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Are Mass Killing Shooters the New Serial Killers or the New Political Assassins?
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Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 and John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate in 1962 were two of the most brilliantly made movies of their time, both in black-and-white with Freudian incest themes. Personally, I don’t like Psycho, but I’m not a fair judge because I don’t like horror movies. I think The Manchurian Candidate is one of the movies that works best of all those I’ve ever seen, but that’s just my opinion.

And both seemed to usher in eras with large numbers of their subject matter: serial killing and political assassination, respectively.

Psycho is often said to be the first slasher movie. It made Hitchcock \$15 million, and was followed by famous real life serial killers like the Boston Strangler and Richard Speck. The Manchurian Candidate was certainly not the first movie about political assassination (predecessors included D.W. Griffith’s 1915 The Birth of a Nation), but the subject had somewhat faded from American life in the three decades since Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was shot sitting next to President-Elect FDR in 1933.

It’s probably impossible to statistically determine whether there’s any relationship between these superbly-made movies and their real life extensions in sex killers and political assassins, just as the relationship, if any, between the tens of millions of players of first person shooter video games and the tens of mass killing shooters is beyond the tools of social science.

But here’s an interesting theory. While it’s often said that the decline in serial killers is due to would-be serial killers turning into mass killing shooters, they seem rather different personality types, one furtive, hedonistic, and self-preserving, the other exhibitionist, non-sexual, and self-destructive. But a reader suggests that it’s more likely that the fame-seeking assassins of the past are, more or less, the fame-seeking mass killing shooters of today:

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  1. I thought Steve was incorrect in identifying Richard Speck as a serial killer rather than a spree killer, but I found evidence for the former characterization on line.

    Richard Speck murdered eight nurses in 1966 but was never classed as a serial killer. However, due to the fact, he murdered them during one horrendous night, he joined the long list of spree killers. Serial killers have to kill over a period of time.

    There are, however, other murders that people have questioned Speck’s involvement in….

    During his short time as a carpenter in 1966, sixty-five-year-old Virgil Harris was raped and robbed in her home. Two weeks later, a barmaid was beaten to death. Speck avoided the police and escaped.

    Speck went on to find work on a ship, and it seemed as though dead bodies were turning up wherever Speck had been. Indiana police wanted to interview him regarding the murder of three girls. Authorities in Michigan also wanted to speak with him about his whereabouts during the slaughter of another four females, aged between 7 and 60. His ship had been in the area at the time of their murders.

    On July 13, 1966, Speck escalated to a level no one thought was possible. During this evening, he knocked on a townhouse in Chicago, a communal home for student nurses. Corazon Amurao opened the door; he forced her to let him in at gunpoint. He then gathered all the nurses and told them to empty the contents of their purses. With this done, he tied them up. As nurses returned home, they were treated with the same sadistic treatment. Eight women were bound, robbed, battered, strangled, abused and stabbed.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    , @JimDandy
  2. I’ve heard people suggest that a few judicious assassinations are probably the only way to start fixing our train wreck of a society at this point. However, I’d never countenance such a thing, personally speaking. Absolutely not. Seriously, just no.

    • Thanks: JimDandy
    • Replies: @That Would Be Telling
  3. This was before my time, but my understanding was that The Manchurian Candidate was not much seen on its 1962 original release, and became somewhat memetic only after its 1988 rerelease.

  4. Lex says:

    Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie “The Scarlet Claw” should definitely qualify as a slasher movie.

    Some of those Rathbone Holmes movies would end with Sherlock waxing poetics about England’s great allies that are always there when you need them or about resilience of English people.

    Richard Speck ended up growing tits, wearing skirts and servicing black men in prison. True World War T pioneer.

  5. JackOH says:

    Has the combo of widely prescribed mood-altering drugs, mass media in all its variations, and the humiliations of living in our profoundly disempowering modern regulatory/administrative state created in a very few of our fellow Americans a predisposition to “snap”? Is there a genetic/body chemistry thing going on with some of these shooters in response to the “social noise” we live with?

    Has modern America created an “enervated consciousness” among its citizenry, so that a very few nut jobs see “daylight” and “revitalization” by gunning down innocents?

    I speculated so in a published letter after the Las Vegas bump stock shooting.

  6. Wielgus says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I believe the John Birch Society called it “the un-American film of the year” and there was some picketing of it. It struck a nerve so was clearly seen by some people.

  7. Mike Tre says:

    It seems to me that mass shooters who are white are motivated by different things compared to mass shooters who are black.

    White mass shootings are calculated, black mass shootings are impulsive.

    I don’t think Lee Harvey Oswald would shoot up a school these days, he would take part in antifa riots. But I could see Bremer shooting up a school.

  8. anonymous[305] • Disclaimer says:

    Oswald likely read an interview with Fidel Castro in September in which Fidel made threats against US leaders.

    “US leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe”

    Oswald was a huge fan of Fidel Castro. It might have been the case that these words were what motivated Oswald.

    • Replies: @MGB
    , @S. Anonyia
  9. @Almost Missouri

    Mine too. It’s one of those movies people reference a lot, but don’t actually watch.

  10. prosa123 says:

    The reason why Giuseppe Zangara shot Anton Cermak instead of Roosevelt is that he was very short, only 5’0″ to 5’2″ depending on reports, and had to stand on a wobbly chair in order to see over the crowd. That threw his aim off.
    Talk about fast justice, Zangara went to the Hot Squat only about six weeks after the shooting and even less after Cermak’s death.

    • Replies: @gyrene4.2
    , @Hibernian
    , @Wielgus
  11. J.Ross says:

    Black mass shooter at party foiled by good woman with a gun.
    Not a good week to be a narrative, is it?

  12. I’d throw in The Parallax View from the early 70s as among the most prescient, important and chilling assassination conspiracy thrillers — secret organization brainwashing pliable recruits into killing machines.

