A Forensic Analysis and Media Critique: The Charleston Tragedy

Dylann Roof: Suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina murders as portrayed by various major media outlets

Napoleon Legal Consulting, Inc. has been analyzing issues related to crime, including its causes, the psychopathology of murderers, spree violence and the media’s coverage of these issues for over 20 years.

The media’s coverage of Dylann Roof’s killing of nine people as they participated in a Bible-study group at a Christian Church in Charleston, South Carolina is a fascinating study in editorial judgment and human behavior. Virtually without exception, print and digital media have removed from consideration those dispositive factors that are predictive of the type of violence that occurred in Charleston on June 17, 2015.

A representative review of print media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, et al., found the lead paragraph in their front page stories peppered with a remarkably similar set of words. Those words in order of their frequency of use are: “guns” “white,” “southern,” “confederate” and “black.”

The most important aspect of virtually all of the media’s coverage of the Charleston tragedy is that the edited facts presented by the media were then generalized to be representative of the whole of American culture. In other words, the gun used by Mr. Roof was generalized into a nationwide problem with gun violence. Mr. Roof’s race was cleverly framed as indicative of a trend where white people randomly kill blacks. The media’s emphasis upon Mr. Roof’s southern roots was, likewise, bootstrapped onto a not so subtle condemnation of southerners as racist, gun toting murderers who go around waving the Confederate Flag while chanting racial epithets.

And it is not just the media that jumped onto the generalization bandwagon after Charleston. Before the bodies were removed from the crime scene, President Obama was professing that Mr. Roof’s killing of 9 innocents was representative of an epidemic of gun violence that needed to be addressed by government control of access to guns. The President did not limit his generalizations to the need to roll back the Second Amendment because of Mr. Roof’s shooting spree. No, he generalized from Mr. Roof’s race and his victim’s race that what happened in Charleston was yet one more example of 200 years of violence against blacks by whites in America. Are any of these generalizations warranted? Moreover, of all the variables that can predict such violence as occurred in Charleston, what are they and why doesn’t the media or the President address them?

Since race is the dominant factor according to virtually all of the media’s coverage of the Charleston tragedy, let’s start there. Do whites pose a disproportionate threat to black people? The FBI and the United States Department of Justice compile data that permit us to answer that question with authority. The following graph summarizes 2010 crime data involving black on white and white on black acts of violent crime. The 2015 data are essentially the same in terms of percentages.

These numbers not only bring into question the media’s and the President’s emphasis upon white on black crime, but may demonstrate something much more troubling. As one can see from the data, not only are the media’s generalizations regarding race, based upon the Charleston tragedy, bogus, THE EXACT OPPOSITE GENERALIZATION IS TRUE, that is, blacks pose a disproportionate risk to whites when it comes to violent crime. The data become even more dramatic when one stops to consider that blacks ONLY comprise 13% of the population in the United States, but commit approximately 8.5 times the number of acts of violence. I have seen many attempts to mitigate these data, none so famous than those made by Mr. Tim Wise. Wise argued that blacks commit violent crime at a rate 2.5 times greater than do whites. But that is not the thrust of Mr. Wise’ argument. He goes on to make the point that OF COURSE there is more, black on white violent crime, but NOT because such crimes are racially motivated, it is just that blacks are simply committing more crime to begin with. As a forensic analyst, Mr. Wise’s utter self-defeating argument speaks volumes and only goes to prove the essential validity of the DOJ and FBI data.

What about gun violence? Numerous studies have documented that gun violence has been steadily declining nationwide over the past 20 years. In fact, none other than CNN reported the following headline in 2014: STUDY: GUN HOMICIDES, VIOLENCE DOWN SHARPLY IN PAST 20 YEARS.

These data are pooled data. That means that gun homicide data are compiled from across America involving all races. If we drill down on the data, however, what we find is that when it comes to inner city violence involving blacks and guns, America’s black inner cities are experiencing a crime wave of gun violence. These data, when pooled, will undoubtedly change the overall data. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore, the most pressing question every morning is how many people were shot the previous night. Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years. In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro at a May 7 City Hall hearing. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.”[1]

America’s inner city crime wave is predominantly black on black. By the way, virtually all, if not all, of the gun violence involving blacks in America’s inner cities involves unregistered and illegal guns. Again, drawing generalizations from a rural dweller in South Carolina to trends in gun violence involving inner city blacks is spurious at best and duplicitous and manipulative at worst.

