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February 27 2018

Jordan Peterson on the Nihilism that Contributes to the Creation of a School Shooter

by Charlotte Hays

Canadian philosopher Jordan Peterson's remarks on what produces school shooters on Tucker Carlson last night are so worth hearing that I am simply going to post the Youtube link to the interview and urge you to listen to it.

I haven't been caught up in the Jordan Peterson craze, but last night Peterson addressed aspects of the shootings that are too often missed or left unsaid. Key among these is what Peterson called the "nihilism" that affects school shooters.

Peterson said that school shooters turn to these kinds of rampages "because they are nihilistic and desperate" and otherwise their lives "don't have a purpose." As a society, Peterson said, we "need to take philosophical and religious issues more seriously."

Carlson asked why the shooters are always young men and pointed out that some critics attribute this to "toxic masculinity." Peterson said the unspeakable: boys are different from girls. But it is wrong to "smear the idea of masculinity by confusing competence with tyranny." He called this "a pathological way of looking at the world."

Peterson also raised an issue I find troubling: the massive coverage of these shootings. Having been a reporter, I balk at the idea of censorship, by the state or by the reporter who withholds information she feels the public can't handle. However, Peterson said that printing the names of these school shooters is problematic because "they keep track of each other and there is a competitive element" and for these antisocial young men "notoriety is better than being ignored."

I urge--no, beg--you to listen to this interview. Peterson says things that are so sane but that we are not hearing in the current debate.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Venker has a piece on how fatherlessness and the breakdown of the family are affecting boys. None of this, I hasten to add, reduces the culpability of an antisocial shooter--but these shootings should nevertheless make us think about some changes in our society that may help create an environment for these massacres.

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