Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Going Postal: Gun Rage in The American Workplace

I wouldn't have expected to have spent the time I just did, reading about gun rampages in America. But I did spend time enough reading the works of Mark Ames, discovering along the way that Ames has in fact written a book on the subject of gun rages in the workplace and schools: Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond Resulting in the articles that I have read today, being informed, dispassionate and not in the least sensational.

I have no intention of parsing his latest article, or any of the articles for which I shall leave links at the bottom of the page. It becomes unnecessary for me do this, Ames writes well enough, that even though you and I have never been within an ocean passage of these places and situations he describes, it's not hard to imagine, quite vividly, the unattractiveness and despair that must permeate from these godforsaken places.

The Making of a Rampage Murderer: What the Brutal Life of Oakland Shooter One L. Goh Says About America

The cruelty, predation and concentration of wealth today has sparked a new type of murder that has more in common with insurgency violence than serial murder.
by Mark Ames
April 9, 2012

I was working on an article about last month’s rampage massacre in Afghanistan that left 17 villagers dead, when news hit of this past Monday’s massacre at an Oakland, California, religious college, leaving seven dead. In both cases, the shooters survived and face a possible death penalty — which is rare: Usually these rampage killings end with self-inflicted bullet in the mouth.

These “going postal” rampage killings like the one that just took place at the Oikos University campus happen so often and with such relentless rhythm, a lot of people might easily assume that these mass-shootings at American schools and workplaces have always been with us.

It’s not true, of course — as I wrote in my book Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion — it’s an exclusively American phenomenon specific to our time. The first post office rampage killing took place in Edmond, Oklahoma, in the mid-1980s, at the height of the Reagan Revolution’s war on the American worker.

Those post office massacres quickly migrated into private workplace massacres by the end of the 1980s, where they’ve become a regular rhythmic staple of our murder culture ever since – and from the adult workplace, the massacres migrated to our schools.

We’ve had mass-killings before; and every now and then, you’ll read about a rampage killing in some other country. But only in America, and only since the mid-1980s, do American employees attack their own workplaces and offices, and middle-class students attack their own schools, with such consistency, year after year.

It was only after the crash in 2008 that some Americans began to accept the obvious: That the cruelty, predation and concentration of wealth and power introduced by the Reagan Revolution sparked a new type of murder that has more in common with insurgency violence or rebellious peasant violence than, say, the psychopathology of a serial murder.

Like so many school rampage killers, last Monday’s alleged murderer, One L. Goh, was reportedly bullied and mistreated at his nursing school program at the small Korean Christian nursing program he enrolled in. Bullying also was blamed for the high school rampage killing a few weeks ago in suburban Cleveland that left three students dead and five wounded.

The gruesome details about the way Goh is said to have lined up and executed his victims, the way he apparently singled out women, make it hard not to caricature him as a monster, a demonic psychopath — and yet, without excusing Goh’s killings, one should try to make sense of what happened to him, the downward-trending bleakness, the slow water-torture of low-five-figure debts, the broken marriage, the $23,000 tax bill owed to the IRS.

Losing Hope

In the Naughts, One L. Goh helped run a construction company. But construction collapsed as an industry in 2006-7; and unless you were Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo, you’d have nothing to show for the few good years.

In late 2007, Goh moved into the Yorkview Apartments complex in Hayes, Virginia — a bleak, prefab looking structure in a rural corner of Virginia. By the following summer, One L. Goh found himself unable to cover his $575 rent payment two months in a row. He was evicted; and on the same day that they they evicted him, creditors took his car.

The future rampage-murderer took it all stoically, even politely, according to one of Goh’s apartment complex neighbors, Thomas Lumpkin: “You would never expect it out of him. He just don’t seem like that type of person.”

Here is how his neighbor described the scene of One L. Goh’s last day at the Yorkshire Apartments:

Lumpkin said he recalled the day when Goh was evicted and his Nissan pickup was repossessed. Goh left by cab that day.

“He was always neat, wore nice clothes,” Lumpkin recalled. “You would never expect it out of him. He just don’t seem like that type of person.”

