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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Spree Killing and Dr. Phil's Blame "Game"

There seems to be this overwhelming need to place "blame" on music, movies and video games, all of which may contain violence, but is there any more violence in any of those activities than there is on the nightly news?

Placing blame for atrocities such as the Virginia Tech killing spree on society and games, movies and music is to limit the responsibility of the individual committing these horrendous acts.

Transcript for Dr. Phil's comments at CNN:

KING: Dr. McGraw, are they treatable?

MCGRAW: Well, Larry, every situation is different. Candice has given very wise people about who these people are and why they do what they do. The problem is a lot of times they are recognizable. Columbine, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, the Amish school up in New England, if you with 20 hindsight, you'd see that there are warning signs of people becoming very disturbed and oftentimes talking about this now on the website as well as to their friends and neighbors.

And you know are they treatable? They're usually dead after something like this happens because the police take them out or they take themselves out. The question really is can we spot them. And the problem is we are programming these people as a society. You cannot tell me -- common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they're on a mass killing spree in a video game, it's glamorized on the big screen, it's become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high. And we're going to have to start dealing with that. We're going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murders of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.

Ok, with that shown now, I have a few questions for good ole Dr. Phil, whom I often find very amusing, so do not get me wrong, I do not dislike the guy, I just have a few points to make about blaming video games, music or movies for what people do.

First lets deal with spree killers from the past.

Charles Whitman, born June 24, 1941 and 25 yrs later, on July 31, 1966, he stabs his mother to death, leaving a note: "To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother's life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now... I am truly sorry... Let there be no doubt in your mind that I loved this woman with all my heart." Returns home, stabs his wife to death in her sleep, leaving another note: "I imagine it appears that I brutally killed both of my loved ones. I was only trying to do a quick thorough job... If my life insurance policy is valid please pay off my debts... donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type."

On August1, 1966, he enters the Bell Tower at University of Texas. Over the span of 96 minutes, kills 16 and wounds 30. The shooting ends when Officer Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy storm the tower, shooting Whitman twice in the head with a 12ga shotgun at 1:24 pm. Whitman is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park, Cloud Lake FL.

Would Dr. Phil have blamed this on video games, movies or music had they existed to the extent that they exist now?


Whitman suffered from hypergraphia. Autopsy revealed a tumor in the hypothalamus.

How about George Banks?

Wilkes-Barre was nicknamed the “Diamond City.” Originally, the city’s seal contained a diamond, which symbolized the "black diamonds" of anthracite coal, as well as the diamond-shaped town square. Currently, the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania has a population of nearly 50,000 people. One of those residents was George Emil Banks.

During the year leading up to the tragedy, George Emil Banks’ mental state had greatly declined and one can only speculate as to what was going on in his mind before the carnage. In the early morning hours of September 25, 1982, Banks awoke from a self-induced haze. The 40-year-old prison guard had taken a cocktail of prescription drugs and straight gin around 11:30 p.m. the previous night.

Banks tried to focus his eyes and looked at his surroundings. Lying next to him was an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which he had purchased the previous year. His four-year-old son, Bowendy, was sleeping next to him while his girlfriends, 29-year-old Regina Clemens, 23-year-old Susan Yuhas, and 29-year-old Dorothy Lyons, sat in chairs nearby. Susan, cradling the couple’s one-year-old daughter Mauritania in her arms, awoke when George began to stir.

George reached down and picked up the gun, locked and loaded it with a thirty-round clip. Most likely, his facial expression began to change as he stroked the military-style assault rifle, his eyes burning with anger and a scowl tainting his generally handsome features. Lacking explanation or any apparent compassion, he raised the weapon and shot Regina Clemens. The bullet pierced her right cheek, sliced downward and traveled directly through her heart, killing her instantly. Her body pitched sideways in a lifeless sprawl.

This was the start of what ended up with 13 people dead. I will save you the gruesome details, you can read about them at the link above.

George Emil Banks was a mass murderer. What is it that drives a man to the edge? What causes him to kill? Scholars and criminologists have debated over questions such as these for decades. One common point they all seem to agree on is pressure. History seems to suggest that a series of compounded events over a period of time cause these violent men to explode in a blur of insanity. For Banks, these pressures drove him to kill 13 people who became a burdensome responsibility, opposed him or got in his way during his murderous rampage.

These are just two examples of past spree killers and mass murderers, but everything cannot be blamed on what we watch or listen to or play.

Some people are simply sick individuals or have had pressure build to the point where their minds literally snap.

Here is a list of spree killers and mass murderers and their stories at the crime library.

How about Serial Killers?

Serial killers have tested out a number of excuses for their behavior. Henry Lee Lucas blamed his upbringing; others like Jeffrey Dahmer say that they were born with a "part" of them missing. Ted Bundy claimed pornography made him do it. Herbert Mullin, Santa Cruz killer of thirteen, blamed the voices in his head that told him it was time to "sing the die song." The ruthless Carl Panzram swore that prison turned him into a monster, while Bobby Joe Long said a motorcycle accident made him hypersexual and eventually a serial lust killer. The most psychopathic, like John Wayne Gacy, turn the blame around and boast that the victims deserved to die.

Someone is always coming up with an excuse, because people are loathe to admit that just maybe, some people are just wrong in the head, sick, twisted and homicidal.


Nothing to blame except the unknown workings of certain individuals brains.

Edward Kemper once said:

"It was an urge. ... A strong urge, and the longer I let it go the stronger it got, to where I was taking risks to go out and kill people—risks that normally, according to my little rules of operation, I wouldn't take because they could lead to arrest."

The point here is, we have had spree killers and serial killers and mass murderers well before video games were ever created and to try to blame the games or the shows or the music is simply creating an excuse that I am sure the next serial or spree killer will thank you for because it will be used in his/her defense should they live to see a trial.

What about Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy etc..... It all cannot be blamed on society or the trappings that go along with it.

There are bad people.... it is a fact of life.