In 2012 there were approximately 3.1 million REGISTERED firearms in the United States. Millions more are unregistered and/or held illegally. When Dylann Roof used one of those 3.1 million registered guns to kill nine people, that means on the day of the Charleston tragedy, the percentage of registered guns in America that were used in a spree killing was approximately: .00000000349%.

On June 17, 2015, the day of the Charleston tragedy, approximately 874 white people were the victims of violence at the hands of a black person. Compare that to the 172+9 black people who were victims of violence at the hands of a white person. Given that blacks comprise only 13% of the population, these data prove that the media’s and the President’s generalizations about white on black crime are not only false but the truth of which race is at a greater risk to experience violence from the other is the exact opposite of how it has been presented.

In 2010 there were approximately 65 million white people living in the southern United States. The percentage of white people who embarked upon a spree killing involving black people on that day was .0000000154%. Approximately 36% of the 65 million of white people in the United States live in the south. That means that approximately 23,400,000 white people live in the south. That means that on June 17, 2015, .00000000427% of white people living in the south engaged in a spree killing of blacks.

I can excuse journalists for their ignorance of forensic psychology and neuropsychology. After all, journalists are left to explain complex forensic matters, like the Charleston tragedy, using the only tools their liberal arts education permits them to use: Sociology and demographics. I can also forgive Journalists’ “go to experts” for their reluctance to discuss salient issues. They are, undoubtedly, painfully aware that to expose the utter stupidity of the people who put their name in print is not good for one’s career as a journalists’ “go to expert.”

On the other hand, I find it much more difficult to excuse the President of the United States who has at his disposal any number of experts who could have easily educated him on the falsity of his generalizations involving race and guns and how such generalizations can inflame the American public’s already melting point-high emotions. So what really happened in Charleston on June 17, 2015 and what valid generalizations can be made, if any?

We know that Mr. Roof lacked a meaningful capacity to feel for and with his victims. We refer to the ability to feel for and with another sentient being as “empathy.” People with empathy find it virtually impossible to brutalize any living being because it is too painful to experience. Keep this in mind, murder scenes are typically bloody, noisy and emotionally gut wrenching for anyone whose capacity to feel is intact.

Empathy is a function of ones genotype and psychological makeup. Group psychology can modify a single individual’s level and expression of empathy, but Mr. Roof acted alone so we will not address that factor here. Whenever I discuss the role of genetics in gross behavior I begin by reminding my readers of this fact: Inheritability is not the same as Inevitability. We inherit predispositions not computer programs for behavior that cannot be modified. Sometimes those predispositions are very strong, however, so much so that they overwhelm other contributors to behavior, e.g., psychology and/or culture.

A person’s baseline ability to empathize with other sentient beings is determined in the beginning by one’s genetics. The range of degree of empathy spans “very sensitive” to “utterly insensitive.” Doctors Arthur and Elaine Aron, in a study published last year in the journal: Brain and Behavior, in association with colleagues at the University of California, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Monmouth University, found that Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of brains provided physical evidence that the “highly sensitive” brain responds powerfully to emotional images. Previous research has demonstrated that sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is an innate trait associated with greater sensitivity, or responsiveness, to environmental and social stimuli.

This is an overall fMRI composite comparison of the brains of highly sensitive people (HSP) compared to non-HSPs. The areas in color represent some of the regions of the brain where greater activation occurs in HSPs compared to non-HSPs. The brain region highly associated with empathy and noticing emotion (Anterior Insula) shows significantly greater activation in HSPs than non-HSPs when viewing a photo of their partner smiling.

