Skoleskyderi i Finland – hvorfor sker sådan noget?

Fight Club
Hvorfor sker sådan noget, spurgte jeg 22. marts 2005 i anledning af en lignende begivenhed, hvor en 17-årig gymnasieelev gik amok og dræbte 10 mennesker – spurgte jeg uden at kunne give noget fornuftigt svar.

Nu er det sket igen på en skole i Finland – en ung mand på 20 år går amok og skyder vildt omkring sig.
Idet man faktisk godt kan forsøge at forstå et fænomen – jeg mener forstå, hvorfor det sker, hvordan det kan ske og hvordan det evt. kan forebygges – uden ligefrem at bifalde det, finder jeg det meget værdifuldt, at nogen faktisk forsøger at grave spadestikket dybere end automatreaktioner som fordømmelse, vantro og kritik af voldelige film og computerspil.

Lenin’s Tomb byder på en sådan lang, tænksom analyse med udgangspunkt i en bog af Mark Ames, der har udforsket området grundigt.

Det mest overraskende er måske ikke så meget mordenes uventede karakter som det er den forståelse, gerningsmændene ofte vil finde enten i de nærmeste omgivelser eller i tilsvarende “segmenter” af befolkningen.

Som et eksempel på det første nævnes en shoot-out begået i 1989 af en Joseph Wesbecker på hans arbejdslads, trykkeriet Standard Gravura – Wessbecker myrdede syv af sine kolleger og sårede tyve:

Ames was able to interview one of the survivors, Michael Campbell, whose body is deformed by the impact of six bullets from Wesbecker’s various munitions. Oh hell, Campbell has told Ames’ contact, “everybody supported him, everybody saw where he was coming from. His only problem was that he shot the wrong people.” He isn’t alone. Another worker at the plant tells Ames that Wesbecker was “pressed into it” And if he’d only got “the right people”, he would have “had a lot more sympathy. Still does, as it is!”

Hvad i al verden kan dog få Campbell til at sige sådan?

Der er her ikke tale om en enkelt mand, for hvem det hele bare slår klik, som det også i dette tilfælde blev forklaret i medierne, men om en desperat, forbitret reaktion på mere end et årtis mobning, pres og ringeagt.

Som Lenin forklarer, er dette hvad Ames fandt ud af:

In 1978, however, after working for the firm for seven years, he started to experience a multitude of problems – this was when he divorced his wife, when he son became sick and his other son got busted. In 1980, naturally enough, the stress of the work he had devoted himself to became too much. He requested that he be taken off ‘folder’ duty, and claimed that it was harming his health – other workers say that the ‘folder’ is indeed damaging. But the company refused to do so, and continued to refuse his request for years: no other worker wanted to take over, and he – a sort of laughing stock with both management and staff – didn’t have any leverage.

The union’s strength had been diminished by economic hard times, and a Reaganite anti-union drive was about to make it even weaker. The plants was exposed to severe job cuts and wage freezes, and the owners – the wealthy Bingham family – were secretly constructing a new plant in Tennessee to shift production. They told the union leadership, when it was discovered, that they had either to agree to austerity measures or face the plant’s closure. The union caved. So, when Wesbecker is expected to continue in a role that could well be killing him for a company that doesn’t appear to care about him and indeed seems intent either on getting rid of him or squeezing the last drop out of him, he looks for every means to escape.

The union will do little, so a doctor writes a letter for him begging the company to take him off the ‘folder’, to no avail. He files a discrimination complaint against the company on the grounds that he is diagnosed as a manic depressive, a form of incapacitation, and the company has made allowances for incapacitation in the past. The company’s ‘Human Resources’ department (how I hate those words, and those people) stonewalls, offering the county’s Human Relations Commission, which supports Wesbecker’s claim, an outlandish string of claims explaining why Wesbecker and only he must be available for the ‘folder’. Eventually, Wesbecker has to drop the claim and take medical leave for psychological stress. When he returns, instead of compromising, they stick him on long-term disability and drastically reduce his pay. The company was planning to cut his disability pension to 60% of its previous value in October 1989 – Wesbecker got them before they got him.

After his massacre, the company was destroyed and had to shut down: such was the aim. He wished to destroy both the specific agents he saw as responsible for his miserable condition and the company that encouraged the bullying and victimisation that he experienced.

