injured.
Brenda Spencer, a waifish sixteen year old girl who lived across the street from the school was taken into custody for the crime and would soon confess to it. While barricaded in her home, deciding between suicide and surrender, Spencer took a call from a reporter from The San Diego Union Tribune. Having asked why Spencer committed the deeds, Spencer reportedly replied that “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
Half a world away, the 28 year old leader of a relatively new Irish rock band known as The Boomtown Rats found himself drawn to the story, and especially to Spencer’s explanation. The troubadour who would eventually be recognized as Sir Bob Geldolf dived headfirst into the psychology, or more precisely the sociopathic psychology of random homicide.
The song and especially the accompanying video “I don’t like Mondays” became instant classics in both the UK and America. Geldolf explored the psychology of random mass murder during a time when western society was not yet numb to the concept.
Much, hopefully not the majority, of the western world has given up on the idea that ideological-motivated mass murder can be, or should be, prevented. The vast majority of random, ideologically driven mass murder today is committed by Muslim zealots who are convinced they are acting in accordance with God’s Will.
I don’t believe that there is any firearms critic on the left who would suggest that fundamentalist mass murder could somehow be lessened by America adopting more and stricter gun-control measures. Instead, many of them tell us that violent religious extremism is simply a part of modern life, one that we must deal with in ways that do not further “antagonize” the extremists.
This is a foolish viewpoint of course, since it is based on a false narrative: the idea that fundamentalist, terrorist violence is a response to Western “aggression”, rather than an assault on Western values and institutions and that assault is a vital part of the extremist agenda. The loons are going to hate us and attack us no matter how we approach them and no matter what our gun laws look like.,
That leaves the random, mostly non-ideologically based mass murders. We have experienced a deranged millionaire, Stephen Paddock killing 58 people and injuring 546 more in Las Vegas. More recently, Devin Patrick Kelley, a clearly disturbed and disturbingly violent young man, managed to skirt requirements to obtain firearms illegally and kill 26 people attending Sunday services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
In both of these case, as in so many others, the left focused on the weapons used rather than on those who used them. Could a nation the size of America with our tradition of freedom of arms ownership ever enact and enforce enough laws to keep weapons out of the hands of psychopaths like Stephen Paddock and Devin Patrick Kelley? I doubt it. But, even if that were possible, it would not address the real problem.
The real problem, as Geldolf recognized so many years ago, is why psychotics like Brenda Spencer feel compelled to end the lives of fellow human beings for no reason. In his I don’t like Mondays” video treatment, Geldolf has a chorus of band-members continuously ask the burning question “tell me why?” to be juxtaposed against Geldolf’s stone-faced reply: “I don’t like Mondays”.
It’s a brilliant and enduring exchange, making the point that irrational behavior cannot be explained in rational terms. And therein lies the point. It’s pointless to focus on what weapon disturbed people chose to commit mass murder. Instead, we need to understand why they do so.