The Second Version

06/12/07

Mengamuk 2007

It is interesting to explore a bit of the history and distribution of killing sprees. Mengamuk (to go mad with rage) is the Malay word for the phenomenon, but many languages have equivalent expressions - in Italian, an episode of murderous rage is often called raptus (di follia - "of insanity" is frequently attached). The words raptus and rapture share the same root. The Norse instead had the berserker, a warrior unleashing his fury against the enemies in battle. Cases of "divine possession" of warriors who then fight with superhuman vigor are part even of the Greek mithology.

Notice anything? Yes, the mengamuk phenomenon vastly predates the invention of firearms. Even today, in south-east Asia the weapons of choice remain bladed ones.
One may argue that firearms make killing sprees more lethal, but even that is debatable: the Filipino man in the story cited above killed 10 people with a bladed weapon; according to the 1911 Webster Enciclopedia:
Thus, in 1634, the eldest son of the raja of Jodhpur ran amok at the court of Shah Jahan, failing in his attack on the emperor, but killing five of his officials. During the 18th century, again, at Hyderabad (Sind), two envoys, sent by the Jodhpur chief in regard to a quarrel between the two states, stabbed the prince and twenty-six of his suite before they themselves fell.
These casualty figures are similar if not higher than those of some modern-day killing sprees involving firearms.

Episodes of raptus (as separated from passional murder) in Italy occur most often within married couples or families, and rarely involve people out of blood or close friendship bonds. The weapons used by the killers are the most disparate: I've heard of knives, axes, hammers, iron bars and other blunt objects - and of course guns. In a particularly horrible case, a petrol station owner being tried (if I remember correctly; it was long ago) for sexual violence against his children forced himself and his whole family into a puddle of gasoline and set everything on fire.
There is something dark and bloody in the human heart.
Indeed, I say, and no amount of gun control is going to change that.

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2 Commenti:

  • Back in the '90s in UK, after some Columbine-type shooting spree, they banned privately owned firearms. Immediately after there was a case of raptus killing with hunting knives and they banned hunting knives. I guess they will be banning Chef Tony next. That's how faulty the whole concept is.

    Di Anonymous Anonimo, Alle 7/12/07 14:52  

  • I recall the recent idiocy in the UK with the proposal of a ban on pointy knives - where carrying a knife is already prohibited.

    The bottom line is - to paraphrase Stephen King - you kill with your heart, not with weapons.

    Di Blogger Fabio, Alle 7/12/07 15:42  

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