When Good People Attack
March 14, 2005

Without fail, there are two things America can be counted on to consistently produce: lazy individuals and "good people." It's a safe bet that a good percentage of America consists of your average non-littering, non-baby-seal-clubbing, charity-donating "good" person. Data has proven that Americans are big givers. In addition to this, we also feed the children, build habitats for humanity, seek international amnesty, give the world vision, treat animals ethically, and assemble corps of peace. And as if that weren't enough, we even recycle. Boy aren't we good!

Yet in all our "good doing," one has to wonder why we still can't shake this pesky crime problem.

Recently, the media has reported on the "goodness" of two very disturbed individuals. It seems that not only do bad things happen to "good people," but "good people" do bad things.

This past Friday, 33-year-old rape suspect Brian Nichols saw fit to exonerate himself by opening fire in an Atlanta courtroom, killing at least three people. While Nichols has mostly been painted as a heartless criminal by the media, his family is alleging that his character is completely the opposite of what's been depicted. Indeed, there is little evidence that Nichols is the hardened criminal that's been presented, save 1989-1990, when Nichols was arrested three separate times on the campus of his Eastern Pennsylvania university for harassment, disorderly conduct and such. Still, Nichols's family contends that he just "snapped." The AP reports:

Felisza Nichols says the portrait of her 33-year-old brother-in-law as a bloodthirsty killer doesn't make sense.

"He's a good person," she said. "He didn't come from a broken home. He's not a person who hung out in the streets and was always in jail. He came up living a good life."

Did you know that coming from a two-parent home automatically makes you a good person?--Apparently so does being a churchgoer.

Brookfield, Wisconsin citizens were recently deceived by a "do-gooder." The Saturday following Nichols's killing spree, 44-year-old Terry Ratzmann, described as a "buttoned-down churchgoer" opened fire on the congregation at the Living Church of God, killing seven people, wounding four others, and ultimately turning the gun on himself.

Did you know good people are cowards too? Fellow friends, neighbors and churchgoers were stunned. The AP reports:

None of those who knew him expected Ratzmann to be violent, though some said he had grappled with depression. Neighbors said he was quiet and devout, that he liked to tinker about his house and garden. He would even release the chipmunks caught in traps he set in his yard.
Because we all know that having an affinity for chipmunks means you are incapable of evil.

Thus far, news reports have come to many conclusions about Ratzmann's motivation. Some say he was provoked by the sermon, while others say he was depressed about recently losing his job. In one consistent vein however, every report thus far has drawn the conclusion that Ratzmann's churchgoer status automatically made him a "good person."

All this goodness, and yet we can't get to the tipping point of what is wrong with our society. It's America in a nutshell. We'd do ourselves well to attempt to come to some sort of resolution about the definition of "good." Unfortunately, it is a fruitless endeavor. In general, we have been very careful not to take the "morality conversation" too far. It is inevitable that any type of examination of right and wrong will eventually trace itself back to truth.

But no. Amid the neo-moralism of America, we prefer vague standards, non-existent principles, faulty status symbols, and imaginary lines to guide our society. We equate accomplishments and financial status to morality. The result is numbness to our conscience, one of the important built-in authorities resident in every human being.

Lack of moral accountability equals chaos. Yet, when our "good people" defrock their "goodness" we have the nerve to act surprised and baffled, when in actuality, we're in part responsible because we've fostered a society that both allows and encourages people to think going to church, graduating from college, and rescuing chipmunks
is enough.

It is disgraceful that lives must be lost in the wake of our morally relative society, but if nothing else, perhaps we will eventually see that "good" isn't good enough.

Posted by Ambra at March 14, 2005 11:20 PM in Life
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Let me be the first anal retentive to point out the 'amenesty' typo.

Woo.

And, agreed.

And the man alleged to be the BTK Killer was a Cub Scout leader. It happens- sociopaths live and work among us. Some of them go kablooey.

America, despite all its "goodness" has predominately become "Godless". Thus, the obvious (Bible warned) results.

Except the so-called religious also shoot up their churches or turn out to be serial killers (BTK). Glass houses, stones?

Except Dave is talking about relationship and you are talking about religiosity.

Pot, meet Kettle.

I think a key element is the lack of coping skills. Regardless of upbringing, there is constant evidence that too many men aren't capable of handling failure or rejection in relationships or jobs. It seems that everytime I look up, someone is dying or being assaulted behind a failed relationship or a lost job. I actually know someone who knew the guy in ATL and she had nothing but positive things to say about him and was devastated. Yet, he was on trial for raping his ex-girlfriend and the prospect of conviction set him off.

The man in Wisconsin, who killed 7, has not received the same type of press. Why was his spree any less sensational when more lives were taken?

It's ironic that they are crediting a young woman's faith for "soothing a savage beast" while it was a man of faith who killed 7 people.

I think we need to leave God out of both incidents and start addressing the fact that too many people cannot cope with life and see attacking and killing as the best way out.

