First of all I’m not trying to excuse the actions of someone who may be a serial killer but to understand it and figure out how to prevent similar activities like this in the future. The typical way of handling this and any other murder is to find someone to blame and to decide what type of punishment to give him without making much if any attempt to find out what the cause is and to figure out how to avoid future atrocities like this in the future. Skipping the research portion of this guarantees that more atrocities will happen in the future; after all if the way to solve these problems was to simply punish them after the fact as a deterrent to future criminals it would have worked by now, since we’ve been using this tactic for thousands of years.
Furthermore, I don’t believe that this is intentionally being used as divide and rule tactics by most those in power; I suspect it is more likely that it may be a result of negligence and prejudicial beliefs combined with the suppression of the best research when it comes to preventing violence and the promotion of demagogues, like Nancy Grace, that are constantly demonizing poor people that commit crimes. However, the most powerful segments of the establishment don’t look for solutions to social problems when it contradicts their ideological beliefs and political agendas therefore whether it is intentional or not the result is the same. The killer is demonized without any attempt to find out why he did it and complex contributing factors are suppressed when it interferes with those in power and divisions may be made that increase their hold on power.
The way Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is handling this is typical of the lack of research that is put into this. “He gets a thrill out of it,’’ Rackauckas said. “This is a serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area.’’ (DA says suspect killed homeless for the ‘thrill’ Boston Globe) In most cases this is the way this is handled; he is declared to be a psychopath by the DA and perhaps the defense attempts to raise mitigating circumstances that would decrease his sentence or avoid the death penalty, assuming he can’t get an acquittal. Little or no attempt is made to find the contributing causes to the crimes and find out how to prevent it; at least by the most powerful members of the political establishment and the Mass Media. Other researchers do find many steps that can be taken to prevent these solutions but the Mass Media often portrays them as “liberals” if they acknowledge them at all then they give much more attention to the demagogues.
The two things that caught my attention about this story was the fact that it involved the killing of homeless people, who are an easy target and the unusual name, Itzcoatl Ocampo, which sounded like some of the names from pre-Columbian history including Aztec or Mayan. A quick search confirmed this and also turned up a blog by someone who did what I would consider a much better job addressing this story than the Mass Media and he also wrote some of the same things that I might have written.
Greg Diamond’s assumption that his parents took great pride in their pre-Columbian history is reinforced by the fact that they also named his brother Mixcoatl Ocampo, presumably, after an Aztec God. This doesn’t mean that they have the same heritage as the Aztecs since it was destroyed and Americanized since Hernando Cortés conquered Meso-America relying on divide and rule tactics and taking advantage of Aztec myths, whether he realized it or not, that may have led the Aztecs to believe he was a returning God, Quetzalcoatl.
According to an article from the Daily Mail Before he went to Iraq he was a caring man who helped the homeless. Today the same Marine vet is set to face charges of stabbing four homeless men to death. This conclusion seems to be based largely on statements from his family, who don’t seem to be denying his guilt although it hasn’t been proven yet.
The assumption that there is one and only one cause that turned someone bad is almost always a false assumption; however this is worth considering as a major contributing factor; although I doubt if it should be considered the leading contributing factor. I suspect that a statistical study might indicate that there are many more veterans that turn into murders when they come home than most of us would want to believe. Additional high profile murderers that have seen military activity or at least training and turned into murders include Timothy Mcveigh , John Allen Muhammad , Nidal Malik Hasan , Richard Ramirez’s cousin Michael who killed his wife in front of Richard and was sentenced to a mental hospital due partially to his military record, and Jeffrey R. MacDonald. This small sample is not statistically representative of the military, Chalmers Johnson has provided a larger sample in his Blowback trilogy; however this isn’t statistically representative either and the examples are mixed in the books that were written primarily for another purpose; but it does indicate that there are more of these problems than most people are aware of and a statistical study would be worthwhile.
A relatively quick search on the internet doesn’t turn up many studies like that; in order for an academic study like that to happen they would have to get financing from somewhere and it is possible that this could be difficult to do since the subject is so controversial. In addition to these veterans, and many more who have turned into killers there have of course been many incidents where veterans have been involved in atrocities while in the line of duty including, the following stories, U.S. troops 'urinating on dead Afghan bodies' , Soldier found guilty of murdering Afghans, sentenced to life , the Abu Ghraib scandal , and the My Lai Massacre.