I arbejdspladsmassakrer var dette ifølge Ames et mønster, der gik igen – det var ikke så meget en bestemt mennesketype, der begik disse forbrydelser, som det var et bestemt sæt af omstændigheder, der gik igen fra sag til sag:

Repeatedly, the killer is perceived as mild-mannered, pleasant, the last person to flip out. Repeatedly, it is discovered that the killer is experiencing either direct victimisation or serious distress as the corporate culture undermines basic conviviality. Repeatedly, the victims were picked off and others deliberately left to survive, with the supervisor being a primary target (often lucky enough to be out of the office, however). This is not random mayhem: it is insurgent rage.

Dette ville måske være stedet at indskyde, at selv nok så megen mobning og chikane ikke kan retfærdiggøre et shooting spree, der rammer uskyldige; og egentlig mener jeg personligt, at det er det enkelte menneskes pligt ikke at lade sig undertrykke og ikke finde sig i mobning og chikane, og altså heller slet ikke tillade det at stå på i årevis, som det er sket i disse sager.

Men alle mennesker er ikke lige stærke, og alle omstændigheder ikke lige nemme at komme ud af; f.eks. kunne man forestille sig, at en mand finder sig i chikane på arbejdspladsen, fordi der ikke er andet arbejde at få og familien ellers ville komme til at sulte.

Samtidig bliver det klart, at en god måde at undgå den slags arbejdspladsmassakrer på nok var at fremelske en arbejdspladskultur, hvor omsorg var reglen og mobning og chikane utænkelig – og hvor medarbejderne havde nogle sociale og faglige garantier, der gjorde det umuligt for selv den værste arbejdsplads at behandle nogen så svinsk, som Wesbecker blev behandlet.

Lenin mener dog, at mange ting i det økonomiske system i bl.a. USA trækker i en helt anden retning:

One document, an internal memo from the CEO of the Cernel Corporation, is sickening and vile in its attempt to bully the middle managers into bullying the staff more effectively. The car parks aren’t full at 8am, the boss whines, people are being allowed to come in late, and leave early. The managers are told that if they don’t make sure that everyone is at work, arriving half an hour early and leaving half an hour late, they will be fired: and this is to be achieved by out-of-hours emergency meetings with staff in which they are threatened with the boot. Staff numbers are cut, facilities are cut, benefits are frozen, etc etc. There ought, says the boss, to be pizza men arriving at 7.30pm to feed starving workers. And there is no shortage of official corporate ideology legitimising this. Welch explains, for instance, that fear is “healthy, like pain is healthy” because it “gets you out of that comfortable equilibrium”. It destroys “comfortable equilibrium” alright – sanity, marriages, families, livelihoods, communities…

Middle managers are therefore expected to humiliate and abuse, because it creates the necessary atmosphere for the efficient accumulation of capital. And surprise – the massacres often attempt to target victimising supervisors, screaming middle-managers, puffed up little tyrants who like to spy on the staff or threaten them with disciplinary action on the slightest grounds.

Jamen, hvorfor nu skolerne?
Men det kunne måske forklare lidt om, hvorfor massakrer er forekommet på de amerikanske arbejdspladser. Men hvorfor skolerne? Hvad driver folk som Dylan Klebold og Eric Harris, de to gerningsmænd i Colombine-massakren?

Hvad der er bemærkelsesværdigt er, at Klebold og Harris faktisk er helte blandt et betydeligt segment af den amerikanske ungdom, unge mennesker, der mødes anonymt i chat-rooms og debatfora og udveksler meninger om “St. Eric” og “St. Dylan”.

Hvorfor? Og hvilken slags unge mennesker ser op til sådanne uhyrer, mennesker som – i hvert fald i min opfattelse – vidt overskrider grænsen mellem, hvad der kan og ikke kan forsvares?

Vel, ifølge Ames er der mange af de samme ting på spil – Ames hævder faktisk, at det slet ikke er muligt at profilere gerningsmændene, kun de omstændigheder der frembringer dem:

As has been repeatedly pointed out, no successful profile of a typical school shooter has yet been devised. Good students, bad students, wealthy ones, poor ones, ones from stable familes, others from broken homes… there’s no archetype. This is because, as Ames puts it, “It isn’t the office or schoolyard shooters who need to be profiled – they can’t be. It is the workplaces and schools that need to be profiled”. Now, this bit is rather crucial. I quote verbatim from his list of characteristics to watch for:

– complaints about bullying go unpunished by an administration that supports the cruel social structure;

– antiseptic corridors and overhead fluourescent lights reminiscent of a mid-sized airports;

– rampant moral hypocrisy that promotes the most two-faced, mean, and shallow students to the top of the pecking order; and

maximally stressed parents push their kids to achieve higher and higher scores.

