December 29, 2003

Serial killers revisited

Posted by Curt at 04:36 PM in Uncategorized Current Events | TrackBack

Just one final thougt on the topic of serial killers. I go to school at Kenyon College, about an hour from Columbus, Ohio, where in late November and early December a sniper was targeting cars driving along the interstate. Many of you may not have heard about this, because evidently the officials made a conscious effort, unlike in the case of the D.C. snipers, to limit press coverage of it so as not to allow the sniper to indulge himself in the national media spotlight. In any case, this sparked an interesting conversation with the mother of one of my friends at school, who had recently moved to Columbus from D.C. and hence was understandably perplexed about having to deal with her second sniper scare in two years. I concluded (aside from the obvious point that these “threats” can either be blown up into huge spectacles or entirely quashed by the media) that, although mass murder may be as old as our species, serial killing, the use of murder as a means of self-expression, seems to me to be basically a (principally American) cultural phenomenon. While I don’t doubt the pathology behind it, I take serial killing to be essentially a development of the artistic pshychology, in which the inherent amorality and egotism of the artistic temperament becomes not merely heterogenous with any sort of moral framework but in fact directly opposed to it.