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Robert Flores' 22 page farewell.
October 30, 2002 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Robert Flores' 22 page farewell. The man who shot and killed three people at the College of Nursing. Makes for interesting reading and should inspire some discussion as to the stereotyping of whites among whites. Please do read the whole thing, although I doubt you would be able to put down after having started.
posted by ( .)(. ) (110 comments total)

 
WOW
posted by Macboy at 5:43 PM on October 30, 2002


I wonder what's on page 13...
posted by chachee at 5:44 PM on October 30, 2002


Stupid, m*therf**king, jackass murderer. His primary complaint, from what I skimmed, is that the university faculty & administrators were guilty of "hubris." What a bastard. MURDERING people because they may be a bit arrogant? Forget looking for "insight" or "causes" or otherwise trying to figure out what made him lash out - either he was psychotic, or just plain ole evil. Parents didn't encourage communication? Tough shit. Your teacher isn't compassionate enough? Get over it. This wailing letter from a dead person should be burned and never read again. I'm just glad that this sicko killed himself and saved us some tax dollars and judicial resources. Sick bastard.
posted by davidmsc at 5:46 PM on October 30, 2002


Blah. I honestly think reading "why he did it" is, in an infinitesimal way, a form of solidarity with the killer. It's certainly what he wished. In fact, from the length of his letter, who's to know the murders weren't carried out to bring attention to his inner thoughts; whatever the fuming, fetid fuck they are.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:55 PM on October 30, 2002


thanks for the link. interesting reading to say the least.
posted by dobbs at 5:58 PM on October 30, 2002


What makes you so mad, davidmsc? To me your sentiment underlines how things like this can happen. This entire thing is tragic. It's tragic that someone could feel they could or should kill someone else, that they felt so miserable and injured, that three people were murdered, that this sort of thing is becoming all too common.

Outrage against others is why things like this happen. Anyone who takes a life is a murderer, no matter the reason, but getting your own blood pressure up about this is just strange. I feel sadness for all those involved.
posted by letterneversent at 5:58 PM on October 30, 2002


Davidmsc's message reminds me of how a lot of people respond to someone's suicide, let alone outright murder.

On another note, he really enjoyed the word "marginal", didn't he?
posted by jragon at 6:01 PM on October 30, 2002


Roger that. Empathy with a suffering sentient being is one thing, but there are literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who bear these same burdens day in and day out and somehow manage not to slaughter innocents in their venting.

The real hubris is in attempting to locate the cause of this in some external "precipitating event," or in being downwind of some nerve agent burnoff, or anything else. Bollocks.

BTW, I don't see anything having any bearing whatsoever on "stereotyping of whites among whites" in the Flores material.

On preview - "roger" is to Monsieur Cardoso.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:02 PM on October 30, 2002


I know people like that man, and I saw their faces when I read this.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:02 PM on October 30, 2002


The most striking thing about reading his account is that he just seemed to have no clue as to why everyone in his life seemed to back away from him, including his family and everyone in the nursing school. Of all the intra-personal troubles that he had, he just seemed to chalk up to maliciousness or hubris on the part of the administrators. Also, he dismisses his wife's allegations of abuse as her cynically using "politcally correct" buzzwords to prevail in court without considering her viewpoint. On some fundamental level, it seems like this guy had absolutely no idea what was happening in the heads of other people and had a complete lack of empathy. So of course when his world starts going down the tubes, it seems perfectly logical for him to take down other people who are responsible for his troubles. In some weird way, he thinks that he is making a positive change in the world.

It would be interesting to see accounts from his wife and from the nursing school as to what his behaviour was really like.
posted by rks404 at 6:03 PM on October 30, 2002


Of course, the great thing is that the families of the people he murdered will now be able to be even more hurt and angry then they were before. Thanks, murderer! Thanks, newspaper for not waiting a few days to publish it...
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:04 PM on October 30, 2002


rks404: I agree. Often, people who feel the way this man did have a problem seeing things outside themselves. They are very subjective and caught up in their own lives.
posted by letterneversent at 6:06 PM on October 30, 2002


The freaky thing is how he was a "boy scout" and that nothing anyone could have done about guns would have stopped him. That line of his about Ellen Goodman chills me.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 6:10 PM on October 30, 2002


My sympathy for Robert ends at the moment he left for school with a gun.
And his claim that he would be portrayed as "misanthropic"
(pg.4) has me cueing up the worlds smallest violin.
Rot in hell, Robert.
posted by 2sheets at 6:17 PM on October 30, 2002


"in an infinitesimal way, a form of solidarity with the killer"

Yeah miguel, i felt the same way, when in Holocaust class, I had to read excerpts from Mein Kampf. Who wants to read the thoughts of a killer.

see how callous that can be.

from pg.4

"My reasoning is this, After the fact, the University of Arizona will attempted [sic] to portray me as a misanthropic, marginal student who was undisciplined and could not follow instructions. This portrayal could not be farther from the truth."

Seems he could not follow the basic law of not killing human beings.

"Outrage against others is why things like this happen"

I would venture failure to rectify outrage is why these heinous acts happen.

I hope this scum gets to spend 40 eons clipping the hang nails of Hippocrates.
posted by clavdivs at 6:20 PM on October 30, 2002


I wish there were a hell so this guy would be roasting in it now, but, since there isn't, he got off disgustingly easy. Unfortunately, we the living didn't get off easy, especially the families of the women he murdered, and have to not only live with the crime he perpetrated, but also live with his self-righteous screed ringing in our ears (amplified by the media who criminally wasted space by publishing it). Had they tossed it in the furnace, Flores would have soon been forgotten, a vanishing footnote in the annals of humanity's mistakes. But now his words will live on in the internet and elsewhere forever, and give him a voice he does not deserve. Sad, frustrating, angering, worst of all because there is nothing to do except bow our heads and shuffle onward.

davidmsc's (and others) anger is a natural and justifiable emotion stemming from the fact that justice will go unserved in this case, and there's nothing that anyone can do about it.
posted by sir walsingham at 6:23 PM on October 30, 2002


I'm glad it was printed, though the paper probably should have waited until after the funerals. Because everyone gets to read it, and get a clue to why this happened. Not the clue the killer wanted (He was blameless! A victim! Ruined by a cabal of uncaring instructors!) but a clue nonetheless.

I know people who think everyone is conspiring to ruin their lives. Now I will be ever-so much more respectful of their delusions, to their face at least. Don't cost me nothing, and who knows? The life I save may be my own.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2002


Agreed, Joey Micheals.
I think the big difference here, clavdivs, is that Hitler's philosophy had an enormous impact on history, and that understanding the basis of his beliefs helps illuminate the causes of one of the most important and tragic events of the 20th century. I'll go out on a limb here and predict that Flores' worldview will not influence the actions of nations and the fate of millions of people. This isn't meant to minimalize the horror of what he did, but to point out the difference in scale that weakens your comparison.

I hope this scum gets to spend 40 eons clipping the hang nails of Hippocrates.

Heh. I'm going to start using this a curse. "And may you spend forty eons clipping the hangnails of Hippocrates!"
posted by hippugeek at 6:38 PM on October 30, 2002


They knew he was nuts, and told the cops about him.

