here’s the thing i don’t get

there’s been a lot of bad news around the baltimore area lately. in the span of one week, two entire families (wife/husband/kids) have been killed in murder-suicides, both committed by fathers/husbands. one family had three kids, the other two. one lived in a quiet town outside baltimore, the other was from new york visiting their college daughter (a loyola student; apparently, she walked into the towson hotel room they were staying at and her father had already killed her mom and 11 year-old-sister).

more and more info keeps surfacing on both cases, and as much as it disturbs me, i keep reading. i mean, we all do. it’s human nature. everyone wants to find out why these sick things happened. what could possible lead a person to kill his entire family, kids and all? of course, as the “why” trickles out, so do details about the “how,” but i don’t even want to go there.

considering the state of affairs in this country, it’s not a complete surprise to me that the motives here were based in finance. debt, basically. also bad business practices in the latter case. so here’s the thing i just don’t yet:

you’re miserable. you’re drowning in debt. you want to kill yourself. so WHY TAKE YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY OUT????  why in the hell do you have to take your entire family down with you? most ppl w/families have life insurance policies. and these were middle class families, so they probably would have been taken care of if the father/husband took his own life. as much as it would suck and be awful, life would go on for the remaining family members. but instead, their lives were cut short. some of these were little kids.

the wife of a friend of mine called it narcissism. that these men thought they were so important, so essential, they if they had to go, they all did, b/c they could never go on w/out him. i never thought about it like that. but it could definitely be true.

the whole thing’s got me thinking about deranged, psychotic behavior in general. like, all these school shootings. these depressed, lonely kids hate their lives, hate themselves. so why the heck do you have to kill a dozen ppl and then yourselves??? i will never ever understand this.

this might just be my unfunniest blog entry yet, (you all know i live to make you laugh) but i just can’t stop thinking about all this. i promise next time i’ll be back to my old self. i’m just bummed lately, and haven’t been in the mood to joke around. (also spring headaches.)

if you have thoughts on all this (and i’m sure you), i’d love to hear them, so please chime in…

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6 responses to “here’s the thing i don’t get

  1. Yep, making no excuses for the inner workings of sick minds…. some people should never breed in the first place, but that’s a different subject.

    I just wanted to point out a minor flaw in your argument (even though it in no way invalidates your conclusions). Life insurance policies do not pay out on suicides. If a death is a clear case of suicide, life insurance is off the hook, zero dollars paid out. If the death appears suspicious (like a suicide or murder made to look like and accident), the insurance company will send out investigators whose primary purpose is to find a reason to stiff the grieving widow.

    That said, if ever there was a stupid reason to kill oneself, money is it. To wipe out the entire family? Off the charts stupid. It takes all kinds to make a world.

    XO, Katie

  2. katie, that is a really good point. i’ve never heard of that. and it does take all kinds to make a world. thanks for your comment…

  3. Hi Katie,

    Although that is true about some insurance companies; unfortanetly I do know of a man who took his life and set his wife and family up with his insurance policies. I can’t say what insurance company he was with or how got around the suicide clause, but he did.

  4. John Grunwell

    I think that our society totally and absolutely glorifies death and violence. It’s undeniable. In many instances, these forces are depicted as laudable, attractive, glamorous, and problem-solving. God forbid we should see non-pixilated breasts on television, but it’s totally ‘OK’ that Arnold The Terminator just shot out a security guard’s kneecaps, and the most popular shows on television regularly feature gory images of fictional victims of violence. My god, “Law & Order: SVU” is wholly devoted to plotlines in which children are raped, tortured, murdered, etc. Of course, media only reflects the culture we live in. A typical Monday night on TV will feature torture, rape, murder, mutilation and various sundry acts of cruelty. We are totally entertained by this. There was a time when it would be absolute unthinkable to show a dead ten-year-old boy on the floor of his bedroom, totally bled out after having his throat slashed by a lunatic. Now, it’s what sells toothpaste, cars, IPods, Outback Steakhouse and erectile dysfunction drugs.