This is actually a relatively small sample of the incidents involving military veterans but it should be enough to indicate that a more in-depth study is warranted; however on a rare occasions where a study has been done there has been an enormous amount of criticism as indicated when Janet Napolitano released a report and Republicans criticize the report on extremists. We have an enormous amount of propaganda telling us that our veterans are heroes that they are saving us but a closer look may indicate that that isn’t always the case. In many cases they aren’t even fighting for the right cause due to the fact that our government has an incredibly long history of starting wars based on lies. Whether the justification for war is true or not they’re trained to obey orders and they’re taught how to fight and kill when they're told to; it isn’t easy to teach someone to kill when and only when they’re told to especially when the leaders that start the wars are routinely lying about the causes they’re fighting for.
One of the respondents to Greg Diamond’s blog, M, said “The Military has got to do a better job of screening people who may be too weak minded to endure the trials of war. The Military has got to do a better job in weeding out men and women who may need mental health help, after they come back from war.” (For more of her comments in context see the blog cited above.) This may sound good, to many; however when you consider what the military has to do and the fact that many of the characteristics that make people good soldiers may be the same characteristics that make them potential killers it may not be easy or even possible in all cases especially when they have to recruit and enormous amount of people for all the wars they keep fighting.
This has been demonstrated by several studies or books including the trilogy by Chalmers Johnson already cited and “No More Heroes” by Richard Gabriel. the people least likely to be traumatized by war are those that have already become psychopathic as indicated in the passage, “There is no such thing as getting used to combat. Nevertheless, studies of World War II soldiers revealed that about 2 percent do not collapse. But these men are already mad for most of them were aggressive psychopathic personalities before they entered battle. It is only the sane who break down.” (Richard Gabriel “No More Heroes” p. 87) The implied assumption by the family of Itzcoatl Ocampo seems to be that the military and his actions in Iraq are the primary, or perhaps sole, cause for his turning into a murder. As I indicated I doubt if this is the case and Dorothy Otnow Lewis author of Guilty by Reason of Insanity may agree; she has indicated that after studying many cases and doing an in depth look into the background of people convicted of violent crimes that she has always found some type of abuse in early childhood. Additional researchers including Alice Miller and Lonnie Athens have come to similar conclusions.
All of this is highly speculative though at this point; to the best of my knowledge a thorough research effort hasn’t been made into the past of Itzcoatl Ocampo; however by looking at a large psychological patterns that have developed with many different subjects including some that have been much better researched it may help to improve the reliability of the speculation that is done on any given incident. This doesn’t mean it would be right to come to final conclusions before the research is done but much more could be done than the Mass Media typically does before they start highlighting things on shows like Nancy Grace, which probably should be considered negligently incompetent at best.
One example of a past incident that has been researched in much more depth is Butch and Willie Bosket which was reported in “All God's Children” by Fox Butterfield. Fox Butterfield researches the history of the Bosket family going back at least to the ninetieth century and covers material that could go a long way to explaining how violence is taught from an early age and passed down from one generation to another. Fox Butterfield is not a psychologist that covers psychological research into individual cases and studies how they think, he is an investigative reporter that researches history and news, most widely known for his participation in the Pentagon Papers. However some additional information on the material that he doesn’t cover can be found from other sources including Murray A. Straus author of “Beating the Devil out of Them”, Alice Miller author of “For Your Own Good” and Philip Greven author of “Spare the Child.” These authors do a lot of research to explain how violence is taught from birth and how it escalates. Once people understand how violence is taught at an early age and then it escalates later in life then it is easier to see that the main causes of violence, presumable including Itzcoatl Ocampo, Butch and Willie Bosket, starts with the early education and abuse from childhood that often escalates later in life in activities that include bullying in school or military action that could include the activities that took place in Iraq for Itzcoatl Ocampo. For a better example of how it may have escalated, in the case of the Bosket’s see the following excerpts from Butterfield’s book.
A close look at Fox Butterfield’s book may indicate that the immediate cause to the violent disposition of both Willie and Butch may have been caused by the violent upbringing and what Lonnie Athens refers to as violent coaching by the people that raised him but it was combined with a system that has a long history of treating minorities as second class citizens and the violent coaching can be traced back several generations to where it was learned by the violence in the south where slave owners abused their slaves and the slaves turned around and took it out on those that couldn’t fight back, often their families. This may not sound very good to many people that quickly dismiss the argument that “it’s society’s fault,” but that argument is over simplified and although it isn’t entirely true it isn’t entirely false either.
