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Old 04-04-2019, 07:30 PM
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Do rampage killers regret trading a life in prison for a brief political/ideological statement?


Mods: I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. Perhaps it's better in IMHO.

In light of the recent Christchurch shooting, it's blatant that the killer wanted to show the world what he can do and wanted to make a very public statement. He did this (presumably) knowing that he would be either killed or imprisoned for life. He also did this (presumably) knowing that it would not bring about any of the changes he'd like (e.g. changes to New Zealand's immigration policy).
At the time, he clearly decided that it was a worthwhile tradeoff.

However, what about 20, 30, 40 years from now, if he has spent decades in a maximum-security prison? Society will have largely forgotten about the shooting, and who the shooter was -- and yet, he will still be in prison, his life ruined.

It seems obvious to me that, regardless of your political/ideological view, making a brief, ineffectual statement is not worth the trade of being imprisoned for decades.

Thus, I'm curious if there are follow-up stories with mass murderers many years later that show whether they tend to regret trading decades of their freedom for a few moments of ideological statement.

Of course, the killers would have to have survived the event, which typically isn't the case (Las Vegas shooting, Orlando shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, etc.). Dead perpetrators cannot regret. The only surviving ones I can think of are the Norwegian and Port Arthur killers.
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Old 04-04-2019, 08:17 PM
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Timothy McVeigh may not be a rampage killer, but I think he may fit your idea. He was unrepentant right up to the execution if I remember right. Of course, the execution was yet another stage for him to preach his message from and on which to martyr himself. So it's not the same as rotting for decades, forgotten.
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Old 04-04-2019, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
Thus, I'm curious if there are follow-up stories with mass murderers many years later that show whether they tend to regret trading decades of their freedom for a few moments of ideological statement.
Allow me to point out that obtaining a factual answer to that question would require somebody's giving some nonzero fraction of a shit about what these evil worthless wastes of oxygen think and feel concerning their own disgusting contemptible crimes.

I submit that this would not be a worthwhile use of time for anybody with the opportunity to engage in any of the innumerable and infinitely more productive other activities open to humanity, including marathon viewings of grass growing in real time, or scratching the first million digits of pi in the sand of beaches at low tide.
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Old 04-04-2019, 09:11 PM
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There's Judith Alice Clark, who drove the getaway car in the 1981 Brink's robbery carried out by the Black Liberation Army. She finally apologized in 2016, was denied parole in 2017, and will be eligible for parole again this year.

On the other hand. . .

He wasn't a murderer but Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. If I read the timeline correctly, for about the first 23 of those years there wasn't much going on in South Africa to give him any hope he'd see change, and actually turned down offers to be freed if he'd go quietly.

William Gilday was a member of the Weather Underground who was sent to prison for killing a police officer during a bank robbery to get funds for the group, then taking the cops on one of the biggest chases in New England's history, When he was dying after being imprisoned for more than 40 years, the most he could come up with was a lame-ass “I wish we never would have gone to the bank that day,’’ and “I’m terribly sorry that [the officer] got shot, and that on behalf of myself and other people concerned, I would ask [the family] to accept my heartfelt condolences.’’
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Old 04-04-2019, 09:19 PM
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Joseph Paul Franklin, white supremacist, serial killer sniper, and also the guy that shot Larry Flynt seems to fit your criteria, he reportedly renounced his racist views before his execution:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Paul_Franklin
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Last edited by pool; 04-04-2019 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 04-04-2019, 10:14 PM
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Allow me to point out that obtaining a factual answer to that question would require somebody's giving some nonzero fraction of a shit about what these evil worthless wastes of oxygen think and feel concerning their own disgusting contemptible crimes.

I submit that this would not be a worthwhile use of time for anybody with the opportunity to engage in any of the innumerable and infinitely more productive other activities open to humanity, including marathon viewings of grass growing in real time, or scratching the first million digits of pi in the sand of beaches at low tide.
I don't (necessarily) agree. If, years later, these killers are shown to have realized the futility, stupidity and self-defeating outcome of their actions, it might help to dissuade other would-be killers.

Edit: ... and if not, it may further help to understand that mass killings aren't the result of short-lived mentalities, but are a deep-seated, long-living ideological belief.

I also hate the idea of giving attention to someone who so desperately craves it for monstrous behaviour. But it's not about them, it's about using the knowledge for the betterment of tomorrow's society.

