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Atlas Shrugged Inspired Shootings?

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In review of the book "Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation of School Shootings," at Salon.com the author Jonathan Fast claims that kids that carry out school rampages are inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

At best there is a sham of an ideology cobbled together from books like 'Mein Kampf,' Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged,' the writings of Nietzsche, the glamorized pop-culture accounts of Charles Manson and his followers, and such movies as 'Natural Born Killers.'"

I wonder were he got this information because this is the first I heard of it. It sounds like made up slanderous postulating to me.

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In review of the book "Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation of School Shootings," at Salon.com the author Jonathan Fast claims that kids that carry out school rampages are inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

There's a kind of shallow and primitive truth to this -- but no more than that.

Philosophy should be studied somewhat deeply and with some insight -- or not at all!

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I wonder were he got this information because this is the first I heard of it. It sounds like made up slanderous postulating to me.

Does the article say what in Rand's work has anything to do with it?

One thing I've noticed about many highschool shootings is that many of the perpetrators were bullied or misstreated by other students. This has been remarked upoin in the media, though I don't know if any studies ahve been made about it. But it does make a lot of sense to me, because in junior highschool I was bullied by other students. I can tell you the anger that builds up from such treatment can lead to murder. No, I never killed anyone, but there were times I was so blinded with rage, I would have shot some bullies if I'd had a gun with me.

Of course that's a purely emotional reaction, one that cannot stand a second of rational thought. Would I kill someone because he's making me feel angry and impotent, if that meant spending the rest of my life in prison? Of course not. I did get into fights sometimes, but overall no more than most kids at that age do. I got beaten up, too, most times.

I do want to explain the depth of feeling, though. I was mostly verbally bullied, made fun of, disrespected, rumors were started about me etc. That's bad enough, but when I turned towards teachers or the principal all I got was "oh, just ignore them and they'll get bored and leave you alone." Which never works, because the constant bullying just can't be ignored. My parents came up with the same advice. That's what makes the rest so bad, that you can't do anything about it and no one else cares about what happens to you.

So you go on and try everything you can think of. You try to ignore them, you try to fight them, you try to do to them what they do to you, you try to find places where they won't follow you (things like hanging out with the chem teacher in the lab during recess, or chatting with the librarian's aides and such). But nothing works for very long. And sometimes you get overcome with anger and fury and want nothing better than to do somethign that will make them leave you alone.

I endured such things for about three years, then finally persuaded my parents to let me go to another school. The change of schools solved that particular problem (there, that's another virtue of private schools).

I'm saying all this because there is nothing in Ayn Rand's work in general, or AS in particular, that suggests I should have obtained an arsenal and shot them all dead.

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I recently read a book by Brooks Brown called "No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine High School". Brown was a friend of the killers, and was a suspected by the police in the beginning, but he did not have anything to do with the shootings.

The interesting part when reading it, was that he referenced Rand several times in the book, and even though he never used the O-word, he stated that he "liked the message" of AS, or something along the lines. There was even a mention of an english teacher taking away his copy of AS after a test, even as he had been given permission to read a book. The teacher said something along the lines of "i don't want her books read in my class". Now, obviously this is not that nice to hear, but after reading the book it became quite apparent that Mr. Brown is no Objectivist, and did not understand much of what he read. He just seemed like your typical libertarian slacker, without any sense of life, and he probably just liked Rand because it was "against the norm". Obviously the book wasnt about philosophy, but it was clear that his philosophy wasn't Objectivist, not even close.

I remember one part where he discussed how the school was run by christians, and how they didn't like dissenting views. He then told about a christian girl(who was killed in the shootings), who he said wasn't like the other christians, because she was nice and she listened. All well and nice, but then this Brown guy says how they agreed on that "i live by my truths, and you live by yours", and how this was so great and that if all people in the world thought this way the world would be so much better. Now, I don't know what could be more of an antithesis to "liking the message of AS"

I think there are loads of kids who "like" Rand, because her books are "non-mainstream" and they get misguided fuel for their "fight the establishment" ideas because they think Rand would have supported some nihilist goths who waste their lives smoking pot in some basements.

Especially as a teenager i guess you can find whatever hidden meaning you want in about everything. I mean, most of the school shooters that end up going on random shooting sprees think that they are somehow promoting "natural selection". The finnish guy that shot up his high school last year said that he was going to speed up natural selection, or something..... Talk about understanding what natural selection is. It's like me saying that im going to "speed up" gravity by throwing someone down from the top of the Empire State Building.

And especially as most school shooters dont even target the bullies but just shoot randomly, i can't see how anyone could even misunderstand Rand so much as to think it is the right thing to do.

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All I have to say is that reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time left me with the mind on fire and the blood boiling - so it is possible that a disenchanted reader held to a similar memory and then used it to fill in lines about school shootings in a disparate attempt to either be original or inflammatory.

We also have to take into account that A.S. is indeed more popular than ever, and that the audience has changed and broadened. If eventually 100% of the literate population's read it, then the chances for school shooters with Atlas on their shelves approach one. But correlation is not causation!

Edited by volco
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But correlation is not causation!

Nonsense, I can prove to you correlation = causation.

See my above sentence, where "correlation" occurs next to "causation". Enough said.

If that's not enough evidence, see my second sentence, where "correlation" once again occurs next to "causation". What are the chances of that?

QED

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If eventually 100% of the literate population's read it, then the chances for school shooters with Atlas on their shelves approach one. But correlation is not causation!

But what happens when the illiterate read it?!

Edit: I guess, then, something like this occurs.

Edited by Tenure
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  • 1 month later...

NR did print something recently by a columnist conceding that they may have been too hard on Ayn Rand.

Thank heavens for small favors.

The fact that they are proud enough of this piece of shit to post it as part of their 50th anniversary celebration says something.

(On second thought why did I cross that out?)

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