I feel terribly for Wendy Boudreau, the victim of Connor MacCalister’s brutal grocery store attack earlier this year. If Boudreau were a friend or family member, there is no doubt that I would be saddened, angry, and generally devastated. But I also feel badly for MacCalister, who very clearly appears profoundly afflicted by mental illness.
Particularly startling is the ravenous attitude reflected by many online. What is startling is if you check out the social media profiles of the people who are writing the more off-putting things, they appear to otherwise be totally normal, together people.
Maybe people are scared generally, and I get that. While the world is not necessarily more or less dangerous than it has been in the past, we are in touch with terrifyingly newsworthy moments at all times. It can feel like everything is falling down around us. But it doesn’t excuse comments like, “Put the creepy freak in the general population.” What ugly, demented sentiment, and it comes from some lady who appears to love cats and want the world to be a kinder place based on some of what she’s shared.
But, you know, achievement unlocked, I guess? You’re posturing as better than a mentally disturbed murderer on the Internet? Maybe aim higher than for confidently feeling like you’re better than last place, and maybe don’t kick down in order to feel a sense of validation.
What is especially interesting is the demand for the death penalty, or lament that murder by state is not an option in Maine. The refrains are similar: “Too bad we have to waste tax dollars to keep this freak alive.” The sentiment seemingly ignores that prisoners on death row cost states considerably more than those who serve life sentences as a means of reinforcing the fantasy that there are easy fixes to making our lives less chaotic. The tricky and difficult reality for most, one that the Internet appears to help us handily avoid, is that this is better achieved by shifting perspective than holding onto the belief that we can kill, imprison, bomb and shoot our way to stability.