The recent saga of Chris Dorner has the media types dusting off all the Hollywood fiction they can find. It’s only natural when trying to make sense of what we don’t understand to attempt making correlations to things we have experienced. In the absence of similar experience, we turn to the shared experiences of others. Lacking even that, we go searching for anything we can twist into a shape similar enough to the misunderstood event to make some sort of comparison.

The remainder of this article will rely heavily on the work of Lt. Col. (Retired) Dave Grossman http://www.killogology.com So, I hope this is sufficient citation. Thanks, Dave for all you’ve given to the profession of arms.

When all we can find that seems to relate are Hollywood images, we get a really wrapped view of reality. Grossman tells the story of the Secret Service Agent who was shot in the defense of President Regan. This man was a 200 pound athlete and he was charging at the shooter when he was struck by a single .22 caliber round. If you go back and watch the video, this raging bull of a man reacts to his gunshot by flinging his body backward. Why? Is it possible for such an impact to cause such a thing? No, it isn’t. If you’ve ever hunted, you know that you can hit a 100 pound deer broadside with a 180 grain .30 caliber bullet and the deer doesn’t fly away! They usually take off running! So, why? He did a half a back flip because every movie and television show he’d ever seen told him that that’s what happens when you get shot.

Now what about Mr. Dorner? Some in the news have already begun to talk about police hiring practices and how they need to stop hiring military veterans. Chris Dorner was in the military for a while. Chris Dorner never saw combat and was not suffering from PTSD. But golly this story sure is a lot like Rambo! The poor messed up vet comes back from the war and can’t adjust. All he knows how to do is kill people. So, he may as well shoot up all the cops in a small town. Be very careful when you read descriptions of this murderer in the news. You will find they like to throw tags on him that sound impressive. He was not a member of special forces. He was not an elite warrior. He was a guy who served some time in the naval reserves and once, he went to Bahrain. Bahrain is the place where the guys in combat occasionally get to visit for conferences and R&R. It’s a resort. You can take your family there on vacation! We owe our returning veterans so very much for the sacrifices they have made. Let’s stop the spread of stupid mythology that hurts them. It’s hard enough for them to find work after the military. If we make it harder for them to continue to serve us on our police forces, we really are shooting ourselves in the foot and missing out on the best, brightest and most talent members of our society.

Ok, what if Dorner was suffering from PTSD? Personally, I’m fed up with all the press the disorder has been getting in recent years. Colonel Grossman has probably studied it more than anyone on the planet and points out that it is real and people do suffer. However, it isn’t a life sentence. It is treatable, curable, and in most cases mild. Very very very few members of this current warrior class suffer from actual PTSD. Many many many wannabes and moochers are pulling in VA checks for PTSD. Grossman submits that most PTSD is not caused by being scared or seeing terrible things. Rather it results from an attempt to reconcile our natural aversion to killing another human with having done it and been rewarded for it. So, simply, if you haven’t been down in Baghdad or Helmand shooting evil people in the face, you likely aren’t a PTSD casualty of this war. It’s also worth mentioning that it is an extremely rare event for a PTSD patient to commit murder.

Grossman does address one type of PTSD patient that isn’t treatable. Those who have committed atrocities never recover. So, if you can suffer from PTSD after death, I hope this murdering piece of human waste suffers eternally.

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In my last post, I discussed the term normal based on the definition of its root word. Now, I’d like to explore another side of normal that I’m not sure everyone sees. This topic hinges on my observation that certain behaviors in our culture are “becoming” normal that would not have been considered so even a few years ago. For discussion I’d like to set an arbitrary limit on what is normal. So, let’s say a behavior is normal if it applies to at least one-third of the group in question. Sound good? Well, it’s my article, so you’ll have to live with my rule.

According to the US Census Bureau, the American divorce rate is somewhere over 50%; 41% of all births are to unwed mothers and 30% of all children grow up in single-parent homes. By my definition, then it is normal for people to be divorced and normal for women to give birth outside of marriage. One could conclude that those two factors are leading the single-parent homes statistic into normalcy. That is, they are causing that number to grow and therefore become the norm.

According to the US Federal Reserve, the average (normal) American family debt ratio is 16%. That doesn’t sound too bad and the trend is going in the right direction, but that tied to the paltry amount of money the normal household saves makes financial instability the country’s norm.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly 36% of adults aged 20 and over are obese. For children 2 to 19 the number is just under 17%.

Where am I going with these random facts gleaned from the Internet? I don’t want to be normal!!! I don’t wish normal on my children or my grandchildren! The American dream used to be normal. Hard work, respectfulness, caring for others and not complaining used to net a person prosperity. We’re heading to a place where fathers in the home are optional. They used to be relied on to provide. Now the state will meet your needs and if you want more money, single mom, just go get pregnant again! I don’t want this kind of normal! Thomas Paine wrote some pamphlets a couple hundred years ago entitled “Common Sense”. Written today, they’d have to simply be called “Sense” because there’s nothing common about it. Each one would have to come with a glossary to define words like sense and prudence.

