Moral Decay Begets Mass Killings

Many believe the epidemic of mass public killings largely stems from easy access to guns. But that can’t be right, because mass killings – whether carried out with guns, bombs, planes or other weapons – used to be a rarity in America even though guns were easy to come by.

What changed in America? What led to the era of mass killings? Scratch guns off the list, because they always have been around. In fact, it used to be even easier to buy a gun than it is now – no background checks required – yet people didn’t go around massacring just for the sake of it.

Preventing them from doing so was a stronger sense of morals, propriety, decency, respect for family, respect for life, and respect for God.

The 1960s are widely viewed as a time of accelerated moral decline in America. Recreational drug use, divorce, premarital sex, pornography, vulgarity, and violence shot up – in everyday life as well as in movies and TV. There was less of a sense of community and a sense of trust among citizens, and less involvement in civic and church groups.

It’s no coincidence that the 1960s were the beginning of the era of mass public killings, when in 1966 Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 31 with a high-powered rifle from atop a tower at the University of Texas. The declining morals of that decade resulted in more widespread depression, anger, resentment, and mental illness, and less respect for and sacredness of life. The more people affected by such ills of society, the more likely a tiny minority of them do what Charles Whitman did.

There had been mass killings in previous decades, but those typically were associated with simultaneous criminal activity (such as killings during robberies or gang killings) or with familicides. Those crimes are heinous enough. But there’s something even more heinous, even more evil about mass public killings of people who are unknown to the assailant.

While violent crime overall declined since 1980 (until this year, when homicides started to go back up in many cities), mass public killings have increased. In the 1970s there were an average of 1.1 mass public shootings per year, according to the Congressional Research Service. They rose to 2.7 in the 1980s, 4 in the 1990s, and 4.1 per year in the 2000s. (And these numbers don’t include the Timothy McVeigh or 9/11 terrorist attacks.) Such shootings have risen dramatically in the last five years, happening every 172 days on average since 1982 but every 64 days since mid-2011.

There’s of course a confluence of factors behind the rise in mass public killings. They include the influence of violent movies, TV shows and video games. The desire for fame – or more accurately infamy – is another motivation. The high divorce rate is a factor; most shooters come from broken homes. Another contributor are higher rates of mental illness, and, since the 1970s, a greater tendency to let dangerously mentally ill people roam free rather than commit them to institutions.

But I believe the biggest factor is the declining prevalence of Christianity and Judaism in America. In 1955 Christians constituted 92 percent of the U.S. population and Jews 4 percent. By 2014 the numbers had declined to 72 percent and 2 percent respectively. Far fewer of them attend religious services regularly.

In tandem with the retreat of Judeo-Christianity is the retreat of Judeo-Christian values. They include forgiveness, compassion, humility, generosity, self-control, nonviolence, love of God, love of neighbor, love of enemies, and renunciation of worldly values such as pleasure, status, and fame.

An absence of Judeo-Christianity is associated with a cheapening of human life. The atheist and agnostic worldview presupposes that life arose by pure chance; that we’re merely animals in a more evolved form, living on a tiny, insignificant planet amid the vast universe. Many are led to believe, what’s the point of life? So mass killers seek to end their own life, along with as many other lives as they can.

While mass public killings are correlated with a declining prevalence of Judeo-Christianity, such is not the case of course vis-à-vis all religions. Islam shares many of the same values as that of Christianity and Judaism such as charity, honesty, generosity, purity, and self-restraint. Unfortunately for some practitioners of that religion, exhortations to kill the “infidel” often win out.

The only way to curb the rise in mass public killings, in addition to slowed immigration, is a return to the aforementioned virtues that were once widely held in America.

(Originally published in

How a Movie Almost Wrecked a Life

liquor with pills

iStock/Getty images

The passing of Harold Ramis was big news today. The actor/writer/director wrote or co-wrote such classic comedies as National Lampoon’s Animal House, Stripes, and Ghostbusters. His talents certainly brought a lot of laughs and good cheer to America.

But there were downsides too. Just today I read an account told by a former alcoholic. It’s as-yet unpublished so I wish to respect his anonymity. At age 16 he saw Animal House. He really got turned on by John Belushi’s character, the hard-drinking, reckless and care-free slob that brought so many laughs to millions of Americans. Upon leaving the movie theater he decided to start drinking, in order to shed his mellow and upstanding image in favor of someone wild and crazy like Belushi. He said to himself, “I wanna be just like Belushi.”

That’s what he did, re-creating the Belushi experience for the following six years. They were miserable years. Often homeless and on the verge of suicide, he eventually landed in a psych ward, which shocked him into finally getting sober at age 22.

One wonders how many others were thus inspired by John Belushi’s character, and who never were so fortunate as to eventually get their life back on track.

And that was just one aspect of the movie. It also was a ground-breaking movie with regard to the amount of sex and sexual imagery it contained, influencing untold millions of young people into suppressing their raging hormones no longer. The resulting looser sexual mores and coarsening of the culture had to have been a contributing factor in the wreckage of families and relationships that so afflicts America today.

Co-star Dan Aykroyd wrote of Ramis’ passing, “May he now get the answers he was always seeking.” One wonders if those answers will include a full accounting of the impact of his movies on people’s lives, both for the better, and for the worse.

Monica Lewinsky: Both Victim and Transgressor

Looks like Monica Lewinsky is having a tough go of it these days; lonely, struggling with business, and afraid of going out for fear of insensitive comments from strangers.

She’s a victim of technology – mass communications that propelled her to instant fame. The type of thing she’s going through today never would have happened a hundred years ago when there was no TV or Internet. Few among the masses would have recognized her.

She’s also a victim of the philanderer Bill Clinton. Philandering is bad enough as it is, but doing it when you’re the president of the United States is a lot worse because of: the immense national security risks your exposing the country to (blackmail, etc.); the harm you’re doing to your country by derailing your presidential agenda (it is rumored that Clinton was considering taking up Social Security reform but put the kibosh on it due to the scandal); the terrible example you’re setting for your country’s citizens and especially its youth; and in Lewinsky’s case, the risk that you could permanently upend a young and naive girl’s life, which of course is what happened.

She’s a victim of the lax sexual mores of society today (and in the nineties). The people in our oversexualized media and culture who have no problem with casual sex and adultery foisted their values, or lack thereof, on the childhoods and adolescences of Lewinsky and countless millions of others. That rubbed off on Lewinsky, who had no problem with sex in the White House (a place that should be treated with the utmost reverence and respect), who had no problem with sex with a married man, and evidently gave no thought to hurting the wife and daughter of that man.

In addition to being a victim, Lewinsky was a transgressor. Even with the myriad influences mentioned above, when you get right down to it, she only has herself to blame. She’s got free will, and she could have chosen to not to even think about the possibility of having an affair with Clinton. Yet she did the opposite. In fact it was she who reportedly initiated the whole thing, decadently flashing her thong underwear to Clinton. Of course ol’ Bill jumped at the opportunity.

Millions of young people are resolute enough to delay gratification and steer well clear of casual sex, even while being bombarded by sexual influences in popular culture. But Lewinsky wasn’t among them. On the contrary, while interning at the White House, she helped perpetuate those influences.

Maybe she should take up a new calling in life – like teaching young people about the dangers of casual sex.