What happened yesterday is nothing new


Brenda Ann Spencer (born April 3, 1962) is a convicted American murderer who, at the age of 16, carried out a shooting spree from her home in San Diego, California, on January 29, 1979. During the shooting spree, she killed two people and injured nine others at Cleveland Elementary School, which was located across the street from her home. Spencer showed no remorse for her crime, and her full explanation for her actions was “I don’t like Mondays; this livens up the day.”[1] The explanation inspired the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats, which was a UK number one single for four weeks in mid-1979.


She pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was sentenced to prison for 25 years to life. She is currently at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California.[4] After becoming eligible for parole in 1993, Spencer was denied four times, the last on August 13, 2009. Spencer will not be eligible for a new parole hearing until 2019.

My point?

I don’t have one. Understanding stuff like this is like trying to understand cancer. You can spend your life studying it but you can’t stop it from happening.

But it’s been going on a lot longer than you might think.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to What happened yesterday is nothing new

  1. zaladonis says:

    It’s not new but it’s happening with increasing frequency, and understanding what causes events like this is part of the whole package of figuring out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

    An article from this past summer:

    According to the 2010 FBI crime data, since 1980, single victim killings have dropped by more than 40 percent. While that’s very good news, there’s a new sobering trend: Mass murders are on the rise. This New York Times article researched the frequency of mass murders. It found during the 20th century there were about one to two mass murders per decade until 1980. Then for no apparent reason they spiked, with nine during the 1980s and 11 in the 1990s. Since the year 2000 there have been at least 26, including the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. …

    The mass murder motive on the other hand is very different [from single murders and serial killers]. While they have their own perceived reasons for killing these rarely make logical sense. As for demographics, the mass murderer is typically a white male, a loner, has a college degree or some college, from a relatively stable background and from an upper-middle to middle class family. They often aspire to more than they can handle, then form a hatred and blame others if they fail. Also, they are much more likely to suffer from a mental illness, specifically some type of psychosis.

    I found this particularly interesting in light of pharmacological “advances” since the 1980s:

    However, the study, Violence and Severe Mental Illness: The Effects of Substance Abuse and Nonadherence to Medication, found that when when a mentally ill individual was not medicated and abused either alcohol or drugs, there was a significant increase in serious and violent acts. So clearly, early psychiatric assessments, medication treatment and preventing substance abuse, will go a long way to preventing violence in general.


    • fif says:

      That’s interesting, because I heard a professor from Northeastern on NPR yesterday who specializes in the study of violence, and he emphatically said there has not been an increase in violence–that there have been a consistent rate of acts and approximate total victims going back decades. I wonder what the research really shows. The piece above says the “New York Times” did the research. I don’t trust the Times at all.

      • zaladonis says:

        The Northeastern professor was probably James Alan Fox. He wrote about this on his blog yesterday and this line jumped out at me (emphasis mine): “[O]ur collective memories seem to forget or move past other anxious times when mass shootings have clustered in time, for the most part out of sheer coincidence.”

        Saying the frequency has increased during a particular time or that they “have clustered in time” is essentially the same thing.

        He doesn’t explain why he concludes these mass killings are “for the most part out of sheer coincidence,” and in any case the undefined “for the most part” makes that conclusion meaningless.

        James Alan Fox’s blog:

        Another interesting article, written last summer as well and updated since, with more raw information than conclusions, and attributing contribution from James Alan Fox, was published in Mother Jones:

        A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

      • zaladonis says:

        that there have been a consistent rate of acts and approximate total victims going back decades.

        That’s simply not supported by the countable number of mass killing events and victims each decade at least since 1980. (See detailed timeline in the Mother Jones article I linked above.)

      • DandyTiger says:

        My uninformed guess, it’s all socioeconomics. Corresponding to that timeline since 1980, except for a two year or so blip during the Clinton administration, spending power for most americans has been going down and the gap between rich and non rich has been widening. So people have less. Reagan/Bush/Obama being the driving force along with their masters in this of course. Add to that bad economic times countrywide or regionally, perceived or real, then you have extra pressure that can take people over the top.

        I’m not saying it’s all economics, but that contributes to pressures overall, and lots of people’s behavior. And if you’re already a bit nuts and then everyone around you is under more pressure than normal, it doesn’t help.

