Posts Tagged ‘Psychopath’

“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

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“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

When I was a boy, my father taught me a lot of things that I’ve come to find useful. He taught me to steal without getting caught. He taught me to lie and cheat and conspire. He taught me how to assault other people in public and get away with it. Coincidentally, he taught me that Yankee people are a vile, distrustful bunch, devoid entirely of morals. Go figure.

Now if you aren’t sure what a Yankee is, or are wondering if you are one and if I’m about to viciously insult you, I’ll explain. “Yankee” is a slang term southern Americans use when referring to northerners. It is a derogatory, dehumanizing term closely akin to the word “nigger” but generally is considered socially acceptable and is more commonly used. Ethnically it is applied to groups with European heritage who have assimilated entirely into the white culture. Sorry minorities, but white southerners have separate epithets for you…Yankee appears to be a white thing.

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“The Yankee states are the blue ones.”

It’s also a perspective thing, which means it depends upon who you ask. Yankees, to most folks, are people from the northeast. Northeast of what, you ask. Why, northeast of the person you are asking comes the answer. To a true southerner, anyone from two or three towns to the north is a Yankee. If you’re from New England or anywhere close to New York or Chicago, you are also a Yankee. Anyone west of Iowa is generally not a Yankee but if you live in south Florida and aren’t Cuban, then you probably are one. Virginia is considered somewhat Yankee-ish, but somehow West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t really. Does that make any sense? At all?

So, back to insulting Yankees, it wasn’t long before I started to see that northern, or Yankee, people behaved a little differently than what I was used to in the small southern Appalachian (pronounced Apple-atch-in) town where I grew up and presently reside. My early dealings with transplants from Ohio and New Jersey supported my father’s statement, but after my first couple of years in the military, I began to see things a little differently. The lack of morality he described was actually, as near as I could tell at least, simply a different interpretation of the term. They had intact moral systems, but they were nothing like what I was used to.

It’s a cultural difference that can only be described anecdotally. On a recent road trip, while the wife was inside a small post office, I was flipping through the rental car’s satellite radio and happened upon the Vivid Video porn radio station. Yep, porn is on the radio and I’d tuned into a call-in talk show. The topic was “cream pies.” Now if you don’t know, I’ll tell you. If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because this shit is nasty. The contextual meaning of “cream pie” on this show involved a man licking a strange man’s baby batter out of his own wife’s hoo ha. Yuck city.

All of the six callers I heard before my wife returned were either from Massachusetts or Ohio, with most being from the latter. Does that mean people from Ohio are disgusting and devoid of morals? Maybe. Ohio also has the highest rate of human sex trafficking in the country. It’s the place where your child is most likely to be abducted a block from home and wind up being pimped out in a truck stop two weeks later. All I’m suggesting here is that the sexual culture in that region of the country may be a little different than what most folks consider normal and when it turns bad, it also happens a little differently.

When I related my story at work, it was met with disgust and contempt, only later to be generalized into a series of epithetic jokes with each being more crass and foul than the last. In a fundamentalist Christian culture, such sexually deviant behavior is considered morally repugnant on every level and for a number of reasons, despite the fact the act itself is a consensual one, between adults and occurring behind closed doors. When a guy from Ohio hoovers up a puddle of some other dude’s man-mayonnaise, he calls a nationally syndicated radio show and frankly discusses it. But if a guy from the N.C. hills ever even had the inkling that he might enjoy such a thing, he’d be on his knees begging Jesus to forgive and redeem his sinful, broken black heart. One guy feels guilty, one doesn’t. Same mouthful of sour milk bubble gum. What gives?