Last edited by Smudge777; 04-04-2019 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Additional thoughts
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Old 04-04-2019, 10:30 PM
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It would be interesting to know if Ted Kaczynski regrets giving up his freedom. I don’t think anyone bought off on his mafifesto.

The thing is that many of these assholes are kooks... the rest would probably lie about their thoughts.
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Old 04-05-2019, 01:05 AM
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I've long wondered what Jack Ruby got out of doing his bad deed. I just can't imagine why he done it. (Please do not bring up conspiracy theories. Nor complaints about my grammar.)
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Old 04-05-2019, 01:39 AM
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Whilst the public at large will forget about their misdeeds, within the prison environment they may still retain notoriety and status. After 20 years that prison environment will be the whole world to them and perhaps enough to sustain their sense of self importance.
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Old 04-05-2019, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
Of course, the killers would have to have survived the event, which typically isn't the case (Las Vegas shooting, Orlando shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, etc.). Dead perpetrators cannot regret. The only surviving ones I can think of are the Norwegian and Port Arthur killers.
Wait a minute: Are you talking about people who do something that they expect will get them caught and convicted, or just anyone?

Because Kaczynski, for example, had no intention of "trading a life prison . . ." He was doing everything he could to evade capture, and presumably didn't want to make only a "brief political/ideological statement," but rather wanted to engage in a prolonged revolution and propaganda campaign.

It seems like two different typologies are getting conflated here.
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Old 04-05-2019, 02:30 AM
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Whatever about their public statements, I would have little doubt that at least at some point these guys will be laying in their cell, having a really shitty Saturday morning and missing their freedom, and privately wishing they just hadn't bothered with that whole plan 10/20/30 years ago.

Its simple human nature. They might never believe that they were wrong, but nobody can remain constantly self-righteous 24/7, and with decades in jail to think about it then there surely will be times that they doubt themselves and if it was all worth it.
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Old 04-05-2019, 03:51 AM
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It rather supports the case against the death penalty, doesn't it. The "rampage killer" who is executed, gets a second bite at the cherry so to speak. In jail, apart from fanatics with similar ambitions, I doubt that someone who kills in this way would gain much respect, and would soon become a nonentity. It's not as if they are 'tough' guys without their weapons.

I fully support the idea that their name should not be used in the publicity.

Last edited by bob++; 04-05-2019 at 03:53 AM.
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Old 04-05-2019, 04:20 AM
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It rather supports the case against the death penalty, doesn't it. The "rampage killer" who is executed, gets a second bite at the cherry so to speak. In jail, apart from fanatics with similar ambitions, I doubt that someone who kills in this way would gain much respect, and would soon become a nonentity. It's not as if they are 'tough' guys without their weapons.

I fully support the idea that their name should not be used in the publicity.
They are very well respected in prison. The crime committed gives them status. Prisons are full of fanatics with similar ambitions.
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:39 AM
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Australian spree killer Julian Knight, who gunned down a random assortment of innocent motorists for no particular reason in 1987, has been spending his copious free time in prison ever since dreaming up things to sue the prison authorities for. Apparently this is the way his pathological desire to fuck around with people manifests itself, when the only way he can do so is by wasting their time.

The motivation appears to be "I am important when I can make people pay attention to me". Prison hasn't apparently gotten in the way of that ambition, only changed its expression, and he can comfort himself in the knowledge that people are still (occasionally) talking about 'the Hoddle St Killer' decades later. There appears to be no regret there. If he hadn't killed people, he wouldn't be famous.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:12 AM
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I've long wondered what Jack Ruby got out of doing his bad deed. I just can't imagine why he done it. (Please do not bring up conspiracy theories. Nor complaints about my grammar.)
Jack apparently considered himself a hero for killing Oswald to the very end. For some folks, a mantra of absolute denial is how they sustain themselves.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
It seems obvious to me that, regardless of your political/ideological view, making a brief, ineffectual statement is not worth the trade of being imprisoned for decades.

Thus, I'm curious if there are follow-up stories with mass murderers many years later that show whether they tend to regret trading decades of their freedom for a few moments of ideological statement.
I think there may be an "observer effect" problem here.

Because any time someone does a follow-up story many years later, they're giving the guy another platform for his "statement" that he only has by virtue of his rampage. So at that particular time he's going to be feeling the "positive" results of his act, and will be less remorseful.