So he lost his car the same day he was evicted from his apartment in bumfuck, Virginia—and he took it all stoically as he cabbed away to god knows where.

I tried to imagine what that cab ride felt like for One L. Goh, a pudgy 40-something Korean-American dweeb, stewing with resentment, in his nice neat clothes. How far did he go in that cab — and where to?

Eventually he wound up with his father on the West Coast. One L. Goh’s father lives in an Oakland housing project for senior citizens run by a Christian non-profit. Goh found work in a San Mateo warehouse; he moonlighted as a mover. Anything to get back on his feet.

It’s not a good place to be if you’re a middle-aged failure: San Francisco has so much obscene wealth, and smug beauty — to be a fat 40-something nerd working with your father in a grocery store in Daly City, in the shadow of San Francisco, is some kind of Hell, a Hell for failures.

Goh, who was born Su Nam Ko, had lived in the shadow of his more successful, celebrated war hero brother, Su Wan Ko. In 2002, he changed his name from birth name, Su Nam Ko, to One L. Goh, stating that he did “not like my current name because it sounds like a girl’s name.”

And then last year, Goh’s brother, an Iraq War veteran and Special Forces hero, died in a freak car accident when his Toyota slammed head-on at 70 mpg into a “multi-ton” boulder lying on a Virginia road. The photos of the accident scene look almost unreal, almost staged.

The news of the brother’s death destroyed One L. Goh’s mother: She died within months of her son’s funeral.

This is the backdrop to Goh’s fateful decision to pull himself out of a years-long rut, and to start a new career for himself as a nurse. It may have been the shock of the back-to-back deaths in the family — or maybe it was his father who encouraged him, or the experience of living with his father in a building for the elderly.

Whatever the case, his widower father supported his son with a $6,000 loan to pay for the vocational nursing school tuition. But after a few months, One L. Goh was out of the program, bitter and vengeful, dead set on murder; and his father was out $6,000, thanks to his son’s bad bet.

Ignition to a Massacre

What set Goh off? Why did he leave the nursing school so early? Most reports say he was teased by his classmates for his age, 43, and his accent. Which is odd, considering most of the students are foreigners and Koreans.

(Another Korean-American rampage-killer was teased over his voice: Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui. As another Virginia Tech student told reporters back in 2007, “As soon as [Cho] started reading, the whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, ‘Go back to China.’”)

Goh enrolled in what must have been one of the very worst nursing programs in the entire state of California: the vocational nursing program at Oikos University, a fundamentalist Korean-American Christian school in Oakland.

The school’s nursing program is accredited, which is important of course if you want your for-profit school program to make money. To comply with the accreditation, Oikos U. had provide a “2010 Performance Sheet” summing up its students’ performances both on the national nursing exam and, once licensed, in the job market. Go to page three or read the complete article with photo's and links as one page.
Oh! and don't forget the comments.

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Workplace Massacre in Alabama: Did Endless Downsizing and Slashed Benefits Cause the Rampage?

If you keep squeezing workers to fatten filthy-rich executives' already-obscene bonuses, there can be very violent consequences.
March 13, 2009

The killing spree in Alabama fits a well-worn pattern of workplace-driven massacres that we've seen since the "going postal" phenomenon exploded in the middle of the Reagan revolution. Article

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Northern Ill. University: Was the Killer Crazy, or the Campus Hopeless?

Bracket this massacre as the work of a lunatic on drugs, and you miss the chance to consider the horrors of life in middle America.
February 16, 2008

Unlike Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui -- a sullen misfit who could barely look anyone in the eye, much less carry on a conversation -- Kazmierczak appeared to fit in just fine. -- Deanna Bellendi, Associated Press. Article

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Virginia Tech: Is the Scene of the Crime the Cause of the Crime?

Media: Cho Seung-Hui did it because he was crazy and "evil." History: Schoolyard massacres are rebellions against oppressive and bullying environments by students who can't take it anymore.
April 20, 2007

Another rampage massacre, this time the worst ever. Which means another fake attempt at trying to understand this uniquely American crime -- these interminable rage killing sprees in our workplaces and our schoolyards. Article

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