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Amanda Marcotte on the Thomas Ball suicide, and MRA haters

Amanda Marcotte, feminist blogger and Friend of Man Boobz, has been taking a lot of shit from MRAs – and I mean a LOT of shit – for a comment she made here on the Thomas Ball suicide.

As you may already know, Ball burned himself to death outside a New Hampshire courthouse. In a lengthy manifesto he wrote shortly before killing himself, he portrayed his suicide as a protest against a corrupt family court system, and went on to argue that MRAs should quite literally assemble some Molotov cocktails and “start burning down police stations and courthouses.” (You can read the whole manifesto here.)  Despite his calls for violence many MRAs have hailed him as an MRA martyr.

Marcotte, in her comment here, suggested that there might have been other, more personal reasons for his suicide – namely, the desire to hurt his ex-wife:

I’ll point out that setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective tool if your goal is to make your ex-wife’s life a living hell, and if your anger at losing control over her overwhelms all other desires. Which is common enough with abusers, who will ruin their own lives and their own shit and turn their children against them in an effort to hurt the woman they’ve fixated on.

One MR blogger declared this comment “pure feminist evil”; a conservative blogger compared Marcotte to the Beast of Babylon.  Still other MRAs resorted to assorted variations on the c-word.

Marcotte has now responded to this, er, “criticism” with an excellent post on Pandagon. As she points out, correctly,

suicide and threats of suicide are common tactics used by abusers to hurt their victims. Abusers dramatically self-destruct all the time in their desperation to control and hurt the objects of their obsession.  There was just recently a big story about this, in fact: Jason Valdez of Utah, who had a long criminal record that included domestic violence, held a woman hostage in a hotel room for 16 hours and kept updates about the situation on Facebook. He eventually committed suicide.

The notion that suicide can be a hostile, aggressive act designed to hurt other people is hardly a controversial one, whether the person committing suicide is male or female. Threats of suicide are often used to manipulate other people; suicide itself can be an act of revenge.

Marcotte goes on:

Apparently, I’m supposed to pretend that suicide isn’t a disruptive, selfish act in many cases (especially when the suicide victim commits it in a public and destructive way), and that people who do it, while yes victims of their own mental health problems, are also thinking that they’re going to make everyone pay for not indulging them.  In fact, not only is this true in Ball’s case, but he spelled it out in his suicide note.  The “make the bastards suffer” theme of his note is the reason that wingnuts are supporting him.

But you don’t have to take her word for it. Read Ball’s entire manifesto, to the end, and ask yourself if this man is an appropriate “martyr” for any political movement.

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Magical Laura
10 years ago

“I’ve been concerned over the years with what I believe is a fairly small martyr impulse in feminism, especially in literary feminisms around Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath–an impulse toward making them martyrs of the patriarchy.”

I didn’t mean to come across in this way, if I did! I guess I find it hard not to connect how I feel when I read the letter, obviously I’m very vain! I don’t think suicide should be used to further a political point or anything.

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

*BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG HUGS to everybody on the hugs* 🙁 This is a sad topic, and you guys are awesome :] also awesome is the interesting discussions that break out when the trolls aren’t around! (i love how they still need to troll tho xD they can’t join in.. they need to non sequitur in and call us hateful and stuff xD )

Suicide is a sensitive personal topic to me too : And I dun rly have much to add to it : I think for THIS situation, Amused got it spot on… it was a political act, and he clearly does hope to manipulate and change minds using an emotional reaction to a gruesome sudden death (this doesn’t mean the cause is evil or nething btw, ppl do this for other things as Amused points out) : (also that’s true, he did basically say his daughter caused it >_> )

I dunno how to define “selfish” for suicide, b/c doesn’t that imply that ppl SHOULD live for other ppl? That we have a right to their lives, and I understand all our lives interact w/ each other, but it’s not fair to expect ppl who are rly miserable to do things just cuz we’d be sad or even crushed otherwise : And this isn’t to say ppl who are rly depressed wanting to commit suicide (or who do) are thinking clearly or nething… I just mean that in terms of the definition of “selfish” :

