Sudden Jihad Syndrome
I find the idea of "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" as coined by Daniel Pipes on March 14, 2006 in the New York Sun to be laughable. Calling it a syndrome gives it an aura of professional acceptance that it does not deserve. It is neither a psychiatric diagnosis, nor a psychological diagnosis. It is not listed in the DSM IV. It is merely a bigoted observation of events based on data that is skewed, while other significant data is ignored.
It is normal for people to want explanations for events that lead to tragedy. Bigots use this desire to demonstrate deceptive reasoning in the unreasonable, to further their personal agendas. As free thinking people, we must guard against this. Are we to assume there is a Sudden Texas Woman Syndrome in response to Andrea Yates? Are we to assume that the "N" word sets black Americans off in an uncontrollable rage? Should Colin Ferguson walk free because of Black Rage? What about Air Rage? Road Rage? Office Rage? Even Thomas Junta, who killed a fellow father at their sons' hockey practice in Massachusetts, was said to be suffering from a variant of the "rage" syndrome, Rink Rage.
There is a very real danger in this. Like Black Rage, the "N" word factor, and a host of other spurious para-psychological concepts, SJS is very likely to be used in courts of law to demonstrate that the criminals who commit these acts are not competent to stand trial, or were legally insane when they committed their crimes. This is unacceptable. We must remember that while most states require sophisticated tests based on psychiatric and/or psychological testimony, the testimony is evaluated by a jury of laypersons or a judge without psychiatric training. We simply cannot allow killers to avoid prosecution because a crackpot bigoted theory some writer conjures up is used by a psychologist whose only practice is providing testimony for defense attorneys.
We must remember that we are a nation of tolerance. When we toss our tolerance aside, we cease to be the nation our forefathers fought and died for. We have American citizens who are Muslim, who strive diligently every day, to be productive citizens. I personally work with three devout Muslim physicians who save and repair American lives. This SJS idea is as insulting to them as telling me I am a member of the KKK because I am a white Southerner. I would be ashamed to dignify the concept by even asking them their opinion of SJS while we had our hands bloody in a patient's abdomen.
The willing use of this spurious concept to justify relaxed CCW laws by Larry Pratt tells me a lot about where I want my money going in support of the 2nd amendment. It will not be to GOA. In February, 2005, Mr. Pratt wrote another article, Why Do Criminals Break The Law? In that article, he assigned responsibility of crimes to the criminal's choice to commit the crime. In fact, Larry Pratt wrote, "Also, criminals are quick to pick up on psychological jargon and get good at feeding it back to the practitioners. In other words, crooks are good at scamming mental health workers. If someone thinks they are nuts, not a crook, and that will get them out of jail, then, they quickly learn to sound as if they are mentally ill........Until criminals choose to change, they will be criminals and the rest of us make a huge mistake to ignore that simple fact."
It seems to me that Larry Pratt needs to remember that criminals are criminals because they commit crimes, not because they practice a certain religion. Bigoted concepts like SJS need to be shown for what they are, lest criminals walk free rather than pay for their crimes.
Does SCS, or Sudden Criminal Syndrome, of any sort occur? Or is there a period of escalation in actions and thought processes that allow the person who was once law abiding to become a mass murderer? If there is a period of escalation then there are markers one can look at to predict and prevent the danger before it occurs, if we consider the problem rationally.
Conversion to dogmatic religious beliefs of any sort is one indicator that a person of any race or religion is embarking on a path towards murder. The religious fervor may seem like a causative factor under quick observation, but under scrutiny it is often found that the homicidal impulse was already there. The religious dogma simply gave the previously law abiding citizen the twisted internal justification to commit heinous acts of violence, not in his own name, but in the name of his God.
The urge to commit mass murder is often brought on by feelings of inadequacy and persecution, with a desire to be remembered for something, anything. The religion only gives the killer the ability to resolve this internal conflict while transferring the responsibility from himself. Any religion will do. If there is no religion immediately available, Goth culture, Hip hop culture, PTSD, any of these excuses will do. Hell, you could even say the so-called Gun Culture provided the justification and vehicle towards murder.
Do we want Sudden Gun Owner Syndrome to be used as an excuse for murder? If we continue along this path, that door is open. It's time to condemn such notions all together, and hold all criminals personally accountable for their actions.