Back in the forties, the U.S. instituted the draft and started shuffling soldiers off to fight the Nazis. The Nazis, as we all know, we’re bulldozing their way across Europe and North Africa looting, pillaging and trucking Jews away to labor and extermination camps. The American soldiers were appalled by what they saw. The big question here is: why weren’t the German soldiers appalled as well? After all, they were tasked with doing the work and saw it much closer than anyone else. Why did the Germans not experience overwhelming guilt and simply stop the butchering? It almost seems as though the Nazis had produced some sort of psychopathic super soldiers, incapable of feeling or remorse or love, like the Terminator but with less-cool catchphrases like “Seig Heil. ” That seems unlikely, considering that psychopathy is thought to be on the rise and presently only figures at an estimated 4% of the population. Note: feel free to replace “Nazis” with any other genocidal social group, including Colonial and/or slaveholding Americans…

It’s more likely that the Nazi propaganda machine created a culture and moral structure conducive to what it intended to accomplish and left the grunt work not to clinical psychopaths, but dedicated citizens and soldiers who believed what they were doing was best for their social group, or at least doing what they could to fit in. It’s hard to feel guilt or remorse when you don’t believe you have done anything wrong to begin with. This statement is key to the understanding of how morality functions both socially and neurologically.

Conventional morality means nothing to me. I do not experience the sensation of guilt. Or remorse. I understand, concisely, the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, but I possess no innate inclination to prefer one over the other, especially when it comes to the way I relate to others, nor am I pathologically predisposed toward one over the other. In a clinically sociopathic brain, morality deals with what is best for the self. For me, right and wrong only really applies to what is either beneficial or non beneficial for me.

Most sociopaths, the ones who will speak openly, report their lack of engagement with traditional morality as an evolutionary advantage. Non-socios see it as a harmful social disorder. Fundamental religion happens to frame it as a separation from God. When I was young, attending private Baptist school, I was taught that my conscience was akin to the Holy Spirit, and that it lived in all of us. The Spirit would pack it’s bags and hit the bricks, however, if we should ask it to do so. The Spirit never “convicted” me with feelings of guilt when I was naughty, no matter how naughty, and I began to wonder if I’d asked it to leave without even realizing.

Maybe I had, but I must have been tiny when it happened. Long time readers of my blog will remember an early post (click to read this post) which depicted a four-year old Jason pitching a kitten into a red hot wood stove. While I’ve never repeated that sort of behavior in any way, I’ve never felt any sort of guilt or emotional torment as a result. The Holy Spirit has never had anything to say to me about it, although my grandma sure as hell did. What I remember clearly are the two sequential ass bustings, separated by a period of time out in the corner. That and the smell of burnt cat. That sort of thing sticks with you.

Lacking a conscience and the capacity to feel guilt, in and of itself, doesn’t make a person a monster. The smoking cat may claim otherwise, but remember that the cat is in fact smoking, which severely biases the cat’s scientific opinion. The supposed lack of conscience, in any context, serves only as a behavioral enabler and to understand it’s true implications, the very concept of morality must be reframed. Right and wrong, it seems, are not necessarily what we think and are a hell of a lot more static than we’ve ever imagined.

Most religions teach that God, besides being the Creator, is also the “law giver,” as in the decider of what is moral and what is not. In other words, the idea of conventional morality, to a believer, is a universal constant defined by a higher power. The problem with this is that the idea of right vs. wrong varies between individual cultures and according to time period. Four hundred years ago, the moral way to deal with “witches” was to crush them with large stones. While this behavior was acceptable in 17th century Christianity, it is no longer considered justifiable. In a few centuries, the dividing line between right and wrong shifted drastically. These American centuries also saw the enslavement of the black man and the genocide of the native people, all justified in the minds of the offenders by the popularized form of morality present at the time. Sometimes, religion itself was used to explicitly justify such savage offenses. In the film Django Unchained, Tarantino depicts a slaver quoting Genesis 9:2, common piece of scripture used to normalize slavery as he uses a bullwhip against another human being for breaking eggs.image

Morality, the idea of right vs. wrong, is a concept that evolves within the culture in which it presents, and nothing more. It exists as a behavioral framework that provides a consistent standard wherein people may coexist peacefully with one another. It’s the reason our societies have come so far and is absolutely necessary for the survival of our species. Morality, at its root, serves as a tool for the perpetuation of the species and therefore, must evolve with the times in order to remain effective and beneficial to the larger group.