    That theme has also been done to death on TV shows, without the wider socio-political perspective. But a truly horrifying 1964 Outer Limits notably depicted aliens recuiting and brainwashing alienated losers as assassins. “The Invisibles” of the title referred not to the aliens but to these marginal people at the edges of society. The show aired just three months after JFK’s murder

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    , @Franz
    , @Joe S.Walker
  13. Both types fit in to a subtype of someone with Schizoid PD and Narcissistic PD, sometimes referred to as the ‘narzoid’ by psychiatrist Elinor Greenberg. You get someone that desires infamy but does not understand interpersonal relationships due to mistrust and paranoia. Jeffrey Dahmer and the Sandy Hook shooter both fall in to the narzoid type – sadistic, contemptuous of others and mildly paranoid.

    Usual disclaimer: I don’t think this explains all the awkward loner type mass shooters, probably not even the majority of them, but being a ‘narzoid’ seems to significantly raise the probability someone will be a serial killer or mass shooter depending on when they were born.

  14. I wish they’d go back to the old ways.

    • Agree: Kylie
  15. MGB says:

    Oh, iSteve, the credulist. No, those political assassins wouldn’t want to mess with the modern secret service, training at the cutting edge of security protocols in Colombian brothels.

    Try to pretend that life isn’t all a Hollywood production, and look at some facts. I won’t bother to go into LHO, but this whole Bremer, Hinckly, ‘catcher in the rye’ narrative is kaka. The bullets that nearly did in Wallace could not be matched to Bremer’s gun, and paraffin tests for gunpowder residue on his hands were negative. But he wanted to be famous because he was lonely in HS or impress Jodie Foster or some such shite, now that’s real evidence.

    How about the evidence that the Texas shooter went on a shooting spree before he even got to the school, entered the school unimpeded (contrary the cop hero story initially told) and the cops held parents at bay waiting an hour before the crack tactical team showed up? How does that square with your hypothesis? Or is something going on other than killers doing marketing analysis ?

  16. peterike says:

    CIA/FBI used to create serial killers. Now they create mass shooters, because it fits their political agenda better. The End.

    • Agree: JohnnyWalker123
  17. Dr. says:

    Speck likely had similar motivations of sexually-motivated serial killers (sexual sadism), but his awful crime was a mass murder not technically serial killing.

  18. Albert Camus wrote an essay that is relevant to this issue in his book The Rebel. In a chapter titled, The Fastidious Assassins, Camus discusses the targeted political assassinations carried out by the Russian revolutionaries in the late 19th century.

    But first, the general theme of The Rebel. Rebellion, says Camus, is not an act of disorder. It is the opposite. It is a call for clarity and legal limits. Huh? How can that be? Rebels are nihilists, aren’t they? Well, no.

    To begin with, there are two kinds of social upheaval: revolution and rebellion. Revolutions begin in the Mind. A revolution is when a group of conspirators come up with a blueprint for a new, generally utopian, society and take whatever measures necessary to implement it. Invariably it seems, revolutions end in mass murder and tyranny (The French and Communist come to mind) and that’s because mere humans, flawed as they are, fail to live up to the impossibly high expectations that were envisioned by the schemers and so, had to be coerced into conformity. This invariably involved imprisonment, torture and murder on a mass scale.

    Rebellions, on the other hand, are when some one or ones are sick and tired of being pushed around or ignored or who otherwise feel instinctively as though their rights are being trampled upon and push back. In doing so, the rebellious establish a limit, a line beyond which you shall not go in treating them. Rebellions delineate what is acceptable behavior between humans and are therefore a call for order.

    Now, in order for the above description of rebellion to hold true, the pusher back must not, in the process, go beyond the limit he has himself defined. He must not in turn step upon the rights of those whom he seeks to correct. Hence “The Fastidious Assassins”.

    The fastidious assassins very carefully chosen targets were those considered most directly responsible for what the rebel perceived as the most egregious social wrong. If any other innocent person were at risk of being hurt, the effort was called off until a more propitious time. So, if a wife or child of the target were also traveling in the coach, or if there were a risk of innocent bystanders being harmed, the bombing was called off.

    And then, after the successful assassination, the fastidious assassins made no attempt to get away. No, they voluntarily gave themselves up to the authorities for justice to be meted out. After all, if they were attempting to establish a reasonable limit then this demanded that they themselves be subject to the same. Now, they wrote about this in their manifestos, so it was not an after the fact rationalization when or if one of them were captured. They were acutely aware of the difference between murder and what they proposed.

    So, how does this apply today? Do any of our killers fall into the category of staying around long enough to pay the price for their deeds? Yes. Of course. Either those who kill and then kill themselves or those who kill and then surrender to the police fits the bill. A serial killer does not.

    So, unlike many of or maybe all of you, I could conceivably give some respect to a mass murderer who stays around for the final act. But, having said that, like all of you, I accord zero respect to those who take out their grudge upon innocents. So then, really none fit the bill. Like all of you, I wonder why those who do these deeds don’t go after the real perpetrators of the Terror being imposed upon our society, the perpetrators of the two-fold nature of “justice” we live under.

    Perhaps they feel, correctly, that the powerful are just too well insulated, surrounded as they are by layers of security–which itself is indicative of a broken social system. The visual image of Biden’s installation of a mile long, 8 foot-high chain link fence surmounted by coiled concertina wire along the parade route of his inauguration and then forbidding any attendees in person, says it all. The Democratic Party in particular has every reason to be terrified of being held to account by acts of rebellion by the people. Their fear is the opposite side of the loathing and contempt which they hold for the people of America. It is the back side of the mirror, the projection of their feelings upon the interior wall of their minds. And, being too cowardly to appear forthrightly before the people’s tribunal, they invoke or call into being the assassin who displaces his anger upon innocents.

    • Replies: @JackOH
  19. Travis says:

    Lee Harvey would be woke today…instead of joining the military he would have been participating
    in the BLM riots. He was an anti-capitalist Marxist. He was not an incel or as loony as most of the spree killers. But it is certainly possible that he would be an incel if he was born after 1999. Prior to 1965 is was much easier to find a wife, or to get forced into a shot-gun marriage.

    • Replies: @Prosa123
  20. inertial says:

    Terrorist a century ago assassinated government officials. Terrorists today murder random civilians. What changed?

