Below the surface

The recent murders of those three gleaming Muslim students in North Carolina gives us another lesson in the pitfalls of generalizations, stereotypes, and assumptions. Once again, we see how wrong and worthless it all can be.

Like many, I leapt to snap judgments about accused gunman Craig Hicks as soon as I saw his photos. “Brute. Cracker. Gun nut. Moron. Spends four hours a day playing video games. Four hours a day watching Fox News.” Leading to “Parking dispute?” Right. Total Musliphobe. Guilty.

Then, my predictable knee jerk jive was assaulted by actual information. How thoughtlessly inconvenient! Tidbits of data that quickly incinerated my horribly inaccurate insta-calls. For starters, it was plain that Hicks didn't hate Muslims; he hates all the Abrahamic religions. “Of course I want religion to go away. I don't deny your right to believe whatever you like; but I have the right to point out it's ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people. Anti-theism: the conscientious objection to religion.” Far from the raging fundamentalist Christian I had assumed, he posted the following on December 25th. “Happy Pagan Holiday all, and Merry Christmas to those that worship the supposed son of the creator on a day in which he wasn't born!”

Hicks was a fervent advocate on behalf of LGBT and women's rights, often commenting on their oppression in a nation ruled by stuffy patriarchs. “You say sexuality is a choice? At what point did you choose to be straight?” “We live in a society that teaches women to be careful not to get raped instead of teaching men not to rape.” When it came to Native Americans, Hicks was well aware of their pain. “Thanksgiving is a time to remember all that we have … and the genocide it took to get it.” Another cause he often supported was kindness to animals, liking various animal welfare websites, including one to rescue pit bulls that had been trained as fighting dogs. Hell, at this point, I was ready to send a check to the guy's congressional campaign fund!

But, yes, this messy murder thing. It appears undeniable that this complex man also possessed a helluva temper. The guy was running hot. A neighbor reported that “every time I saw him in the parking lot, there was anger. He was very angry all the time.” Yes, there were moments he was fine, thoughtful and reasonable. He posted at many of those times. And there were moments when Craig Hicks … seethed.

Remember that 1993 flick called Falling Down, the one where Michael Douglas flips out and goes postal? When all is said and done, when all the qualified and unqualified analysis is in and accounted for, I won't be a bit surprised if this enraged man, beat down by years of schlubby mediocrity in this hard, hard world, just simply … snapped. He lost it. And just like that, three people lost their lives, and Hicks threw his away.