Thoughts On The Sikh Temple Tragedy
Another American heartbreak. It’s really impossible to make sense of tragedies piled upon tragedies and the loss of life. I have questions, though.
1. I read about concern from some pundits about the fact this racist killer (we are trying to avoid naming him) was in the military at some point. Some are also mentioning the June 2012 murder at Fort Bragg and the horrific mass-murder at Fort Hood in 2009 as if there is a link. Is there?
Some believe military culture or service should be examined as contributing to mass murder. Is this a good idea?
2. I read about concern from army psychiatrists and a Sikh in the U.S. military about falsely blaming military culture or military service for the recent Sikh Temple shooting. A military commentator pointed out that the shooter was never deployed and had been less-than-honorably discharged. He also had been demoted. Clearly, he wasn’t wanted by the military.
All in all, I’m really comfortable blaming killers, personally and directly.
3. What about another killer, the Fort Hood killer, who was in the military? Is there a link, there? Are this shooting and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting both hate crimes? Both killers were almost certainly motivated by racial/religious bigotry. We know in the instance of Fort Hood the killer shouted religious slogans.
But there is a difference.
It seems in the case of the Sikh Temple killer, the military recognized this guy had problems and got rid of him. In the other case, the Fort Hood case in 2009, the military ignored the killer’s problems, overlooked them almost willfully. Why? Any ideas?
4. Are both these acts terrorism? Both killers clearly aimed to terrorize as they took innocent lives. Does this make them mentally ill? Many say the army psychiatrist killer of Fort Hood was mentally ill. Others say he sounded like a fanatical bigot. Is hatred and bigotry a mental illness?
5. How important is it that we classify the motivation for these murders and label them correctly? From a legal perspective, it’s important.
For the families of the victims; I think so, it’s important.
Classifying these murders might help us stay on the same page when analyzing what happened. This might help us understand how to look for and prevent future rampages like these.
For psychologists, too. What about for lawmakers?
6. What kind of deterrent is there for racist terrorists who don’t mind dying in the commission of their vile crimes? What does it take to deter a Fort Hood shooter or a Sikh Temple shooter? What is the line between deterrence/prevention and living in a free society?
After all there are plenty of racists (unfortunately) who don’t go around murdering people (fortunately). Is racism or anti-religion bigotry a justification for hatred and violence? Would these people be killers even if they weren’t taught to hate? (I know this sounds bizarre but it is true that some aggressive people seem to gravitate towards hate-groups, as much as hate-groups inculcate violence and aggression into members.)
7. The Sikh Templer killer served, at some point, in psy-ops. The Fort Hood killer was a psychiatrist. Is an interest in human psychology or behavior or the brain a link in some way? This idea sounded odd to me at first, but then a colleague who is a forensic psychologist specializing in personality assessment mentioned that he has seen a lot of criminals fascinated by psychology, especially abnormal psychology, and he reminded me that the Batman killer was studying neuroscience, certainly a related topic.
8. The police saved lives by their quick response. They are to be commended for their bravery.
9. Next time you see someone who chooses to dress the way his religious brothers and sisters dress, try to think good thoughts.
10. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives. The U.N.-related United Sikhs released the known names of the victims (from United Sikhs):
Seeta Singh, a priest; Parkash Singh, a priest; Ranjit Singh; Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the temple; and Subegh Singh and Parmjit Kaur Toor.
The following people were critically injured, according to the post: Punjab Singh, who was said to be in extremely critical condition, and Santokh Singh. “He is in serious condition too,” the post says.
The Journal Sentinel listed three victims of fatal shootings: Kaleka, 65; Parkash Singh, who was nearing 40; and Suveg Singh Khattra, 84.
The paper quoted Kaleka’s son as saying that when the gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple on Sunday, Kaleka tried to attack the shooter outside the temple. Wounded in his lower extremities, Kaleka, 65, made it inside, hid with others in a room, and died there.
Parkash Singh had been an assistant priest at the temple for six or seven years, said Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin. Parkash Singh went back to India in June to bring back his wife and two children – a young son and daughter, both under age 12 – to live here. About eight weeks ago, he returned to Oak Creek.
Suveg Singh Khattra was described as a native of the Punjab region of India who moved to America in 2004 to live with his son.
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2012). Thoughts On The Sikh Temple Tragedy. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/08/thoughts-on-the-sikh-temple-tragedy/