Conversely, the absence of SPS genetic determinants helps to create an individual who is relatively unresponsive, that is, emotionally cold to others’ expressions of fear, pain and horror. These people begin life as unfeeling and socially distant, not uncommonly harm or abuse animals and then grow up to be troubled, if not dangerous, individuals.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge documented that genes help to determine one’s empathic capacity. Authors: F. Uzefovskya, b, I. Shalevc, S. Israela, S. Edelmana, Y. Razd, D. Mankutae, A. Knafo-Noama, R.P. Ebsteinf stated: “[T]he current findings contribute to our understanding of the distinct neurogenetic pathways involved in cognitive and emotional empathy and underscore the pervasive role of both oxytocin and vasopressin in modulating human emotions.” I’m sharing this information with you because normal people simply cannot brutalize other living beings without some defect in their ability to feel empathy. Keep in mind that it is not just our genes that help to determine our capacity to feel other people’s misery, pain and horror.

Drugs can impact a person’s ability to feel for and with other sentient beings. Drugs can even affect our ability to feel our own body, as in the example of the drugs used to induce anesthesia in the surgical suite. Imagine for a moment what the result would be if we were to take a person who was predisposed to not be able to feel the pain and horror of other sentient beings AND paired that defect in empathy with psychoactive substances that dulled whatever empathy was there in the first place.

I’m now going to go into a forensic analysis of the contribution of psychoactive substances on Mr. Roof. How can I do this without examining him? Let me show you how this forensic scientist can do this.

It has been reported that Mr. Roof had been prescribed and was taking a drug called Suboxone. From that fact alone, if reported accurately, I can extrapolate a drug abuse profile for this young man. Suboxone is a drug comprised of two other drugs, one of which is psychoactive and the other actually blocks the effect of the first drug.

Let me share with you a story from my hospital internship about one of the drugs that comprises Suboxone. It is called Naloxone. Any ER physician or EMT out there will immediately identify with what I am about to share with you. When an opiate overdose appears in the ER, let’s say a patient presents with track marks on her arms and she is unconscious w/slow shallow breathing. We suspect a Heroin OD. We inject the patient with the drug Naloxone (One of the drugs Mr. Roof was taking). Sometimes, even BEFORE we remove the syringe from the patients arm, the patient has already begun to show signs of awakening. You see, Naloxone has the uncanny ability to displace opiates, in this example Heroin, from the patient’s opiate receptors in her brain.

The other component drug to Suboxone is a drug named Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an opiate drug. This combination of Naloxone and Buprenorphine might strike you as curious in that a thoughtful observer might ask: Why administer an opiate drug in combination with another drug that blocks the first drug? The key is found in the notion of withdrawal. The prescribing doctor is attempting to control Mr. Roof’s withdrawal from his opiate addiction in such a way that he can taper off the drug(s) to which he is addicted. Withdrawing “cold turkey” when your drug of choice is a narcotic, i.e., an opiate or opiate derivative (real or synthetic) is highly unpleasant. Suboxone is a drug purposed to make that withdrawal tolerable. It is NEVER to be used alone as the ONLY means by which the patient’s addiction to narcotics is treated. The drug’s manufacturer, in fact, stresses that Suboxone is to be A PART OF a complete treatment plan, including clinical psychological care.

You may think that my Forensic analysis is completed when it comes to the drug component of this case, but not yet. Because the patient’s choice of narcotics is determined by things you may have never thought about; for example, the patient’s socioeconomic status, his race, age and where he resides, by using those factors as guideposts I can narrow down the particular narcotic or narcotics Mr. Roof had likely become addicted to.

Let me share with you a database I frequently use to focus my analysis on such matters. These data come from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

• In 2010, there were 22,134 overdose deaths from prescription drugs nationally, which were more than cocaine, heroin, and all other illegal drugs combined. The CDC reported prescription overdose deaths in 2010 climbed higher for the 11th year in a row.

• In two different studies, South Carolina ranked 10th (2008) and 23rd (2010) highest in opioid painkiller prescriptions per capita. In 2010, South Carolina ranked 23rd highest per capita in overdose deaths, with the most recent data, 2011, denoting 225 prescription overdose deaths.

• National prescription overdose deaths have tripled since 1990. This correlates with prescriptions for painkillers quadrupling since 1999, and more than 12 million Americans abusing prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons in 2010.