If I experienced guilt, it would not be a feeling that I had sinned against an instituted universal order. This paradigm is no more measurable than it is tangible when considering that standard moral programming is not a feature humans are born with. What I should have experienced after I burned the cat is a form of anxiety. Things like roasting live cats are considered deviant in terms of common behaviors exhibited by the majority in a culture. Committing such acts, for most people, results in a fear of being ostracized by their social group. Morality, rather than referring to the intangible and static concepts of right and wrong, actually reflects the societal standard of normal behavior. The feeling of guilt is not related to the Holy Spirit, but is in fact a sensation of emotional displeasure experienced after behaving in such a way as to risk the security of one’s social identity and status. It’s an important tool which exists to link humans together and help them relate peacefully and harmoniously with one another.

For me, it’s not that easy. There is no little voice in my head providing an evolutionary cue as to how I should behave with regards to others. In this aspect, the anti-sociopath crowd has a point; I, and others like me, seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to naturally fitting in with the rest of society. We are presented, as such, with a choice. A person with an antisocial personality can choose to either ignore social convention and live at will or cognitively engage the system, mimicking the moralities imposed on others, and fit in the best way possible. Or, at a bare minimum, not be burned at the stake by a bunch of pissed off villagers. While fitting in takes considerable work and finesse, it is in the ability to make this conscious choice that the sociopath derives his own evolutionary advantage.

Unconstrained by any sort of neurological directive to conform, I am free to define my own personal code of morality as I see fit. On the one hand, were I a malevolent sort of a creature, a pathologically offending victim of intense childhood trauma, then you could see how lacking this behaviorally inhibiting brain function might cause a lot of problems. But on the other, that isn’t the case at all and not only am I completely free to choose my own right from wrong, I am able to do so objectively.

For example…

I’ve done my level best to convince a close friend of mine that eating commercially processed chicken, especially from fast food joints, is socially irresponsible and perpetuates cruelty. Chickens are not protected by cruelty laws, they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, raised in tiny boxes, cooked and sold by people not being paid enough to live, the whole spiel (read more about this here). His answer:

“The Bible says nothing you eat can defile you, only what comes out of you can defile you. And I like me some chicken.”

You don’t really see the cost of being locked into an institutionalized system of morality until you observe said behavior being framed by such a ludicrous and contextually inappropriate justification. The pathological need to be a part of a certain social structure usually serves to inhibit harmful antisocial behavior, but in this case, the behavior’s lack of significance within the moral framework only serves to perpetuate it. The social culture of Evangelical Christianity, amongst others, not only fails to identify the social issue as a problem, it draws on the Genesis 1:28 claim of man’s dominion over the Earth as justification to say nothing.

In other words, if my friend and I eat factory farmed chicken for lunch, we should both, by all rights, feel guilty for doing so. But neither of us do. He doesn’t because it’s not a part of the social-moral paradigm to which he subscribes. The Christian belief system simply doesn’t choose to prosecute the perpetuation of cruel acts against defenseless creatures as a sin…so there is no reason for him to feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty either. Not that I would have actually eaten the chicken, but it wouldn’t matter to me if I did, not from an emotional standpoint anyway. I’m free, remember, to define my own terms of morality and in this case, humanity sits in the sociopath’s corner, as does the evolutionary advantage. Think I’m full of it? Change the example of two guys eating chicken to two German soldiers in World War II arguing about how ok it was to go along with the popular Nazi definition of morality in those days.

Whether it involves torturing chickens for profit or the mass murder of millions, the implications of how a person defines what is right and what is wrong can be a very serious business, even more so if a man decides to trust another man to do his moral reasoning for him. Religious institutions, for example, provide much of our moral framework. Despite their tax-free, non-profit status, these organizations still function as bureaucracies and by their very nature, create self perpetuating ideologies which may or may not be beneficial to the overall social group. This is why the Catholic Church has been behind so much mischief, historically speaking. An institution, like a clinical sociopath, is incapable of experiencing attacks of behaviorally inhibiting conscience.

Objective morality is the middle ground between a lack thereof and that which is externally imposed, both of which result in selfishly motivated and anti social patterns of behavior. No matter who you are, building an internal moral framework which is objective and based truly upon “Do Unto Others” principles takes hard work and a discerning eye for the greater social consequences of your behavior. All of it.

