| 1/18/2013 11:32:10 AM

Photo by Carsten Schertzer, Creative Commons 

This article originally appeared at Reality Sandwich.

Several writers of my acquaintance, such as Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders, developed the habit of keeping extensive files of press clippings on stories of personal interest. Noam Chomsky, we're told, does the same thing. An individual news report may mention something in passing that may seem secondary to the main narrative, but when multiple stories collected over time repeat the same seemingly secondary data, important patterns can become apparent.

For example, for many years Ginsberg clipped New York Times articles having to do with the international traffic in narcotics. This collection eventually served as one of the sources for historian Alfred W. McCoy's definitive study linking the heroin trade to U. S. government agencies, The Politics of Heroin.  

Now, amid the sickening media parade endlessly looping, one aspect of the mass shooter phenomenon is continually skipped, but a survey of press reports on the spate of bizarre violence that has arisen since the 1990s reveals a pattern.

In the past few days, following the Newtown murders, various experts have weighed in on the difficulty of profiling the mass shooter type. (An accurate psychological profile, presumably -- and hideously problematically -- could enable parents, teachers, doctors, and law enforcers to predict which individual is headed toward being the next shooter.)

Lance Eaton
1/23/2013 2:39:00 PM

You're right that there's a trend between those on medication and the violence, but I think that's another symptom and not necessarily a cause. As I wrote about here (, there's a lot more complex things going on than just mental state.

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