  2. Underwhelmed says:

    Problem is, the boat has longed since sailed in the US. Even if you wanted to implement gun control, if there was the political will and the popular support needed, it’s too late. You are awash in the most ridiculous guns and no amount of legislation can unring that bell. The trick is to short circuit the behaviours that lead to mass murders of this kind. And even when you have gun laws, shit happens. Look at China and the UK and Norway. Sometimes crazy people go on killing sprees. And if they can’t use a gun they’ll use something else. It’s not the guns. It’s the reason they pick up a gun. Or a knife. Or get into a car and turn it into a ballistic missile.

    For the record, I believe in the right to arm yourself. If I lived in the US you’d better believe I’d have a gun and I’d be sure I was trained inside out how best to use it. And if someone threatened me or someone else near me with deadly force or assault I’d put them down without thinking twice. I know that because I’ve done it under different circumstances. I’m not interested in hand wringing over someone who wants to hurt me or mine.

    But that’s not the same as saying there should be free access to assault weapons or the kits that will convert regular guns to assault weapons, for example. Hand guns yes. All that other shit? No way. But I get the fear of the 2nd Amendment brigade because once you start banning some things, it’s only a matter of time before the fascists start trying to ban everything.

    I’d sick to death of the people who are saying now, oh, if you support gun ownership you don’t care about the kids who died. That’s crap and the people who say that shit are crap.

    I just don’t think there’s any way to fix the problem. Because the vast majority of folk who support gun ownership, who own guns, would never in a million years do what this man did. And the minute the gun banning lobby start shrieking and pointing fingers and making accusations of indifference, the conversation is killed stone dead.

    • myiq2xu (D) says:

      I just don’t think there’s any way to fix the problem.


    • fif says:

      I don’t know what the answer is. Someone could make a homemade bomb and put it in a school. You can learn that on the internet. So then the answer would be: regulate the internet. Put metal detectors everywhere. Pretty soon we’ll be living in a police state. It’s interesting to see all the people screaming about gun control since this happened. My Facebook page is rife with people sharing posts demanding it with pictures of assault weapons. The president is crying and I got the image of Rahm saying, “Don’t ever waste a crisis.”

  3. I don’t know. We still have a long way to go before we have finished our work on bullying. In the wiki piece that myiq referenced, over 70% of the perpetrators of these types of massacres said that they had been bullied and that that had triggered the action. I realize that if we try to control bullying, there would still be incidents. But there might be fewer.

    I think that the work that is being done to make bullying unacceptable in schools is an important piece of this puzzle. there’s much more work to be done on that score.

    • elliesmom says:

      Bullying has always been unacceptable in school. The idea that playground bullies have been allowed to go along without having their behavior checked has been perpetuated by a media that wants to put the onus of solving this problem on schools and teachers . We can have special programs in the schools which teach kids bullying is wrong, but the truth is most kids already know it’s wrong, and they already know who they could tell if it’s happening to them. And all of that time could be better spent teaching them how to read. The majority of childhood bullying doesn’t happen on the playground or in the cafeteria anymore. It’s happening on cell phones, online, and away from the control of the schools. We live in a “no snitch” society, but even when kids do tell their teachers they’re being bullied away from school, school personnel are impotent to do anything about it. Teachers fight parents constantly over whether kids need cellphones in school. They don’t. Teachers cannot police their students’ Facebook pages. If the bullying is happening off school grounds, the appropriate people to contact are the police. The person a child should be able to go to when he or she is being bullied is a parent. If it’s happening at school, then, of course, the teachers and school administration should get involved. But teachers cannot discipline kids for anything that doesn’t happen at school. It’s like teaching about good nutrition. Once a kid is away from school what he eats is what he eats. His parents are ultimately responsible.

  4. There are so many pieces to this puzzle. While I agree with Cynthia that more work needs to be done on bullying- in the end, imo, it is just another excuse. There were bullies when I went to school and not one of their “victims” ended up going on a shooting spree or becoming a mass murderer. But then, schools actually taught values and corrected poor behavior back then. (It helped that there seemed to be common values back then too)
    Violent video games? Are they part of the problem? Too many kids left to their own devices after school watching sick nonsense and playing games killing virtual people on a screen? Looking back, Wiley Coyote cartoons were pretty violent and the Three Stooges were constantly bashing one another- to return undamaged in the next episode.
    Gun control? Well, by golly, the criminals will find a way to get guns. Hell, they can go to Mexico, join a cartel and get the latest assault weapons courtesy Eric Holder. Or become Islamofascists, move to Libya or Syria and get heavy weapons from Obama et al.
    Gun Control laws do not prevent crazy people and criminals from kiling people.
    I don’t have any answers either. Zal has some interesting points on mental illness and medications (posted at the neighbors) I think there are legitimate uses for many of the anti-depressants- but agree with Zal in that so many are just shuffled on to drugs without treatment or therapy for the root causes of the underlying issues of depression or more severe mental illnesses.
    No answers. Just more questions.
    I am going to love on my new grandbaby today and thanks God for what I have.

