Within just this past week, three very unusual shootings took place around the Globe. The first shooting occurred in Florence, Italy where an individual being described as a far-right militant, shot and killed two street vendors. Witnesses say they saw the gunman calmly get out of a car, walk right up to a group a vendors, and fire off three shots. The gunman then took his own life with a fourth shot. With only four pulls of a trigger, 50-year-old Gianluca Casseri, took the lives of himself, two other men, and left another paralyzed for the rest of his life. The shooting is being declared as a racist attack due to evidence that suggests Casseri was deliberately targeting immigrants from the African nation of Senegal.
The second shooting was perhaps even more peculiar, as it happened early in the morning in Hollywood, California right in the middle of the street. 26-year-old Tyler Brehm began shooting strangers in a McDonald’s parking lot at around 10 a.m. He eventually made his way to the corner of Sunset Boulevard and fired approximately 20 rounds and cars driving by. Brehm successfully murdered only one individual, John Atterberry, who took 3 rounds to the face and neck. Atterberry, a 40-year-old music executive, had worked with the likes of Jessica Simpson and the Spice Girls. After running out of ammunition, two police officers crossed his path and shot him multiple times. Brehm later died from his wounds. Brehm reportedly broke up with his girlfriend of 5 years just days before the shooting spree, prompting officials to declare the resulting depression as his motive. You can see a short clip of the gunman in action here.
The third incident is arguably the most disturbing. A man identified as 33-year-old Nordine Amrani took to the streets of Liege, Belgium armed with grenades, a rifle, and a handgun. Witnesses say Amrani started randomly hurling grenades and spraying bullets into the town square crowded with Christmas shoppers. Amrani had previously been arrested in 2008 after being convicted on multiple weapon and drug charges. However, this is the first time Amrani has been involved in a violent act. He managed to kill a 75-year-old woman, three teenage boys, and a 2-year-old girl before taking his own life. At least 120 others were injured in the attack.
These attacks encouraged me to take another look at Socrates and his decision to obey, even though he considered his conviction unjust. Only, in all three of these circumstances, the shooters decided to do the opposite in disobeying even though their actions would lead to just convictions.
Crito argued with Socrates saying that a person must do what the person knows is right. Furthermore, that not to do something that one knows is right is unmanly. Therefore, because Socrates knows that the death sentence is unjust, he should disobey. Could it have been that Gianluca Casseri, the shooter in the first case , believed that it was unjust for Senegalese immigrants to settle in Italy?
Socrates then offers an incomplete explanation as to why he is deciding to obey. He states that opinions are not knowledge, and that knowledge, not opinions, is what will lead to goodness and justice. Listening to experts and denouncing evil acts are also comprised in his argument which, as we discussed in class, makes him appear as somewhat of a martyr. Being that each shooter took their own life after their crimes, could it be that one or all of the three shooters had thought themselves to be martyr’s?
My thought is that, even though I’m disturbed and appalled at all three of the shootings, could it be that in each of these individuals’ minds they had actually come to the conclusion that they were committing a just act? Would Socrates or Crito be able to argue that these three men actually had justification to disobey? Is there any justice that can be had for the victims now that their attacker is deceased? Finally, do you believe that the death of the perpetrators’ is the ultimate form of justice and now, that they are dead, there is no further action to be taken?