Something which seems so trivial as purchasing a chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A should by all means be deemed socially irresponsible…immoral. A four dollar decision enables the abuse of animals for the pure selfish sake of profit margins as well as the practice of dramatically under compensating employees. It’s only four dollars, but it’s still four dollars. I can see this objectively because, ironically, I don’t have morals. Or a conscience. Or a guilt complex. The same lack of neurologically forced social engagement that let John Gacy sleep soundly atop the corpses rotting in his crawl space enables me to point a bony finger in the face of popular convention and proclaim, in the words of ultra-galactic asshole James MacDonald,

“For shame!”

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Ain’t the world a funny place?

Tommy got out of his cage again. It’s a son of a bitch to get him back behind closed doors, otherwise, I’d have written sooner.

You can hardly blame him, I suppose. Twelve years, after all, is a very long time to lock such a wild creature away, but sadly, it’s just not long enough. The truth is, Tommy can never be free. The rest of us wouldn’t be safe, plain and simple.

Tommy and I first met back in 2000, far away from home. I’d seen him around, a lot. Every place I was stationed, there he was. On each deployment, he found his way into the muster report. And when I went drinking with my boys, he was always at the bar, right in the thick of it all, the Great Instigator of Chaos. As often as we were together, I didn’t really know him that well in those days. Fact is, I never even knew his name, not until he tracked me down anyway.

When I left the service, it had been because of him. And in spite of him. Tommy was old school soldier…true a Von Clausewitz disciple. “To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity,” was one of his favorite quotes. It made sense, coming from the guy who actually seemed to find some sort of savage peace in the smell of people who’d been burned to death with incendiaries or, for lack of a better implement, napalm. Tommy loved the smell of that too, especially in the morning. Personally, I’ve never caught the scent of victory in the stuff, only raw petroleum and burnt skin. But it’s amazing what a man can get used to, especially around that guy.

Tommy knew me better than I knew myself, at least it seemed. He knew how to draw on the hate and anger inside, how to focus it into hostility, how to create chaos. In those days he brought out the worst in me and it was really too late, when I finally broke from him, because, by that time, I had become him. As my enlistment wound down, I’d grown downright dangerous to be around, and the brass was as relieved to see me go as I was to be leaving.

Mostly, I just wanted to be away from Tommy. The word most closely resembling the way he made me feel about myself is…Fear. From that feeling, I ran hard and fast, cutting a wide swathe across the southeastern United States, stopping only to refuel and reinforce the identity Tommy had imposed upon me. My journey was a haze, mostly, drenched in alcohol and brutality, a half dead and rabid pursuit of a sunset I couldn’t quite seem to catch.

It was on the night I gave up, turned right, headed north toward the wee hours of the morning, it was that night when Tommy finally caught up with me. It was pushing towards dawn, in a diner, somewhere just east of the Rockies, when a girl, a regular patron with sandy hair and a pretty smile, approached my quiet corner and asked my name.

“Tommy,” I answered without thinking, raising my eyes to make friends.

The name was random. It was the first time in a month I’d been asked, honestly, and given the fact that I was running low on cash, providing false information to potential witnesses would serve, at the least, to confuse anyone investigating anything I might end up doing.

Anything Tommy ended up doing.

In reality, it wasn’t so much the assumption of an alias as it was a christening of the part of me that really defines who I am. Deep down, in the darkest recesses of my little black heart, I know that Tommy is me. And that I am Tommy. And that it’s always been way. It’s Jason, as a matter of fact, who is really the impostor. Jason is the mask that Tommy wears out into the world. He’s a series of learned and socially acceptable behaviors. He’s the cage that Tommy lives inside.

A few weeks back, Tommy got out of his cage. And he tried to go to war.

“War is merely a continuation of politics, albeit through other means,” said Von Clausewitz. Tommy skips the politics. He’s not a talker or a manipulator and couldn’t give two shits about a treaty. He doesn’t bring logic and sensibility to the table. Tommy shows up with the box of matches. The matches and the gasoline.

The truth is, I let him out on purpose…because I needed him.

Tommy is the essence of the survival mechanism…he’s a living, breathing fight response…a last resort. When I can’t solve the problem any other way, when I can’t escape it or fix it conventionally, when I simply need it destroyed or subjugated, Tommy’s the one who handles that type of shit.

