When people kill people, does it matter why?

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

In the wake of our six-billionth national tragedy this month, I keep hearing one question when it comes to Boston bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarneav (whose names I will literally never ever remember how to spell). More than anything, perhaps sometimes even more than outrage, people seem to want to know why: What motivated them? What could have possibly led two otherwise mediocre brothers to set off bombs, to blow up children, and to fuck with Boston.

Indeed, we as Americans (we as humans?) appear keen on filing the Marathon incident away into a pre-determined folder of Why Bad Things Happen. Was it terrorism? Was it politically motivated? Were they lonely and alienated in their non-native country? Were they tired of being asked for donations every time one of their friends ran a 5K? Were they just crazy?

A byproduct of my extremely cynical worldview (on a crocheted pillow, it would boil down to something like “People are awful human beings”) I don’t find myself as preoccupied with the Tsarneav brothers’ motive. Since there is nothing they could say or reveal (rather, that Dzhokhar could say or reveal) that would make me go, “Ohhhh, well that totally makes sense then,” their reasons for wreaking havoc in this country — which never appears to never have treated them with anything worse than apathy — are somehow frivolous to me.

Taking it a step further, I sometimes feel that attempting to publicize their justifications for the bombing does little except give those justifications undeserved exposure. Yes, I suppose I’d like to know whether they were linked to a broader group with additional targets, but then again maybe not. Maybe some part of me would like to trust that the authorities will suss that out, and leave the rest of us to forget the name Tsarneav post-haste, to drop the duo into the bucket of Stupid Awful Idiots Who Did Terrible Things But Otherwise Don’t Matter, not the bucket of Terrorists Whose Ideology We’ll Talk About for Decades to Come and Who Have Basically Defined Our Foreign Policy. It’s a tough balance — seeking justice for the victims, preparing for the possibility of a next time, and yet also finding a way to lessen the impact of these people, to avoid giving them the attention they so desperately want. It feels like getting bullied at school and being told to ignore it, that they’re only trying to get a rise out of you, that reacting is how they win.


I suppose the ideal solution is somewhere in between, something that allows us to get a degree of closure without elevating the plotting of a disturbed 19-year-old to a global terror threat, or a referendum on Islam. I also suppose that sometimes, in certain cases, it may matter why a killer kills, which brings me to A Thousand Cuts, one of my San Fran pick-ups and the first book to make its way out of the intimidating GABST kitchen table book pile.

A Thousand Cuts tells the story of a fictional school shooting in England, during which a young history teacher marched into an assembly (on bullying, no less) and shot one teacher and three students before turning the gun on himself. The story unfolds via an omniscient narrator, but interspersed throughout are the statements of various witnesses and acquaintances of the deceased: teachers and students from the school, parents of the victims, etc. What emerges is both a poignant portrayal of a school-shooting aftermath (coordinating memorial services, reporters hounding bereaved parents, faculty shouldering the task of resuming daily life) and, over time, a portrait of a teacher in distress. Without giving away too many details, suffice it to say that newbie history teacher Sam Szajkowski was bullied — by teachers who didn’t like him and by students who didn’t respect him. Indeed, what becomes clear over the course of A Thousand Cuts is that Szajkowski had a motive, one that almost, almost made me go, “Ohhhh, well that totally makes sense then.”

A Thousand Cuts is only a few years old (2010) and it’s a testament to the apparent longevity of school shootings that it could have been released yesterday. Moreover, we are still constantly facing the question of what makes a person kill people–numerous people, violently, en masse.  And I can’t help but feel that for all the individual answers we’ve gotten — religion, politics, plain old-fashioned crazy — we don’t feel any closer to processing events like Boston, or to making sense of them. Personally, I don’t think we can, any more than we can truly get inside the brain of a serial killer, or a Nazi, or a warlord. I also don’t know that I want to get inside those brains.

This is a pretty bleak period in our nation’s history (interpret period to mean month, year or decade, depending on your level of pessimism) and thus a great time to read A Thousand Cuts. It’s not the most subtle book — onΒ occasion, its themes feel almost shouted —Β Β but maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe we shouldn’t tiptoe around the issue of whether the “why” matters, and if it does when and what are we supposed to do with it. Because I find it hard to believe April 15, 2013 will be the last time we have to ask.


