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Can We Discuss Divorce’s Contribution to School Shootings?

If school shootings can prompt eunuch activism via Twitter, can we also discuss what the shooter said about his family failure?

Scoring political points off tragedies has become a veritable blood sport in today’s United States. Perhaps an aversion to doing so makes the right look slightly off-kilter upon events such as last weekend’s shooting near the University of California-Santa Barbara. Leftists charge off into demands that “somebody do something,” which typically results in a series of staged PR events mimicking President Obama’s “crisis manual.”

Step one: Express shock and outrage. Step two: Blame something conservative. Step three: Call for bigger government.

As someone who has experienced family tragedy, I have little sympathy with people who seize intimate moments to titillate their emotions or advance agendas. However, maintaining a respectable silence leaves barbarians to rampage about the field, which neither respects the dead nor contributes to future peace. So if the California shooter’s pre-spree, mentally challenged rants can prompt eunuch activism via Twitter, can we also discuss what he said about his family failure?

The shooter (who here shall remain nameless to deprive him of notoriety) comes from a broken home (his parents were divorced). As Brad Wilcox pointed out after the last media frenzy over a school shooting, most school shooters do. Now, the knee-jerk response to noting that is to blame mental illness, rather than family breakdown, since most school shooters also have a well-documented history of mental instability, depression, and aggression. But there’s actually a link, because family breakdown also causes mental instability, depression, anti-social behavior, and violent aggression, among other problems, particularly in young men.

As Wilcox observes, “From shootings at MIT (i.e., the Tsarnaev brothers) to the University of Central Florida to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga., nearly every shooting over the last year [2013] in Wikipedia’s ‘list of U.S. school attacks’ involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.”

The California shooter gives a sobering account of his parents’ divorce and its effects on him in his 141-page manifesto. It explains the genesis of his misogyny and rage.

Very shortly after my seventh birthday, the news came. I believe it was my mother who told me that she and my father were getting a divorce; my mother, who only a few months before told me that such a thing will never happen. I was absolutely shocked, outraged, and above all, overwhelmed.”

These are completely normal and understandable reactions by a small child to his parents’ separation. Of course, not all children whose parents divorce will become homicidal maniacs. But how many other young men out there feel like this? Will our society continue to stand idly about Twittering while we negligently multiply the number of angry, confused children?

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