Mr. Roof’s socioeconomic status suggests to me that he had likely become addicted to the prescription pain killers know as Oxycodone. Those administered by the oral route (pills) would include: Dazidox, Eth-Oxydose, Oxaydo, OxyCONTIN

OxyCONTIN CR, Oxydose. Oxyfast, Oxy IR, Roxicodone, Roxicodone Intensol. Mr. Roof, had he lived in an urban environment, may have chosen Heroin as his drug of choice. And while less likely than pills, Mr. Roof may have found his way to heroin, we just don’t know. I will also make note of the fact that Mr. Roof’s hometown has its fair share of CNS stimulant abuse, in particular, Crystal Methamphetamine abuse. It is NOT uncommon for patients who use “Crystal” to become addicted to Opiates when the abuser of this particular CNS stimulant uses Opiates to help him “come down” from the all too common unpleasant high associated with “Crystal.”

Opiates are known to dull the senses, mask pain, reduce anxiety, mollify fear and suppress feelings. The colloquialism “dope” is derived, in part, from the fact that opiates, in particular, make the user act “dopey” or “out of it.” The ability to think clearly and logically is disrupted and slowed down, which is reflected in the opiate abuser’s sluggish speech and overall languid motor activity. Whatever intelligence was there to begin with in the opiate abuser is significantly reduced and the abuser’s ability to process information accurately is greatly reduced. Any doctor who has treated acute opiate intoxication knows exactly what I am describing here. Even though I am loathe to make this analogy, opiates turn people into zombies.

The next factor in the Charleston tragedy is critically important because it is a cognitive error that Mr. Roof made that happens to be epidemic in our society. This cognitive error is often a dispositive factor in mass murders that I have termed EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE.™

Mr. Roof did not kill nine people he knew personally. I doubt that Mr. Roof even knew the names of the people he killed. He had no idea if they were good people, bad people, kind people or mean people. He had no idea who his victims were as individuals. The only thing that Mr. Roof knew is that his victims were vulnerable living EMBLEMS of something he hated so much that he wanted to kill it.

Most of us can logically understand murderous rage directed at a known person, depending upon what that person has done to elicit murderous rage. In fact, our laws codify this genre of person-specific violence. For example, we’ve all heard of “a crime of passion.” Let’s say a parent walks in on an in-progress sexual molestation of their child and without thinking the parent kills the perpetrator. People understand that genre of murderous rage directed at a known person even though they may disapprove of it. Even premeditated murder is understandable, though ill advised when, for instance, a business partner steals your wife then takes off with all of your money. Acts of violence that are directed at a specific person or persons we know are wrong but we understand the motivation.

EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE™ and the reasoning underlying it represents a fatal flaw in cognitive reasoning. It is the type of cognitive error that would occur if after eating a lemon one were to generalize that ALL yellow foods are sour. When EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE™ occurs, the media, political leaders and the public at large tend to make the act of violence, itself, and the perpetrator’s representative class, into an EMBLEM of something that either fits or promotes their particular ideology. This is where the media’s and the President’s generalization errors come from.

Having worked on or analyzed numerous incidents of spree killings, EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE™ is the one cognitive error I have always found to be almost always present in these types of cases. For example, when New York Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down by a black person named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, that event was a classic example of EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE.™ Brinsley didn’t know the names of the police officers. He didn’t know anything about their feelings about black people or what those police officers felt about anything or anyone. What he did know is that his two victims were EMBLEMS of something he despised.

On December 21, 2014 the New York Times reported on the Brinsley case using a different approach than the one it used to cover the Charleston tragedy. The Times focused on Mr. Brinsley’s psychiatric problems, not his race or progressive background and certainly not any reference to Al Sharpton’s inflammatory rhetoric immediately preceding Brinsley’s murders, to wit:

“[M]r. Brinsley had also suffered from mental problems. Relatives told the police he had taken medication at one point, and when he was asked during an August 2011 court hearing if he had ever been a patient in a mental institution or under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, he said yes. He had also tried to hang himself a year ago, the police said.”

When Elliot Rodgers went on his killing spree he used his car and a handgun to kill EMBLEMS that represented his existential misery. Rodger’s victim’s only sin was that they represented to him a class of people who, in his eyes, had done him wrong. As reported in Radar Online:

“Based on interviews with Elliot's parents, Peter and Li Chen, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department "is being told that he was likely addicted to Xanax ... Peter and Li have been doing basic research on addiction to Xanax, and based on what they have read, they believe the tranquilizer made him more withdrawn, lonely, isolated, and anxious," a source told Radar.”