TITLE: A Thousand Cuts
AUTHOR: Simon Lelic
PAGES: 294 (in paperback)
ALSO WROTE: The Child Who, The Facility
SORTA LIKE: Tana French writes We Need to Talk About Kevin
FIRST LINE: “I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it.”

72 thoughts on “When people kill people, does it matter why?”

  1. I agree that it is a balance. There is an extent to which figuring out why someone chose this type of action may help us make changes that can prevent similar occurrences in the future; however, I can’t image that understanding why does much for helping the victims’ families reduce their pain.
    Thankfully, I still believe love ultimately triumphs over evil. I recently did a post on my blog about the questions that are raised by tragedies such as these.

  2. I politely must disagree. Treating a person with apathy is not something to be ignored especially if these people felt like they weren’t accepted by the United States for being different. I think its incredibly important the the United States understand why these acts happen, and take a hard, critical look at what it is doing wrong to create these situations. Violence on this scale very rarely comes out of a vacuum.

    1. Yikes. What our country “is doing wrong to create these situations” is too bleak for me. Are we really an empire so evil as to inspire the willful murder and maiming of innocents? Because the vast majority of us are good (or at the very least, not murderers), this argument is weak and insulting and unhelpful and just plain yukky. There will be no good answers to come out of this for the family of an 8 year old boy, an 8 year old boy, an 8 year old boy. Political agendas can surely wait, maybe, another week while we mourn and collectively loathe and ignore the motivations of crazed killers?

      1. Bleak? What about the shit the United States does do Islamic countries in the Middle East that kill innocents everyday—which in turn helps to create “the motivations of crazed killers.”

        In these situations its important not only to focus on mourning for the lost but also looking to a future where this kinda shit won’t happen anymore. Because not talking about it is exactly why these things keep happening.

      2. We do talk about it, incessantly, and these things still keep happening. My broader point, however, is that there’s a fine line between understanding motives and glorifying them, or extrapolating from them some broader theme that may not always be there.

        And when I say bleak, I am not by any means implying that we as a country are without fault.

      3. No but we don’t talk about it. Not really. There has never been any report that has actually come out and say: we fucked all these people over and now they’re hella tight, now what do we do to fix it. Instead the media spouts Islamiphobic shit all the time.

        This isn’t an attack on you, its just frustrating because the way the United States media actually talks about the “war on terror” and “terrorism” and shit its never REALLY about how we dehumanize these people, how we are wreaking destruction on their lives, how we have caused a lot of the conflicts in that region, how we’ve killed infinitely more of them than they have of us…

      4. I like you, Kira. I also now will use this site as a lovely little book club.

        I also recently wrote about these atrocities: I live in Boston so this is impossible to shield from my little boys. How do we explain evil to children? My post inspired a few opinions like those of Mechasketch here, and in my grief over the death of an 8 year old boy (I have an 8 year old boy), I deleted them outright. I’m still in shock. Right now, in this moment–like you– I’m not sure their motivations matter.

        Nothing, absolutely nothing, helps this make sense.

      5. It’s responses like this that will ensure that these killings continue unabated, unexamined, and unresolved. Unfortunately, Americans are far too ignorant of the world being devastated “in their name” to really be able to tackle the pertinent reasons as to why they are attacked. Of course, in the case of the Boston bombing- there is every indication to suggest that it was actually a false-flag attack perpetrated by contractors working in conjunction with the FBI. The Tsarnaev brothers were likely patsies in the whole scheme, but because you don’t do your homework..how are you going to figure this out. Even the mother knew that the FBI had them under surveillance for two years, and the Russians also tipped off the US in order to try to get Chechen fighters on the terrorist watch list. Again, this is political but extremely relevant. The FBI has coaxed along many a so-called terrorist that wouldn’t be able to blow up a lemonade stand without their help as this is what keeps up the strategy of tension wherein people give up more of their liberty for the illusion of security. Just look at what happened with Gladio in Europe. Transfer that to the US, and you’ve got Gladio 2.0 here. Do your homework people. Anti-intellectualism and comforting platitudes won’t save you this time.

  3. It matters, because psychology matters. The surviving brother is valuable as an object of study. Closure is a process achieved by individuals, on an individual timeline. Studying why people choose criminal acts advances our general understanding of human behavior. Over time it makes us safer. It helps us to anticipate future catastrophes. Slow process I know, but it does matter.