I’ve heard other things get called selfish too… doing “immoral” things your family doesn’t want… I dun want to bring this to trans ppl or queer ppl or nething cuz I dun want this to be a trope w/ me xD and I dun want to make it seem like I’m thinking ONLY of this the whole time (I was actually thinking of my own attempts), I just thought it was kinda relevant… trans ppl get called selfish a lot for the same reasons… we’re hurting the ones we love… we don’t understand the pain we’re putting them thru… we’re robbing them of a “brother”/”husband”/”daughter”/”sister” etc : and “it’s not fair to us” and etc :

and what if somebody rly does want to kill themselves b/c they’re in so much pain?: I mean I am glad retroactively that I survived and that there WAS a way to happiness (that I didn’t know existed, which is why I thought it was hopeless) but maybe there isn’t for others? or it’s just not what they want? : that’s not to say it’s right or wrong : I have no real opinion for what’s ethical or not on this (except my strong views on body autonomy, well you know >_>) just… is it fair to say that ppl live for US? Like as I said, I know that we all are connected, but if somebody doesn’t want to live for us, can we say “you’re hurting me, i want you alive” or “i want you not to do this or that” …

maybe it’s the word selfish, b/c I mean any time we do things to our own bodies, for ourselves, it’s “Selfish”, but selfish in our society generally means it’s bad, that we’re not considering others when we SHOULD and I dunno if that’s fair since as MUCH as other ppl may love us, they’re also not living our lives… as I always tell my doctors and psychs who have tried to block my transition or etc in the past… “when this appointment is over, you go on to the next, and then you go home and back to your life… and I have to live w/ my body… I have to live w/ the consequences of what YOU want for me… it’s my body, and my life that you don’t have to live, and you can just forget about when this is over.. I can’t.”

(this isn’t btw talking about ppl who use threats of suicide to manipulate others, and I def do agree that some ppl who DO commit suicide also have ideas of “this will show them” or etc : in theory isn’t it also selfish to kill yourself if you think it’ll make ppl happy? cuz you’re also deciding for them what makes htem happy : also I was thinking, that at least for my first attempt, part of the thinking was also “finally I’ll have some control over my life and body”.. control over how I die, when I die… and yeah a side effect is also control over ppl you know… that they’ll finally realize how depressed you rly are, or maybe how much they’ll miss you.. or i dunno : i dun like going back to that dark place and trying to figure out what I was thinking 🙁 )

sry for the ramble and I hope I did not tromp on nebody’s toes or offend nebody : you’re all so wonderful and I dun want to add to a convo only to hurt everybody 🙁 just these are always thoughts I have when it comes to stuff like this and esp suicide 🙁

ithiliana
10 years ago

Magical Laura: Oh, no, you didn’t! I just saw the letter from Woolf, and was reminded of that group–I’m not sure if that is still out there as much as I saw then, back in the 1990s, or if I’m just not seeing it any more. It wasn’t anything anybody here said.

The thing with Plath and Woolf is that they were both such brilliant writers, that it was easy to be drawn in. It’s complicated, and I didn’t express it very well, but it wasn’t about your comment, or the others I saw.

unreal man
10 years ago

@ David
“I don’t presume to know what is in the head of every person who contemplates, or attempts, or succeeds at, suicide. I do know that suicide and suicide threats CAN be used in an aggressive, manipulative way.”

Exactly. And it’s a little more of “I don’t presume to know” that we need here. There are too many people who just come out and judge others. As for suicide threats, you’re totally right. Only people seem to equate them with actual suicide. And that is not the same thing at all.

Also, especially when it comes to something as personal as suicide, we all have very individual possible reasons for doing something like that. How can we not know that we’re projecting our own potential motivations onto somebody else? Just because committing suicide would be a selfish act to you, does not mean that others have the same mindset.

