Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jonathan Zarate + S.A.B.E.R.

Warning: Graphic Language to Illustrate the Point

Conservative voice William F. Buckley wonders what is happening to the youth today? Evil abounds. Jonathan Zarate the 18 y/o who murdered the young girl next door is the latest example.

And this rotten kid is going to plead the insanity defense. And his moronic parents (perhaps one has a vicious temper or perhaps in their divorces and marriages and instability the kids were left to fend for themselves--that never happens) will claim shock and dismay.

Mr. Buckley wants to know why. It is simple, really.

In my seminars I teach something called the SABER system. It goes like this:
  • Stimulus--a girl laughs
  • Assessment--she's laughing at me
  • Belief--she thinks I'm stupid
  • Emotion--I'm angry
  • Response--Beat her until she can never laugh again, stab her to make sure she's really dead and stuff a rag down her throat. That will teach her.

Mr. Buckley wants to know why on earth did he jump to the murder conclusion? How has society changed so horribly?

Now, our young psychopath here, learned through family teaching. Say, for example, he heard his parents screaming: "Your mom is such a bitch!" "Your dad is a selfish asshole!" Or maybe he heard these musings, "If it weren't for my ex-S.O.B., I'd have money, you could go to college, my life wouldn't have been wasted...", fill in the blank.

What is the message in these words? What message do we send every day? "I would be happy....but someone else controls the buttons." How many times do we say this? If my boss did [ ], then I'd be happy. If my husband did [ ], then I'd be happy. If my mother-in-law wasn't so [ ], then I'd be happy.

We essentially play victim. Oh, it's fun, admit it. We all do it. It lets us off the hook for our crappy attitude and blames someone else. Yippeee!! Except for the small little problem: Since our emotional state is in someone elses control, we can't do anything to fix it either. They are in charge, not us. Ultimately, it feels crappy to be at the world's whim.

But this isn't the only factor that leads to the emotional state that is readied for murder. There is another: Entitlement. Along with believing my life's happiness depends on someone else (listen to all the rhetoric, lots of it in the Christian community, btw, saying "you make me so happy, complete, blabity, blab, blab"), there is also this belief that we DESERVE a certain thing--whether that thing is a car (steal it if I can't afford it), a pair of shoes (ditto), or that thing can be more esoteric like "respect", or in the street lingo "props" or "cred". You name "it", it's all the same. The key is "I deserve it."

Now this respect thing is deadly serious. Eye contact is a sign of dominance, laughing is a sign of contempt, all messages are related down these inane pathways that lead to "king of the hill". Does this sound like some documentary about Kimono Dragons? It might as well be, as the neurology involved is hardly touching the frontal lobe--it's all primal and instinct and survival.

Now marry this belief system: externalized happiness and entitlement with chronic desensitation. We have all been desensitized: CSI is our nation's favorite television show. Video games graphically display repetitive murder and maim for enjoyment. In fact, desensitation is so effective, the military actually uses games (AKA simulations) to help guys actually pull the trigger when in real combat. It gets a lot easier when you've done it hundreds or even millions of times before.

But these things alone will not create a murdering or covering-for-murder profile. In a relatively stable home, where peace, predictability, and a sense of justice rule, this desensitation and belief system will not necessarily result in this behavior. Maybe the kid will get angry, but rather than lash out, he'll reign himself in. Maybe he'll just become a ruthless, entitled business leader or a supremely sarcastic spouse who enjoys seeing his wife and children humiliated.

That's the kid in a stable home. Place this same child in an unstable home--moving, parents trading the "difficult" kid, neglect (oh, well, the kid dropped out--he's just like my ex-wife, stupid and lazy), or worse, abuse (yelling and screaming counts as abuse all of you who put yourself on a high horse because you won't lay a finger on him). Maybe the parents try to make up for the fact that they screwed things up relationally so they give the kid everything he wants (a computer to IM his buddies at 2 a.m. perhaps?) but won't give him what he really needs: morals and boundaries and discipline.

Is it really shocking that this reprehensible murder occurred in a community where the median income is $110,000. The social afflictions that began in the black community and resulted in all sorts of gang violence and other social ills now also infect the middle class.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the venerable Senator from New York predicted this course of events some years ago. Pregnancy out-of-wedlock, divorce resulting in kids being raised by one parent create social problems.

I bet Mr. Moynihan never envisioned the violence that would be pounded into the heads of these children, too, to keep them busy while they are left alone.

People can say what they want but here's what I'd bet a lot of money on: Jonathan Zarate and his brother and friend didn't go to church regularly, moved often, lived with mom and dad as the parents saw fit, hated the judicial system because of rulings foisted on him without his imput, found school difficult, witnessed lack of emotional control, was indulged out of guilt, and maybe was abused, too.

Maybe you think I believe that he should be let off the hook. Why wouldn't he become a raving murderer is the better question right? No, I believe Jonathan should reap the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison with no hope of parole. The latter being a truly cruel punishment. The problem I see is that this consequence will probably be the first one he'll receive in his short, hardened life.

What I find more amazing than his gruesome murder: that it doesn't happen more often. How long do we think we can let kids raise themselves? How many times do we say, "they'll be okay"?

As for the 14 year-old psychos in training who aided and abetted this 18 year old? Their morality is NOT: THOU SHALT NOT MURDER. Their morality is: ALWAYS GET MY BUDDY'S BACK NO MATTER WHAT. (Cause no one else has our back....that's for sure.)

More blogs about the woodlands rita.