Martin Henry, Contributor
In shock and awe, everyone is casting about for reasons for recurring mass shootings in the United States. Guns have, naturally, taken a bad rap. Half the firearms in the world are in the US. There are nearly as many guns as the size of the population, 300 million guns to 311 million people.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was the seventh in 2012, up to that time, in which a lone gunman killed four or more people.
Internationally syndicated columnist and historian, Gwynne Dyer, in his piece, 'Guns and culture in America', which was carried by The Gleaner on December 18, carefully argued that while there is clearly a connection between the sheer availability of guns and the much higher rate of murder by the gun in the US compared to other developed countries, it is not simply cause and effect. Dyer points out that "the rate of murders by gunfire in the US is almost 20 times higher than the average rate in 22 other populous, high-income countries where the frequency of other crimes is about the same." But the rate of murder by other means is also considerably higher. "It can't just be guns," he argues.
Struggling to explain the much higher levels of violence and murder in the United States and the recurring mass shootings, alongside the right to bear arms, Dyer crash-concluded: "None of this explains the specific phenomenon of gun massacres by deranged individuals, who are presumably present at the same rate in every country. It's just that in the US, it's easier for individuals like that to get access to rapid-fire weapons. And, of course, the intense media coverage of every massacre gives many other crazies an incentive to do the same, only more of it." He had earlier noted that "it's not even clear that new laws would help."
Speaking, or rather preaching, at an inter-faith prayer vigil after the Sandy Hook massacre, US President Barack Obama declared, "We can't tolerate this anymore.
"In the coming weeks," he said, pledging political action almost helplessly, "I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens - from law enforcement to mental-health professionals to parents and educators - in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.
Obama, the Christian, began his pained address quoting scripture: "Scripture tells us," he told his grieving audience,
An email which popped into my inbox has increased my interest in the president's observation about the presence of evil in the world. Which perhaps should be upper-cased as Evil.
Years ago, in 2005, when Dr Peter Phillips was minister of national security and we were facing our own national tragedy of another multiple murder of children, this newspaper on July 4 (America's Independence Day) carried a story, 'Evil spirits grip Ja - Phillips says', in which the minister was reported as saying the tragedies were telling us that "there is a terrible and vicious spirit that has taken hold of our people".
A few days later on July 7 my commentary piece, 'Evil Spirit and crime', was published. In it I said, "There can be a chasm of difference between a spirit of evil and an evil spirit. We are not quite certain if Dr Phillips, trained in the secular human sciences, merely means that moral values have broken down, that traditional virtues, socially determined, have been abandoned and, therefore, the opposite 'evil' as an abstraction is running rampage, or if he means a demonic spirit has been let loose upon the land and has taken hold of the people."
"Remarkably," I noted, "the honourable minister, from numerous possibilities, drew reference to the [earlier] triple murder of children at Kilancholly in St Mary in January [that year] as part of his evidence that 'there is a terrible and vicious spirit that has taken hold of our people'. We have good reason to believe that those murders sprang out of occultic connections," I wrote then.
The email which came to hand circulated a story which is not likely to appear in mainstream media but which most certainly deserves play. Its title asked if "Satan worship motivated Sandy Hook killer?" And noted, "It's been a factor in numerous other mass killings."
"Is Adam Lanza's reported devil worship a missing link that could help explain what motivated the Sandy Hook gunman to carry out the schoolhouse massacre? Was Lanza part of a larger Satanic or ritualistic subculture locally or online in which he could have revealed his plans or could have even received support in preparing for the killings?" the writer probed.
"Although largely under-reported," he said, "Satanic subculture and so-called devil worship has been a factor in numerous other mass killings, including the recent Batman shooting massacre. Trevor L. Todd, a former classmate of Lanza's, told media that Lanza worshipped the Devil and had an Internet page dedicated to Satan. Lanza's worshipping page had the word 'Devil' written in red, Gothic-style letters against a black background," stated Todd.
"While Lanza's reported devil worship was mentioned in several news media items, it is apparently not being considered as a possible motive in the national debate currently centred around the role of guns, drugs, violent video games and mental illness in the shooting spree.
"The theme of so-called devil worship and Satanic-style Goth subculture has cropped up in numerous other mass shootings, although in some cases the phenomenon may have been under-reported or entirely unreported," the writer noted.
The article detailed several cases of US multiple murderers being engaged in occultism and Satanism going back to Charles Manson and his group in 1969 who murdered Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. "Tate, married to film director Roman Polanski, was eight and a half months pregnant when she was murdered in ritualistic style in her home by Manson's followers in 1969. The word 'pig' - written in Tate's blood - was reportedly splashed on her front door. According to reports, Tate was originally selected to play the main character in her husband's Rosemary's Baby, a film about a pregnant woman who fears that her husband may have made a pact with neighbours to use her child as a human sacrifice in their occult rituals."
I have long been interested in whether there is a link between spiritism, drugs and some of Jamaica's vicious crimes. Many of Jamaica's most notorious bad men have been known to rely on charms for 'protection'. "Unconscionable evil" and "senseless acts of violence" is how President Obama describes the US mass shootings and we have described many of our most vicious and revolting crimes. But are they really senseless?
Some people believe in Satan and some don't. But almost everybody believes in scientific investigation. The least we could do in the United States and in Jamaica is to investigate whether there is, in fact, any pattern of links between proclaimed attachments to Satanism and those horrendous crimes of destroying human lives which so distress us. It is neither scientific nor sensible to dismiss portions of the evidence out of which solutions may come.
And, as far as I am concerned, there is no social, natural - or spiritual - phenomenon that pride or prejudice or sheer ignorance should be allowed to excuse from investigation.
Martin Henry is a communication specialist. Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.