The question is how the guy feels when he's been living a humdrum life in prison for years and no one is paying attention to him or his sensational actions. But it's hard to know that.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:14 AM
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Somewhere an insane looser is reading this, and thinking, "Wow! I wonder how many people I would have to kill to get a thread of my own on the Straight Dope?"

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Old 04-05-2019, 12:03 PM
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At least some subset of rampage killer types appear to believe their acts will provoke a response that will exacerbate or hasten a coming conflict they see as inevitable. This appears to be a claim of the Christchurch a-hole )(whether he actually believes it is unknown to me). He wanted to provoke alt-right conflict he sees as inevitable in the US.

While the vast majority of killers with such beliefs are wildly wrong and no conflict ever comes, every once in a blue moon one appears to be correct -- a conflict is indeed coming, and their act may hasten its arrival. What am I talking about? here's the example I have in mind:

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Old 04-05-2019, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Smudge777 View Post
Thus, I'm curious if there are follow-up stories with mass murderers many years later that show whether they tend to regret trading decades of their freedom for a few moments of ideological statement.

Of course, the killers would have to have survived the event, which typically isn't the case (Las Vegas shooting, Orlando shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, etc.). Dead perpetrators cannot regret. The only surviving ones I can think of are the Norwegian and Port Arthur killers.
Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson, the juvenile shooters in the 1998 Westside Middle School shooting in Jonesboro, AK, are not only alive but where released from custody on their 21st birthdays. Golden applied for a concealed carry permit in 2008 under the (legally changed) name Drew Douglas Grant. Mitchell Johnson has been arested several time for non-violent drug, theft, and weapons possession charges. It doesn’t seem that either is particularly remorseful for their actions, which were clearly not ideologically motivated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Allow me to point out that obtaining a factual answer to that question would require somebody's giving some nonzero fraction of a shit about what these evil worthless wastes of oxygen think and feel concerning their own disgusting contemptible crimes.

I submit that this would not be a worthwhile use of time for anybody with the opportunity to engage in any of the innumerable and infinitely more productive other activities open to humanity, including marathon viewings of grass growing in real time, or scratching the first million digits of pi in the sand of beaches at low tide.
It is of use to cognitive scientists studying factors that predetermine people to commit this kind of wholly unwarranted and atavistic violence. It is well understood that while environmental factors such as abuse and neglect can contribute to the kind of isolation and alienation that leads to violent antisocial behavior, there are evidently genetic or congenital factors which contribute, and understanding these better in order to predict and take preventative action.

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He wasn't a murderer but Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. If I read the timeline correctly, for about the first 23 of those years there wasn't much going on in South Africa to give him any hope he'd see change, and actually turned down offers to be freed if he'd go quietly.
It is tempting to try to lump together the different motivations into the same bag based upon commonalities in outcomes but Mandela’s altruism in sacrificing his liberty to oppose apartheid is scarcely comparable in any way to a spree shooter or even a supposed ideologue like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Mandela had rational reasons for his opposition to South African apartheid, which was genuinely oppressive and for which there was no lawful remedy. McVeigh and Nichols were motivated by a largely basis hatred and belief in unfounded conspiracy theories. Most spree shooters seek a degee of public recognition and infamy. Ted Kaczynski is clearly demonstrating from some kind of schitzoaffective disorder. Arguing that they are all the same because apparently sacrificial behavior is like attributing all cases of obesity to a single cause. In many cases, the reasons for a spree shooting are simply not rational, at least in terms of achieving a political statement or personal goal; they are the actions of a person who is heedless of personal safety in pursuit of wanting to be seen or remembered as significant regardless of stated motivation. The causes behind this radical antisocial violence cannot be parsed in terms of logic and reason, hence the need to better understand the behavior from a root neuroaffective cause.

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Old 04-05-2019, 03:35 PM
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There is the phenomenon of Amok, which suggests that such rampages transcend culture. To what extent American spree killers suffer from this or whether it's merely nihilist narcissism is anyone's guess.
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:36 PM
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Somewhere an insane looser is reading this, and thinking, "Wow! I wonder how many people I would have to kill to get a thread of my own on the Straight Dope?"

Tris
Martin Bryant, Tasmania
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Bryant
Stupid insane looser who apparently just wanted to be a famous killer.

His 'status' in jail is that they had him in protective custody, because the jails are full of people who think that the way to be loved and get status is by killing somebody like Martin Bryant.

