Well a young man … he ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days.


In case you were wondering, The Stone is a “forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.” This is a long and worthwhile read. Right, wrong or indifferent, it represents an attempt to think about root causes of phenomena, rather than our glib tendency as a nation to skate along the realm of symptoms.

Guns and the Decline of the Young Man, by Christy Wampole (The Stone, part of the New York Times Opinionator blog)

Adam Lanza was a young man. Jacob Roberts was a young man. James Holmes is a young man. Seung-Hui Cho was a young man. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were young men.

We can all name a dozen or so hypotheses about why they kill: their parents’ unlocked gun cabinet, easy access to weapons on the Internet, over- or under-medication, violent video games and TV programs, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed mental disorders, abusive or indifferent parents, no stable social network, bullying. However, young women are equally exposed to many of the same conditions yet rarely turn a weapon on others. This leaves us wondering about the young men.

There is something about life in the United States, it seems, that is conducive to young men planning and executing large-scale massacres. But the reasons elude us …