Nursing College Killings: Police had report on Flores prior to shootings
(AP) About 18 months before a failing University of Arizona nursing school student killed three professors and himself, an instructor had filed a report with police saying the man had thought about "ending it all" and "might put something under the college."

The nursing instructor told police that Robert Stewart Flores Jr. had said he was having problems with a paper but also had a lot of problems other than school, according to the university police department report filed on April 24, 2001.

"He was depressed and thought about 'ending it all.' Flores then stated he 'might put something under the college,"' according to the report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The report did not indicate what he might do. The instructor told police she was reporting the incident for documentation.

posted by jbou at 6:41 PM on October 30, 2002


A fascinating manipulation of the media and an interesting view into the mind of someone pushed over the edge.
posted by shoepal at 6:45 PM on October 30, 2002


He lost my vote when, on the third page, he used the word 'then' when he should have used 'than.' There is no excuse for poor grammar... even in a murder-suicide note/farewell letter.
posted by Hammerikaner at 6:47 PM on October 30, 2002


What about the nerve agent during the Gulf War? He seems to imply his life went to shit after that. Is it possible brain damage in the frontal right lobe which controlls things such as empathy, compassion, morales and ethics is to blame? Theres a lot of research that points to killers having developmental problems or damaged brains in certain areas.
posted by stbalbach at 6:54 PM on October 30, 2002


That's funny, shoepal, that's not at all what I get from this. I don't so much see a mind pushed over the edge. I see a ridiculously self-entitled, pretentious piece of shit who decided that he should be exempt from the same trials that everyone goes through.

Sorry, but I've got no sympathy for people who decide that others should die for minor, even as they are imagined, wrongs.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:55 PM on October 30, 2002


Flores did the world a favor by chronicling his descent into homicidal madness. Some of the people who read this irrational and pathetic self-justification for his acts will recognize their own disgruntled students, workers, or acquaintances in the text and can respond accordingly. They ought to print the whole thing in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
posted by rcade at 7:07 PM on October 30, 2002


i'm with shoepal. this case ends tragically b/c of media coverage.

if he didn't think that the whole world (or country) would know about the shootings, i don't think he would have done it. he specifically mentions the Columbine shooting as being the impetus for his decision (not sure what he means by "It is due to the threat of lawsuits that the face of education change (sic) following Columbine.", but then again, not the most rational person).

empathy, no. sympathy, a little. i've come across a few people who claim to be tormented by Gulf War Syndrome (and the feds' unwillingness to identify and treat it), so who knows?
posted by mrgrimm at 7:12 PM on October 30, 2002


I wonder what's on page 13...

From Page 1:

*Note: The killer numbered his pages 1 through 23 but omitted page 13.
posted by stbalbach at 7:15 PM on October 30, 2002


If you didn't know the outcome and you were just reading this guy's explanation of how his life systematically went to shit, you would start to feel sorry for him about half way through, and by the end you would be saying "you poor man." Then along comes his solution to this massive depression, which is to pick up a gun and go kill innocent people. The whole letter is like some kind of nasty trick, sucking you into feeling sorry for this slug and it makes me feel dirty for having read it. Unfortunately there's no way to "unread" it. I feel like I need to wash my hands, hose off the monitor.
posted by JParker at 7:15 PM on October 30, 2002


Flores did the world a favor by chronicling his descent into homicidal madness.

Perhaps. Or perhaps the reason some people commit suicide is to get someone to read their suicide note. This is incredibly sad and they have my compassion. But perhaps people like this kill others and then themselves in order to get a lot of people to read their suicide note. Such people I have no compassion for. If it weren't for the infinitesimally small possibility that studying this might help prevent some future tragedy, I'd say burn the goddamn self-justifying horseshit and just remember this guy as a murdering loser.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:17 PM on October 30, 2002


invective aside, I'm essentially with the anti-killers. That said, it's worth taking a look at the converse of this paper. This is a site run by the father of a boy that was killed at my college during my first semester, along with one other murder victim and four injured. The killer is currently serving 2 life sentences with no possibility of parole. The father and the killer are also in touch with one another. Mr. Gibson has written a book, called Goneboy:

goneboy.com
posted by babylon at 7:21 PM on October 30, 2002


um, on rereading that, I meant by "anti-killers" "those against killers". Not some kind of RAID for murderers or anything. It just didn't look right.

and postscript: yes, Galen Gibson was an acquaintance of mine, and a close friend of many of my close friends. Wayne Lo was also an acquaintance of mine, and one of my best friends was shot in the leg. I decided that was probably worth more context.
posted by babylon at 7:26 PM on October 30, 2002


p20:
"The worst insult arrived when she stated that I was unsafe. That was the biggest insult."

Good job proving her wrong, Bob.
posted by pemulis at 7:29 PM on October 30, 2002


If it weren't for the infinitesimally small possibility that studying this might help prevent some future tragedy, I'd say burn the goddamn self-justifying horseshit and just remember this guy as a murdering loser.

Even if the letter got printed on the front page of every newspaper in the US, he'd still go down as a murdering loser. Writing a letter of justification only makes him THAT much more of a loser.

He complains of 'Hubris', well who hasn't had a shitty boss, coworker, supervisor, etc? Well Boo-fuckin-hoo for you pal. Thousands of people go have the same and worse insurmountable problems that this guy had, and not only do they NOT shoot people, they raise families, can be good parents and don't piss and moan about their lives. The problem with this guy is that he didn't top himself before going on his spree.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 7:30 PM on October 30, 2002


I agree with JParker. I read this earlier today and it left me feeling dirty. I spent the rest of the day contemplating just how far we can descend when we don't have any social ties left to hold in a sense of morality. I would have preferred that the Daily Star had quietly turned the package over to he police and forgotten about it.

Incidently, did anyone else get the feeling that this guy (he doesn't deserve a name anymore, bury him in an unmarked grave and burn the death certificate) was an overwhelming prick and brought any antipathy he experienced upon himself?
posted by djeo at 7:32 PM on October 30, 2002


It reminds me of the cliche (probably from a bad movie) that evil people never think that they are evil, but rather that everyone else is.
posted by boltman at 7:33 PM on October 30, 2002


I am sure that there are many many people in society feeling just like this man, but perhaps lacking the single-mindedness to plan and carry out the deed to its grisly conclusion.

While I believe that the human race is far better off without him, I cannot help but feel a little bit of sadness for the waste of human life (not only the victims, but the murderer as well).

Without being trite, I am sure that many parents will understand how debilitating a lack of sleep can be when it continues for extended periods. This in no way excuses this act and he should have known enough to seek help a long time ago, but the combination of depression and tiredness can be brutal. For someone who is on the edge to start with, it would be easy for either to push them over.
posted by dg at 7:36 PM on October 30, 2002


This little screed made me shudder-- in part because I, too, know people like this. One family member, in particular, to whom "things happen". What causes people to grow up and never learn empathy? To see everything and everyone in a twisted mirror that only reflects back to the viewer and never shows the truth. Nothing is ever their fault and all the consequences of their actions come as a big surprise.

I'm glad Robert Flores is out of his misery. I'm sorry he wasn't brave enough to go out alone.

In Preview: He complains of 'Hubris', well who hasn't had a shitty boss, coworker, supervisor, etc?

