(2018 April 30) – Neil MacDonald had an interesting turn of phrase in a recent column. Like dogs in a bowling alley. He was talking about government plans to regulate cannabis sales. It could just as easily describe the unprecedented events that disrupt our communities these days. We want to chase the bowling ball as it rumbles down the hardwood alley but are distracted by the clattering noise of scattering bowling pins.
Take the mayhem and murder in Toronto last week. In the search for a motive, journalists turned to Facebook and found something called “incel”. A series of interconnected posts led them back to California and Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old nutter who murdered six people before killing himself. Alek Minassian, the driver of the Toronto van, thought Rodger was a bright guy who held the solution to all that’s wrong with his world.
All this vitriol and violence happens because some guys can’t get laid? Because they are involuntarily celibate and not happy about it? Who would have thought there could be a clinical sounding name for a condition in which a person is too ignorant and obnoxious to get along with others?
All Minassian’s pent-up frustrations exploded into an orgasm of road rage. Or sidewalk rage in this case. You’d almost think, after reading some of the commentary, that the world would be a much calmer, happier, peaceable place if women would just get over themselves and stop saying no all the time. How ridiculously pathetic. To be fully “incel” you would need to be so badly lacking in social graces that not even your right hand will play footsie with you.
Some of the other dogs in the bowling alley are looking for a way to redesign vehicles so they can’t be used as weapons. Or redesigning sidewalks keep off them.
It seems to me that what we are dealing with here is a failure of our health care system and the way in which people with mental health breakdowns can be recognized and treated. The tragedy of mental illness is that it is too often left untreated until it results in a criminal action.
Elliott Rodger left behind a 137-page document that, according to a report on Think Progress, “detailed his hatred toward women, his desire to seek revenge on them and his racist ideologies.” There is no way he could have done that without scattering breadcrumbs all around himself. When the dust settles on the North York sidewalk where 10 people were killed and 16 more injured, how many similar predictors will point to Minassian?
None of this is new. Think back to the horrible Montreal massacre of December 06, 1989. The man who killed 14 women also left behind indicators of his hatred for women. Or the man recently convicted of killing six men, and wounding five others, while they prayed in a Quebec City mosque.
One common thread that connects each and every one of these events is that there were always opportunities to intervene. There are always indicators predicting future behaviour that are not dealt with until it is too late.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we don’t fund the prevention programs, we’ll go broke paying for the clean up.