    • Replies: @That Would Be Telling
  21. Charles Whitman the Texas clock tower sniper seems like an early prototype of the modern spree shooter. One wonders why his method didn’t really take off for another half-generation or so.

    • Agree: Patrick in SC
    • Replies: @james wilson
  22. Erik L says:

    Also a few years after the Godfather films the New York Organized Crime families opened the books and began accepting new members. The books were closed after Apalachin in the late 1950s. One assumes the supply of potential new members and their enthusiasm grew and became too tempting for the leaders to resist.

  23. I guess I don’t get their logic. Why would you ever be a mass shooter over an assassin? An assassin can even be morally justified in many cases, and has a much higher chance of surviving to assassinate again, putting his victim class in terror while becoming something much larger than life. Why would anyone ever pass on that to shoot up school children, even for the mentally ill that seems an illogical trade

  24. gyrene4.2 says:

    If only that were the case now for murderers of ANY CHILD

  25. Forbes says:

    I’d note that fanatics and “crazies” used to run onto baseball fields (and other sporting events) in a desire for a “look at me” notoriety as the live television coverage assured spectacle. But then sports & TV executives decided to block the broadcast coverage and deny the spectacle notoriety as a deterrent to the conduct. Some localities increased penalties, but the conduct mostly declined as the incentive for notoriety vanished.

    Unfortunately, vanished notoriety in one arena may have increased it in another as the lust for look-at-me-ism in the culture is greater than ever, e.g., social media is a drug-like substance for too many narcissists.

  26. Steve: “So Lee Harvey Oswald or Arthur Bremer today would slaughter a bunch of children or grocery shoppers rather than mess with the modern Secret Service?

    Yeah, I could see that. It makes more sense than that [sic] serial killers turned into mass shooting killers.”

    So it’s not the dog. It’s been Steve the whole time. My apologies to the devil dog.

  27. kahein says:

    since americans are incapable of understanding historical dialectics they have trouble seeing it — but this seems like a pretty clear case of synthesis, of these mass shooters drawing elements from both

    serial killers as sexual pathogens for obvious reasons would crave anonymity — but this changed in the modern media age, when they started to like reading about themselves in the paper and publicly toying with the constabulary; they probably also liked the idea of the entire society/world being afraid of what they would do next. so they became terror celebrities — which in turn has a kind of nihilistic political slant to it

    meanwhile politics has changed with the liberal (and irrefutable) end of history: it’s all culture now, and govt little more than self-interested administration. the idea that killing one of these corrupt admin figureheads would change anything, even make a slight tear in the fabric, is silly

    so cultural-specific targets like innocent schoolchildren or milling blacks in the dollar store are at once a type of political victim –representatives of the deluded, failed society — as well as apotheoses of the traditional serial-killer victims, in that they’re entirely powerless and vulnerable

    the sexual-pathology aspect doesn’t go missing either, in the negative form of the incel. yesterday’s let-it-all-hang-out sex monster (like dahmer/gacy) is a feeble pornhound and premature ejaculator (the dominant metaphor of the one-and-done mass shooting over in a minute)

  28. nebulafox says:

    Two things that are not being mentioned:

    1) Other countries have been having this issue with spree shootings, too. From France to Israel, if you look at it per capita, this is happening all over. Everything just happens to be bigger in the US And in places where guns really are almost impossible to procure, such as in the PRC, you see spree stabbings instead. Xinhua doesn’t talk about it, of course, but everybody knows it happens. That’s why Chinese schools are big on security. And that’s unfortunately that’s the likely road we are headed down.

    2) This didn’t start happening until the 90s, to the best my knowledge. And it wasn’t that long ago when in rural America, kids brought guns to schools all the time. Where were the shootings then?

    Blaming guns (or something equally facile like video games or porn or weed) for mass shootings is like blaming box cutters for 9/11. The real question is why men like these are being produced, and that cuts too deep to the bone for the society that the US has become. Above all, one absolutely hostile to real teenagers because the people in charge want to be immortal.

  29. @Almost Missouri

    The rumor that Sinatra pulled the film due to the assassination of JFK is rubbish. Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate and the 2004 remake by Jonathan Demme are both bloody brilliant.

  30. @Harry Baldwin

    A nation must:
    a) keep out invaders
    b) healthily reproduce itself–physically, culturally and materially (productive ability)

    Part of that requires enforcing its norms.

    Speck should have been stripped naked and paraded through Chicago, pelted with shit, put in stocks to be mocked and beaten by the nurse’s family members … then burned, slowly–very slowly–with hot oil. (Or the like, I do not consider myself and expert in such matters.) Anyone seeing the spectacle should have thought, “Oh, man pull that shit, and you got it coming!”

    Instead, while these young nurses’ whole lives–chance for marriage, children, family–were destroyed, POS Speck limped on for another quarter century.

    • Agree: Travis, Lurker
  31. The decline of serial murder can be simply ascribed to tech advances. DNA testing. GPS. National offender and victim databases. 3D modeling. Data forensics. Pervasive public surveillance. It is 100x harder to get away with murder than it was 40 years ago. Doubtless there are therefore many would-be serial killers serving life sentences today whose first victims were also their last.

  32. Mr. Anon says:
    @Known Fact

    That theme has also been done to death on TV shows, without the wider socio-political perspective. But a truly horrifying 1964 Outer Limits notably depicted aliens recuiting and brainwashing alienated losers as assassins. “The Invisibles” of the title referred not to the aliens but to these marginal people at the edges of society. The show aired just three months after JFK’s murder.

    There was also a Route 66 episode about the guys foiling a plot to kill a visiting head of state. It was slated to run just a week after the day JFK was assassinated.

  33. Mr. Anon says:

    Blaming guns (or something equally facile like video games or porn or weed) for mass shootings is like blaming box cutters for 9/11. The real question is why men like these are being produced, and that cuts too deep to the bone for the society that the US has become. Above all, one absolutely hostile to real teenagers because the people in charge want to be immortal.