When children are raised in an authoritarian manner they often build up an enormous amount of anger and if they can’t take it out on the authority figure that often abuses them they often take it out on those without political power that can’t fight back. This is essentially what they’re being taught by example when the authority figure uses punishment and abusive behavior to teach a child from an early age to behave the way they’re told without question from an early age. The same thing happens with Caucasian children when they’re taught by bigoted parents that they should obey orders and that many things are the fault of the minorities.
This doesn’t guarantee that Itzcoatl Ocampo was raised in the same manner but there is a strong possibility that there may be many similarities and if they were raised differently then it would be worth further investigation to find out what was different and what different contributing causes occurred that could be addressed in the future. Even without additional information we have enough to indicate that there are probably many similarities including the fact that both the Boskets and Itzcoatl Ocampo were raised in minority families that had less economic opportunities than many Caucasian people. In both cases their original culture was destroyed hundreds of years ago and a new one was developed that may have involved the suppression of their rights and they may have both learned to take out their anger or those with less political power than they had. This is extremely common and it is established at an early age when parents use corporal punishment to teach them to behave. When this happens children learn that they should respond to force and when they want to get their own way the way to do it may also be with force. Whether Itzcoatl Ocampo was Mexican or Aztec he almost certainly didn’t have the same opportunities that most Caucasians do especially if they’re raised in an affluent family.
In addition to living in poverty many Mexicans have to worry about finding a place to live legally where they can find reasonable opportunities. The current debate in the mainstream media about immigration does little, if anything, to consider the point of view of the immigrants who’re born in places where there are few opportunities to get ahead. They come to the US illegally in many cases because there are few other opportunities. Many American’s simply decide not to take this into consideration and the lack of discussion about it in the MSM makes it much easier to continue this option; however the immigrants have no choice. They know full well that they have much fewer opportunities than Caucasians born in the USA simply because of who they are and where they’re born. In many cases they come from countries where there is an enormous amount of political turmoil and the tyrannical regimes have often been supported by the US government so this has often made it much harder for them to get immigration status as political refugees since the US can’t do that without openly admitting that the governments that they’ve been supporting for decades have been oppressive; a couple of the worst examples of this are El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Whether it is in Central America or in the US the American corporations have been looking for cheap labor any way they can get it for a long time and this has often involved taking advantage of those with little if any political power. In Central America they’ve relied on despots to maintain power and in the US they rely on the use of illegal aliens that have few opportunities to provide cheap labor. They know they can take advantage of them due to their status as an illegal alien. This involves maintaining a blatant double standard where the country that pretends to protect the rights of the free world is routinely enabling corporations to infringe on them.
The use of divide and rule tactics have gone back centuries and they’ve developed and changed gradually. Howard Zinn provides a good description about how they were used starting at least as early as the seventeenth century in the following excerpts:
This is an indication of the early stages that were sued to escalate prejudicial beliefs and as I have indicated in a previous blog about the Cause and Effect of Hatred these prejudicial beliefs are often passed down from one generation to the next. Prejudiced people are often much more inclined to come to quick conclusions without considering many of the contributing factors to complex problems. People like Willie Bosket are forced to live with the system that is controlled by people that don’t take his views into consideration. Minorities and other people with little if any political power routinely have to live with all the unfairness in the system, so they can’t ignore it.
The voices on the Mass Media don’t do much if anything to truly get their points of view or allow better educated people that try to express their point of views in a more sincere manner that people can understand. There are plenty of people that are willing to address the public with many more views than what the Mass Media presents but the control of the Mass Media is in the hands of a very small percentage of the public and they base their decisions on who can speak primarily on what will make the most profit selling ads. Attempts to provide educational material on TV are down right pathetic; the so-called experts, like Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew, that they provide aren’t nearly as credible or competent as many experts that can be found in many libraries or colleges around the country. I could create a long list of academic researchers starting with a few of the ones I mentioned on this page already that could do a much better job educating the public about the root causes of crime and how to prevent it but they have little or no opportunity to address the vast majority of the public.
