Watching all the Bad News

I’ve been following the siege in Mumbia, which finally ended early this morning.  Plus, the story of the Walmart employee who was trampled to death.  I vaguely remember almost being trampled, although I forget the circumstances.  But I remember the sense that the people about to trample me didn’t even see me.  That term “blind panic” really does describe it. Something happened to cause the crowd I was in to fear.  Fortunately I didn’t panic, quickly spotted where no one else was headed and jumped there.  I was mostly lucky though, that there was a spot to jump to.  It’s hard to blame people who are terrified and don’t know what they’re doing, but I still remember hating them, just watching in horror and hating them.  I guess I was being only human too.

I gotta believe that no one in that Walmart crowd meant for that to happen, and we know from history and countless experiments how something like this can happen, the crowd-mind and lack of individual responsibility, but still.  I read that when employees asked the people to leave afterwards, that someone had died as a result of what they had done people continued to shop. That I find harder to understand.

Back to Mumbai, how do people get this damaged?  Interview after interview of people who managed to escape almost all use the same word to describe the killers:  remorseless.  They killed children for God’s sake.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “Watching all the Bad News

  1. What happened at Walmart is horrendous. I also can’t believe that people continued to shop after what happened.

    As for Mumbai and other places that are attacked by terrorists, we should all pray for them and let’s hope Obama can help in some way bring peace.

  2. I think that lots of times people who commit atrocities like this are on hardcore drugs, not necessarily as addicts but more to give a “boost” during the killing spree so that they’re able to max out their body’s endurance and go long periods without sleep. The troops in Iraq reported facing jihadists who exhibited signs of being on drugs, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all that the Mumbai terrorists were hopped-up on more than one thing. That heavily altered state of mind also makes it easier to do things that normally would cause pause, like the torture and mass murder that happened in India.

  3. Very very very very good point. I think the news said these guys were on cocaine and LSD.

  4. Apparently cocaine, LSD, and steroids were used in Mumbai. Here and here are mentions of extensive drug use by the jihadist fighters during the battle of Fallujah in ’05.

    I think in both cases, though, the drugs were a means to an end: it didn’t create the intent to murder and terrorize as many as possible, it just made it easier to carry out, mentally as well as physically.

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