    I don’t think it is completely off-base to ask whether popular entertainments have some influence on malleable minds. First-person-shooter video-games, Zombie movies in which humans are routinely hacked to pieces, slasher movies (although the popularity of those seems to have waned), etc. may not influence you – you probably don’t view those things. And they may not turn most people who watch them into crazed killers – obviously they don’t. But perhaps they do work on particularly disturbed minds. If you ask me it’s a deeply sick society in which those sorts of things are popular entertainments.

    I think it definitely is worth asking how many of these spree-killers were on psychotropic drugs.

    • Agree: Patrick in SC
    • Replies: @Patrick in SC
  34. JimDandy says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    And I’m pretty sure he raped and robbed another woman earlier in the same night of the attack on the nurses.

    • Replies: @BB753
  35. @Hangnail Hans

    I’ve heard people suggest that a few judicious assassinations are probably the only way to start fixing our train wreck of a society at this point.

    Look at the history of Imperial Japan before WWII, Paul Johnson has a good chapter in his Modern Times covering this, to see why you really don’t want to allow a culture of political assassination to develop (H. Beam Piper’s A Planet For Texans just shuffles the problem around and thinking about it just now, also shows he knew essentially nothing about the real Texas).

    It’s one of the things that made war with the US inevitable, along with FDR’s desire to see the world burn and absolute determination that Japan be part of that (for that I’d start with Wind Over Sand, Team FDR’s ineptness in foreign policy from the beginning, he tried to be a major world player immediately, had a lot to do with creating the “isolationism” our betters decry, and perhaps follow up with Bankrupting the Enemy).

    • Replies: @JimDandy
  36. JimDandy says:
    @That Would Be Telling

    Yeah, in the long run, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin really backfired, eh?

  37. @inertial

    Terrorist a century ago assassinated government officials. Terrorists today murder random civilians. What changed?

    Oh, there was the latter sort of terrorism a century ago and before and after, such as the Wall Street bombing in 1920. See before then the 1919 United States anarchist bombings which went way past government officials.

  38. Mr. Anon says:

    Well that worked out really well, didn’t it?

    Uvalde school district was part of AI program that rooted out potential mass killers and monitored social media for threats and potential shooters

  39. Prosa123 says:

    As a teenaged Marine in 1958 Lee Harvey Oswald was disciplined for catching gonorrhea, likely from a hooker.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  40. J1234 says:

    Are Mass Killing Shooters the New Serial Killers or the New Political Assassins?

    I wonder if serial killers are less common today because our surveillance oriented society either catches them before they kill enough people to become notorious…or maybe dissuades them from becoming serial killers in the first place. This brings up the one really big difference between serial killers and mass killers (if it hasn’t been brought up already): Serial killers don’t want to get caught. Mass killers don’t seem to care much about getting caught or even killed.

    Personally, I don’t like Psycho, but I’m not a fair judge because I don’t like horror movies.

    I don’t like Psycho, either. I saw a televised late night broadcast of it on TV as a small child, and I can honestly say I was traumatized. I didn’t watch the whole thing, just the shower murder scene, but that was enough. (FYI, my parents didn’t let me watch it, I’d just gotten up from bed for a glass of water.) I’m a huge fan of Hitchcock, though. Can there be many other people out there who love Hitchcock but dislike Psycho?

    Psycho is often said to be the first slasher movie.

    “Psycho…is the first slasher movie” makes me think of “Led Zeppelin was the first heavy metal band” as a parallel. The creators of the genre were light years ahead of the countless imitators who turned their concepts into genres.

  41. Parent’s reactions to the Uvalde-shooting as an expmple for the Coddling of the American Mind (Haidt/Lukianoff)

    The father of the shooter: “They killed my baby-man.”

    ” “I’m never gonna see my son again, just like they’re not gonna see their kids. And that hurts me.”
    See: No difference here at all. And: MY feels come first.

    Then the story goes to the heart of the matter as the father sees it: The shooter has suffered a shortage of clothes – and that’s the fault of his drug-addicted mother!


    – : – “The seemingly MIA parent blamed his son’s reportedly drug-addicted mother Adriana Reyes for not buying him more clothes.” (my italics, dk)

    This then led to bullying of the baby-manon a supposedly daily basis. – so: Here we go: With the reason!

    Ramos (= the father, dk) told the Beast he was speaking out because “I want my son’s story out there.”
    He’s speaking out to make sure, that his son’s story will get “out there”…

    So: “I don’t want them calling him a monster… they don’t know nothing, man,” he said. “They don’t know anything he was going through.”

    The killer’s mother also made excuses:

    In a Spanish-language interview she asked the public not to “judge” him because he “had his reasons.”

    “I have no words. I have no words to say. I don’t know what he was thinking,” Reyes told CNN affiliate Televisa. “He had his reasons for doing what he did and please don’t judge him. I only want the innocent children who died to forgive me.”

    So – here we go: There were reasons, and that’s why the shooting happend. What she wishes for to happen next is just that the innocent children who died to forgive – her!

    So: we see here the perfectly coddled American Mind – at work.

    • Replies: @J1234
    , @Charlotte
  42. @nebulafox

    And it wasn’t that long ago when in rural America, kids brought guns to schools all the time.

    Including one Nino Scalia, on the train, in his rural county– Queens.

    • Thanks: HammerJack
  43. J1234 says:
    @Dieter Kief

    You may have a point, but to be fair (and with all due respect to your observation) I doubt any of those grieving parents had given much thought to what they might say if their children were to die at the hands of an evil and crazy young man. I don’t think those are philosophies they’re putting forth, I think they’re words of pain.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  44. Franz says:
    @Known Fact

    1964 Outer Limits notably depicted aliens recuiting and brainwashing alienated losers as assassins

    Interesting time period here.

    Years ago I saw an episode of an old TV anthology drama series called “Wall to Wall War”. It was on the Richard Boone Show but the original broadcast date got my attention: October 8, 1963.

    It’s an early “crazy veteran out of control” story. There were so many of those after Vietnam that veteran organizations finally complained.

    The synopsis on IMdB: “Korean War veteran Cal Brown (Stevens) recreates a war zone in the high-rise office where he is working at night—using automatic weapons, grenades, barbed wire, and booby traps—and forces all his co-workers to participate in conquering the perceived “hill”.”