    1. It does matter for the exact reasons you listed..Folks often don’t want to talk about the whys; instead want to just forget about it. But there are families who won’t ever be able to forget; and I’m willing to BET they want to know why..Even if the why makes NO sense..We’ll never be able to stop these awful “happenings” ; or get mental help for folks who need IT..if we don’t ask the why questions. Mayhaps in asking the “whys” we can also find out symptoms /signs/warnings..Thus can get help for those that need it…Sadly, folks usually die for great change to come about . Even something as simple as getting stop light erected where there is none..As for slow process? Slow process & progress is better than none.

  4. Also of note..”We Need to Talk about Kevin”…A mother has to deal with the fallout after her teenage son massacres his school mates, as well as his father and sister…the answer as to “why” becomes clear as we observe the stand-offish relationship between mother and son, but it doesn’t make the outcome any easier to swallow…The movie was well-scripted and shocking…I don’t think I would be able to sit through the book.

  5. These killings have to stop!! We all know that April 15, 2013 will not be the last time we have to ask. We have to work together and get this to stop. Media is a good way to help us to get it to stop. They need to do this now.

  6. I believe we all have a need to know why the bombings occurred. Ultimately, we must confront the person responsible and ask “What did you hope to accomplish in killing and injuring others in this fashion?”
    And if he responds, we tell him “You accomplished nothing.”

  7. Personally I believe the media helps with future incidents here in America and the world. I know the bombing was a horrendous act and the public should be made aware of it. But where is the line drawn between covering and reporting the story to over-hyping it, and shoving it down our throats. Take the Jodi Arias trial. I am so sick of every time I turn on HLN all they talk about is this trial. They even have a nightly show about it. I understand the story needs to be told, but networks have taken it a step too far. Thankfully I know how to turn my television off, and lately it is all the time.

    1. I agree! I read a comic strip recently that featured a news reporter screaming “How can we lessen the effects of terroism?!?!?” and the guy switched off the TV.

  8. What caused these two young men to bomb the city they live in? Considering they were raised in the US and lived most of their lives there, I would guess that the culture of islamophobia has become so repressive that it has drawn these otherwise normal young men to murder. i watched as they interviewed friends and family on TV Everyone said the same thing, that these were ordinary normal boys. They went to high school, were involved i sports, had friends. The only thing that marked these boys as different was their heritage. I’m not saying Muslim Chechen minorities are all terrorists. i’m saying the atmosphere in the United States is probably rather toxic to most immigrants let alone Muslim ones. The United States has always had a policy of assimilation over integration when it comes to immigrants and their culture. Let people into your country and then make them feel unwelcome, anyone would go crazy.

    1. Thank you, this is exactly what I meant about the US needs to take a hard look at how it treats immigrants, and Muslims. This is personally why I repatriated to the Dominican Republic. As an immigrant I was treated so shittily.

    2. The treatment of muslims in America was getting better until Radical Muslims decided to kill Americans. radicalisation of Muslims will occur no matter the environment.

      1. Better? When in the 1990s? Where is America going now? They continue their military involvement across the globe. But the anti-Americanism in Pakistan, or Iraq, of Nigeria is not to blame this time. These boys were raised American and i think Americans, leaders and people alike have got to take a good hard look at who they are and what they want America to be in this world.

      2. But what are we really to do? Start concentration camps? Go against everything this country stands for and start changing the entire meaning of what it means to be American by becoming assuming guilty until proven innocent in the case of all muslims. My cousin is a white/mexican Muslim convert and she is just a normal person. She eats sushi and smokes cigarettes sometimes and hates herself for doing it. She is a normal person. She wouldn’t hurt anybody. These people are not classified by their religion. We classify their religion as their motives for atrocious crimes. This is not what this country is about, man. We have to deal with this shit and know that persecuting muslims for crimes not committed is not what we are about.

  9. Not being American I’m probably missing important context but what in the name of God is “a referendum on Islam?”

    Personally I think the reasons “why?” are massively significant and should be explored fully, publicly and at length… only then will people reach the levels of consciousness necessary to potentially stop such tragedies occuring…

    Complex issues will never be solved through cartoon reportage!