That is exactly the problem. He sees himself as the only victim; nobody else has all these travails. In fact it is puzzeling why all these bad things are happening. For guys like Flores, other people's pain is not painful-- only his own pain is real.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:40 PM on October 30, 2002


I agree with letterneversent and find the puerile, knee-jerk reactions of many of you appalling. What are you afraid of, that gaining some small understanding of human nature, dark though it certainly is, will somehow compel you to condone another's bad choices? Sympathy is not approval, and empathy is not weakness.

Society increasingly puts individuals "up against the wall," with little justice or recourse. Under such circumstances, there will always be a minority who, for various reasons, crack and lash out in frustration/desperation. This is not a good thing, but it is a certain fact. Rather than point the easy finger at those who do, after the fact, and call them monsters, comfortable in our own righteousness, society should seek to minimize the occurrences of these social flame-outs by aligning itself with just principles and actively discouraging systems which promote failure and hopelessness.

And to anyone who views this as "appeasing the guilty," I point my finger at YOU and call YOU monster.
posted by rushmc at 7:45 PM on October 30, 2002


Not that I support his decision to take innocent lives, or that I lay any blame on the door of anyone but the killer, by the way. As has been mentioned, we have all had bad bosses/lecturers/whatever and get over it then move on without going berserk, but we are all made differently and this person obviously didn't have the ability to differentiate between real problems and insignificant problems.
posted by dg at 7:49 PM on October 30, 2002


What an eediot. I simply don't see how his questions would be discouraged by instructors if they were as insightful and germane as he claimed. Of course, sometimes there's a lot of material to cover and students are expected to save their questions until the very end, or else ask them during an office appointment with the professor. But when the instructor is saying "Bob, give it a rest! We have a lot of material to cover, and we'll never get through it if you keep raising your hand every minute", goddamn it, stop with the red herrings.

This was a guy who bragged about getting a B on a psych test in his suicide note. Enough said.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:51 PM on October 30, 2002


society should seek to minimize the occurrences of these social flame-outs by aligning itself with just principles and actively discouraging systems which promote failure and hopelessness.

The guy wanted to be in nursing, the FRONT LINE in health care. If he can't keep his head together during school, he could have potentially harmed far more lives than he did the other day. Some folks weren't meant to do some jobs, and he clearly didn't get the message and chose to blame others for his shortcomings.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 7:53 PM on October 30, 2002


That should read: "....his questions would have been discouraged..."
posted by Devils Slide at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2002


"My reasoning is this, After the fact, the University of Arizona will attempted [sic] to portray me as a misanthropic, marginal student who was undisciplined and could not follow instructions. This portrayal could not be farther [sic] from the truth."

Geeze, didn't that guy see Finding Forrester?

He probably was nuts, but I do not put any faith in the secondhand statements of ex-wives or hubris-filled nursing school instructors. It is not beyond human nature for people to lie and make up crazy things about someone they dislike.

I had a similar experience living in the over-21 dorm at a State college. Most of the residents were graduate students, and completely over-socialised pricks. If I were about 10% more redneck I would call them "college boys." I prefer "fat little Nintendo playing know-it-all f*ucks." If I heard one of those jokers trash talk during a video game one more time, I may have snapped. Those clowns had opinion about everything, and it was always wrong; usually it was something plagiarized from a textbook.

Anyway, no need to go into as much detail as our hero the shooter, so I'll make a long story short. The Dean of Students showed me an anonymous note he'd received, which claimed that I was seen outside the dorm with a handgun in my belt; it even had a cartoonish drawing and a child-like description of a "silver" handgun. I angrily dismissed the allegation and refused to cooperate. Several weeks later, campus police handcuffed me and searched my room, claiming to have received an anonymous tip that I had a gun and had threatened to use it. I overheard one say, "They said it looks like a pipe gun."

Now, I am a complete asshole. I admit that. I have never had a handgun in my life, though. From my experience, false reports to the police would be expected if this man's situation was really the way he described it.
posted by son_of_minya at 7:55 PM on October 30, 2002


Wow, what a whiner. They didn't call on meeee! I had to pay actual money for a root canal! The woman at the nursing school didn't have time for meee! This reminds me of the rambling crackpot mail every newspaper in the nation gets daily.
posted by GaelFC at 7:57 PM on October 30, 2002


There you go again, rushmc, confusing actions with the reactions they provoke, on the one hand; and human nature, as the generality of the term implies, with pathology on the other. The truth is only a very, very tiny minority go about killing other people.

I can say you're appeasing the guilty (which of course you're not) in a comment in a MetaFilter thread and you can say I'm a monster. I can then say something worse and so on. That's fine.

But if I actually go out and kill a mass murderer I'd wished drawn and quartered on a MeFi thread or you take the trouble to hide him in your home, then that's not fine.

I can be a racist, prejudiced, anti-social bastard who says terrible things but, as long as I treat others as if I respected them absolutely, that's fine.

It's when I start acting on my murderous opinions and thoughts, confusing my inner thought processes with my behaviour, that criminal pathology takes over.

The basis of society is behaviour - what one actually does; how one treats others - not prejudice, hate or any other unpleasant things ("I could kill that guy!") we might think or say in private.

The interesting question here, by the way, is incitement: words made public that may lead others to actually act on them. And even then, the connection is weak. If I read Mein Kampf and go out and kill Jews, is the author Adolf Hitler guilty? No.

Behaviour, not values or opinions, is what matters; deeds and not words. This man killed people. I can say "Screw him" in all freedom and I'm not a monster. He's the monster. I wouldn't hurt a fly.

I'm sorry if this is confusing; I'm going to bed. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:05 PM on October 30, 2002


Forget looking for "insight" or "causes" or otherwise trying to figure out what made him lash out - either he was psychotic, or just plain ole evil...

No. He was a human being. He killed other human beings...a not uncommon act in an America that seems to think the "solution" to so many of its problems is through violence, institutionalized or voted upon or not.

Sadly, Flores may have exhibited exactly that same kind of "they are plain ole evil", black-and-white thinking when considering the people he killed. He certainly didn't appear to view them as people, with human failings and faults. His judgments seem binary from his letter.

Blind, vengeful, dehumanizing thinking is obviously part of the problem, not the solution.

His life experiences may have played a role. Fine, but as our other posters point out, why don't all with such problems become murderers? Hard to say...why don't all people exposed to tobacco smoke die of lung cancer before they are fifty? So he had what...a genetic predisposition to murder? It is certainly possible. Where then does "guilt" lie? Is there no way that such acts can be prevented? If murder is a multifactorial disease, what are some factors that are associated with the disease, and when we agree the "costs" are too high, will we finally make changes to help prevent the disease?

I mourn the murder of those nurses. I mourn the killer's death. I mourn the thousand acts of violence, with gun and fist and dollar and neglect and word, that we visit upon each other constantly.

Those acts are carcinogens, and there are always cells ready to become killers.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:05 PM on October 30, 2002


Behaviour, not values or opinions, is what matters; deeds and not words.

I think I see what you're getting at here, but ultimately I disagree. Behavior, not values or opinions, is punishable (that part of your assertion I definitely agree with, not being in favor of thought police), but I think it's very wrong to say that it matters more. That might be a handy shortcut for dealing with humans for a cop, or a salesman, but it reduces human beings to simplistic binary units that either kill/don't kill, steal/don't steal, park in handicapped spaces/don't park in handicapped spaces, and I think that's a very weak way of dealing with human complexity.
posted by rushmc at 8:17 PM on October 30, 2002


If behaviour doesn't matter more than opinions and values; then parking in a handicapped space (a devious sidetrack, since we're talking about the infinitesimal minority of mass murderers, but I'll grant you it) doesn't matter more than those who simply say it's OK to park in handicapped spaces but don't.

