I don’t need to wait for the big Dave Cullen or Lawrence Wright book on the psychopathological turning points that turned two brothers into the Boston bombers to know that one or both of them was seething with rage at some real or perceived diss. The truth is that it is scorned men—not women—who unleash the furies of hell.
From Boston to Baghdad, from Kabul to Korea, from Aurora to Newtown, the world is imperiled by angry men feeling disrespected, their tender sensibilities hurting so bad that their fingers are twitching on gun triggers and bomb timers.
Curiously, these guys belong to the gender with all the physical strength and most of the well-paying jobs in the world. And yet, some of them still feel so profoundly disrespected that they will go out and kill one or more of their fellow human beings just to get some of that stuff Aretha Franklin spelled out.
Scratch any jihadi and you will find a profound sense of having been disrespected and losing personal power, especially with respect to women. They are obsessed with controlling women, whose presence in their lives is simultaneously regarded as impure. Remember 9/11 bomber Mohammed Atta’s will, which demanded that no woman touch his dead body and no pregnant woman come near his grave?
But it’s not just the jihadis.
All over the world, but especially in rifle-butt, no-background-check America, some men grab their easily obtainable weapons at the merest whisper of a diss from another man or a woman. Googling “disrespect” and “murder” gets more than three million results, page after page of headlines in just the English-speaking world alone, describing men—young and old, black, white, red and purple—stabbing, shooting and otherwise killing fellow citizens over perceived “disrespect.”
Some researchers estimate that two-thirds of all murders are the result of men feeling that they had been disrespected and acting to save face.
Author and psychologist Steve Taylor recently wrote an article about young men, perceived disrespect and murder. “Even more dangerously—especially with young men—slights can trigger a violent reaction,” he wrote. “Criminologists have noted that many acts of violence stem from a sense of slight … In recent years, in the US there has been a disturbing rise in the number of ‘flashpoint killings’—casual murders triggered by trivial confrontations.
“Typically, the flash-point killer is a young man who becomes furious after feeling that he’s been slighted in front of friends.” We already know that older bro Tamerlan felt out of place in America, beat up his girlfriend and resented people’s inability to “control themselves.” There’s no doubt that someone, somewhere, made fun of his cheesy white shoes and overall Borat style.
Follow Nina Burleigh via RSS.