After the shocking massacre at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, we noted that every serial killer on record and many other mass murderers had a history of abusing and killing animals of other kinds before moving on to killing humans. So we wondered if the suspect in the movie massacre would turn out to fit the pattern, too.
Some insight comes from Dr. Alka Chandna in an opinion column for McClatchy-Tribune News Service:
[A] look into alleged shooter James E. Holmes’ history reveals that he was immersed in a field of study – neuroscience – in which violence against helpless sentient beings is deeply ingrained.
Chandna, who oversees laboratory investigations for PETA, notes the kind of activities in which neuroscience students are typically involved.
Neuroscience departments at universities across the country subject animals to painful, terrifying experiments. In a decades-long series of highly invasive experiments to study visual tracking, monkeys have coils implanted in both eyes; the tops of their skulls cut off so that electrodes can be inserted into their brains; and screws, bolts and plates attached directly to their skulls so that their heads can be bolted into place. The monkeys are then kept constantly thirsty so that they will cooperate for a sip of water. Experimenters call this “developing a work ethic.”
Chandna writes that Holmes’ resume indicates that he would have participated in brain-mapping experiments, in which, typically, songbirds have holes drilled in their heads and electrodes implanted in their brains. He would have participated in the dissection of hummingbirds and mice. And he would have been exposed to experiments in which the tops of cats’ skulls are lopped off, squirrel monkeys are addicted to various drugs and then strapped into restraint chairs and shocked, and baby monkeys are taken from their mothers so that experimenters can measure the impact that this early-life trauma has on addiction in the monkeys. What happens when an education in killing and torturing helpless animals meets up with a serious case of mental and emotional disturbances?
And this is part of developing a “work ethic”? Quite the opposite; it is part of developing a culture of violence.
Obviously, not everyone who is schooled in vivisection experiments goes on to engage in a shooting spree at their local movie theater. But this kind of education teaches people to devalue life, and it has nothing to do with cultivating any sense of ethical behavior.
What happens, then, when an education in killing and torturing living creatures who are entirely helpless in your hands meets up with a serious case of mental and emotional disturbances?
Couldn’t exposing an emotionally disturbed person … to such violence be enough to destroy his or her last ounce of empathy for others? Every person who is forced to dissect, imprison, harm and kill animals in a laboratory must set aside normal feelings of empathy and compassion, which is its own kind of tragedy.
Whether you learn the art of violence by shooting woodpeckers, as the two Columbine killers did; or by practicing on cats, as the deranged man did who blasted his way into Congress; or by killing the family dog, as Luke Woodham did before stabbing his mother to death; it’s all part of the same “ethic” of violence and murder that’s endemic and entirely acceptable to our modern culture.