And we should also pay attention to another matter. Suicide is one thing, setting yourself on fire and “calmly” sitting down, burning to death is not exactly typical suicide. I can only speak for myself here that I cannot imagine doing that ever and I cannot imagine the desperation someone has have to make them do that. And to demand that such a person care about other people’s feelings whilst denying him any sympathy reeks of unconscious privilege.

If you want to judge other people’s behavior fairly, then try by assuming you’re not special, that you could also get into such a situation and that not understanding their actions means that you don’t understand their situation.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

duncan: “Suicide isnt something thats used as a revenge tool”

Except when it is, of course.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

Mr. Ball killed himself because he was facing imprisonment on felony child support arrears charges.
Do any of you hate-filled monsters get it?
FATHERS ARE GOING TO PRISON (NOT JAIL) FOR MANY YEARS BECAUSE THEY LOSE THEIR JOBS.

Wasn’t Ball a veteran with a pension? Why yes he was. Perfectly capable of supporting his children–had he wanted to.

But unfortunately for the Marcottes and Futrelles of the world, justice will eventually triumph. The uber-feminist state that criminializes maleness and seeks to enslave ordinary men cannot stand forever. The worm is already beginning to turn. The hatred and vitriol of women like Amanda Marcotte, and the despicable men who support them, will make no difference in the end.

See, this is interesting and I hope you’ll stick around to expand on this. Just how, exactly, will this happen? It’s one thing to say “justice will eventually triumph,” but how will you bring that about?

Property damage? Armed revolt? (Like in Ball’s suicide manifesto–which, incidentally, vitiates the above claims that his suicide was motivated by pain and nothing more) How will that influence anyone, considering that we have police and military forces here and even the best-armed vigilante groups are really nothing in comparison.

Are you going to form pressure groups to influence lawmaking? Protests? I mean, feminists had to do a whole lot of protesting and lobbying and crap before we got to where we are, so if you want to undo what they’ve done it’s going to take at least as much effort.

And then what? I mean, you say that “the worm is beginning to turn” and the “hatred” of all your many enemies will “make no difference in the end”–hollow threats I’d be reluctant to put in the mouth of one of my villains in a Seventh Sea game, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that everyone here can write well. So what will the world look like after you’ve won? Will Ms. Marcotte and Mr. Futrelle no longer be allowed to blog, will they be arrested, what? What happens to people who disagree with you? How will men and women interact? How will things function?

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

I always wonder… do they think Marcotte and Futrelle ACTUALLY run feminism and have power or something? (hence my magyc cards xD )

Schala
Schala
10 years ago

“The problem with the word ‘selfish’ is that we tend to link it to assholes who only care about themselves. But even people who are generally considerate of other people are capable of the odd selfish act. When you consider the fallout from most suicides- there is almost always someone left devasted or grief-stricken or even just guilt-stricken- how can it be anything other than a selfish act?”

By this logic, men who die in wars who were conscripted, are selfish and their wives and children are “the biggest victims of war ~ comment by Hillary Clinton”. No seriously…saying it’s selfish to end your life on your own…that’s so 1980s.

Schala
Schala
10 years ago

Let’s say men who choose to enroll, and/or who didn’t dodge the draft.

dan
dan
10 years ago

Ami

No, it’s the Rothchilds, those fucking Bavarian upstarts, who run feminism.

Jules
Jules
10 years ago

@Schala

I don’t thing the two are similar. In my opinion, it’s totally different to work at a profession where there is a risk to your life than it is to physically end your life. I think Euthanasia is different too as I said above.

I do want to emphasise that I don’t think trying to kill yourself makes you a bad person, just a desperate one.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

@Daran

I only skimmed much of his diatribe, so it’s possible that he expressed anger toward or a desire for revenge against her in another part of it. But if he did, you or Marcotte should be able to cite it with specificity. I should not have to carefully read all ten thousand words and try to guess what it is you think supports your position.

Hold up. You’re admitting to not having read the text that you’re cherry-picking for quotes? How do you expect that to be persuasive?

