Murder doesn’t need a motive

While people continue to argue over the fate of a woman who wouldn’t understand the difference between being starved to death and getting an aromatherapy massage, a real tragedy has been pushed into the shadows of the media’s grand spotlight. On March 21, 2005, 17-year-old Jeff Weise walked into Red Lake High School with a couple of guns and opened fire. When it was over, eight people — including Weise — were dead and 14 were wounded.

Within a day of the shooting, media outlets were labeling him as a neo-nazi and habitual troublemaker. Apparently he was a big fan of Mr. Hitler and had made numerous message board posts on the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party Web site, The next day, the LNSGP released a statement chastising “modern society” for driving Weise to shoot a bunch of 15-year-olds — who have probably contributed exactly nothing to society’s “problems.”

I have since read numerous reports pointing to Weise’s Prozac prescription as the possible explanation for this tragedy. Just as frequently, fingers point toward an unhappy childhood following his father’s suicide and his mother’s car accident that caused her permanent brain damage. Surely that must be a big reason for his actions.

Every time kids start killing kids, everyone feels the need to blame someone. If it’s not Hitler’s fault, then Marilyn Manson and video games are the real problem. Maybe we should blame Prozac and gun manufacturers for it all. Or perhaps it was a combination of all of those things that crafted this child into a killer.

I refuse to believe any of those things.

Jeff Weise did not kill people because he was a Nazi; he was a Nazi because he wanted to kill people. Just as he wasn’t depressed because he was taking Prozac; he took Prozac to curb his depression. His actions ultimately came down to a single choice: do or don’t. No amount of medication or Marilyn Manson CDs can make that choice for you.

I will not dispute the fact that some of these things could have had a major influence on him. In fact, I am certain that many of these factors shaped him into the person he was. But don’t mistake influence for mind control. Everything starts with a choice. He made the choice to worship Hitler. He made the choice to entertain thoughts of killing people. He made the choice to drive to the school that Monday afternoon. He made the choice to walk through that door. He made the choice to squeeze that trigger. He made the choice to end his life.

People always need an answer — sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes people just want to die. Sometimes people decide they want to take a couple people with them. I don’t think Jeff Weise — were he still alive — could honestly tell you why he did what he did. It was a series of conscious choices leading up to that last critical choice to go through with this massacre. No other explanation needed.

Matthew Carroll is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].