In at least two previous posts on this blog, I cited the term “aggrieved entitlement”, but until now, I failed to fully define what aggrieved entitlement is. I intend to rectify this by further elucidating upon the term and how it is driving much of our political and societal discord in this country.
The James Baldwin quote that opens this post provides the crux of what aggrieved entitlement is. In a word, aggrieved entitlement is fear.
It is an existential reaction to the fear of losing something that one feels exclusively belongs to them or to the group that they belong to or identifies with.
Unchecked, aggrieved entitlement often leads to individual or even collective actions that are deleterious to society at large. I posit that aggrieved entitlement is at the heart of every mass shooting that has occurred in this country.
An examination of a small sample of recent mass shootings (the last ten years) highlight my point…
–Hartford (Connecticut) Distributors shooting, 3 August 2010.
The shooter, Omar Sheriff Thornton, killed eight male coworkers before turning the gun on himself.
He was fired for stealing from his employer as well as holding racial animus towards his employer and his coworkers (Thornton was black).
–Seal Beach (California) shooting, 12 October 2011.
The shooter, Scott Evans Dakraai, killed eight people , including his ex-wife, and wounded one in a beauty salon. He is currently serving eight terms of life imprisonment and seven years to life for attempted murder.
He was distraught over a bitter child custody battle with his ex-wife over their then eight year old son.
–Aurora (Colorado) theater shooting, 20 July 2012.
The shooter, James Eagan Holmes, killed twelve people and injured 70. Currently serving twelve life sentences plus 3,318 years.
Holmes’ motive is not as clear cut as most mass shooters due to his plea of insanity, but Holmes is a social misfit who couldn’t forge lasting relationships with women, frequented dating sites and porn sites and hired prostitutes. Just prior to the shootings, Holmes dropped out of a doctoral degree program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus before he could be expelled due to poor academic performance.
–Isla Vista (Santa Barbara, California) shootings.
The shooter, Elliot Rodger, killed six people and injured 14 more at a University of California Santa Barbara sorority house on 23 May 2014. Rodger committed suicide before he could be apprehended.
Rodger was an “Incel” (short for “involuntarily celibate”) and held racist and misogynistic views. He codified these views in a manifesto that he wrote prior to his crime.
The link below from Time Magazine outlines 37 years of mass shootings in the United States:
All of these mass shooters share one defining characteristic and it isn’t skin color or gender (both of which are purely incidental, in my opinion)…
It is aggrieved entitlement.
Get fired from a job? Kill your coworkers.
Can’t get a date? Kill a bunch of people you consider “the beautiful ones”.
Lose custody of your children or your wife because of divorce? Kill your ex-wife and leave your children without both of their parents as well as kill scores of innocent people.
Get kicked out of a degree program? Open fire in a crowded theater.
See the pattern here?
Sorry, but no gun control law will fix aggrieved entitlement. Putting more guns in the hands of more people does nothing to solve the underlying problem behind mass shootings…
So what is the solution?
I don’t know if there is a fix at the societal level. As I often say, the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people (old Ghanaian proverb). It starts with us as individuals. It starts with holding our politicians accountable to address the real problem instead of proffering more stringent or more relaxed gun laws.
Guns are clearly not the problem.
-The Rational Ram