Besides, how many people actually believe that? Never mind asking how many people think it's OK to kill a few nurses if you're feeling pissed off...

You wrong, rushmc! Admit it!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:25 PM on October 30, 2002


Anyone else find it odd that the page title of this page from the Goneboy site reads "Classic Arms gun catalog"?
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:26 PM on October 30, 2002


And on preview, Miguel, I sympathize with outrage over murder (any murder), but I'd argue that there is a connection between our thoughts...how we view and judge the world and others...and ultimately our acts. Certainly thinking of killing someone is not the same as pulling a trigger...but violence does appear to arise from somewhere suspiciously behind the eyes.

After all, guns don't kill people and fingers don't pull triggers, but cerebrums do...or some such...uh, I'm going to bed too.

Instead of just simplistically chanting murderer!, let's channel that righteous outrage we all feel into some action that may prevent the next murder.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:29 PM on October 30, 2002


The letter serves not to excuse, but to explain. While Flores' actions were reprehensible, they are certainly not uncommon. Until we start paying attention to why these things happen, they're going to keep happening. As a society, we have a dual responsibility: to condemn the actions, and to prevent them from occuring again.
posted by faustessa at 8:32 PM on October 30, 2002


let's channel that righteous outrage we all feel into some action that may prevent the next murder.

In that regard, going to bed is quite effective. ;)

*Secretly agrees with foldie that even thinking of killing someone is sick and wrong; thereby ruining his whole argument
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:34 PM on October 30, 2002


While the guy seemed to have a tough go of things, I can't trust his comments about his school, whether or not I knew he killed instructors and himself. After spending several years in college, I worked with a lot of instructors across multiple universities, and once in a while there was a bad apple in the bunch, but never several. The guy makes it sound like a couple administrators and a couple professors purposely made his life a living hell, and I can't buy that. I've been a student, a teaching assistant, and eventually a lecturer myself, and when he described not being called on to speak, I recalled the problem students I'd shared a classroom with. Frankly, he sounded like he had a chip on his shoulder going into the nursing school in AZ, and while he makes a lot of his lesser mistakes sound like unfortunate goof-ups that could happen to anyone, I don't buy it. Even the unluckiest people I know wouldn't have that many accidental mistakes happen in a row.

I'm sorry if that makes me a bad person rushmc, but he lost me soon after he moved to arizona, after which he simply plays the victim and acts as if he had no say in how events played out.
posted by mathowie at 8:46 PM on October 30, 2002


One of the higher-ups in my office is being hounded by a former student who feels she "wronged" him. When he is feeling particularly bold, he shoots off a not-quite-threatening-enough-to-get-in-trouble-with-the-cops e-mail to her and is kind enough to cc: the rest of us.

Our stalker has a lot in common with Mr. Flores--lots of personal problems, thinks the world is out to get him, feels that his poor academic performance is the fault of the faculty, etc.

We have all been shown his picture and instructed to hit the nearest panic button should he decide to pay us a visit. Then again, a lot can happen in the two minutes it takes for the campus police to show up.

If you need me, I'll be under my desk. Thanks.
posted by whatnot at 8:48 PM on October 30, 2002


Concerning the relationship between murderous thoughts and murderous actions and the question of incitement which provides an obvious link between the two, what would you say about this website? (Warning: it's a Hindu extremists' hate site).
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:51 PM on October 30, 2002


I couldn't be bothered finishing reading it. It was boring. He whinges on and on and on about how badly bum-fucked his life was and how everyone hates him.

Well, no shit: he was an asshole. You don't get people reacting so consistently poorly toward you unless you've got some dread social problem.

But does he ever put 2 and 2 together and come out with 4? Hell, no: it's everyone else's fault.

Whatta loser. Shame he didn't have the gonads to just off himself, all alone.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:52 PM on October 30, 2002


Thinking about it some more, there might be something interesting to discuss. The theme throughout his letter is one of powerlessness. He had a rough time growing up, then went into the armed forces (and seemed to enjoy things, as I suppose he was in control), then things fell apart as he did things for his wife, then his family, then his wife again, and finally ended up by himself, having to foot the bill for his kids and wife.

I'm reminded of the movie Falling Down with Michael Douglas. A person's life falls into shambles in what they perceive as a total loss of control and the problems caused by the world, and not their actions.

Lots of people have a rough life, heck don't over 50% of marriages end in divorce these days? How do you handle those that feel powerless? How do we prevent more Bobs of the world from taking out their perceived villians and themselves?
posted by mathowie at 8:56 PM on October 30, 2002


Until we start paying attention to why these things happen, they're going to keep happening. As a society, we have a dual responsibility: to condemn the actions, and to prevent them from occuring again.

That's what I'm saying.
posted by rushmc at 9:03 PM on October 30, 2002


Could it be some kind of pharaonic suicide, where someone decides to kill himself but, just to make sure everyone feels guilty and gets the point (a common, understandable, deeply human desire) choses a way to quit life which will ensure that attention, taking other lives with him and pointedly leaving a long suicide note?

How do we prevent more Bobs of the world from taking out their perceived villians and themselves?

By banning guns once and for all, for starters. Americans are so used to them (and so pathetically isolated from the rest of the whole bloody world) that they often miss the most obvious remedy.

Want a European's advice? No, well you'll get it all the same: Fuck the constitutional experts who keep dredging up the same justification. Stop arguing against them along the same lines. Just say: "On that point, the Founding Fathers were wrong; off their rockers; out of line! Forget they ever wrote that shit!".
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:06 PM on October 30, 2002


I'm sorry if that makes me a bad person rushmc, but he lost me soon after he moved to arizona, after which he simply plays the victim and acts as if he had no say in how events played out.

I'm not trying to defend his character, Matt. Or excuse his choices.

Rather, I'm saying "How do you handle those that feel powerless? How do we prevent more Bobs of the world from taking out their perceived villians and themselves?" I agree that those are the interesting and important questions here and that we'd all be a lot better served by addressing them than by just all jumping in to have a self-congratulatory wankfest about what a no-good, rotten, evil bastard this guy was.
posted by rushmc at 9:07 PM on October 30, 2002


I'm going to agree with what I thought rushmc was saying - that it's important and good that we have this, as an insight into the mind of a killer, even as self-serving, and as horrible as it is to read. It made me rethink my debates with my wife about capital punishment - we were always both absolutely opposed to it, but she would always lose me with the "we should take these people and study them, to find out why they did it!" argument. I would always end up accusing her of being willing to treat some people as less than human, and Godwin would eventually make an appearance. This is making me rethink my position.