    Right on the eve of the Kennedy assassination. Always been surprised it’s never been mentioned.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  45. MGB says:

    Good grief. Lee Harvey Oswald, communist. Is that still a thing?

    Long bit on Dan Rather, Dallas and Uvalde.

    Miss West Texas Wool for 1963-64 was Peggye Nan McNair, then a young college student at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls. Garner’s 95th birthday was the reason Dan Rather gave for his being on the scene in Dallas on that same fateful day–although his autobiography referred to it as his 98th birthday. But we didn’t get a chance to interview that year’s Miss Wool about whether she remembered Dan Rather being at the birthday party. Her death was reported in January 2015 after she and a colleague were trampled to death by camels.

    Rather’s book relates that he had set up a new CBS southwestern bureau in Dallas the previous year, and had only recently been reassigned to organize the southern bureau chief in New Orleans (which eventually replaced both the Dallas and Atlanta offices). Having moved his family only that month to Louisiana, Rather would not have made a trip to Dallas, but for the request to fly out to Uvalde that morning to film Garner’s birthday celebration, complete with the nineteen-year-old beauty queen. According to Rather (and Hershowitz):

    Miss Texas Wool was waiting on the veranda when Garner made his appearance shortly after breakfast. He had a shot of bourbon in one hand and he tried to pat Miss Texas Wool on the fanny with the other, as only Cactus Jack could do. And that was how I happened to be in Dallas at midmorning, delivering an interview we had filmed on the occasion of a former Vice-President’s ninety-eighth [sic] birthday, the morning of the day that John F. Kennedy would be murdered. [ The Camera Never Blinks (1976), p. 113]

    • Replies: @JimDandy
  46. @Hereward the Woke

    Whitman may or may not have had a malignant brain tumor where is counts toward behavior, which may or may not have contributed to or been wholly responsible for that day.

  47. fishfry says:

    That makes no sense at all. Lee Harvey Oswald was well known to like kids. He played with the kids in his neighborhood and they all liked him. Secondly, not to open this particular can of worms, but it can’t be proven that Oswald was even on the sixth floor of the schoolbook depository at the time of the shooting. He most likely didn’t shoot anyone. He was what he said he was. A patsy.

    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
  48. Anon[767] • Disclaimer says:

    ‘But a reader suggests that it’s more likely that the fame-seeking assassins of the past are, more or less, the fame-seeking mass killing shooters of today’

    Here’s a simpler explanation: The security of public figures have gotten better as time goes on.

  49. BB753 says:

    So, before Viagra, this guy Speck could rape nine women in a day? Not bloody likely.

    • Replies: @JimDandy
  50. @Mr. Anon

    First-person-shooter video-games, Zombie movies in which humans are routinely hacked to pieces, slasher movies (although the popularity of those seems to have waned), etc. may not influence you – you probably don’t view those things. And they may not turn most people who watch them into crazed killers – obviously they don’t. But perhaps they do work on particularly disturbed minds


    Nobody wants to be a prude, censor, or a square like those silly people in Reefer Madness, or those people with their record album warning stickers. But you have to wonder.

    People driven to become a mass shooter by this stuff might be really, really rare. But then, mass shootings are really, really rare. Thing is, there’s a lot people on this planet. That’s a lot of potential crazy people.

    Finally, don’t think “Nobody would ever be influenced into (insert deviant behavior) by a stupid movie or TV show.” Sure, middle-aged people or people who grew up in normal houses can watch thousands of murders and blow away countless characters in video games and not be impacted at all. They are inoculated by their upbringing. Take an 18 year old in 2022 from a messed up home who has grown up in this LGBTQ… RSTUV nuthouse and expose him to the same stuff.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Known Fact
  51. @Patrick in SC

    “Taxi Driver” led pretty directly to a huge fan shooting President Reagan.

    But what do we do about the extreme edge of the bell curve for being influenced badly by entertainment? I’ve never seen anybody come up with the one best solution.

    • Replies: @Patrick in SC
    , @Mr. Anon
  52. JimDandy says:

    So, what’s your point–you think he didn’t rape all those nurses? Just murdered them? Only raped some of the nurses? Richard Speck got a raw deal? You’re here to redeem the Speck name?

    “On Wednesday, July 13, Speck picked up his bags and checked in at the NMU hiring hall. He was angry for being sent to a non-existent assignment, and he talked for 30 minutes in the car with his sister Martha and her husband Gene, who had driven down to visit him at 9 a.m. They parked on E. 100th St. next to Luella Elementary School, across the street from the townhouses where the nurses lived. At 10:30 a.m., he was tired of waiting at the NMU hiring hall for a job. Speck had \$25 that his sister had given him, and he left and walked about 1.5 miles east on E. 100th St. to check in at the Shipyard Inn at E. 101st St. & S. Avenue N; the inn was an East Side, Chicago rooming house.

    Speck spent the rest of the day drinking in nearby taverns before he accosted Ella Mae Hooper at knifepoint; she was a 53-year-old woman who had spent the day drinking at the same taverns that Speck had patronized. Speck took her to his room at the Shipyard Inn, raped her, and stole her black \$16 mail-order .22 caliber Röhm pistol. After dinner at the nearby Kay’s Pilot House, Speck returned to drink at the Shipyard Inn’s tavern until 10:20 p.m., when he left dressed entirely in black, armed with a switchblade and Ella Mae Hooper’s handgun, and walked about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west on E. 100th St. to the nurses’ townhouse at 2319 E. 100th St.”

    • Replies: @BB753
  53. BB753 says:

    “you think he didn’t rape all those nurses? ”

    I believe he didn’t do it alone.

    • Replies: @JimDandy
  54. JimDandy says:

    “Trampled by Camels” should become shorthand for certain kinds of tragic deaths. Example: “So, I forget, how many people associated with the Clintons were trampled by camels?”

    • LOL: Achmed E. Newman
    • Replies: @MGB
  55. Don’t forget Frank Sinatra’s other Presidential assassination movie from 1954!