I consulted on the Cho Seung Hui case at Virginia Tech. And once again the pattern of the perpetrator’s failure to feel, the cognitive error of EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE™ and psychiatric drugs used to treat an underlying psychopathology were all present. In fact, at the risk of overwhelming my readers with actual data, not opinion as they are used to, what follows is a list of spree or mass killers that illustrates the pattern of having been prescribed psychiatric medications for an underlying psychopathology. Keep in mind our 3 key factors in all mass murders as you review the data: 1. A failure to feel for or with other sentient beings; 2. The EMBLEMATIC VIOLENCE™ Cognitive Error and 3. An underlying neuropsychological diagnosis that was interwoven with 1 and 2.

* Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.

* Jeff Weise, age16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

* Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

* Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

* Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

* Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

* Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

* Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

* A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

* Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..

* A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

* Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

* TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

* Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

* James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

* Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

* Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

* Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

* Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

* Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

* Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

* Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

* Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.

* Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

* Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

* Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara's parents said ".... the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil...")

* Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002, (Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)

* Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family's detached garage.

* Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

* Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

* Woody, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

* A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

* Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions."

* Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

* Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

* Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.

* Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

* Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school. [2]

I regret to inform the media entertainment complex, President Obama and all the other pundits and opinion makers shaping public opinion, but life is more complex than your collective frenzied push to make one white southern young man into a mythic EMBLEM of white violence against black people using guns. I remind the media and other opinion makers that the public knows only what you tell them for the most part. That state of affairs is changing because the public is growing tired of your incessant push to promote your owner’s various agendas at the expense of objective reportage.

You know that you can and have, quite successfully in the past, worked the American public into a fever-pitched frenzy when it suits your agenda to do so. The history of the media’s ability to change the outcome of elections, create a desire for war and bring down politicians your owners dislike is enshrined in your history as recounted in countless journalism textbooks. The media’s recent history over the past 25 years of massaging regrettable tragedies like the one in Charleston into your owner’s transparent agenda to roll back the Second Amendment and create even more emotional strife between black and white people is grossly negligent.

I would suggest that given your power to mold attitudes and behavior, you might examine the wisdom of promoting your owner’s social engineering agenda at the expense of ignoring the dispositive factors that predict these all too common national tragedies.

If you haven’t noticed, mental illness paired with the way it is understood and treated in America are variables present in virtually every mass murder tragedy. America’s progressive culture appears to be wedded to the delusion that all injustice is social injustice. The notion of personal responsibility as key to any one person’s success or failure has been transformed into the idea that our success or failure as Americans is society’s fault. If you’re rich and successful it is because of something society did, e.g., “You didn’t build that.” If you are a failure, on the other hand, it is because you were oppressed or some other group or demographic in America took success from you or denied it to you.

Dylann Roof may have been raised in South Carolina but it is the social injustice culture that you embrace and promote that encouraged, not caused, but encouraged, Mr. Roof to restore his sense of social justice by committing unspeakable acts of violence against innocent people. Traditional American culture emphasized merit and personal responsibility. In traditional America, we saw ourselves and others as unique individuals who actually did build that and who were personally responsible for their successes and falures. Instead of viewing people as part of the collective or as nothing but EMBLEMS of races, genders, the haves or the have-nots, people were viewed as individuals who deserved to be treated as individuals not as EMBLEMS or part of the collective.

The wonderful people at that prayer meeting were all unique and special people in their own way. Had Mr. Roof been raised in a culture that stressed that traditional American truth of individuals NOT the collective, things might have turned out differently. How do I know that to be true? Because when America was steeped in a culture of personal responsibility, where it was the individual not the collective that defined us, we didn’t have metal detectors in schools. People in gangs, and urban warfare did not dominate our inner cities and mass murders were a rarity. God have mercy on the victims in Charleston and may their family, friends and loved ones find peace.

[1] Wall Street Journal. “The New Nationwide Crime Wave.” Reported by: Heather MacDonald, May 29, 2015.

[2] Mike Ranger: Natural Health News. June 3, 2014.

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