And on preview, what rushmc said.
posted by yhbc at 9:09 PM on October 30, 2002


Wow. I don't think I could have put that down if I had tried.
I resent any claims of solidarity with him, even if i sympathize (or should that be empathize?) with his situation. It think at the least, his "chronicles" will stop the inevitable demonization by the media. He was in a situation with no way out (at least, not that I can see), but one question remains,

Why did he commit murder? Was suicide not enough?
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:12 PM on October 30, 2002


Could it be some kind of pharaonic suicide, where someone decides to kill himself but, just to make sure everyone feels guilty and gets the point

Seems to me it's much more likely to have been about trying to ensure some attention, to him, his problems (or "persecutions"), and his cowardly/heroic solution. Clearly, he felt ignored and wronged (whether this feeling was completely, partially, or not-at-all justified, it is what he felt, and therefore comprised his reality). Rather than just disappear quietly off the radar of everyone who had already proven to his satisfaction that they didn't care about him anyway, he wanted to be heard at least once in the end. I think this is an increasingly common motivation for people, from Columbine to the DC snipers, and if we, as a society, don't do a better job of giving people channels to air their grievances in a healthy and meaningful/productive way, we are going to see a LOT more of this, and the attendant tragedies.
posted by rushmc at 9:13 PM on October 30, 2002


I think at the least, his "chronicles" will stop the inevitable demonization by the media.

Why? It hasn't stopped it here on Metafilter....
posted by rushmc at 9:15 PM on October 30, 2002


Ask any man who has gone through a rough custody battle how much control he feels he has over his life. Ask any man who has been the target of false accusations of abuse by a former partner how much control he feels he has over his life.

I do not condone what this man did in any way, but we as a society have some responsibility for allowing people like him to become so isolated that they feel justified in thinking that they are victims. The guy is obviously an arsehole and probably always has been, but society is responsible for him nonetheless.

It is interesting that he held a permit for a concealed firearm - how did he get that and why would anyone not involved in undercover law enforcement need one?

On preview - right on Miguel Cardoso, I agree wholeheartedly with the view that people kill people, not guns, but there is no real need for the average citizen to carry a handgun and taking away the tools will at least slow the carnage, if not prevent it. If this man had not had access to a gun in the first place, he may have killed himself but would have had a hard time taking three others with him. A gun gives you power to kill long distance where you cannot be stopped except by another gun...
posted by dg at 9:32 PM on October 30, 2002


fff wrote: You don't get people reacting so consistently poorly toward you unless you've got some dread social problem

Careful, that's a circular argument -- or at least part of one; "That guy has no friends, therefore I don't want to be his friend." I've been treated fairly poorly quite consistently and it tends to trace back to one of three things:

* My personal culture is not the same as the local culture (English background in Australia).
* I'm honest. (Or so crap at lying that I've given up, you pick)
* I do things "differently" (related to the first one).

None of which I would describe as "some dread social problem".

Meanwhile, no part of the story of Robert Flores isn't tragic.
posted by krisjohn at 9:58 PM on October 30, 2002


Miguel and rushmc ... good round'n'round, hashing out some important if opposing viewpoints. I tend to agree with rushmc a bit more, simply because while I believe in personal responsibility (and don't think there's any other really good way to run a society), I also believe equally that no man is an island. There's forces at work in society, and a few individuals weak/worn/evil/whatever enough to crack. It's good sense to ask what those forces are and see if you can damp them. It's also humane... even though the killer's acts were not. But anyway, back to my original point. Good show... reminds me of why I like MetaFilter.
posted by namespan at 10:00 PM on October 30, 2002


On the one hand, if I ever need insight into the mind of a killer, for some useful purpose, I will be sure to read it, just as I might read Mein Kampf while researching NeoNazism.

On the other hand, I refuse to gratify the murderer's wish for posthumous justification.

I don't see any inconsistency there.

And on the third hand, I'm wondering how this gives us any clues to how society might prevent more citizens becoming murderers. dg, how does "society" reach out to the isolated? I don't want to get all Margaret Thatcher on you, but I think only individuals can make it their mission to try and connect - institutional efforts are bound to end in busybodying and stereotyping. Do you see a collective cultural change coming out of this? I don't.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:07 PM on October 30, 2002


Sorry, but he was a 'demon'. Flores (Flowers? Ironic...) killed three innocent women who were nurses and teachers, then, through a vapid, onanistic note, places the blame on 'society'. That puts him squarely in the category of 'monster' in my book. to say "I do not condone what this man did in any way, but..." is equivocation. To say 'society' has some sort of obligation to iron out the kinks in every one of its rumpled members is to assume the existence of and need for morality. Then why do some of us have trouble making a definitive moral judgement against a murderer? His contract with society, and society's obligation toward him, ended when he decided to blow away some teachers.

As far as the gun issue goes- there are countless ways to kill a human being. To 'take away' one of them wouldn't take away the impulse and resolution of a murderer. And how effective do you think 'taking away' guns or making them illegal would be? Many recreational drugs are illegal, yet there are millions of people who have no trouble obtaining them and using them. Many of them are also lethal, or at least both physically and mentally harmful- yet that doesn't make them, a priori, 'evil' substances. To declare guns the root of a problem is to deny the fact that perpetrators of crimes have agency; that is a dangerous ideological assumption to make.

As far as I can tell, society is functioning pretty well, or else crimes like the one we are discussing wouldn't be so infrequent and so incomprehensible for those of us who are 'well adjusted'.
posted by sir walsingham at 10:07 PM on October 30, 2002


Rather than just disappear quietly off the radar of everyone who had already proven to his satisfaction that they didn't care about him anyway, he wanted to be heard at least once in the end.

One last question: is human imagination so lacking and are social resources so wanting, that someone who wants to commit suicide can't find a way to be heard without killing people?

Couldn't he have offered his heart or liver to someone; killed himself trying to save others; set himself on fire in front of the White House; stood on the ledge of a tall building in midtown Manhattan; negotiated with a shady TV station to film his suicide or otherwise bought in to the whole Guy Debord/society of spectacle the West has become; without harming anyone but himself?

Hell, he could have taken some hostages and, as long as he treated them well and once he'd gotten the attention he wanted, kill himself?

That is why I insisted on his behaviour - he killed people. To say he did so to get attention just doesn't wash. Attention, specially for those who want to commit suicide publically, is unfortunately, given the media's increasing sensationalism, easy and cheap.

Someone who writes a letter like that (yes, I did end up by reading it) is surely able to understand these options. If he loved his children, why didn't he kill himself in a way that wouldn't alienate them for all time?

Questions, questions...

Oh and namespan: Cheers for the kind words - although I should tell you rushmc and I plan these little trysts of ours days in advance. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2002


publicly.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:31 PM on October 30, 2002


dg, how does "society" reach out to the isolated?

I guess that it needs to be society as a collection of individuals, rather than society represented by government institutions or whatever. We all have a responsibility to each other - even the most dedicated loner comes into close contact with a number of people on a regular basis and someone this far over the edge would stand out. No, I don't see a collective cultural change coming from this, I see humanity continuing to ignore each other and tut-tutting when one of us goes astray. Shame, that.

sir walsingham, my point was that it is easy to kill someone with a gun from a distance, where they cannot defend themselves as they could if, for example, the killer had a knife. This makes it easier to attack larger numbers of people in a short space of time. Guns have no responsibility for killings, people do, but allowing people to have handguns puts weapons in the hand of murderers. What possible justification does the average citizen have for carrying a concealed handgun on the street?