    Surely, discussing (and indeed understanding) opposing ideologies… for as many decades as it takes… is the the only way to move towards harmony?

    And no offence mate but why the question when you write “we as Americans (we as humans?)”? Can’t help thinking that a lot of our problems would disappear very quickly if we ceased to link our identities to conepts of nationalism in favour of something more fluid and all encompassing…

    I say all this with the greatest respect for your post… and agree that the “glorification” aspect of greater media coverage causes it’s own problems – but no way is an American public living in blisful ignorance as to “why” people hate them going to lead to any long term solution.

    1. So by referendum on Islam, I mean that terrorist acts committed in the name of religion or religious ideology raise questions about whether violence is inherent in that ideology. Every time something like Boston happens, and the culprits credit (at least in part) their beliefs, there is a whole host of people who take it as an opportunity to weigh in on Islam itself, versus Islam as interpreted or acted upon by individual people.

      Second point – I say we as Americans, because I am American and the attack happened in my country and so that’s the perspective I’m coming from; it would be disingenuous to pretend that I could respond to the situation from another vantage point. But my question mark (we as humans?) is to suggest that perhaps this need to file the attack away into a predetermined “why they did this” bucket is not American, but human.

      Thank you for the reply! I’m thrilled with the discourse going on within my silly little blog.

  10. Mechasketch would have been right at home at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 11 years ago. While the rest of us were all watching the same horrific images being replayed over and over of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, every single left wing commentator without exception was telling us that while they felt terrible about it Americans would have to wonder why they are so hated. Well, if we all acted on our feelings we and the world would be even more chaotic and less civilised than it is now.

    The world has always been full of dissatisfied losers, it’s only now that they have the means to make others pay for thier ignorance or their failure. I don’t want to understand people like that,.

  11. In terms of America…..America sincerely believes it (we, I am an American) is the center of the universe. It’s the truth.
    As I pointed out, today, in my own blog http://angryamericanbirds.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/part-iv-how-to-save-our-american-baby-birds-from-well-armed-government-enabled-american-boogeymen/ the apathy for others who suffer worse and more frequent tragic mass murders at the root of why many in other countries-have quite a lot of disdain for America.

  12. Why do people kill? . . .

    Once upon a time, there was a frog sitting beside a stream. A scorpion walked up and said, “Mr. Frog. I need to get to the other side of this stream. Will you please give me a ride?”

    “I’m not giving you a ride,” replied the frog. “You’ll sting me and kill me.”

    “But if I did that,” retorted the scorpion, “I would drown.”

    The frog thought for a moment. “Okay. Hop on,” he finally said.

    When they were halfway across the stream, the scorpion stung the frog. As he was sinking into the water, the frog said, “Now we’re both going to die. Why did you do that?”

    “Because, you idiot. I’m a scorpion. It’s what I do.”

  13. I think we do need to understand why some people harm others–because we don’t all do it. It isn’t as simple as “People are awful.” Only some do, and some do it only in some circumstances or at some points in their lives and not others. I think we especially need to understand violence against groups. What is interesting to me is that those who study terrorism are beginning to understand why people turn to that form of violence, but very little of that seems to enter the public discourse about terrorist acts.

    The other irony perhaps is that we seek to understand perpetrators for only as long as it’s happening here–a terrorist bombing in Yemen prompts no questions at all. And only as long as it remains current. Which means, in a practical sense, despite all the speculations as to why, most of us remain as ignorant as ever about why human beings do terrible things to one another. And we also do nothing effective to prevent them.

  14. The bottom line is this: things happen for a reason. To understand that reason would bring us one step ahead of a possible future happening. Nip it in the bud. There was an interesting piece done on I believe 60 Minutes where they interviewed the parents who lost children in Newtown and one parent who suggested a very simple exercise: all teachers should put together a list of all the children in the school and tag the ones they know on the list. The kids who have the least number of tags are the ones teachers should try and get closer to and get to know.

    I think suggestions like these just go back to the fact that you have to do some plain old talking, look the person in the eye and have a conversation.

    I’m an American living in Mexico and I have yet to see terrorists come and bomb an event or a building here. People opening fire in a school or a movie theater. And I’ve been living here for 16+ years. I’m sure the Canadians can say the same thing.