Today in the US we send our kids to state run schools so they can learn about different forms of sexual expression and that broken homes are really just non-traditional households. The basics of a classical education have been lost. Teachers can’t give homework because the kids will refuse to do it. Good teachers are hobbled by having to teach to the test. Achievement has been marginalized by ridiculous grading methods and an “every kid gets a trophy” mentality. We should be less worried about our kids being shot at school and more worried that they’re being indoctrinated into a culture of low morals, low intellect and low aims. The odds they’ll die by homicide or suicide at school is 1 in 1 million (NPR). The odds they will learn that the New Deal was the best thing to happen to America and that rich white people are evil is 1 in 1.

Our young people are taught more often by their peers than by adults. They flock to anyone they think is telling them the truth or at least promising them a fun time. As a result, more young people in America can identify the latest pop icon than can tell you who Jefferson or Madison were. More adults in this nation can name the Ice Road Truckers than can name the twelve apostles. The sheep have lost the ability for independent thought. They can only follow the masses and cling to entertainment as their god.

It should tells us something that Dr. Laura Schlesinger had a very successful career and made a lot of money by simply telling people to do what they already knew was right. Dave Ramsey is currently building a business empire. What is he selling? Our grandparents’ advice: don’t spend more than you make, save for a rainy day and pay cash for everything. Do we need to make him rich for telling us that?!?!

No, I don’t want normal. I despise this new normal. I will continue to walk the rougher dirtier road of thinking for myself. I will home school my children, attend “church” with a few friends in a living room, I will largely ignore pop culture and instead fill my mind with the old normal.

What do you think?

What is normal? Well, in one sense, it is a good thing. According to about.com sociology guide Ashley Crossman, “norms are the specific cultural expectations for how to behave in a given situation. They are the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which the members of a culture behave.” One type of norm is a law. Laws are simply societal norms which are enforced by officers of the state. So, being normal just means that one abides by the established norms. From this point of view it is evident that norms are negatively enforced. When one steps outside the norm, they pay for it in some way. If the norm is a law like a traffic rule, the offender may be made to forfeit some money. If the offense is murder, the offender could pay with their life. Laws are the norms we have decided are important enough that they should be formalized, codified and enforced. What about informal norms?

I have mixed feelings about all of the press lately received by the various anti-bullying campaigns. On the one hand, I think all people should be treated with respect and fairness. On the other, I wonder if these campaigns are aimed at bullies or at age-old norm-enforcing behavior. When I think of a bully, I think about the mean kid who picks on anybody weaker. In my experience, these kids always got what they deserved eventually. Listening to commentators on TV, I think they are targeting normal childish attitudes towards those who violate the norms of the micro society of their school. I don’t think this is a valuable use of time and effort. They always try to tie the bad actions of some poor angry kid to the fact that he or she was made fun of for being a certain way. I don’t want to sound cold, but if you think little Suzy committed suicide “because” the other kids called her ugly, I think you are mistaken. Committing violence on a person is a psychopathic act. Kids name call and poke fun. They have for thousands of years. More likely causal in Suzy’s actions are the lack of sound relationships at home.

I really do believe that being picked on in our youth is a valuable thing to go through. I was called a name once and it made me think, “Does that really apply to me?” It did. So, I changed and am so much better for it. I know others who were ridiculed for being chubby when they were younger. It caused them to worry about their physiques and as adults they are better off. The fear that some one may get bullied has led many schools to institute zero tolerance policies toward fighting. Now, imagine three young boys. One is short, skinny and studious; one is tall, overweight and as mean as his alcoholic father; the third boy is tall, strong and destined to be the captain of the football team in a few years. The big fat kid decides he hates the little skinny goody two-shoes and he’s going to whoop him. Between classes, he grabs the little guy by the neck and proceeds to give him a thrashing. The future football star could easily intervene but knows he’ll be in trouble at home if he gets in trouble at school. The zero tolerance policy says any kid caught fighting will be expelled. So, the young jock stays out of it. A teacher comes upon the scene and breaks up the fight. The bully gets expelled. Hooray, right? Sure, but so does the skinny kid! You see, he was getting his butt kicked which is a form, albeit a bad one, of fighting.

When I was a kid in school, enforcing the norms of our culture was largely left to us and we all learned how to be normal. Well, most of us anyway. Today, the administrative agents of the state step in and try to stop this practice and in so doing, they prevent norming at a critical time in a child’s life and they shrug off unintended consequences that hurt good kids. Do radio ads that tell kids to stop bullying really make mean kids play nice?

Tumbleweed

Tumbleweeds are blown about by the wind and travel or stay put by its mercy. It does this because it loses its roots. We risk becoming a nation of tumbleweeds if we don’t remember our roots and fight to keep them under us. Coincidentally, tumbleweed is a military brevity word meaning situational awareness lost.