Exactly Alex.

Quasan, the reality is, people cope because something is missing in their lives. What I alluded to in the post was in fact that something. Alex hit the nail on the head.

Oliver: Religion will never change our country.

If you are implying religion, I think we have numerous examples of that being as big of a contributor as it is an aid. To many it is a narcotic and that is hardly helpful ... hence Wisconsin. We do not address mental illness in this country nor are we teaching boys how to deal with their emotions.

So "good people" do bad things; your readers should focus on better means of screening these folks for nut case tendencies; in my experience the only ones who truly know what evil lurks in the hearts of men are God and for your really older readers, the Shadow.

Here's my post, along the same lines Ambra. I know all the about the church the Wisconsin guy went to.

http://shawna.blogs.com/shawnazlog/2005/03/living_church_o.html

"“No one is good–-except God alone." --Jesus Christ

"If I have never been a blackguard, the reason is a mixture of cowardice and the protection of civilized life." --Oswald Chambers

Ambra,

I have read your weblog faithfully for quite some time now. You have inspired me to start my own.

[b]Ambra,

I have read your weblog faithfully for quite some time now. You have inspired me to start my own.[/b]

Is there a commenter's template with these words in it?

Not trying to be persnickety (meh!), but I'm certain that I've seen people post these exact words on other blogs, with the name changed.

Family comments are worthless. Al Capone's mama probably told every reporter who called her that her Alphonse was a good boy. Frau Hitler, had she lived to see her son into adulthood probably would've said the same.

Qusan, you mentioned that, "We do not address mental illness in this country nor are we teaching boys how to deal with their emotions."

I wholeheartedly agree. As a 53-going-on-54 year-old curmudgeon, I feel particularly qualified to address that sentiment. As a mere slip of a lad (meaning, when I was just a kid), a pocketknife was required equipment! Boys ALWAYS had their pocket knife with them. Now, if you are caught playing "cowboys and indians", you are suspended, sent to special ed., go to sensitivity training, learn how to manage your anger, and learn all about diversity.

And to help you pay attention (especially if you are a boy), you are pumped full of drugs--you learn early on that you cannot survive without chemicals (until you turn 12 or 13--then you find out drugs are bad, since you now have to submit to random drug testing just to play football, be a cheerleader, or join (ironically) Students Against Drunk Driving).

My buddy would throw the baseball bat at me; I would catch it, he would place his right hand above mine, I would respond in kind, he would, and on and on, until one of us would top the bat. He who topped had first choice for his team. Try that now. No adult supervision? Ain't gonna happen.

These are just the tiniest tip of the iceburg. I could go on and on, but perhaps this makes my point.

Jim Shawley

Oh, and Timothy, you hit the nail on the head.

Actually, you didn't--*HE* did.

I have already heard the MSM unapologetically suggest that because the BTK killer was a Boy Scout leader the Boy Scouts should be disbanded.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

The problem is sin. Plain and simple. Living a "good" lifestyle is something we all hope to attain, and that is a noble goal. But all of the "morality" in the world is not going to change the fact that we are sinners, and without Christ, we have no way to dispose of our human nature. "Morality," a decent upbringing, and "church-ianity" does not cleanse us from our sinfulness. To think so is naive at best.

Religion will never change our country.
Amen.

James: care to cite an actual source for that?

Maybe I am in the minority, but I hurt for these men, their victims and the families and friends of their victims. I will offer this as a reason why we humans have such a hard time coping with sin and its wages: we weren't created to sin, so we weren't equipped to effectively handle the consequences. For me, that explains the lack of coping skills. I mean, I ain't a fish. I don't have gills. That makes breathing underwater (without scuba gear) impossible. Crazy, I know. Not a sermon, just a thought.

From what I gather the fellow in Wisconsin was going through such a massive depression what with the possibility of losing his job and the recent sermon at his church about the end times, "Im sure there was some other hidden elements aswell" The mix of that Im assuming put him to do these acts. Now normally people dont go around popping people with a handgun if they go through those kind of things but looking at his background I can sort of imagine his way of thinking. Hes one to implode his emotions.
Theres those that explode when they go thru extreme emotions and theres people who keep those emotions to themselves and implode.
But usually exploding is healthier because your body has to bottle up what it implodes and one day it pops and all those times you should have exploded come out all at once. This is why you always hear about the quiet average joes losing it and turning their place of work into a shooting gallery. rage does not discriminate, it doesnt matter what religion, race, or nationality its just common human phsychology You must naturally vent anger in some way because it has to go somewhere.

The fellow in Wisconsin was a well-intentioned seeker, who was victimized by a cult. But we have freedom of religion...what can we do?
In general, Americans have always been violent. Our history is one of violence both governmental and individual. Neo-moralism has nothing to do with it. Our crime rates and murder rates are astronomical compared to other "civilized" countries. Our ancestors engaged in genocide and brutal slavery. It is in our blood.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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