    There has to be discussion. There has to be a reason and this time, there has to be action to stop this from happening again.

  15. “there is nothing they could say or reveal (rather, that Dzhokhar could say or reveal) that would make me go, ‘Ohhhh, well that totally makes sense then'”. Yes. An important distinction that you highlight. We attempt to understand contributing factors for (hopefully) prevention–but that is not going to answer the question of “why.” There is NO acceptable answer as to why.

    It is difficult to not have control over what is frankly chillingly crazy. The best we can do with our fellow humans, is to be just, to be kind, and to bring each other water on days when frankly it felt like evil cast out the last rays of light. —But it didn’t.

  16. It would matter to me. For closure, and for simple preventive methods.If a serial killer goes on a rampage, and we don’t find out what may have caused it, we are doing a disservice to ourselves.I am in no way saying that if there is a reason behind the killing, that suddenly makes it okay. Murder is never okay. A woman that murders her abusive husband is no better than a person that murders children in a school shooting. it is never okay. And giving the reason why it occurred will never make it okay. But it will act as a preventative measure, and maybe shine some light on some not so good parts of our society.

    In hindsight, I have the feeling this comment makes little to no sense whatsoever.

  17. yeah we should ask why so that we may know what motivated the killings so that we may prevent such future killings if there are others having similar motivation. but i think here the motivation is simple, america is just hated and those people who come there come for the money. we all love the america movies and music stars but that just about it. people do not like how america treat places like Iraq and libya but ignore other top dogs. however, all said, we should never condone killings of innocent people whatever the motivation, it is stupid and plain evil but if you are looking for the why, it is pretty clear

  18. Explanations are not excuses. But we human beings do want to understand one-another, which is the reason so many people are asking ‘ WHY???’

    For most (if not all) of us it is very, very hard to comprehend why two disaffected young men would be able to mingle with other people, see men, women and children, none of whom had any connection to their perceived grievances, and then cold-bloodedly place a device that they knew would maim and kill those people. Yet they have not achieved any objective result they might have wanted. Did they lack empathy, imagination?..reading what has been said about them they do not seem stupid, and yet, and yet.??
    As a political act the Boston Marathon bombings seem singularly inept – they changed nothing, in fact they strengthened America’s resolve not to capitulate to terror.

    I lived in London during the IRA bombings of the 1970s – the British also would not capitulate to terror – but they were hopping mad that several of the bombers fled to the USA which refused to extradite them…imagine if the same had happened with the Boston bombers.

  19. I enjoyed this thoughtful post, yet coming as I do from a part of the world that has been sadly scarred by violence and terror I think it is important to try to understand why these things happen appalling and sickening as they are: to do so is not to vindicate or to excuse: it is essential to formulating a response. Sadly these sorts of actions are growing across the world and security solutions on their own do not work.

  20. Yeah. The “why” for the accused will never satisfy us anyway. Because although it may be a justification in their minds, there will in fact be no answer that will make us go “oh, well understandable then.”
    You’re totally right; killing is killing. So who cares why they did it?

  21. This brings back an old saying my High-School teacher used to say: “I may can try to understand where your coming from, but that doesn’t mean I justify it.” I think the question “why” is a philosophical question based upon morals, ethics, and personal beliefs that some of us may understand and that some of us may justify. But to be “hung” up on why things happen just causes more physical, mental, and emotional stress.

  22. There needs to be some way of anticipating a person’s intention – violent or not without infringing upon human rights. It is thought that the Boston Bomber’s were “radicalized” at some point. It is known that Newtowne killer Adam Lanza was clearly on the fringe. We may never know why and what was on their collective radar screens but certainly past behavior is a clue to future behavior. Red flags are the subtle clues – like posting angry blogs about this or that which can be a barometer for purposeful action. Changes in behavior offer a clue into human motivation and functioning. Anger and fear are often the source of violence. Law abiding human beings cannot grasp the impact of being marginalized and bullied – either on an individual or ideological level. I appreciated your interest on the topic.

  23. “I keep hearing one question when it comes to Boston bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarneav”

    That will be “alleged Boston bombers” as no-one has, as yet, been found guilty of the atrocity.