@unreal man

And it’s a little more of “I don’t presume to know” that we need here. There are too many people who just come out and judge others.

Except we have access to his point of view as expressed in his manifesto. We know at least some of what he was thinking because he wrote it. As Pecunium said, choosing to disregard what he wrote while maintaining that we can’t know what he thought is disingenuous:

What I see your, “we should remain open minded and non judgemental” doing is giving an excuse to not take the tone (and I read it all) of his manifesto into account.

Not to mention that you guys are trying to have it both ways: Daran pays attention to the manifesto when it makes Ball look like a martyr to The System, but when it’s about seeing whether or not he was angry at his ex, then suddenly y’all have no idea how to interpret texts.

Toysoldier
10 years ago

Bee wrote:

But if you read Amanda’s comment and her blog post, she never says that she knows.

Actually, she does. She never states that she is expressing her opinion. Rather she presents her opinion as fact while mocking Ball for killing himself and making fact-free assumptions. That is a fairly horrible thing to do.

and he never takes blame for hitting her three times in the face, until she was bleeding.

He did not state that he hit her three times. He stated, “While putting my four year old daughter to bed, she began licking my hand. After giving her three verbal warnings I slapped her. She got a cut lip.”

He never takes the blame for anything, and that leaves us with the idea that he believes his ex-wife and daughter — along with several government officials, named and unnamed — are at fault for at least some of his desperate suicidal state.

It is true that he never takes the blame for anything, but it is untrue that he blames his ex-wife or daughter. He never specifically states that, nor does he imply it. All of his blame is placed on the shoulders of the judicial system.

But Amanda’s opinion is definitely not coming out of nowhere.

That much is true, although that opinion appears to come from a place of bigotry, sexism, and perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide, which may be part of her basic character (or lack thereof), but most likely stems from her political views .

More disturbing is the willingness by feminists to dehumanize this man and enjoy his suicide like some bizarre masturbatory exercise, which only serves to demonstrate the bias that Ball wrote about. It is unlikely that Ball randomly decided to do this. It is more likely that he has hinted at this or demonstrated a propensity for self-harm before, which begs the question why no one bothered to step in.

David Futrelle wrote:

I do know that suicide and suicide threats CAN be used in an aggressive, manipulative way. That’s all I’ve claimed here.

You gave an instance of someone threatening suicide to get you to do what they want. Ball actually killed himself. That is the example you need to provide: an example of a person killing himself to manipulate his spouse, ex, or his family to get what he wants.

Pecunium
10 years ago

VoiP: Wasn’t Ball a veteran with a pension? Why yes he was. Perfectly capable of supporting his children–had he wanted to.

And no, he wasn’t. He had earned a pension, by serving 20+ years in the Reserves, but reserve pensions are different from Active Duty Pensions.

1: They are pro-rated. Each duty period = 1 point. Points are multiplied by a fractional number, based on one’s pay-grade at retirement. That multiplier is designed to make it so that on gets the equivalent of half one’s pay-grade times the number of days in service. The highest total number of points one can get is 365. If one gets 365 x 20 one gets the same pension one would have gotten if one had done 20 years active.

The default pension based on 20 years x 60 points =1200 (that’s based on points earned for drill participation, and Annual Training)

If we assume he was an E6 (Staff Sergeant, probably the most common rank at 20 years, though in the Reserves things are different, and lower ranks are more common than in the Active Component, where has to make E6 to be allowed to stay in past 16 years) that would equal a monthly pension payment of $282.00. before taxes.

If we figure that schools, Initial Entry Training, etc. would add an extra 200 points to the average service member we get $329.00, before taxes.

2: Reserve Component pensions are delayed. One gets them at age 60.

Ball was not that old. He was not receiving a military pension.

Toysoldier
10 years ago

Except we have access to his point of view as expressed in his manifesto./blockquote>

Accessing what Ball thought should not involve making up information or contorting what he wrote to fit your views. This goes for both feminists and men’s activists. You should read what is there and take at face value because there is no other information. In this case, he stated that he killed himself over the bias in the family court and criminal court system. Since we have no further information, there is no reason to assume he killed himself over anything else, let alone that he did it specifically specifically to spite his ex-wife.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

<>
I’m sorry. Thank you for the clarification.

Pecunium
10 years ago

Toysoldier: It is true that he never takes the blame for anything, but it is untrue that he blames his ex-wife or daughter. He never specifically states that, nor does he imply it.

He does imply it. He implies that his wife caused it all by calling the mental health professional for advice. He implies that if she had just ignore that he hit his four year old daugher in the face for licking him, none of this would have happened.

WHile he doesn’t say, in the suicide letter, how many times he hit her, it’s in other evidence.

That much is true, although that opinion appears to come from a place of bigotry, sexism, and perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide,

Citation needed. You want to say that nowhere in the Ball’s writing is any of the things Marcotte is inferring directly said, then you either have to show specfic statements which are textualy, “bigotry, sexism and perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide.” Otherwise you are a demonstrable hypocrite.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

Sorry: the above apology went to Pecunium for the explanation of Ball’s military status and benefits.

Toysoldier:

She never states that she is expressing her opinion. Rather she presents her opinion as fact while mocking Ball for killing himself and making fact-free assumptions. That is a fairly horrible thing to do.

Where in what she wrote do you see her ‘mocking Ball”? Please provide a quote from what she actually wrote, and evidence for your claim that she is motivated by “bigotry, sexism, and perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide.”
Here’s the article:
http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/wingnut_bloggers_rally_behind_a_violent_call_for_revolution

More disturbing is the willingness by feminists to dehumanize this man and enjoy his suicide like some bizarre masturbatory exercise, which only serves to demonstrate the bias that Ball wrote about.

Who is writing this? All feminists? Please provide quotes, with context, otherwise this claim looks even weaker than your first one.

He did not state that he hit her three times. He stated, “While putting my four year old daughter to bed, she began licking my hand. After giving her three verbal warnings I slapped her. She got a cut lip.”

This hardly makes him look better. if you’re quibbling over how many times a grown man hit a child, in the assumption that one of those answers will exonerate him, you have already missed the point.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

I posted, thought it didn’t stick, then posted the same thing again. Please remove the first one; the second one’s better written.

Pecunium
10 years ago

VoiP: No problem. Reserve Component Pensions are really complex. Honestly, I just covered the most simple aspects of someone who had a straightforward career in nothing but one branch of the reserves.

We didn’t touch “good years” deployments, highest grade satisfactorily held, Disability Compensation, mixed time, mixed branch… M-Day time credits against AGR retirement…

And don’t even get me started on the unfairness of “Gray Retirement”, and the ways in which being in the Reserves is screwed up in the terms of the pension delay; and how complicated it is to deal with… because of prejudices, and the hypotheticals on ways someone could game the the system.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

Accessing what Ball thought should not involve making up information or contorting what he wrote to fit your views. This goes for both feminists and men’s activists. You should read what is there and take at face value because there is no other information.

Then you should be able to provide citations for your claims about Marcotte.

Also, as Pecunium said:

He does imply it. He implies that his wife caused it all by calling the mental health professional for advice. He implies that if she had just ignore that he hit his four year old daugher in the face for licking him, none of this would have happened.

SarBear
10 years ago

FATHERS ARE GOING TO PRISON (NOT JAIL) FOR MANY YEARS BECAUSE THEY LOSE THEIR JOBS.

Anthony Z, women do jail time just the same for getting behind on payments.

bekabot
10 years ago

Thank you, Amused, for implying what I am now going to state; which is that Thomas Ball was a cold-blooded guy. He didn’t immolate himself because he was having a bad day or because his back teeth hurt or because he owed child support. He immolated himself because he wanted to make a point, and because, after he’d systematically weighed up all his options, he came to the conclusion that setting himself on fire was his best option for the making of that point. He gambled well because he had the temperament of a card-counter from the start. When he figured that he’d lit on a tactic no one would be able to ignore, he was right. The proof is that we’re talking about it now.