Don't get me wrong, I am all for taking responsibility of your own life and I get frustrated and angry at people who blame their parents and anyone else who is convenient for their problems, but we also have a collective responsibility for look out for one another, because some of us have faulty wiring and need some extra maintenance.
posted by dg at 10:32 PM on October 30, 2002


perception becomes reality...
this guy thought it was him vs the world
cry me a fucking river.
posted by shadow45 at 10:58 PM on October 30, 2002


It is interesting that he held a permit for a concealed firearm - how did he get that and why would anyone not involved in undercover law enforcement need one?

Not to turn this into a gun issue, but in AZ, it's pretty easy to get a concealed weapons permit, if half of my dad's family is any indication (they're all packin' heat in Flagstaff 24/7).
posted by mathowie at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2002


I doubt anyone here has had to go though all the crap he did. If you saw every part of your life slowly torn away from you and you were powerless to do anything about it, and saw nothing but the prospect of being a poor, miserable old person, you might lash out at those who were aiding in destroying your life, too.

If I had lost my wife, my children, my money, my dignity, and finally my future, I'd be pretty pissed.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:20 PM on October 30, 2002


i don't have much to say about the tragic event itself, except that i felt kind of sick from hearing about it and doubly sick from reading about it and i really empathized with and understood the angry posts at the same time as i very much liked rushmc's first post.

while i understand reactions like anger or logical debate, to me this act is so insane and stupid that my feelings and my mind can't really process it.
posted by muppetboy at 11:26 PM on October 30, 2002


If I had lost my wife, my children, my money, my dignity, and finally my future, I'd be pretty pissed.

Or, to rephrase it:

If I had pissed away my wife, my children, my money, my dignity, and finally my future, I'd be pretty lost.

But there are untold numbers of people who lost all these things, and much, much more, and yet didn't decide to kill innocent people because of it. If this had been only a suicide, it would have been a tragic story of this man's dilapidation. But his behaviour toward others, not to mention his apparent inability to see how his actions and his decisions may have led him to 'lose' everything, coupled with his cold-blooded murder of three women, pulls the plug on the tub full o' empathy that I usually have for the downtrodden and disturbed.

Anyway, I'm joining MiguelCardoso and fold_and_mutilate in bed. Uh, I mean, joining them in the act of going to bed... Um, I mean, seperately, in our seperate beds, but in concert...

oh, nevermind.
posted by sir walsingham at 12:46 AM on October 31, 2002


Even if I'm not that religious, I sometimes pray that there is a God, and that He's vengeful beyond human comprehension

And I pray that there is a Bosch-style Hell, burning. And waiting for people like Flores
posted by matteo at 1:23 AM on October 31, 2002


my prayers usually include something about the dissemination or redistribution of these sorts of souls. to me, Robert Flores doesn't deserve a hell - no one really does - but they might deserve a place lower in the sphere of existence. a rock, perhaps?

these things happen so suddenly that what always crosses our minds is "what could have been done to prevent this?" better communication can only ease so much, and from the letter it sounds like he had no one trustworthy to turn to. was he an isolationist, as many might suspect? In regards to the tone, it sounds like to me he's trying to justify his murder/suicide (persuasive writing?) and because of this wouldn't want any sort of positivity in his life mentioned.

To that effect, it did work a little on me... I did feel sorry for his situation, but this does not justify nor fully explain why innocent lives were taken beyond the old "i've had enough" stuff.

Will the world ever be without this kind of story?
posted by phylum sinter at 3:27 AM on October 31, 2002


All the recent reports of killings (in US and elsewhere) by ordinary citizens are pretty numbing especially so in the context of the current global atmosphere of extremism and terrorism. I share your approbrium for Flores' cowardly acts in taking innocent lives and then, in a fait accompli, pronouncing his final words on his own murderous actions, in an earnest attempt to elucidate and elicit our non-judgmental understanding. All said, his life was tough and messed-up, but the 3 innocent lives he took were dedicated, hardworking & struggling individuals who had professional responsibilities and standards to uphold in a demanding industry.

It also makes me think that even though we have to cope with increased dangers everywhere we go and the work pressure that most of us have to endure in an uncertain economy, we should be mindful of our behaviour in our encounters and dealings with others lest we become unconcerned or oblivious towards people around us whom may be in need of simple help or just some kind words. At times like this, random acts of kindness will certainly make our lives better.
posted by taratan at 3:29 AM on October 31, 2002


miguel, somewhere above you're claiming that speech and action are two separate things. in another post you give an explanation for why you claim this, so it might be that you're saying this is context-specific. but if you're making a general claim, then i think you're confusing law and logic (which is one of rushmc's points).

first, speaking is an action. it's a physical action that causes the air to move. just as pushing someone down the stairs is a physical action that causes a body to move.

second, speaking can have terrible consequences. surely a writer must admit that language and argument are powerful tools? speacking can be used to manipulate, to create an environment in which other actions become acceptable. normal people can do terrible things, if the right words are used (there was a recent discussion here on the stamford prison experiment, for example).

yet there is a distinction between speech and other actions - free speech is a right. this isn't because speech is always "acceptable" (you don't need a right to do what is "acceptable" - rights are there to let you do things that would be otherwise illegal), but because (paradoxically) it is so powerful. when everything else is twisted and broken our last hope may be the courage of someone to speak out for good. making free speech a right gives unconditional protection for that moment of courage.

that, as far as i can see, is the *only* difference between speech and (other) action. "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is wrong. if it were true, it would never need to be chanted back in playground defiance.

i'm stating the obvious here, really, i think. so apologies if i'm just shooting my mouth off for no reason. as i said, your argument may be specific to this case - i haven't read the note (i have better things to do; before anyone says i can gain something by reading this, let me point out i recently finished reading eichmann in jerusalem which exhausted my empathy for pathetic murderers).
posted by andrew cooke at 3:48 AM on October 31, 2002


MiguelCardoso : I understand your theory. It is a nice, liberistic theory that simply doesn't work in reality, because it shifts all the blame on the one(s) who acted, not on the person that organized or made the action possible. According to your theory, Osama can preach that all americans must be killed without giving any reason and americans should only prosecute the guys that drop bombs or planes on people. By your logic, americans are illogical because they're not prosecuting the guys who did the bombings, but the mastermind who just preaches that americans are evil. Also in your logic, even if Osama gave them money and teached terrorists how to kill people he could always claim " Ops, I didn't kill 1000+ americans myself, you can't blame me because I didn't pull the trigger, I only provided gun". As you correctly stated this theory protects even Hitler from prosecution.

You say "If behaviour doesn't matter more than opinions and values then parking in a handicapped space doesn't matter more than those who simply say it's OK to park in handicapped spaces but don't "

I think you're trying to use logic equations. Behaviour <= opinions/values ---> Parking in handicapped <= Opinion. Well if you
use logic you must also prove that Behaviour is ALWAYS less or equal or greater or equal to Opinions and explain me your method of evaluation, otherwise you have proved nothing. Logic works well with numbers because of rules we gave ourselves (axioms) as immutables (like 0<1 always or 0 != 1 always). Finding such universal rules in reality is extremely improbable. Rushmc is right when he says a binary approach to humanity is unlikely to solve our problems ; in my opinion, there are far too many variables that can't be expressed by numbers or that are not mutually exclusive in every condition.
posted by elpapacito at 4:37 AM on October 31, 2002


ps - my last comment gives a good example. if words are less important than deeds, then why was eichmann executed while many people who directly killed jews remained free? in fact, i suspect you're uneasily thinking (i assume you've read the book) how your arguments sounds disturbingly like eichmann's defence...
posted by andrew cooke at 4:52 AM on October 31, 2002


I read the whole letter.
I know people like him. They never take any responsibility for any of their actions; everything is always "someone else's fault" no matter what... the "world is out to get them".