  24. People feel a need to understand because they honestly believe that by understanding they’re a step closer to stopping things like this for good. Of course, there are far too many reasons in the background for that to be true – things that have no direct effect on those bombings but are still no less to blame for the bombers starting to think that way. There are as many little events conspiring together to make the next one of these tragedies happen as there are people who would love to just think the bombers are evil and leave it at that. The sad thing isn’t that we can never understand that sort of mindset, but that each of us aren’t all that far removed from being that way ourselves.

  25. The idea that people need to understand events like this so that they can go “Oh, it makes sense now,” is actually quite ill thought-out. In truth, we need to understand why atrocities happen so that we can reshape the future to exclude them.
    After all, discovering why people caught smallpox was the way that we rid the world of smallpox.
    US society raised these kids, and these kids went on to do this to US society. “Why?” in that light is a very poignant question.
    There is very little that humankind can’t achieve if it puts its mind to it. So let’s put our minds to it, let’s start by asking “why?”.

  26. I don’t think you can compare this to school shootings or other acts of violence not influenced by religious views. These guys, likely from a young age, where ‘brainwashed’ into hating anything American. They were groomed to slip into society and plan this attack. Don’t be fooled by ‘random’ acts of violence. There was nothing random about the Boston Bombings. To answer your question, I would say “yes” it does really matter when people kill.

  27. People who commit murders should be condemned, not the victims. The Individual who does the crime should be punished. Why liberals always want to condemn and punish the innocent is beyond me. The murder of the innocent babe in the womb…liberals are all for that, and when murders occur in general society, liberals do not want to condemn the murderer….they want to save his life. Go figure!

  28. I suppose if it DOES matter, it would be so that we could understand and maybe prevent things like this from happening in the future. When we see other people feeling the same way, maybe we could help them before they do something they will regret.

  29. This is a shame for my country… But It does matter only if it’s because of a self-defense. Other than that, who the fuck are we, to think and to kill people because ‘we can”? We are nobody. Nobody should be able to kill people, even if they’re the Devil in a human’s body.

  30. Spot on, fella. “Nothing that is worth knowing can ever be taught”, as Oscar Wilde said. You cannot force a person to believe something they don’t. You cannot iron cruelty, hatred, and prejudice out of society–only from yourself is it possible to remove these things, and even that is far more easily said that done. The secrets of the universe could be laid out in front a person–in fact they do surround all of us: the universe is one gigantic mass of innumerable mysteries. But only on an individual basis can any kind of conversion of thought take place. Realisations occur singly, mind by mind, and there is not a person alive today who can claim to have concrete and definite control over his own or anyone else’s thoughts and beliefs: it’s way more complicated than that.

    But for those precise reasons I don’t share your disdain for people who commit acts of enormous cruelty and destruction, and I think that a decision to stop wondering why something is simply because we will never know why it is would have far more disastrous consequences than you think–not that that will ever happen anyway. Who, after all, knows a single thing about what people other than themselves think? Each one of us is a mindblowingly complex psychological being, driven to do what we do, as we move through time and space, by an intricate network of more forces and causes, internal and external, than any subjective mind will every be able to comprehend or fully explain. Life is all about coming up with clever explanations for things that can’t be explained. And I do not blame those blokes for blowing up that bomb any more than I blame you for hating them or me for writing this comment. Things are not that simple!

  31. True. I always believe that the end does not justify the means so whatever their reason…politics blah blah…innocent people were killed and a lot were injured and lives are changed forever. I posted about the Boston bombing as well as I find it so sad in fact horrible. It’s sad when people get killed when they go to war, but to get killed or lose your limbs going to a marathon, cinema, school…now that’s horrible.

  32. To say it doesn’t matter WHY it happened would seem foolish in my opinion. Asking WHY, seems to answer the majority of the questions, and helps to prevent bombings and other tragic events.

  33. Because these bombings occurred in my “backyard” where I just happened to have been enjoying the day, I did ask why. No matter what the answer it just won’t make any sense to me, but I would have liked to hear it.
    This is a world wide event. If they wanted world wide attention why did they wait until the elite runners were long through? Why do this when your non professional runners are crossing? People with young children being cheered on by friends and family? Runners raising money for charities? Innocent people of all backgrounds and beliefs? Why? I guess I did want to know why. Unfortunately it was played and replayed so much I had to stop watching. If he gave a reason, I did not hear it.
    This act hurt the citizens of many countries. Remember a young Chinese National was killed also. Does it change how our government(s) will do business? I think not.