    • gxm17 says:

      Today’s violent video games are much more realistic than Wiley Coyote cartoons, and the player is an integral part of the action and is the one wielding the weapons and killing the “targets.” Going back through history, to the mass shootings in the 50s and 60s, did the shooters dress the part the way so many seem to do these days, kitted out like a character from a video game? It would be interesting to look into.

  5. lildoggy4u says:

    Mental Illness? Most insurance policies only pay 50% coverage for it with a limit of so many weeks or months. Then the psychiatric profession will admit that they only prescribe drugs at random until they find something that works. Its almost a crap shoot. Try this and if it doesn’t work we’ll throw in another drug or try another. We’ve not given mental health the same emphasis as regular health issues as if its a secondary problem. Many homeless on the streets and people in jail suffer from some sort of mental illness that’s not been treated. I wonder if Obamacare will be covering mental health issues like the other preventative services they promise.

    • Agree- Our BC/BS policy does NOT cover counseling or therapy- thought they say they do. First you have to meet the yearly deductible- and then the co-insurance AND the co-pay are on a completely different scale than a regular visit to the primary care doc. Paying cash would have saved about 600 hundred bucks. Cash pay is 75 a visit- and billing through the ins co is over 300 PER VISIT for the same exact thing.
      I gave up and did it the old fashioned way. Suck it up. Life fucking happens- too damn bad. SUCK IT UP and get on with life.

    • swanspirit says:

      What actually happens , and the reason so many people end up with multiple Dx, is that the Md has to diagnose prior to medicating . In other words , a person has to have the Dx of bi-polar before the Md can prescribe say Lithium . If the Lithium doesn’t work , the meds go away the Dx stays in the patients record . I have argued with psych docs not to keep adding to the list of Dx of a kid , just because they wanted to try a med .

  6. AniEm says:

    There are millions of mentally stable, responsible gun owners in the US. Rather than scapegoating every gun owner, I think we need to look at a culture and political environment that actively promote hatred and divisiveness. Are those psychiatrically disturbed more affected by the generalized malaise and more reactive to it? We just don’t know enough. But can we at least move in the direction of less animus and more productive solutions?

    • DandyTiger says:

      I’d say that the increased animus and divisiveness pushed by politics, new Dems and MSM being the bigger part of that, does have a big effect. If the game their playing is to simulate a march to a civil war, that could result in a real one. Or at least, increased hostilities and violence.

      • AniEm says:

        That’s what my concern is. Violence and cruelty have always been a component of the human condition, but as the saying goes “war sells newspapers” and there is a mercenary, hard core investment in hatred easily promoted in a techno-advanced age.

  7. tommy says:

    Brenda doesn’t like mondays, so to liven it up, she goes and shoots people. Pure freakin evil. Its like most of the non-jihadist loons in the world are in the US. In todays world of technology, internet, cellphones, video games and TV, the human touch has all but dissapeared. Personal interaction with your family, friends, neighbors, church & community has become passe. There is no strong sense of ‘We’, or strong links with the community. This is especially true for lone wolves. Sociopaths are on the rise. Maybe I’m way off base here or just plain wrong, but its just so saddening. And a normal logical part of me tries to find an adequate answer.

  8. elliesmom says:

    How many children have our drones killed this year? The fish rots from the head.

    • lyn5 says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Our country has killed innocent men, women and children overseas. I can’t be shocked by this violence when our president has a kill list, but I weep for those little children who were murdered yesterday. I pray their families will find peace one day.

  9. yttik says:

    I really want people to understand that the world is not going to hell in a hand basket, that crime is not increasing, that psycho’s committing pointless violence is not on the rise. Why? Mostly because the truth matters, but also because I don’t want people to live in a mediated reality where we perceive the world as increasingly evil. The truth is the exact opposite. It’s very difficult to combat the influence of the media on our perceptions, but the facts are out there if you do a little research.

    Unfortunately this kind of evil has always been with us. It is not happening more frequently, we just have a media today which makes every tragedy so huge, in your face 24/7, that our problems seem larger than they are. Back just a couple of generations half of all children died before their fifth birthday. Many women died in childbirth. We had no mental health system, no justice system, systems so rustic and unformed they didn’t provide any of the protections we have today. Women, kids, the poor and unconnected, had no rights at all and very little protection from anything.

