While it is obviously vital to detect and deconstruct the fictitious narratives that often accompany mass events charged with political significance, here we will discuss another potential line of thought that should perhaps be pursued: the anticipation of mass fraud.
[Image Credit: Businessweek.com]
Clearly, such a project confronts several major challenges. Foremost among them, perhaps, is accommodating the necessity to place strictures upon conjecture that are sufficient to distinguish reasoned supposition from wild speculation.
In recognition of this chief concern, the following addresses the FSU active shooting and applies a tentative, simple framework that is intended to guide the anticipation of mass fraud. The output of the analysis is, it is believed, a reasonable conjecture as to the occurrence of another conceivably linked mass event that will contain elements of fraud.
The elements of the simple framework, which can interact depending on the particular analysis one is performing, are:
1. A careful analysis of empirical irregularities associated with previous mass events reasonably believed to have been, at least in certain respects, fraudulent
2. Close inspection of timing issues pertaining to the release of information/disinformation regarding previous mass events that carry mass political significance
Discussion of the two elements is in order, but first it should be noted that the framework is inherently domain-constrained. That is, it is intended to apply only to the anticipation of mass events the occurrence of which can be reasonably anticipated because they might be viewed, on an empirical basis as subtended by previous events (this will become more clear as we proceed).
In other words, the set of potential mass frauds that cannot be conjectured, in specific ways, to build on the momentum of previous mass frauds are excluded from the coverage of the framework.
The elements can be fleshed out with application to the FSU active shooting. With respect to the first element and considering, at this point, the FSU active shooting as a “previous” mass event, we can observe that active shootings in which active shooters have returned to schools they once attended (e.g., several years prior) are, empirically, very rare.
Furthermore, Myron May (the alleged FSU active shooter) is said to have sent 10 packages before the shooting. I am not sure, but May might well have been the first active shooter to have done something like this. We might add that May is said, in the just-now linked CNN article, to have believed that the recipients were to receive the packages on Friday, the day after the shooting. Why May, if he were planning on a Thursday shooting, wouldn’t have sent the “Priority Mail” packages earlier is a reasonable question to ask.
Moreover, are we to believe that May’s selection of Priority Mail rather than, say, Express mail is to be attributed to financial concerns, mental illness, or some combination thereof? Given the circumstances, that seems rather unlikely. For example, May, a former prosecutor, had to have been aware that any packages he sent that were still in the system would be intercepted subsequent to the shooting, yet he seems to have believed it very important that the packages be received. Of course, it is possible that the packages are shams.
Another empirical oddity is that May seems to have been more itinerant than typical active shooters are, having taken up residences in, for example (there may be others) Texas and New Mexico before his return to Tallahassee.
And, bearing on the possibility that May might have been a TI, active shooters don’t typically hear voices and complain of energy weapons being directed against them either, although there are of course other examples of this having happened, as we saw with Aaron Alexis (another alliterative name, somewhat curiously—and one wonders whether, for some reason, the frequency of alliterative names among TIs is statistically greater than in the general population).
With reference to this last set of empirical irregularities, the expectation has to be that the general public will attribute May’s doings to a mental illness such as schizophrenia. What we get, therefore, are empirical questions in connection with the factor analytic structure of, say, schizophrenia as opposed to TI symptom clusters. For example, how often do schizophrenics exhibit the degree of itineracy that May apparently did?
If May was a TI, the empirical fact that active shooters very rarely execute active shootings at schools they once attended could be especially significant. A priori, May could have acted at any of the other locations he resided, but he acted at FSU—and precipitously, quite soon after his arrival in Tallahassee.
Alone, the fact that he had ties to Tallahassee is not necessarily sufficient to account for the fact that the active shooting event took place at FSU since, as was stated above, active shooters at schools have only very rarely executed shootings at schools they’ve once attended. And, more generally, active shooters, whether they shoot in schools or not, aren’t typically “itinerant returners.”
In fact, if May was a TI, it is reasonable to suppose that he was directed to FSU—which might have been made easier to do by virtue of the fact that he had ties to the location. Thus, empirical considerations might be taken to suggest that the FSU event location was statistically very unusual, but perhaps not random.
This combination of empirically unusual but perhaps not random should, I believe, be a core background idea when attempting to anticipate future mass frauds. So why FSU?
This brings us to the second component, which has to do with the timing of information/disinformation relating to previous mass events charged with political significance.
Under this component, we might want to recognize that we don’t know what might be in the ten packages May sent, if he sent them at all. But that we are to believe he did send them might be all that matters. The information, if such it is, in those ten packages might well provide for a steady stream of injections that help keep the FSU shooting front and center until it is time to move to the next stage.
Perhaps more importantly, though, we should consider that a day after the FSU event, the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate released a 114 page report relating to Adam Lanza and hammering on gun control and mental illness. And, referencing the report, CNN is banging on about “Red Flags Missed at Newtown.” Many other “news” outlets have behaved similarly—seizing on, for some reason, the FSU event in particular, as an opportunity to re-inject the Sandy Hook fraud into mass consciousness.
It should go without saying that the 114 page report could have been released a week ago, or two weeks ago, etc. Instead, it was released the day after the FSU event. Partly, this functions to inculcate the notion that TI cases are simply mental illness cases, so that we are told implicitly to identify persons such as Mayes with the Adam Lanza construct.
But it may also be that the timing of the release has even more ominous implications. Largely, the Sandy Hook operation was a failure on the issue of gun control, although it has attained considerable success along the mental health monitoring front.
And yet, even from the standpoint of gun control, Sandy Hook still retains appreciable potential in the sense that it still reverberates in the public psyche, and the reverberations might well be harnessed to other active shooting events so as to maximize cumulative impact.
On this score, the evidence is clear that Sandy Hook has been tethered to FSU. This is the upshot of the analysis under component 2. The upshot of the component 1 analysis, you may recall, was that FSU may well have been a non-random target destination.
When these two conclusions are synthesized, we arrive at the assessment that the Sandy Hook and FSU events might be parlayed so as to result in something even more impactful than Sandy Hook.
Given Sandy Hook’s domination of the media cycle, such an event would have to sort into the register of the “very big” indeed. It may prove worthwhile to think here of the fact that while Sandy Hook was momentous, it did not involve victimization relating to a national institution steeped in tradition—an institution such as the NCAA Championship game.
FSU is very well situated to participate in the ridiculous four team playoff scheme that has been constructed (and it is worth noting that Condi Rice sits on the Playoff Selection Committee). Even with a loss, it is quite conceivable that FSU would be selected anyway; as of right now FSU is undefeated.
Another active shooting at a university whose football team is participating in the four team playoff would resonate profoundly if carefully, and malevolently, timed. ESPN fanatics would be reached for days on end, as well as causal viewers of the extravaganza.
Of course, the playoff games will take place during winter break, but certain persons will be on campus anyway—and there are always the early days of December. And, there is always the mind-bogglingly horrific possibility that the contact could be in January, and very directly tied to the games.
Such an event might well prompt even a “Republican” Congress to pass gun control legislation.
In sum, it is perhaps inherent in the nature of anticipation of such events as these that the probability of something like the above transpiring should be accounted as rather low, but the prospect does arguably have some empirical support in active shooting data as well as other information—and it meshes very well with Obama’s “lame-duck” determination to secure his fraudulent legacy.
Dr. Jason Kissner is associate professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno. He holds degrees from Florida State University, The University of Florida, and Cornell University School of Law. Kissner’s research interests include active shootings and self-control. You can reach him at crimprof2010[ at]hotmail.com.