These nurses died because this individual refused to take any responsibility for anything in his life. He then sends society a big "screw you" by this letter...I am glad in a way that he wrote it: it gives insight into the sick self-absorption that creates monsters like that.

And I do believe there's a hell, and he's in it.
posted by konolia at 5:05 AM on October 31, 2002


One thing that struck me about the letter this morning was Flores' complete lack of interest in his own children. Even after complaining about his father's disinterest in him, he doesn't mention the births of his children, their names, or include them in his regrets at the end. The only thing about them that rated a mention was the burden of paying for their support. This guy's level of disconnectedness with others was profound, which is probably the reason he was so estranged from others. Perhaps his wife moved 19 times in six years because she was afraid of him.
posted by rcade at 5:29 AM on October 31, 2002


Sorry but realistically I can relate to Flore's thoughts. I have seen society push and push and then act so indignant when the pushee becomes the pusher. Just another out of order sign in a broken society on it's way down. So many of the responses here are eager to demonize the killer and sanitize the victims yet none of us know the behind the scenes. I have known nurses who are assholes.Just once, instead of the usual "they were an angel" remarks, I'd like to hear "she/he didn't deserve to die but as a person, he/she was a complete idiot without a clue".
posted by joemeek at 7:43 AM on October 31, 2002


Civil_Disobedient -- nothing that "happened to" this guy is really out of the ordinary. To assume that no one on this board has had similar problems is a pretty big leap. In fact, without getting all boo-hoo about it, I'd like to put my name at the top of the list.

Honestly, look at his complaints. Divorce. Custody battle. Allegations of abuse. Nothing remotely uncommon. How about "marginal parents?" Yeah, I'm weeping salty tears.

His complaints against the school are even more ridiculous. They wouldn't grant transfer credit. His teacher wouldn't call on him. He failed a couple of classes. Trouble with student loans. Stuck up professors.

Has anybody _not_ gone through these problems? At least some of them, if not all? I'm just not seeing an epic struggle here. I'm seeing a man who feels so entitled to having his own way that he believes that his desire for revenge for minor, minor wrongs trumps other people's lives.

rushmc: I'm glad to see that your compassion for the downtrodden has returned after deciding to throw all telemarketers in jail.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:48 AM on October 31, 2002


For persons unknown to anyone (assumption) contributing to this thread the loud wailing and gnashing of teeth is perplexing. Is the truth absolute, what role does perception play, all I know is that the whole mess is a sorry affair from beginning to end.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2002


Okay, maybe it's the compassion burnout talking, but I do not give a sh*t about this guy's self-percieved problems. I'm tired of people who keep fucking their own lives up and blame it on others. I've seen too many of these a-holes up close and personal:

The guy who spent 6 years in prison for raping 3 women who, when asked to explain what happened, states that "some woman claimed I raped her." When confronted about an attempted assault on a fellow patient, threatens "you don't want to make me mad..."

The woman who stabbed her mother in the back 20 times who comes to me saying "I looked out at the ocean today, it was so beautiful. Then I remembered that my mother's ashes were spread over the ocean. So typical, she's always ruined everything for me."

The budding sex offender who entices a 15 year old into his apartment and then forces her to perform degrading sexual acts on him. When the police show up, he claims that it's her fault, that "she should have told me she was 15." He is later arrested for assaulting another patient and is sent to a treatment facility for sexual offenders.

Sure these are extreme examples but the underlying principle is the same: It's never my fault, it's always their fault. Like many people have said, who hasn't had a couple of shitty instructors? Who hasn't come close to, or in actuality, crashed and burned while trying to achieve important goals? Who hasn't tried to juggle various important obligations and burnt out from the effort? None of his problems were unfixable. He simply decided that that it wasn't his responsibility. His life was a mess and other people were going to have to pay for it.

Is my reaction a puerile and knee-jerk one? Perhaps. Guys like this scare me - who knows who they are going to pick as the locus of all that is bad and wrong in their lives? I don't like being scared. I don't like the idea that I or someone I care about could end up in some guys's crosshairs because he's decided that someone's got to pay for the wrongs that the world has heaped upon him.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:59 AM on October 31, 2002


It reminds me of the cliche (probably from a bad movie) that evil people never think that they are evil, but rather that everyone else is.

And that goes, of course, to a lot of commenters here.

I think there is a misunderstanding about Mr. Flores' powerlessness. It's not so much that he was powerless, as it turned out, but that he was treated as such, and he could not accept that. He wanted reckoning, and perhaps a message to all those who have power over the destinies of others, as qualified and substantial as they may be in their fields, that you need to treat human beings with compassion, or else you put yourself in danger.
Otherwise, what rushmc said.

As to his rationality, this by Anais Nin, "We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are."
posted by semmi at 10:02 AM on October 31, 2002


LittleMissCranky-

The problem I have with arguments like:

"Has anybody _not_ gone through these problems? At least some of them, if not all? I'm just not seeing an epic struggle here. I'm seeing a man who feels so entitled to having his own way that he believes that his desire for revenge for minor, minor wrongs trumps other people's lives."

just because you might be strong enough to endure some hardships that you can't imagine how someone who isn't would respond differently in the same situation. People who are healthy take their health for granted.

How do people who are physically crippled get through life? Everyday life is exponentially harder depending on the disability and the social support network a disabled person has.

Here we have an individual that is obviously emotionally crippled. He has no social support network. He is more than alittle delusional. He responds to the pressures of life in the most inappropriate manner one can. He is obviously unfit for society at this point and is the equivalent of a rabid dog that we would have removed from society if he hadn't done so himself.

What is the point of demonizing this person except to make ourselves feel better for not being them. If you want to express sympathy for the families of the victims this I can understand. Just don't waste your time with "Burn in hell" comments as this person was already there, whether your vision of hell matched his or not.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 10:20 AM on October 31, 2002


Guys like this scare me - who knows who they are going to pick as the locus of all that is bad and wrong in their lives? I don't like being scared. I don't like the idea that I or someone I care about could end up in some guys's crosshairs because he's decided that someone's got to pay for the wrongs that the world has heaped upon him.

It IS scary to think that there are a LOT of people who feel this way out there among us, stewing away just below the boiling point. Most of them will never boil over...but an increasing number are (increasing a) simply because the population and population densities are increasing, b) because the stresses and pressures of 21st century life are overall (admittedly, not in certain particulars) greater than in the past, and c) because our society is increasingly viewing individuals as less important ("cogs" or "numbers"), with less right to just treatment and real recourse to inequity and systemic abuses). Anyone can "go postal" now, and I see it becoming more common in the coming years, not less, and merely condemning it when it happens will do very little toward addressing the root causes of the desperation and the violence.
posted by rushmc at 10:30 AM on October 31, 2002


I just feel so sad. Both from the letter and the angry posters in this thread. The pain and isolation apparent in his letter are doubly troubling because there are so many others like him out there. It is tragic that so many live lives filled with pain, perceived powerlessness and disconnection. And it is tragic that we have so little compassion for those who are suffering. I am not condoning murder. But I am renewed in my faith that there is no hell besides what we create for ourselves here on earth, and I thank God for that. To those of you who want him to burn in hell: who are you to judge?
posted by widdershins at 10:56 AM on October 31, 2002


I'm generally disappointed by the tone and content of these posts.