Pointen i Ames’ punkt nummer to er, at triste, fremmedgørende omgivelser forværrer effekten af års mobning og ydmygelse.

Så reelt er der mange af de samme ting på spil som i ved arbejdspladsmassakrerne: “Many of the most miserable, demeaning things that can happen at work can happen at school, and anyone who remembers their school years knows that it seems to matter a great deal more at that age, and it seems to last forever, even if its only a few years“.

Hvis man gerne vil undgå flere af den slags massakrer (og det vil man!), er det altså ikke de potentielle gerningsmænd, man skal profilere – det er omgivelserne.

Og dette forekommer i mine øjne at være en endog meget vigtig indsigt, såvel som et i mine øjne endog meget vægtigt bidrag til fremtidig forebyggelse af om ikke alle, så dog mange af den slags tragedier.

Link til analysen hos Lenin’s Tomb.
Link til Mark Ames’ fremragende artikel om Virginia Tech-massakren.

4 thoughts on “Skoleskyderi i Finland – hvorfor sker sådan noget?”

  1. Det er nemmere sagt end gjort, hvis man vil profilere omgivelserne i stedet for gerningsmændene.

    Du er inde på det, der er så indgroet i vores opfattelse af andre mennesker, at det hedder “The Fundamental Attribution Error” -- at enhver gør, som man gør på grund af, hvad man er for en person.

    I “The Lucifer Effect” bemærker Philip Zimardo, at det
    Det ligger i den vestlige, stærkt individualistiske tankegang, at hver person er ansvarlig for sine egne handlinger. Det er imidlertid en stært indskrænket opfattelse. Som Zimbardo vist nok udtrykte det, så er man ikke, hvem man er, men hvor man er.

  2. Wolf: Som antydet i indlægget mere end hjælper det, hvis omgivelserne er præget af meget hårdt pres, samt at miljøet (i tilfældet med skoler) er præget af en mobning, som ignoreres eller tilskyndes af skolens ledelse og øvrige voksne; det sidste var lige præcis tilfældet på Columbine.

    Til nærmere uddybning vil jeg meget anbefale Mark Ames’ bog “Going Postal”, som kommer godt rundt om emnet.

    Men Ames citerer blandt andet FBIs analyse af “workplace shootings”, som nåede frem til, at den typiske gerningsmand er en hvid mand mellem 25 og 40 år, som ikke tidligere har været i kontakt med politiet og ikke har nogen problemer med misbrug. Som Ames siger: “That really nails it down!”

    Men arbejdspladserne -- og skolerne -- lader sig forholdsvis nemt profilere. Se selv profilen af en typisk skole herover … og mht. arbejdspladserne har det også meget at gøre med magtesløshed -- mobning og pres fra ledelsen her i post-Reagan lad-os-blive-rige-på-de-andres-bekostning-epoken.

  3. Nu er problemet jo ikke, at det er teknisk svært at profilere skolerne, for det er formentlig nemt nok.

    Problemet er, at det kræver et paradigmeskift, for at man i vores del af verden vil kunne erkende, at det ikke er de enkelte gerningsmænds onde indre, der er hovedårsagen til skyderierne.

    Ikke mindst ville det give anledning til en frygtelig forskrækkelse blandt de mennesker, der mener, at de selv er “gode”, at enhver kan presses til at gå postal i bedste “falling down”-stil. “Toxic workplaces” er næppe noget, vi vil se forsvinde det næste lange stykke tid.

  4. Nej, det er klart. Du Må Ikke Kontekstualisere, for sæt nu resultatet af kontekstualiseringen er, at store dele af befolkningen ikke alene mistrives, og at disse udbrud netop er en konsekvens af den individualisering af (ansvaret for) lidelsen, du taler om?

    Så skulle man jo først erkende, at vi faktisk lever i et temmelig umenneskeligt samfund. Og det kan man ikke. Medmindre man er en enlig dissident som f.eks. Ames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: