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Massacre Mysteries

By Robert Park

Every time it happens – some pathetic individual walks into some institution (often their employer) fully locked and loaded and shoots a whole bunch of people – it’s a big mystery. Most have had a mental health problem or a malignant grudge. Almost never is the public provided with the relevant facts and history. Journalists usually don’t even bother to try to find out. Of course, if the perp is still alive, there are due process privacy protections, but usually they’re dead. This is a fundamental failure of management in our public and private institutions, one that avoids scrutiny and accountabilities. People who have profound grievances regardless of validity deserve respect, serious consideration, public validation when appropriate, and a resolution process that leads to mutual acceptance.

If principles of justice and fairness are contravened by legal or procedural obstacles, or defective precedent, the aggrieved complainant deserves full public support and credit; a credible process toward institutional investigation and correction should result. Another missing element in many employment-related massacres is the absence of a union support system that would collectively identify, assess and address grievances although, unfortunately, union officials are sometimes part of the problem. When union internal democracy is lacking, union leadership may not be under membership pressure to do the right things. This is another institutional failure. When people with complaints resort to the nuclear option: mass murder usually with suicide, the system has failed and the mystery keeps it covered up. Maybe if all records of complaints and institutional responses were legally preserved and, after massacres or other tragic events, made available to independent investigation, managers would be more thoughtful and careful in their responses.

When present, mental health issues would be more reliably identified and appropriately, supportively dealt with. The public would recognize a lot of problems they themselves have experienced, and learn about new ones. Legitimate solutions would be debated. Politicians running for, or in, public office would be expected to weigh-in for their own accountability. This is local democracy.

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