I recognize cold-bloodedness because I’m cold-blooded myself.* I understand how people who do this sort of thing think. I’d never imitate them, because I am the shy retiring type and because I labor under a deficiency of testosterone, but I realize that behavior of this sort is meant, by the people who engage in it, to serve a linguistic purpose. It’s in the nature of an argument. It’s a way of getting the last word. Some of the MRA/MGTOW-ers who have commented on Thomas Ball’s suicide have likened his actions to those of Joseph Stack. I think that they’re onto something when they notice the parallel. Joseph Stack set his house on fire and flew his plane into the IRS headquarters at Austin not to escape pain or to punish people (this is the issue on which I disagree with Amanda Marcotte) or because voices in his head were driving him on, but because he wanted to gain a readership for his manifesto. He had complaints about his life and he wanted others to know what they were. Like Thomas Ball, he picked a public place from which to stage his exit, and like Thomas Ball, he chose a method of a kind which would pretty much be guaranteed to cause the phrase “blaze of glory” to pass through the minds of the sort of people he wanted to impress. In other words, both men knew their audience and were playing to it.**

I think Amanda Marcotte has made a mistake, though I don’t think she’s made any of the mistakes she’s been accused of making here. What Amanda Marcotte got wrong is: she has overestimated the importance of the woman in the case. Thomas Ball did not commit suicide in order to get back at his wife. Thomas Ball burnt himself up in order to communicate his disgust with the rest of the world to the rest of the world, in an articulate and understandable manner. His wife and kids were a part of the sum total of the means by which he hoped to achieve that, but they were not the reason for it, nor was his message aimed at them (other than incidentally). Like Stack, he wanted to publicize his woes, and his wife and kids alone would not have comprised a large enough audience. Another thing that some of the MRA/MGTOW-ers who have posted here have mentioned is that Ball doesn’t spend too much time talking about his wife or his family in his suicide-screed. There’s a reason for that. Ball’s wife and family hold the position of the parts of speech in his aggregate message; he uses them to help get his point across. But his self-immolation was never about them.

(It’s natural for straight women who have been involved with men to think that men’s behavior hinges more on women’s reactions than it in fact does. What can I say? Female vanity is a monster.)

*Here’s the proof: the first thing I thought after reading Joseph Stack’s suicide note–although really, like Thomas Ball’s similar production, it’s too long and involved to be described as a “note”–was: “Air-mail delivery: postage too high and letter too long.” The first thing I thought after seeing a picture of the New Hampshire courthouse in front of which Ball lit himself up was: “They’re going to be a long time scrubbing out that stain.”

**Joseph Stack’s daughter, who might be expected to know a thing or two about her Dad, recognized that what her father was after. She realized that his primary goal was to be listened to. When asked about her suicide (before she walked back her own comments) she said that (in effect) she thought her father was a hero because he’d got the public’s attention. True story.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

Toysoldier:

Actually, she does. She never states that she is expressing her opinion. Rather she presents her opinion as fact while mocking Ball for killing himself and making fact-free assumptions. That is a fairly horrible thing to do.

She doesn’t use the words “my opinion,” but it’s fairly clear that she’s expressing her opinion. Again: “I was annoyed by all this and suggested in the comments at Man Boobz that there might be a more personal reason for this guy’s suicide, and pointed out that suicide and threats of suicide are common tactics used by abusers to hurt their victims.”

“I pointed out in Man Boobz’s comments that setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective way to hurt your ex-wife, if that’s your goal, and perhaps MRAs could consider that aspect of this.”

Where does she say “This is fact!”?

He did not state that he hit her three times.

Wrong. Ball admitted striking his daughter three times with an open hand across her face, but maintained it was “appropriate discipline,” the court documents said.

it is untrue that he blames his ex-wife or daughter. He never specifically states that, nor does he imply it.