    • elliesmom says:

      People conveniently forget where we’ve come from. Take the standard of living of folks living in poverty today. I grew up in a family with 4 kids, 2 parents, and a grandmother. We had 4 bedrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen. My dad said he had “4 dishwashers”. One bathroom, one TV set, and one car in the garage. We had no AC. If it got too hot to sleep, we took our pillows out to the porch. Back then we had a “nice house”. Today it would be “ghetto”.

  10. DeniseVB says:

    Everytime there’s a tragedy involving guns, a verbal gunfight breaks out between the left and right.

    My question is, does the left want a ban on guns, and if so, then what? Will that stop the crazies that snap? I just don’t get why they hate guns so much.

    • DandyTiger says:

      The argument I keep hearing is that guns make it easier to kill lots of people. Duh. But so what. The killers will just have to work harder, but I’m not sure I believe the net result will improve if you banned all guns. First, you’ll still be able to get guns. As an example, see the war on drugs. So you’ll have a black market for guns. More crime. More money in the crime side of the economy. And anyone that wants to do these things still can. The biggest difference, far less responsible, law abiding, people with guns. See for example, most of these happen in gun free zones.

      • yttik says:

        I don’t want to focus on grisly historical crimes, but at one point in our history, bullets were too expensive and had to be fired one at a time. Unfortunately evil people just used dynamite and fire as weapons and committed plenty of mass murders.

        It is kind of silly to believe that somebody psychotic enough to take innocent lives is going to be concerned about having the proper gun permits.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Yes, Chicago came to my mind. Gun bans or tougher control does not stop gangs of evil. Or crazy people. See: Mexico, China………

  11. driguana says:

    Interesting how many times “I don’t know” or some variation is mentioned in the above posts….because we don’t know….what we do know is that something is now missing or lacking in our culture. Some might say “religion” or “spirituality” or “faith” or “respect”…or whatever…what we do know is that the something missing has everything to do with the glue that holds us together….hate to sound corny on this snowy Santa Fe morning but maybe it is respect….or even deeper…maybe it’s love and now is the time to reconsider what that really means because part of the love paradigm involves unconditional helping and reaching out….that’s missing until a tragedy occurs…then everyone reaches out….why don’t we reach out before a tragedy occurs? When someone really needs help or a problem really needs to be solved? Now, everyone is afraid to reach out and be kind because we might be ripped off….or it might not be cool. I still say we need true leaders…we have a president who is real pussy!

  12. piper(?) says:

    One of the deadliest school murders occurred in Bath, Michigan in 1927
    “School treasurer Andrew Kehoe, after killing his wife and destroying his house and farm, blew up the Bath Consolidated School by detonating dynamite in the basement of the school, killing 38 people, mostly children.”

    Another horrific mass murder was at Virginia Tech where student Cho killed 32 students and faculty – wounding 17 others.


  13. piper(?) says:

    Tried to watched some news last night but was sickened by the media ghouls interviewing parents and school children. The horror and pain of that shooting will never be alleviated yet there was the ‘media’ trying to cash in on this tragedy. It’s one thing to reported the facts but where was the respect to the grieving children and families in Newtown.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Actually I blame the Honey Boo Boo parents for allowing it, especially when they appear with their children and coach them on what to say. I don’t think the media is allowed to ambush kids and interview them without permission from any adult in charge. I’m surprised they’re even allowed to photograph them.

      I still don’t like the media even going for the kids’ stories. I’m probably one of the few who doesn’t even like those Surpise Daddy Homecomings either. There’s much to prepare for Dad coming home after an overseas tour or deployment, the family dynamic is definitely going to change, for the better or worse.

      But I do like stories about meeting a baby for the first time 😀

  14. conner43 says:

    As a society, we don’t adjudicate the mentally ill until it’s too late. Leaving them free as birds to commit unspeakable crimes.
    Their schools, their families, and employers suffer in silence, yet at the same time, they would drag them to a doctor by the short hairs if they thought they had a serious, untreated physical illness.
    From a practical view, all illnesses are so swamped with legalistic privacy issues, even those who have ‘acted out’ on occasion, are over-protected, when they should be treated.