    That’s only the tip of the ice-burg. Despite being an ostensibly religious nation, I think a great many people live lives of quiet (or very loud) desperation, working in soul-deadening jobs, feeling as though there are no opportunities for advancement or growth. I read a book some years ago by a man whose entire journalistic career has been spent in our planet’s war zones. Not a happy dude, unsurprisingly. His conclusion (which is also the title of his book), after talking to thousands of wars’ participants and victims and promoters and detractors, which is also the title of his book, is that “war is a force that gives us meaning.” A quiet life of nothing can take on a shiny edge when it is devoted a cause much greater than the individual, and we’ve really taken that to heart. Even if we’re not out on the streets, armed and battling our rival gangs, we have surrogates who battle our enemies on television while we sit, hypnotized, watching. We were primed and excited as we waited for the beginning of “Shock & Awe” in Iraq (the first opening salvo of a war that had a truly Hollywood movie name, “Operation: Desert Storm” being more like a videogame). Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” fiasco was supposed to inspire in us a feeling of righteous triumph over evil. We won! We’ve vanquished the evil-doers!

    I think that Columbine was the work of evil geniuses. These were kids who hated society, and therefore themselves, and knew that they could achieve fame and immortality through a spectacular act of random violence. It certainly worked, even if we can’t remember their specific names. I don’t think they were evil, I don’t know that I believe in real evil (perhaps I’m too relativistic), but they were definitely psychopaths. As far as these men killing their entire families, that’s probably a form of psychopathology, but probably not the ‘evil’ sort I just described. I imagine that by the time ones mind has arrived at the idea that a problem could be solved by murdering ones family and committing suicide, and considers it reasonable, you’re so far gone beyond what constitutes normal and right thinking that notions like “narcissism” are entirely irrelevant.

    What’s scary about these familial-cides is that these folks were NORMAL! They were like you and me and everyone we know in that they were just ordinary, everyday folk. There weren’t al Qaeda operatives, or Nazi death camp supervisors, or agents of the Khmer Rouge, folks totally committed to ideologies of violence and terror. They were ordinary folks who’d become desperate and totally unhinged by mental illness and storms and strife of modern, ordinary life. It’s like looking in a mirror when you hear their friends and neighbors say things like “never in a million years could I ever imagine” this happening to so-and-so, that so-and-so would do this. No one’s saying “yeah, that guy was a totally evil psychopath; I’m not surprised at all.” I just think it doesn’t bode well for what constitutes normal life in the USA.

    Will any of these stop me from enjoying a beautiful weekend of spring weather? Not it the slightest.

    I love ranting!

  5. woah. john. this is by far the longest comment ever on lunch at 11:30. (it’s longer than my actual entry!) i agree with you tho: we are bombarded w/violent media msging and violence IS entertainment now. i think ppl’s neverending interest in the “how” of these stories speaks to that, too.

  6. I, too, have a lot of unanswered questions about the Towson story, along with the Frederick story. In the end, I am sad that innocent lives, especially those of children, were taken.

    It is clear that both men spent a lot of time thinking about what they were going to do and then acting on it, especially Parente, whose killings span over hours. Obviously both men had made bad decisions in the past, perhaps a lot of them, that led them to believe that there was no getting of their finanical troubles. They believed that somehow killing their families would be the best way out of their messes. Here is why I question why didn’t get they kill them say with poision or something easy. Perhaps, Parente’s killings were something of that nature. But the Frederick Co. killings were so brutual. Why after he shot his kids, did he need to cut their throats with a pruning saw? Obviously, this was an unstable man.

    I wonder why Parente came to Baltimore to do the killings? Why didn’t he just wait a week when Stephanie would be home from college? I wonder why none of them fought back? Though I am hearing that Stephanie did try to fight back. I think how sad it is that everyone is talking about what a great student and friend Stephanie was and how active the mom was in the community and then there was Catherine, an 11-year-old who gets one line in news articles about where she went to school and nothing else. I wonder what was going through Parente’s head when he talked to Stephanie’s friend, when he laid them out of the bed and when he went to purchase the knife. Did he ever think what have I done? Did he ever ask forgiveness? Did any of them feel pain?

    I wonder how a person can kill their child/ren, yet alone do it so brutually like the Frederick Co. many.

    It makes me think about how selfish these people were. It makes me think about a story I covered four or five years ago, where a mother in Parkville woke her daughter up on the first day of school, got her dressed, drove her around a park and at the top of a hill, told her daughter to take her seat belt off before they descended down the hill into a tree. The plan was to kill both of them. You know who survived? The mom.

    I don’t understand how anyone can be so filled of anger, hate, despair or selfish to take their own families innocent lives and leave so many unanswered questions.

    And look at how many questions we have. Just imagine what is like for these people’s surviving family members. Ican’t even begin to comprehend what they are experiencing.

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