But no. He does imply it. What do you think “My story starts with the infamous slapping incident” is supposed to be? Or this: “Almost two years after the incident, I was talking with her on the phone. She told me that night she had called a mental health provider we had for one of the kids. Wendy, the counselor told my then wife that if she did not call the police on me, then she too would be arrested. Suddenly, everything made sense. She is the type that believes that people in authority actually know what they are talking about.”? It seems pretty clear that he’s blaming his daughter for starting the story by licking him and causing him to slap her, and that he’s blaming his wife for foolishly believing people in authority. And then he goes on to blame the state and the feds, but really, by not taking any responsibility for slapping his daughter in the first place, he never takes the blame off of his daughter and ex-wife. Secondarily blaming the government doesn’t do that. And anyway, the government doesn’t care what he has to say, isn’t going to feel guilty for his death. Who is?

although that opinion appears to come from a place of bigotry, sexism, and perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide, which may be part of her basic character (or lack thereof), but most likely stems from her political views.

Or from the same basic place my position is coming from, which is a genuine sympathy for Ball and his family, and a concern about Ball’s call to action and the MRM’s adoption of said call and Ball as a martyr figure to fuel it. I can’t speak for Amanda, but you’re dead wrong if you read a perverse satisfaction over someone’s suicide into either her words or mine.

law1204
law1204
10 years ago

I took Abnormal Psychology in college. We studied suicide, and the explanations for it fall into three categories: Psychodynamic (suicide results from depression and/or other emotional states), sociocultural (suicide is influenced by how attached a person is to social groups, an influential view often supported by research), and biological (suicide is linked to either genetic factors, brain factors such as low serotonin, or use of certain drugs).

Obviously when studying any particular case of suicide there can be overlap; in this instance there isn’t any evidence to suggest anything outside the sociocultural view. The sociocultural view further breaks suicide down into three subcategories – Egoistic suicides (suicides committed by people over whom society has little or no control – such people are not concerned with societal norms nor are they integrated into the social fabric ie, they are isolated or alienated), altruistic suicides (people who are so well integrated that they intentionally sacrifice their lives for its well being), and anomic suicides (people whose social environment fails to provide stable structures).

We can really only guess which one (or more) of the above categories Ball felt more like he fit into; let it be said, however, that suicides that are sometimes characterized as altrustic (suicide bombers) are not seen that way by many theorists. “Suicide bombers seem indifferent to the innocent lives they are destroying and categorize the bombers as mass murderers motivated by hatred rather than feelings of altruism (Humphrey 2006).”

Since I have been out of college for awahile I haven’t bothered with the appropriate attributions for the above. It was all taken from Comer 7th ed. pages 320 – 324 lest anyone get upset with me for inappropriate use.

I thought I’d put all the psychological thought out there just in case it helped. Ball was a criminal and a child abuser. People are still responsible for their own behavior at the end of the day and no psychological diagnoses mitigates that. And at the end of the day should the victims of someone’s crime be expected to care about the criminal’s life tribulations if any? Should everyone expected to have sympathy for whatever led a criminal to commit whatever crimes they committed? Plenty of other criminals in rare moments of truthfulness have admitted from behind the cold bars of a jail cell that they did it because they could. They’ll use other excuses given to them to avoid punishment, not because those excuses are true.

Anyway, just saying that suicide can, in fact, be motivated by hatred, revenge, control, and abuse, not necessarily pain or depression…I see no evidence of depression in Ball’s note, his suicide was the delusional “political” statement of a man with no empathy (his dismissal of what he did to his daughter is of particular note, and most of what he said was almost completely about his own “victimization” at the hands of the law – it’s a great snapshot of pure narcissism). Abusers abuse because they feel entitled to, and they buck the law and social convention because of personal entitlement (Bancroft). The only thing I’d believe about Ball is that he might have had APD (an official diagnosis of which won’t even get you out of the death penalty), as many abusers do (Dutton). He was a man who belonged behind bars as, despite whatever was wrong with him and his motivations, he was a danger to society and it was really only the best of fortune that he didn’t take his wife and children with him.

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