    • yttik says:

      We really should do a better job of treating the mentally ill, but then again, the vast majority of them are not violent at all. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, some completely sane pillar of the community, wipes out his whole family and kills himself. Many really violent people don’t seem to show any indications of mental illness at all. Domestic violence abusers, terrorists, cult leaders, dictators, heck if I know why people do the things they do, but I worry that if we blame mental illness we’ll stigmatize it and convince people that the mentally ill are dangerous and violent. Some are, but that’s not the whole story.

      • conner43 says:

        Agreed, but those afflicted with shizophrenia and other psychoses,show clear signs before they erupt. Most of us know what they are, we just don’t think it’s polite to talk about it.

        • conner43 says:

          Am commenting as a retiree from the Public Health system, there is no judgement here of the mentally ill, just a disgust with the hoops society must jump through, to remove the violent ones, [a tiny minority] from our midst.

    • swanspirit says:

      Brenda Ann Spencer sounds like a sociopath . possibly with psychotic features . She depersonalized the children she killed by calling them a “herd of cows” standing around .
      Now , with this shooting in Ct , we have yet another young killer , within the age range of onset of schizophrenia , and certainly psychotic symptoms can be present in other disorders , such as bi-polar or borderline personality disorder and psychotic episodes occur with drug use .. Sometimes it is impossible to distinguish thought disorder and personality disorder in a diagnosis .
      This shooters brother said he has a personality disorder , and I am sure we will find out more about his mental problems
      On the other hand , there are so many completely harmless mentally ill people out there suffering from stereotyping , neglect , and shunned by society .
      There are ways to determine if patients are predisposed to violence , and I really think we need to look more closely at those markers , in people with diagnoses of thought disorders and personality disorders .. It is a well known and little publicized fact in the mental health community ; that if you don’t get to a sociopath by age 16 , there is little to no hope of ever turning them around , but even with sociopaths , predisposition to violence is a marker that has to be examined more closely .
      That is one thing we could do as a society and we should ; but to say that we could totally and completely prevent these kind of tragedies, as greatly and mightily we would wish to , is simply not possible. That doesn’t mean we should not try , because to prevent one , or decrease the fatalities of one , or many is a worthy goal.

  15. piper(?) says:

    And now for the hypocrisy of the Hollyweirds calling for gun control while their bodyguards carry guns for protection.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Gun control is obviously only for the peasants. Got to keep the rabble in check.

      • Erin says:

        I see a differnce between gun control and banning guns. An example of gun control is background checks on ALL gun sales, no loop holes like there are now. You can be for improved gun control measures and own guns or in the case of wealthy celebrities, hire people who carry guns.

  16. insanelysane says:

    The mother of the alleged killer bought 5 guns. She shares in the blame for this ( I know she was killed) . Laws already on the books prohibit the shooter, having a record of mental illness from buying any guns. He didn’t have to. His mother should have made access to her guns impossible.
    She is to blame , not the guns.

  17. catarina says:

    My best friend’s daughter was committed to a psychiatric hospital a few weeks ago after being arrested for assaulting a police officer.

    The doctors say she may be Bipolar, or Schizophrenic with Multiple Personality Disorder. There may also substance abuse problem.
    It’s “too soon” for a diagnosis.
    Meanwhile, she’s suffering from delusions and not responding to any of the meds they’ve plied her with.

    Two days ago the girl’s case manager told her mother that even though she’s still psychotic she’ll be released this Monday and given a referral to a day program-because that’s the only option available (!).
    If I hadn’t heard every word with my own two ears I wouldn’t have believed it.
    She’s psychotic and they’re sending her out into the world. That’s just policy. The way it’s done. You can’t just keep people in hospitals. It doesn’t matter how “good” their insurance is.

    What the fuck?
    Mitt Romney and guns, dammit.

    • swanspirit says:

      The SECOND she is declared “not a danger to herself and/or others , she is no longer eligible ( covered by insurance ) to remain hospitalized .
      These policies are the result of bleeding heart libs who were suckered by insurance companies and state governments who did not want to pay , to end the institutionalization of of mental health patients . Never mind that we had a system of state hospitals that provided care . Yes there were abuses , but there was care food clothing and shelter
      Also , some of those hospitals were situated on prime real estate, and are now developments , hotels etc etc

  18. votermom says:

    I would like to see the correlation between incidences of rage-killing massacres and national mandatory military service.

  19. votermom says:

    I hope Hillary’s ok

  20. foxyladi14 says:

    Hillary, you are in my prayers.Bless you for all you do for this country. Now, please take care of yourself.And get well soon. 🙂

Comments are closed.