  34. A lot of struggling to understand the ‘why’. None of the above cite this: What other religion demands ‘KILL THE INFIDEL’? Isn’t that easy to understand? And isn’t it plain that any belief is tolerable–it’s the organization into a religion that creates stress, false hope, and ultimately, evil.

  35. If a mad dog is on your property with your children nearby, you kill the dog. Unless you want to try to comfort the dog and get rabies shots for your trouble. Agents of evil should be killed like a mad dog. The battle between good and evil is true, but nobody cares to acknowledge that there is evil. Evil has been with mankind forever. Understanding why people choose evil does what? Somebody wants your money now, somebody decides to rape your daughter now, and what do we want to understand? You stop the assault and protect what is good from evil.

  36. In the end, objectively, a death is a death. Someone dying of cancer, car accident, or a cold isn’t /really/ much better than dying from a bomb. As a society, we are more horrified by the bomb because it’s something that appears far more illogical and maniacal… which it usually is. The person dying doesn’t really know what’s up (unless your religion says otherwise). The best we can live for is to live within a community that has strong barriers but an open heart. The best we can work towards is to accept the fact that different mentalities will always be held within our own and other communities. The best we can hope for is for other communities to do the same.


    1. We are all going to die. We don’t know how or when, unless we choose to kill ourselves. I personally don’t feel people should run around shooting us and blowing us up. I don’t think we need armed troopers patroling streets and parks in great force. A knive for close quarters and a shot gun to keep rascals at bay are more prudent, than being fatalistic on our mortality. Let the other bastard die.

  37. I’ve blogged a few times on the issues of media sensationalism in our world today. At a certain point, the only reason we should care why is when it come to preventing this kind of violence in the future. After that, we’re just giving killers publicity, and we have to face the facts that there are in fact people that will want to kill simply to get their name out there. In certain cases I do believe it is better for those who commit violent acts to remain as nameless and faceless as possible. Obviously in the case of the Boston Bombings this was irrelevant and impossible for identification and safety concerns.

  38. I think “the why” matters but only if we ask it with a willingness to question the very values our society is predicated on and its ruling ideologies.
    If we simply limit the scope of our questions to the affiliations of the suspects or their own statements then we are not digging deep enough.
    Violence is violence no matter what spurred it, but unless we understand its root causality and address that (which does not happen on the news…ever) … well it’ll be like you said, six billion shootings per month.

  39. I think that “the why” matters, but we should really be asking how. How is this act of violence going to effect us as individuals and as a society as a whole? Are we going to learn from it or are we going to ignore it? We are very good at the latter, but I believe that’s where our downfall will be.

  40. Maybe our society really is disintegrating and evil grows. A sociologist created the term “anomie” to describe how people in big cities would become apathetic and more likely to commit crimes than those who remained in small towns close to family. That was written like 100 years ago, so now it’s even worse. So maybe the “why” is important, but only for the purpose of figuring out how to get society and families back to a time when closeness and accountability are valued. Then we won’t have to keep asking why.

  41. “when people kill people, does it matter why?”

    of course it does
    understanding is the only chance
    humans have of
    and one that rarely
    gets used


    “when people kill people, does it matter why?”

    apparently not if its the
    army or


  42. I feel like we’re asking the wrong kind of questions, or at least, not getting to the fundamental core of the issue; we’ve lost touch from each other as human beings. We are so disconnected from each other and from life that we’ve almost become desensitized to the fact that a person would reach such a point of desperation as to cause harm to anyone else or to themselves. We try to put these killers into boxes, and as you said, rationalize what they’ve done, when what we need to look at is what is lacking from our society that causes people to reach such a low state of life? It’s crucial to look into this and dialogue and find out ways to move forward, not by rationalizing what these perpetrators have done, but by owning up to our shit and taking responsibility for the dark state our society is currently in, and most importantly having the courage to hope for and strive for a better future, not one where these crimes continue and we chalk it up to “people just being crazy/brainwashed.”

  43. From one cynic to another – I’m guessing that it would matter to you, though, if their intentions were to next set off a bomb on your front porch. Right?

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