And apart from the other prisoners, he's surrounded by prison guards, who, not to put too fine a point on it, are people who think that prisoners should be punished, and who think that the way to be loved and get status is by treating prisoners like Martin Bryant with contempt.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Allow me to point out that obtaining a factual answer to that question would require somebody's giving some nonzero fraction of a shit about what these evil worthless wastes of oxygen think and feel concerning their own disgusting contemptible crimes.

I submit that this would not be a worthwhile use of time for anybody with the opportunity to engage in any of the innumerable and infinitely more productive other activities open to humanity, including marathon viewings of grass growing in real time, or scratching the first million digits of pi in the sand of beaches at low tide.
Plenty of people give some nonzero fraction of a shit about understanding the mentality of spree killers, as evidenced by the fact that someone posted a thread about it, and someone else gave an earnest, on-topic reply. Such understanding, as others have pointed out, could hopefully lead to preventing future spree killings. If you do not wish to participate in that discussion, then you don't need to, but others may if they choose. This is an official Warning for threadshitting.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:51 PM
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It is tempting to try to lump together the different motivations into the same bag based upon commonalities in outcomes but Mandela’s altruism in sacrificing his liberty to oppose apartheid is scarcely comparable in any way to a spree shooter or even a supposed ideologue like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Mandela had rational reasons for his opposition to South African apartheid, which was genuinely oppressive and for which there was no lawful remedy. McVeigh and Nichols were motivated by a largely basis hatred and belief in unfounded conspiracy theories. Most spree shooters seek a degee of public recognition and infamy. Ted Kaczynski is clearly demonstrating from some kind of schitzoaffective disorder. Arguing that they are all the same because apparently sacrificial behavior is like attributing all cases of obesity to a single cause. In many cases, the reasons for a spree shooting are simply not rational, at least in terms of achieving a political statement or personal goal; they are the actions of a person who is heedless of personal safety in pursuit of wanting to be seen or remembered as significant regardless of stated motivation. The causes behind this radical antisocial violence cannot be parsed in terms of logic and reason, hence the need to better understand the behavior from a root neuroaffective cause.

Stranger
Stranger, this is an important and well-stated rebuttal to me. I was attempting to find an example of someone who had spent a long time in prison and never regretted their actions. You're right, though, that Mandela was not a good example.

The real problem with the OP's question is that it's hard to find a mass murderer who actually lived long enough to stand trial and:

a) claimed a political motive

b) was imprisoned and stayed alive for "20, 30, 40 years"

c) is on the record as having either regretted or not regretted their actions and

d) isn't batcrap crazy.

That last one is a really high hurdle, because it immediately throws out murderers like Charles Manson and Colin Ferguson.
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Old 04-06-2019, 08:27 PM
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I’ve often wondered what Mcveigh would have thought of the 9/11 attackers, had he lived long enough.
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Old 04-07-2019, 04:30 AM
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Some regret it without even going to prison. ETA's list of victims include their former operative Yoyes. Several ETA prisoners have eventually expressed regret for their actions.

One of the guys involved in the 11-M murders in Madrid has expressed his regret.

In the Spanish prison system, expressing regret can lead to benefits such as being moved closer to home (ETA's prisoners are purposefully kept away from the Basque areas, from their families and from each other) or being allowed leave. But if you commit a crime of a similar nature again, you won't see the nice side of a benefit until your grandchildren's grandchildren graduate from their doctoral degrees.

Last edited by Nava; 04-07-2019 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 04-07-2019, 08:08 AM
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Recently there's been news reports about Brenda Spencer being up for parole again. As a 16 year-old she committed a ~school shooting in 1979 in San Diego resulting in 2 dead. (Unfortunately these new reports seem to stem from the Daily Fail.)

A comment she made to a reporter inspired the Boomtown Rats' song I Don't Like Mondays. She is supposed to have said that she's happy that the song made her famous.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:35 PM
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There's Judith Alice Clark, who drove the getaway car in the 1981 Brink's robbery carried out by the Black Liberation Army. She finally apologized in 2016, was denied parole in 2017, and will be eligible for parole again this year.
Quote:
Former 1960s radical Judith Clark has been granted parole after serving almost 38 years for her role in the 1981 robbery and murders of two Nyack police officers and a Brinks armored car guard.

The 2-1 decision follows Clark's parole hearing earlier this month — her second try for freedom since Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted her 75-years-to-life sentence to 35 years to life in December 2016.
https://www.lohud.com/story/news/loc...rs/3494841002/
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