He didn’t seem like the type…

Take yourself to the generic news story following an act of violence. You can write it out as a script, the people interviewed always say the same things.

“I can’t believe this kind of thing happened in this neighborhood”

“He always kept to himself, never caused any trouble”

“He was always very quiet”

“He didn’t seem like the type of person who would do a thing like this”

Really? What kind of person usually does something like this? Isn’t it usually a quiet guy who kept to himself, not attracting attention, living in a quiet neighborhood?

Not that it never happens, but how often have you seen someone say “Oh yeah, this kind of stuff happens all the time around here, we were all just waiting for him to go off”?

When I worked in Animal Control, there was a guy who did stand out. He appeared to be running for “Least likely to be missed” in his neighborhood. He had two nasty shepherd mix dogs that were the focus of numerous complaints, either for running loose or attacking other animals. He was surly and threatening to anyone who complained, and threatened me with a firearm. One night after he beat up his girlfriend, the police got involved.

As the police climbed the steps, one of his dogs came charging towards them. The officer shot the dog. The nasty guy was arrested, drugs were found in his apartment, the girlfriend taken to the hospital.

The next day I was deluged in calls, complaining about the officer shooting the dog. The very people who had complained about these vicious animals were the first to come to their defense. They called the media, and took donations to care for the surviving animal, and tried to find a home for the poor sweet thing. None of them volunteered to take it in.

A few years ago, a spy cell was uncovered. A total of nine people living in suburbia were exposed as deep cover Russian spies. This time, when the neighbors said “I can’t believe it happened in this neighborhood, they always kept to themselves, never caused any trouble, they were always very quiet, they didn’t seem like the type of people who would do a thing like this” it fit. Sure, everyone knows that the best way to maintain a cover story of being locals is to fly a Russian flag and wear a black trench-coat at all times. Speaking with a heavy accent and screaming at neighborhood children rarely draws unwanted attention, so of course that would be what to expect from spies.

Most of this I write off to the general cluelessness of society. The kid torturing cats for years was screaming “I’m going to be trouble” at the top of his lungs. The kid who was a loner and never made any friends was screaming “I’m working on a heavy-duty anti-social personality”. These are not terribly subtle signs. When it comes to spies in the neighborhood, you weren’t supposed to suspect them. That’s because they were spies.

The difficult part of all this is when you see such clueless behavior in people close to you. One of my kids recently stated that I never made much money, because their mother was always broke. I’m not sure how they thought their mother went directly from social housing to a two story house on a fairly large lot, while attending nursing school, or how their mother hid her various substance abuses all that time, but the conclusion that she was “broke” befuddles me the most. It’s not the only breakdown, it’s just difficult acknowledging your children are as confused as their mother.

But really, what did I expect?

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8 comments on “He didn’t seem like the type…

  1. Circe says:

    Columbine surprised and disillusioned me. That was my wake up to how much hidden hurt and resentment many people carry inside. These were our kids, killing each other. Some people may be born sociopaths, but even Ted Bundy had a bad beginning, so maybe he was born with the capacity to become a sociopath? Are we all?
    I’m done being surprised. I still wonder whether the Columbine shooters were tormented by their fellow students–who in *no way* deserved to die, no blaming victims!–or not.
    As someone who walks a bit in your shoes, I know that it takes an awful lot for even grown children to take off those rose-colored glasses and see the irresponsible parent with any clarity. That is hard for the parents who went to every single back-to-school night, parent/teacher conference, brought home made cupcakes in the specified flavor & color to school on birthdays, etc., etc., provided three meals a day, not to mention love and attention, while the other parent lured with expensive resort vacations. Yes, I have mostly forgiven, but I am still hurt.

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    • kblakecash says:

      I would say the seeds exist within all of us for a variety of dispositions, to carry the analogy farther some seeds are “healthier” than others, some seeds receive more “fertilizer”, the matrix of possibilities makes it difficult to predict behavior. Once clues to the behavior are displayed, the opportunity to intervene presents itself for a limited time.

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  2. Mari Collier says:

    Why people ignore me in these discussions: Everyone sins. I am always amazed when someone asks, “How can people do such things?” No one likes my answer, “Because we are all sinners.” Yes, I know that implicates me as well as them. To me they are much like the people fretting over dogs when there are human beings involved. The girlfriend in the writings above probably couldn’t afford the hospital bill. I doubt if any collected funds for her.

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    • kblakecash says:

      By saying “We are all sinners”, you not only implicate yourself, but also the person you’re speaking to. I believe this is the biggest reason people reject Christianity, they don’t wish to be held responsible for their actions.

      We wish to be able to blame some uncontrollable unseen force.

      Although I don’t get into that subject in tomorrow’s blog about Kennedy, I believe the reason so many people insist on a conspiracy being responsible is they refuse to accept that one person could do it by themselves.

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    • Circe says:

      You are so right, Mary. The girlfriend “should have known better”? When women are victims, we are still often blamed.
      The loss of a potentially vicious dog that no one elected to adopt and rehabilitate does not seem as grievous to me, either.

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  3. Mike Reith says:

    Americans have become a clueless people, poorly educated and poorly read. Why is it shocking that two teens could blow way dozens of others when the are hired all the time to do the same thing to little brown people all over the world? An evil war on drugs fills the prisons with non-violent people all to the applause of the citizenry, while violent folks are turned back to the street. Clueless.

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    • Circe says:

      The shocking part to me was teens. But, yes, I grew up in a neighborhood where teens did not shoot each other.
      Sure, probably am cluesless compared to you, but one of my kids lived in New Brunswick, NJ for four years & Newark, NJ for two.
      I know that our prison system is a money-maker for the good ole’ boys: white men get the construction jobs, mostly white men work in the prison system, at least in higher level positions. As a society we make money on imprisoning poor, young, mostly black & brown males. I am adamantly opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and I am just as adamantly in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Have you read *The New Jim Crow*? If you have lived it, there is no need to read it, but my friends and kids friends are not in prison, so I do my best to be not only vocal, but informed about the wrongs of our society. And one day, when there is liberty and justice for all, I will say the Pledge of Allegiance.
      But, yes, I was shocked at what was the first in a wave of kids shooting each other in school. And at the pathetically slow response of cops. Do adults really care that much about kids, or are a lot of the people in high schools prison wardens by other names? High school warehouses kids until the age of 18, and provides jobs for adults. So I guess I am a cynical clueless white person.

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      • Mike Reith says:

        I certainly wasn’t referring to you by the word, “clueless.” Clueless folks believe the propaganda that mediates the world of denial that they live in. We all certainly spend part of our time and thoughts there. Americans of the past century spend more than most. As a result they do not see the evil in war against others nor the evil in supporting violent and unjust government. Rather, they are content to live in under the illusion of security, humanity, and civilization.

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