There is a small percentage of the public that routinely reads a lot of non-fiction books and gets a reasonably good education and learns how to think for themselves about these subjects who know how to find these sources but the vast majority of the public relies on other experts in their own lives who may or may not be very good; but the vast majority of other people rely on the Mass Media and the atrocious propaganda that they pass off as news. This amounts primarily to demagoguery or incomplete reporting that doesn’t do much if anything to educate the public. In many case they often use their media power to discredit the most rational educators when they provide research that the ideologues don’t like; the reaction to the report put out by Janet Napolitano is just one of many examples of how rational research is discredited without actually addressing the details in the report. The problem with the criticism isn’t necessarily that they disagreed with it but that they didn’t even try to understand it; if they at least looked at the details and figured out where they had their objections they might have some legitimate complaint but instead they acted with self riotous indignation and presented an enormous amount of propaganda without addressing the details in the report or the fact that there are an enormous amount of veterans that are turning violent wither on duty or after they’re discharged.
Shows like Nancy Grace and Jane Valez-Mitchell routinely stir up emotions about people they refer to as “sickos” on a regular basis and they’re entitled to an enormous amount of air time to promote their books which are probably as bad as their shows but rational qualified researchers are almost completely boycotted by the Mass Media. When ever someone complains about the quality of this kind of programming they start calling it censorship; however they fail to mention the fact that they’re the ones that have been the real censors. If they allowed a portion of the time they give to these demagogues to go to researchers like Murray Straus, Philip Greven, James Garbarino and many other more sincere academic sources then their cries of censorship might have a minimum amount of legitimacy.
As it stands the only ones that have any access to the corporate media are those that help them increase their profits regardless of how qualified they are as academic researchers. Nancy grace, Jane Valez-Mitchell and others cater to emotional people that are much more susceptible to deceptive advertising so they have much more access to the Mass Media than James Garbarino who has, at times criticized the Mass Media including the following excerpts.
Criticism like this is almost completely suppressed from the Mass Media. If you want to find this you have to look on your own from other sources; although at times the Mass Media provides a token amount of criticism that is carefully selected and for the most part incompetent and easy for them to ridicule or dismiss. Additional academics on similar subjects are also banned from the Mass Media including Roy Fox who exposed the propaganda by Channel One in Schools in “Harvesting Minds and Susan Linn who did additional research on marketing to kids in “Consuming Kids.” The result is that we have an enormous amount of propaganda designed to manipulate the public in the most effective way possible for profit regardless of what it does to society when it comes to many social issues.
This inevitably leads to an enormous amount of prejudicial beliefs like the ones that Greg Diamond pointed out on his Blog which involves people from the lower or middle classes arguing amongst themselves looking for someone to blame without addressing the more complex contributing causes to violence like the murders that may have been committed by Itzcoatl Ocampo and many others without finding the real causes and addressing them.
While this goes on there are an enormous amount of special interest that manage to make large short term profits off of crime but the vast majority of the public pays the price. The companies that make profits without contributing to larger solutions that address the root causes include the Mass Media that sells advertising, private prison institutions that are growing in the political world, home security companies that convince those that have enough money that the solution to their problems is to secure their own property witho00ut addressing other situations, this includes gated communities that isolate many wealthy people with political power and increase the distance between the poor. These gated communities also have the result of preventing those with political power from coming into contact with people that understand many of the issues that could reduce crime and increases the probability that important decisions are often made with incomplete or prejudicial information.
The same goes for just about any given subject including child labor (photos and articles), children and land mines (photos and articles), or potential environmental apocalypse (blog): when ever the best interest of the vast majority of the public interferes with the short term profits for the corporations the most powerful institutions including the political parties that are supported by bribes thinly disguised as campaign contributions from corporations; the Mass media that is supported by adverting from corporations; and in many cases even colleges that have also been heavily influenced by political appointees like John Silber, William Bulger, Lawrence Summers author of the infamous memo about exporting polution and many others.
The subject is more complex than many people seem to imply and it is difficult to describe all the solutions in one blog but by at least trying to organize some of the contributing causes and then trying to address them major steps in the right direction can be taken.
This can’t happen while the most powerful institutions are controlled by some of the most corrupt and greediest people in our society. While it may be necessary to refute those that express prejudicial beliefs in the lower or middle classes it isn’t nearly as important as reforming the system so that sincere people have some say in how decisions are being made which is one of the reasons why we need Election Reform controlled by the public and and an Educational Revolution or something similar to it.
(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)