  56. JimDandy says:

    That’s interesting. I always wondered how he managed to coral and rape and kill that many women by himself. There was one survivor, who rolled under a bed.

    ‘In court, Speck was positively identified by the sole surviving student nurse, Corazon Amurao. When Amurao was asked if she could identify the killer of her fellow students, Amurao rose from her seat in the witness box, walked directly in front of Speck and pointed her finger at him, nearly touching him, and said, “This is the man.”‘

    It’s certainly possible that she was coached about what to say.

    • Agree: BB753
    • Replies: @Joe S.Walker
    , @JimDandy
  57. MGB says:

    Vince Foster? “Trampled by camels.”

  58. @anonymous

    Somewhat on topic: Oswald’s uncle Dutz (whom Oswald lived with for years) was a longtime close associate of the New Orleans mafia. For whatever reason this fact is pretty overlooked in even conspiratorial speculations about the assassination. Dutz was a fairly important oddsmaker and had probably been on state/federal government radar for awhile. Dutz died in 1964.

  59. Hibernian says:

    It was a Mob hit and Cermak was the intended target.

  60. Charlotte says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Years and years ago, I saw an interview on local TV with the father of a man who was going on trial for murder. The reporter asked him what he thought should happen, and the man said, through tears, that if his son had done it, he should get the death penalty. It made a lasting impression on me. One of the few instances I’ve seen where a parent didn’t try to defend indefensible conduct. But perhaps it’s not too surprising the Uvalde shooter’s parents come across as self-involved, petty, and unwilling to grapple with the enormity of what their son did.

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
  61. @Steve Sailer

    There’s no one best solution.

    Like the poor, the crazy and evil will always be with us, whether it’s the Whitechapel killer, that monster in Chicago featured in The Devil and the White City, or the guy in Michigan who blew up the school in the 20s.

    Maybe just nibble away at each of the multitude of causes?

  62. Mr. Anon says:
    @Steve Sailer

    “Taxi Driver” led pretty directly to a huge fan shooting President Reagan.

    Author John Grisham condemned Oliver Stone for making Natural Born Killers, which is believed to have spawned several copycat crimes. One pair of teenagers who were inspired by the movie murdered a friend of Grisham.

    That said, I don’t think Stone is some kind of amoral cultural vandal. Natural Born Killers was supposed to be a message movie, although I’ll be damned if I know what the message was.

    Both it and Pulp Fiction came out in the summer of 1994 and together represented the high-point (or if you prefer low-point) of 1990s mass-market hipster-nihilist-chic.

  63. “I think The Manchurian Candidate is one of the movies that works best of all those I’ve ever seen, but that’s just my opinion.”

    In 1954, the action thriller Suddenly, about an attempted assassination on the President during a whistle train stop (but thankfully, was foiled at the last minute), starred Frank Sinatra.
    Not quite up to the level of Manchurian Candidate, and extremely heavy-handed for its time, but it has some suspenseful scenes to make it worth a look.

    In 1962, Sinatra starred in the Manchurian Candidate. Less than a year later JFK was assassinated (JFK was said to have read the novel and enjoyed the film as well). Post-assassination, Sinatra used his clout in Hollywood to remove public distribution of the Manchurian Candidate for about 25 yrs. Or so the story goes.

  64. @nebulafox

    I believe several factors have increased the frequency of mass shootings.

    1. Socioeconomic inequality has created a marginalized class of “losers.”
    2. A growing fraction of men have become involuntarily celibate (“incel”) men. These
    sexually frustrated men can’t get laid, which angers&radicalizes them.
    3. First-person “shooter” videogames (such as “Grand Theft Auto”) make shootings seem “cool.”
    4. In the highly atomized society in which we now live, it’s easy to feel alone, estranged, and unloved. This fuels hatred of general society.
    5. Easy access to firearms.

    In much of America, you see many young men with no close friends, no girlfriend, no real social life, and poor economic prospects. They may work part-time and/or go to school. Sometimes, they sit around, unemployed and bored. Many occupy most of their day with various types of video games.

    Many of the mass shooters come from this class.

    In much of the rest of the world, you have the same issues. However, it’s harder to gain access to firearms, especially those with rapid-fire capabilities.

  65. Wielgus says:

    Zangara was practically a dwarf – after the assassination a photo was taken of him with police, one of them holding Zangara’s pistol. Zangara is only wearing a towel. The cops tower over him. Zangara had apparently fought in the Italian army in WW1 – it seems being very short did not disqualify him.
    The swift execution, as with that of Bogrov, the assassin of Stolypin in Kiev in 1911, has raised suspicions that a thorough investigation was deliberately avoided by the authorities by getting the shooter under the ground as fast as possible.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  66. Wielgus says:

    I read in a book by Anthony Summers that it was the milder illness urethritis, and that it resulted in Oswald being apparently flown a long distance across the Pacific, allegedly for treatment. Summers was sceptical – in another book he wrote, a British agent used treatment for an alleged illness as a cover story, and Summers suggested Oswald had a “illness of expediency”.

  67. @J1234

    I doubt any of those grieving parents had given much thought to what they might say if their children were to die at the hands of an evil and crazy young man.

    a) I quote the parents of the – as you said: evil young man.

    b) It’s a bit of cruel what I do here and – I might not do it on a personal level at that moment of time.
    That said: The mental fallacy I lay bare is a serious one. And that’s what usually (and paradoxically) helps it to – go unnoticed. Which means: Uncured. Because the cure for such mental fallacies is to make them – public and being treated reasonably then.

    Btw. – it something not to be underestimated, how a culture reacts to losses. You could name this subject: Civilized grivances (wich implies. There are uncivilized ones too (what is indeed my point. Btw. – this is very old Christian stuff. The public discourse of these things dates back to the early middle ages. One great example is th novel The Song of Roland of Der Pfaffe (=the vicar) Konrad. In it, Vicar Konrad praises the Christian troops who fought the Muslims (the Sarazenes) in the famous Battle of Ronceval in 778 in the Pyrenées – for: Grieving in a civilized way (which helped them to stay clar-minded in the midst of even the greatest turmoils of the battle, Konrad says in his Heidelbergian manuscript from ca. 1131, in which he deepened and braodened the approach of his French predecessor from the eigth century in his Chanson de Geste about – the hero Roland.

