We are only beginning to learn about Anderson Lee Aldrich, the 22-year-old whackjob who shot up a gay nightclub in Colorado over the weekend, killing at least five.
But we know, by now, how these things go. They have become predictable. After all, there is a new headline about an under-30 mass shooter practically every month nowadays.
Aldrich will doubtless turn out to be a young man with no girlfriend, who is awkward around girls. He might be a self-identified “incel”. Aldrich will have no pressing problems, as such, but a psychological evaluation will show that he was unable to cope with life’s daily pressures. (Ya think?)
We’ll learn that Aldrich was “radicalized by online hate speech”. Because, of course, if you read something online, you absolutely must act on it. Twenty-two simply isn’t old enough to discern otherwise.
So the first thing we’ll need to do is clamp down on social media. Appoint another committee to study the problem.
And as for guns: the White House has already made a renewed call for an assault weapons ban.
I don’t mean to be glib here. But there is something wrong with the idea that otherwise sane and well-adjusted young men can be turned into mass murderers by something so peripheral as social media. Ditto the notion that mass shootings must inevitably occur simply because guns are available.
Bigotry and hate speech, despicable as those things are, are nothing new. The gun debate, too, is decades old.
Rewind to 1990. The men of my generation (Generation X) were in their late teens and early 20s. (I was 22 years old in 1990.)
There were young men in 1990 who were awkward around girls and sexually frustrated. There were young men with self-esteem issues.
We had access to guns. We were exposed to unkind opinions (including some downright hateful ones).
In 1990, however, there was not a pandemic of young males randomly shooting up nightclubs, classrooms, and grocery stores, as there is today.
By and large, we coped with unpleasantness, both within and without. We never saw the need to kill a bunch of random strangers because we couldn’t get a date with a girl, or because some shade of political correctness had simply gone too far for our tastes.
I’m not here to deny that the Internet is a cesspool, or that we all wouldn’t be much better off if we deleted all social media. Nor am I here to cheerlead for the NRA and/or assault weapons.
At some point, though, we need to ask ourselves: what are today’s parents and educators doing wrong, that they’re raising so many homicidal whackjobs?
Why is a generation endlessly lectured to about “toxic masculinity” so filled with toxic young males? Is the problem toxic masculinity, or are the chickens of progressive parenting and educational practices finally coming home to roost?
Those, I submit, are fundamental questions that someone should be asking. In the meantime, I do hope that the rest of us (or most of the rest of us, anyway) can survive Generation Z’s tortuous journey to adulthood.