Autism, School Shootings & Gun Control – The Interview

The HulkQ: Thanks for coming by on such short notice. I know you’ve been busy lately.

A: Yeah. Heading up to Montreal for a conference soon.

Q: Did you notice that, this morning, POTUS is planning to issue some kind of executive decision on gun control?

A: Oh, yeah? The President of the United States? What’s he planning?

Q: Strengthening background checks, making it more difficult to buy guns…

A: You know, you gotta be real careful about disarming law-abiding citizens.

Q: I don’t think it’s about disarming people.

A: The criminals are getting their guns dropped to them from the sky like pigeon poop!

Q: Oh, come on.

A: Yep. I’ve seen it. These single-passenger, one-engine planes come flying across the border dropping contraband out in the fields where people just drive up, pick them up, and drive off.

Q: Scary.

A: I know, right? And Joe and Mary in Peoria is supposed to leave themselves vulnerable while the criminals are shooting up the place?

Q: You know, you digress.

A: Why?

Q: This interview is supposed to be about the myth of autistic school shooters.

A: Oh. Okay. Well, what do you want to know?

Q: I’ve read in different places that the biggest school shootings in the U.S. were perpetrated by autistic young men.

A: Yeah, I’ve seen that, too. I don’t give much credence to these rumors, though. Just hearsay.

Q: Can you tell our viewers what has been said about it?

A: Sure. They say that the Sandy Hook, Columbine, University of California, Virginia Tech and Umpqua Community College shootings were done by autistic young men.

Q: And you don’t believe that?

A: I don’t.

Q: Why do you say that?

A: I’ve been studying autism and Asperger’s for quite some time now. I think autistic people are an untapped potential. Their focus and determination on getting a long and difficult job done is legendary. I think they’re finding out now that some of the greater creative minds in history were on the spectrum. I guess, for good or bad, once they’ve set their minds to something, they don’t stop till it’s complete.

Q: You got any examples?

A: Sure. You got composers working tirelessly through the night to finish their magnum opus; scientists eschewing sleep in favor of discovering that new vaccine; Victor Frankenstein not resting until his monster gets up and starts walking…

Q: Frankenstein was autistic? He’s fictitious, dude.

A: True dat, but the model was based on odd individuals who spent inordinate amounts of time tying up that last stitch, crossing that last ‘T’ and dotting that last “I”.

Q: And what does all this have to do with school shootings?

A: These bullied kids felt rejected by society; that’s what some of them wrote in their manifestoes anyway. [They’re] freakish outcasts who couldn’t get laid, get invited to the prom, skipped homecoming, had no one to relate to, and so on.

Q: So they go on killing sprees? That makes no sense.

A: I never said it did, but these are young developing minds. They don’t have a mature grasp of the consequences of their actions. They feel like society is iceberg cold so they exhibit their detestation by shooting up the place. And you know what? All this talk about gun control won’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to these guys. Taking away their guns will mean nothing. They tend to think outside the box. Hell, there is no box as far as they’re concerned. Remember that Jeff Bridges movie, ‘Blown Away’, where they said the terrorist was such an expert he could make a bomb out of Bisquick?

Q: So, basically, you’re saying not to get an autistic kid pissed off?

A: Well, you can, just don’t do it when I’m in the room with you.

Q: Oh, come on.

A: Hey, I’m being honest.

Q: So what should be done?

A: Recognize that autism isn’t a disorder. It’s just a difference in the way their mind is wired. Work with them. Foster their creativity. Don’t try to change them and force them into this world, this society. If your son writes with his left hand would you cut it off so he’s forced to use his right? No, so you help him embrace his uniqueness and not make him feel like an unwanted reject. Like Bruce Banner said, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Q: Scary.

A: True dat.

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Eliminating Ego, Anger, Hatred & Jealousy

Jain_Prateek_ChihnaI’m seeking out a new route in life and it’s gonna be tough. Ahimsa, the principle tenet of Jainsim regarding non-violence, says that the path to mastering it is to eliminate all thoughts of ego, anger, hatred & jealousy. That’s a pretty tall order considering those very negative emotions have plagued me for years. Hatred exists because I have never forgiven my father for abusing me and my mother for not supporting my gayness. Hatred also exists when people insult me, beat me up, discriminate against me and try to make me look stupid. Ego comes about when I’m trying to get attention for the things I’ve done like writing books and producing albums. Ego comes about when I worked double shifts as a nurse and tried to impress people with the fancy restaurants I ate in. Anger arises when I see innocent people being abused and I can do nothing about it but shout at the top of my lungs. Anger arises when I don’t get my way and it feels like I’m gonna burst into flames until I calm down. Jealousy is when I see a good looking guy and think, “Wow. That guy has nice hair or a beautiful skin colour and I wish that was me.” Jealousy pops up its ugly rear end when I see shiny new BMW’s and Mercedes Benzes on the road. Jealousy plagues me when I notice others with their kids, houses in the suburbs, dogs, sailboats and passes to resort islands. I don’t know if meditation alone can strip me of these unnecessary evils. I’ve been taking a deep look at aparigraha, the principles of non-attachment and owning nothing, for achieving that goal. They say that the key to conquering fear is to face it head on. I wonder if I’d have to purposefully place myself in situations that would wring the four aforementioned emotions from my psych. That should be interesting. For jealousy : go up to a mall, watch the families walking by, and try not to covet what they have. For anger: walk on the same side of the street when a man with pitbulls strolls up and tolerate it. For hatred: go to places where homophobes are trying to bring down the wrath of heaven on gay people or racists are insulting minorities and tolerate it. For ego: personally remind people that I want no compliments for the things I do and volunteer for work where the only reward is the use of my time. I don’t expect to achieve these ideals. Mahavira and the Jain monks have, though. I think if I can at least get halfway to those goals it’ll be a thrust in the right direction. I still have a hard time remembering the various mantras of Jainism because they’re in Sanskrit or Gujarati. I can begin with this simplification, though: instead of anger, forgiveness; instead of hatred, love; instead of ego, humility; instead of jealousy, contentedness.

The above symbol might need some explanation for those who don’t understand it. The three dots at the top represent the three pillars of Jainism – Right Faith, Right Knowledge, Right Conduct. The swastika is in reference to the four types of people that practice Jainism – Laymen, Laywomen, Monks & Nuns. The wheel on the bottom is a symbol of how the world has no beginning and no end. There are 24 spokes in the wheel, a representation of the 24 Thirtankars, or prophets, that mark each age of Jainism. The thirtanker, or ford maker, of this millennium is Mahavira. The four arms of the swastika represent the four destinies of life -demon, animal, human or divine. The dot and semi-circle on the top of the symbol represents the realm that those who have achieved moksha, or liberation, reside in. The hand stays stop and observe before acting so you don’t fall into the trap of exhibiting ego, anger, hatred or jealousy. In this way you observe the practice of ahimsa non-violence. The Sanskrit writing on the bottom means “Live and let live.”