  68. @Wielgus

    It’s not impossible that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton didn’t really want to know how far up in the Confederacy the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy went, and if the conspirators who had been caught went to the gallows fast and without speculating, that was okay with him.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  69. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    I think the Sinatra pulled “The Manchurian Candidate” for 25 years was a rumor made up to promote its popular re-release in 1988. I’d seen it on TV in the 1970s. But they did a good job of promoting it in 1988.

    Another conspiracy thriller based on a Richard Condon story is 1979’s “Winter Kills,” which did have all sorts of trouble getting made, released, and promoted. It’s like “JFK” crossed with “Manchurian Candidate” but also a comedy with big funny turns from John Huston (as the Joe Kennedy Sr. character), Sterling Hayden, Eli Wallach, and Anthony Perkins. I can remember quite a bit of the movie after 25 years, so I definitely liked it, although not many people did.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  70. JackOH says:

    Good comment, ThreeCranes.

    I’ll speculate that one of the overarching themes of the “verbal rebellion” here on Unz Review is a plea for the restoration of order.

  71. Wielgus says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There are certainly oddities about that case, like eight pages being missing from Booth’s diary, the harsh punishments in some cases and surprising laxity in others, etc.
    It took about three months to execute the four who were executed. The use of a military tribunal in the case was rather controversial.

  72. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Although it has a cheap look to it, Suddenly (1954) is worth watching. It has a brilliant cast, and some very intelligent writing.

    Sinatra stars as a presidential assassin; Sterling Hayden plays the small-town sheriff; ubiquitous character actor/playwright/screenwriter/professional Irishman Jimmy Gleason (A Free Soul, 1931; Here Comes Mr. Jordan, 1941; etc.) plays a retired secret service agent; and Willis Bouchey (late John Ford Stock Company) plays the chief SS agent on site.

    Richard Sale wrote an intelligent script that contains a brilliant soliloquy for Sinatra’s psycho assassin. If memory serves, we’re supposed to believe that the assassin is talking about how lost he was after The War, but the inspiration was actually from the period immediately after WWI. It’s a cross between Hitler in Vienna and America’s “lost generation.” I read about Hitler in Vienna a million years ago, maybe in Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, or in Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism. I believe that I learned of the American Lost Generation angle from an interview an ancient King Vidor gave about his classic, heartbreaking silent (with an equally heartbreaking back story) film, The Crowd (1928/1930) in the wonderful TV series, The Men Who Made the Movies (1973).

    “See Frank Sinatra’s Virtuoso Performance as a Presidential Assassin in Suddenly (1954)…”

  73. @Patrick in SC

    Finally, don’t think “Nobody would ever be influenced into (insert deviant behavior) by a stupid movie or TV show.”

    There’s a 1970 5-0 that was never shown again, never syndicated, and only bootleg copies now exist. It had young people dying from some weird suspension thing similar to sexual asphyxiation, though the show danced around the sex part and made it more of a groovy spiritual thing — And when some kid actually tried this with fatal results, the parents sued CBS.

  74. @Franz

    Mannix had so many old Korean war buddies come back as murdering psychpaths that Marge’s sisters made a remark about it on The Simpsons.

    I think around 1970 TV writers were using Korea as a stand-in to make points about Vietnam, since most characters were obviously too young to have fought in Nam. MArtin Sheen does play a troubled Viet vet on Mannix in a standout episode —

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @Wielgus
  75. Mannix had so many old Korean war buddies come back as murdering psychopaths that Marge’s sisters made a remark about it on The Simpsons.

    I think around 1970 TV writers were using Korea as a stand-in to make points about Vietnam, since most series’ characters were obviously too young to have fought in Nam. Martin Sheen does play a troubled Viet vet in a standout Mannix episode — He’s a highly skilled techie in a jewel thief gang but keeps wandering away at the worst possible moments due to his flashbacks

    • Thanks: Franz
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  76. @JimDandy

    The answer to that is that they kept quiet and allowed him to tie them all up. If they’d screamed and ran round the room, probably most or all of them would have survived.

  77. @Known Fact

    I saw “The Invisibles” the other week and thought it was very violent for TV in 1964. Also I’m sure it was originally intended as a pilot for a series. Perhaps it was too violent, paranoid and generally downbeat for that.

    The Outer Limits is still one of the most adventurous and interesting science fiction TV shows. Even the much-derided “Zanti Misfits” episode ends with a thoroughly gloomy message, that aliens could make contact just to get us to do their dirty work.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  78. vinteuil says:

    I think The Manchurian Candidate is one of the movies that works best of all those I’ve ever seen,


    One of the lowest & most dishonest movies ever made – lefty wet-dream propaganda from beginning to end.

    In a nutshell: McCarthy & all who supported him were the real traitors.

    Heavy handed agit-prop crap.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  79. JimDandy says:

    Makes sense. On the other hand, Speck later said something to the effect of, “If it wasn’t for that one who kept going after me, spit in my face, I wouldn’t have killed them”. Still, if they had all bum-rushed him en masse, if would have turned out differently.

    “At 11PM on July 13, 1966 after drinking whiskey all day and shooting up heroin for the first time in his life, Speck broke into a townhouse on E. 100th street in South Chicago that had been functioning as a nurses’ dormitory, muscling his way past the Philippines-born nurse Corazon Amurao, who’d answered the door when he knocked. Holding the seven women he encountered at knifepoint, he tore a bedsheet into strips and bound them one by one. Speck later claimed that he only intended to rob the women but became enraged after one defiant nurse spit in his face and said she’d be able to identify him in a police lineup.

    After marching one bound nurse into another room, Speck was startled at the arrival of two additional nurses. He went berserk, stabbing and strangling the three women to death. Over the next few hours, one at a time, he peeled off the remaining individual nurses, took them into a separate room, then tortured and killed them. He washed the blood from his hands after each murder.

