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Christopher Harper-Mercer and the literature of rejection

  The Danny Lang Center at Umpqua Community College. The college was the latest site of a murderous rampage.

The Danny Lang Center at Umpqua Community College. The college was the latest site of a murderous rampage.

The latest American mass-murderer – Christopher Harper-Mercer, who gunned down nine people and injured nine more, two critically, at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Ore. Oct. 1 – is also the latest example in what I call the literature of rejection, someone with a disproportionate rage at life’s inequities and disappointments who decides to take it out on others. The cast of characters includes mass murderers (Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden), dictators (Adolf Hitler) and assassins (John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald).

In Harper-Mercer’s case, he had been rejected by a firearms’ academy – too immature and entitled, what a surprise – and he didn’t have a girlfriend. This would be laughable if it weren’t so deadly. I have long wondered what role male hormones – the literature of rejection is overwhelmingly male – and undirected male sexual energy play in violence. Note that some of the 9/11 bombers spent time at strip clubs before their heinous endgame. Was the lure of a paradise that sounds an awful lot like an eternity of strip clubs part of their motivation?

Had Harper-Mercer had a girlfriend and a more purposeful life might those 18 victims be going about their business today? Or was he just some psychological time bomb who would’ve gone off regardless of the circumstances? I’m not qualified to say but I do know this: The presence of such individuals in the world is all the more reason for strict gun control.

Since you can’t necessarily control what volatile people do, the least you can do is try to control how they do it.