There are many kinds of violence. Mr. Flores does not appear to be a demon or an insane monster. He does not appear to be motivated by irrational hatred.

He had some bad breaks, he had a rough time, and the people responsible for guiding him and instructing him instead used their power to destroy his life.

It reminds me of the French Revolution. Those in power can only push the disenfranchised so far, and then the disenfranchised rise up and destroy them.

No one deserves to die, he was morally and legally wrong, and he knew it. Until he used the gun he wasn't a good person or a bad person, he was just a human being. He did what most human beings do when the reach their breaking point, he broke.

I suggest you all go home and think about how you can be more compassionate to the human beings in your world. Start by voting Democratic. Start by figuring out who the disenfranchised are and doing something about it. Or keep it simple: Don't be mean to anyone, even if you don't like them. Do your best to be polite and helpful to everyone. Love your frickin' neighbor already.
posted by ewkpates at 11:05 AM on October 31, 2002


Sorry, but I've got no sympathy for people who decide that others should die for minor, even as they are imagined, wrongs.

The difference is that he didn't see them as minor. He saw them as crushing. Not everyone experiences the same reality.
posted by dobbs at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2002


ewkpates: Start by voting Democratic. Start by figuring out who the disenfranchised are and doing something about it.

Flores had more treatment options than many other Arizonans because he was a military veteran and a UA student.

It seems that the taxpayers offered and delivered plenty of help to Flores. Honestly, now. If we all voted Democratic, would Flores have been somehow "enfranchised"?
posted by trharlan at 11:33 AM on October 31, 2002


If this letter was merely a suicide note, I think we all could see how his life felt too crushing for him to continue. But I don't think I can ever understand his killing of other people - he doesn't adequately explain that.
posted by agregoli at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2002


He had some bad breaks, he had a rough time, and the people responsible for guiding him and instructing him instead used their power to destroy his life.

It reminds me of the French Revolution. Those in power can only push the disenfranchised so far, and then the disenfranchised rise up and destroy them.


What? How did these instructors do anything to him that was at all an abuse of power? Asking him to not monopolize class time? Expecting him to adhere to the regulations and requirements of a clinical rotation? Addressing the complaints of staff, fellow students and patients regarding his rude and hostile behavior?


Quite frankly, these are important issues to deal with when training someone - the ability to work in cooperation with a group, follow instructions, and treat people with patience and respect - and they would have been negligent if they didn't confront him about it.

Spare me the lecture on compassion. If I went after every person in power who I thought gave me a raw deal, I'd be up to my knees in dead bodies. And I think everyone feels that way about somebody somewhere. The difference is, most people are responsible enough for their own life that they deal with these kind of obstacles constructively instead of wasting 3 innocent people.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:09 PM on October 31, 2002


It reminds me of the French Revolution. Those in power can only push the disenfranchised so far, and then the disenfranchised rise up and destroy them.

Disenfranchised? I know people who would give their left arm for the opportunities that this guy had. His life story wasn't unusual (I didn't come from a nuclear family either) and he had plenty going for him.

He had next to nothing in common with the French revolutionaries, aside from the fact that they both killed people. He was just a self-absord schmuck who was upset that he wasn't being sufficiently pampered by society, and he decided to kill some people and make a "statement" to the world with a dull, whiny suicide note.
posted by oissubke at 12:12 PM on October 31, 2002


It reminds me of the French Revolution. Those in power can only push the disenfranchised so far, and then the disenfranchised rise up and destroy them.

I'm thinking....Robespierre.

"Disenfranchised? I know people who would give their left arm for the opportunities that this guy had."

{pounds on table}

YES.
posted by clavdivs at 12:37 PM on October 31, 2002


oissubke:

I am not arguing that you should have compassion for this person. I am arguing that you should see him as he was, a sick individual who made the wrong choice. You are falling into the same trap I mentioned in my earlier post:

You are comparing yourself to a sick individual and then wondering why he made the wrong choice. You are not that individual. He didn't have your strengths, you don't have his weaknesses.

To give you an analogy:

You are comparing yourself to a person who has severe cerebal palsy and then wondering why he walks slower than you do.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 1:14 PM on October 31, 2002


Those in power can only push the disenfranchised so far, and then the disenfranchised rise up and...

...destroy the individual lives of other disenfranchised people, while leaving the power structure intact, indeed, strengthened.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:21 PM on October 31, 2002


You are comparing yourself to a person who has severe cerebral palsy and then wondering why he walks slower than you do.

Exactly - we are not all wired the same and have different breaking points. I am the first to criticize people for not taking responsibility for their own lives, but any society has an overall responsibility for every person that is in that society. While the primary responsibility lies with the individual, there are no doubt a number of people who are now feeling pretty bad because they saw someone teetering on the edge and didn't reach out to him to offer a steadying hand.

If we were all capable of being self-sufficient and coping with whatever life throws at us, that would be wonderful. But we aren't and we can't.
posted by dg at 2:29 PM on October 31, 2002


While the primary responsibility lies with the individual, there are no doubt a number of people who are now feeling pretty bad because they saw someone teetering on the edge and didn't reach out to him to offer a steadying hand.

I suspect there are a lot more feeling smug and I-told-you-so-ish, basking in the warmth of their relief that the weirdo (damn, he needs a good media nickname: perhaps "Nurse of Death" or "the Hippocratic Oaf?") didn't get THEM in his random, inexplicable killing spree.

...destroy the individual lives of other disenfranchised people, while leaving the power structure intact, indeed, strengthened.

It's funny(?) because it's true.
posted by rushmc at 2:51 PM on October 31, 2002


I read how this guy was exposed to chemicals a few times in the Gulf War and then read this article . The dots are connecting in a scary way for Vets.
posted by john at 2:57 PM on October 31, 2002


Oh, yeah. Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf war vet.
posted by john at 3:00 PM on October 31, 2002


... there are a lot more feeling smug and I-told-you-so-ish ...

Sadly, you are probably right.
posted by dg at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2002


To call oneself Obiwan even in jest is true hubris and a bit of madness, too... It wa a movie, not reality.....

He sounds very Manichean in his thinking. It seems that most people in his life were in a lose-lose situation in their dealings with him. Also a little bit of paranoia thrown in to boot.

Life is very hard but life is also precious, too bad he did not understand that. Looked for compassion from others but had little for them.

A human tumbling out of control, alas others destroyed in his wake, a waste, doubtfully preventable....
posted by divisible at 2:50 PM on November 1, 2002


To call oneself Obiwan even in jest is true hubris and a bit of madness, too...

Yeah, cuz no one online ever uses names derived from science fiction....
posted by rushmc at 5:40 PM on November 1, 2002


...or popular entertainment.
posted by rushmc at 5:40 PM on November 1, 2002


He included his e-mail address.

What, in case the paper wanted to get in touch with him or something?
posted by tpoh.org at 6:20 PM on November 1, 2002


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