    He anally raped his final victim, Gloria Davy, with a foreign object before killing her. He left eight dead victims and a crime scene covered in his fingerprints.

    What he failed to realize was that Corazon Amurao, the nurse who’d originally answered the door for him, had managed to wriggle under a bed and hide. She was discovered when she started screaming loudly after Speck’s departure.”

  80. @Known Fact

    I only remember the name Mannix but the most well-known example of this using the Korean War to editorialize about the Vietnam War was the movie and the TV show M*A*S*H. The movie came out in 1970 and the 1st 2 years of the TV show, ’72 and ’73, were during the years American men were still fighting in Vietnam.

    Of course, the show was anti-war in general, but the movie did a much better job. It was much more realistic about the 3 main doctor characters, Hawkeye Pierce, Duke, and Trapper John. The TV show had the increasingly sanctimonious Alan Alda who was obviously left-wing politically, while the movie characters weren’t so political but just anti-army, anti-bureacracy, pro-partying, hard-working doctors.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  81. @JohnnyWalker123

    I just watched your clip, Johnny, and unfortunately, a couple of minor things here disgusted me enough to discourage me from watching the movie. For one, Kevin Costner’s Southern accent sucks.

    Then, he keeps using the pronouns “they” and “their” for the “he” and “his” that would have been used still at the time period during which the actual events took place. (Just from the clothes, I assume this trial was also set way back in the 1960s?) It does not sound right.

    It’s coincidental, but commenter J.R. Ewing just wrote something on another thread to explain (rightly, IMO) why the pronoun “they” was used for something else, modern. This feminism-induced usage is pretty old, but it doesn’t go back to the 1960s. Why’d Kevin Costner talk like that, or was that up to the screenwriter? I don’t know how that works …

    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
  82. @Achmed E. Newman

    Watch Keanu Reeves pull off a Southern accent in “The Devil’s Advocate.”

    The film’s trailer

  83. President Biden wants the police to disable mass shooters by aiming at their legs,

    • Replies: @Lurker
  84. J.Ross says:

    It turns out that a high end military comms plane was in the bustling military airbase and IT development hub known as Uvalde for exactly the duration of the shooting, then it took off as soon as the killer was reported dead and, for the first time in years, left Texas altogether and went to South Dakota (Ramos was born in North Dakota).
    Also a medical emergency helicopter managed to get dispatched to Uvalde before there was any word of trouble, but that could have been a true coincidence as they rotate those.


    An anon at 4chan (where anonymity is normative) has:
    RONIN[34, a Beechcraft MC-12W, capable of monitoring or simulating communications such as cell phone texts] TOOK OFF FROM [Fort] HOOD AT 11:02AM, 1 MINUTE AFTER SHOOTER POSTED THREATS.





    What’s simplest and most likely is that fed scum are trying the same garbage they’ve always tried, but with an unprecedentedly disappointing caliber of human resources. Someone recently observed, “It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles with hellfire missiles.”

  85. J.Ross says:

    Consider how Ashes and Diamonds defeated Polish censorship. Manchurian Candidate got away with that very thing which Peeping Tom did not get away with precisely because of the veneer of establishment respectability. Both PT and MC are talking about MONARCH as it was still being put together. Notice the differences. PT has the sinister research pursued by our own scientists and defense establishment. In MC, the sinister research is pursued by sinister foreign communists. Frank Sinatra’s character has a hard time getting started in part because we would never do such a thing, it’s so foreign to our nature. In PT, the unanticipated side effects include serial killing. In MC, there are harmless little curiosities like walking off a dock. And, PT directly ended its director’s career. MC‘s director wasn’t always successful but he was consistently respected and had several later hits.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  86. @Achmed E. Newman

    Thank you, MASH is exactly the point I was trying to make about Korea on Vietnam-era TV but the exact example eluded me in the heat of commenting.

  87. @Joe S.Walker

    “Much derided Zanti Misfits” — Bruce Dern being chased and killed by bug-eyed ants, what’s not to like? Anyway, glad to hear people are still watching The Outer Limits — terribly uneven but they made a few of classic TV’s best hours ever. O.B.I.T. and The Bellero Shield, two great episodes memorably photographed by Conrad Hall, are online if you hunt around

  88. nebulafox says:
    @Known Fact

    Of course, it was unacceptable to portray guys taking skull trophies in the Pacific during WWII or having alcoholism issues when getting home, being the “good war” and all…

  89. Wielgus says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I first saw it on British TV in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

  90. Wielgus says:
    @Known Fact

    The film of MASH, though not necessarily the less acerbic TV series, was clearly letting the Korean War stand in for Vietnam. It was remarkable how few films were made directly about the Vietnam War when it was actually in progress – a fact even commented on at the time.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
    , @Lurker
  91. Wielgus says:

    I don’t know about Ashes And Diamonds defeating Polish censorship – it happened to be made during the post-Stalin thaw. The film could get away with being subtly anti-Communist. It has since been criticised in Poland because it is not stridently anti-Communist.

  92. @Wielgus

    Good point. Movie westerns e.g., Soldier Blue took a leftward anti-war turn and sometimes allegorically stood in for Vietnam, during the Vietnam years. Rather than films and shows directly about the war itself (in short supply as you say) , there also was a spate of stories (e.g. The Strawberry Statement) about the youth subculture, campus protests etc etc

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  93. Wielgus says:
    @Known Fact

    Even Chato’s Land, a Charles Bronson film from 1972, seems to be an example of the Vietnam War in the guise of a revisionist Western. Michael Winner, the director, was not particularly noted for left-wing views but the plot of a posse chasing after a half-breed (Bronson) who kills a racist sheriff who threatened him and ends up wiping out the posse on his home ground is hard not to see as a Vietnam allegory.

  94. Lurker says:


    Furthermore I always thought that the book Catch 22, set in WW2, was about Korea. While the film version was about Vietnam (while still being set in WW2).

  95. Lurker says:
    @Steven Carr

    President Biden also wants the police to wheelbarrow, candyfloss, plate tectonics, hat stand.

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