My new wife met Tommy while he was free. It wasn’t like introducing her to an old friend that I hadn’t seen since the hectic days of my youth. There wasn’t a warm reception or an embrace of a man long lost to the confines of civility. That day, he was just there, not on the porch, at the door, but inside. Inside our home. Inside of me…like an furious animal backed into a corner…lost, angst ridden and aggressive.

For the first time in over a decade, I felt like myself, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Neither could Penny. Tommy scared her, I think. Hell, he scares me, and he is me.

Tommy would never harm Penny, not directly at least. I’d actually set him free to protect her, to do a job that Jason just couldn’t do. The trouble with him is that he takes over completely. He just can’t function properly within the constraints of the mask. Tommy understands only war, ungoverned by convention or absurd moderation, unhindered by any real or constructed element of conscience. And he commits fully with a level of effectiveness that’s hard to argue with and even harder to turn off.

All he really wants is to feel normal. Behind the facade lies coiled a creature trapped between two worlds. Tommy understands only conflict and his very presence threatens peaceful existence. In these moments of stress and contention, Tommy finds the closest thing to peace he will ever experience. When the shit hits the fan, in other words, he’s on both sides of it, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Sometimes I wish the world had a place where Tommy could be himself…where he could live out his days, what very few he could have, and feel normal in his own skin. The cost of this is great, unfortunately, and the only acceptable tender is the blood and fear of those in his vicinity. Indeed, Tommy can only truly exist within the haze grey obscurity of violent conflict. Or in the shadow of the man he longs to be, a man not unlike myself. And in that shadow he shall remain, watching, waiting, just in case circumstance demands an element of surgical brutality fueled by the homicidal panic of a cornered mountain lion.

I still read Von Clausewitz every now and again, as well as Tsunetomo and even a little Miyamoto. To a point, it’s nostalgic, a crawl through the gutters and trenches of the past, a reminder of what once was and most importantly, what could very easily be again. Some of it is for perspective, for an understating of Tommy, because Tommy and I, we are the same. But mostly, mostly it’s because I just can’t let it go.

And that’s ok.

Just as long as Tommy doesn’t get loose long enough to do anything really bad…like running amok through downtown in a heavily armored bulldozer…or…hijacking a submarine filled with Peruvian cocaine…or even…using a can of industrial adhesive and a case of road flares to ignite a revolution in Nicaragua…as long as he’s under wraps, mostly, we’re good.

And if you think I’m telling you what he did while he was loose last time, then you’re crazy as shit. I already checked the statute of limitations. I’ll get back to you in 2022. In the meantime, the frenzy has subsided, the beast imprisoned and I’ll be getting back to blogging about bullshit no one cares about.

Thanks for reading.

My grandmother has a bumper sticker that reads, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” I’ve always gotten a good chuckle from that, especially when considering my grandma’s eccentric personality and her unorthodox methods of getting shit done. Sometimes I think that her bumper sticker should be on the front of the car and not the back, that way, at least we’d all get a fair warning that she’s coming and have a good idea of what sort of behavior to expect.

The sticker speaks for more than my grandma, I think. It speaks for more than women in general. Human behavior that deviates from what society considers to be the norm jumps out at us like a blip on an empty radar screen or a spike in a polygraph printout. Deviant behavior is a huge factor in the evolution of human culture because we are compelled, for some reason, to address it and how it is addressed often makes it the catalyst for some sort of change in the larger social group’s behavior patterns. Sometimes it happens on a micro level, like in a family or a community, but sometimes one person’s divergent actions can affect a macro level shift in the culture of a city, of a country or even of the entire world.

People whose brains function in ways outside what society considers to be normal have a bit of a propensity towards this sort of thing. Psychopaths, in particular, seem to be programmed to inspire change. A psychopath is made to behave selfishly and is not equipped, mentally, with the wiring necessary to conform on a pathological level. The sociopath and the psychopath have to learn and consciously apply these behavior patterns in order to fit in with the rest of the world and try to experience some sort of happiness.

Often, the psychopath’s true nature leaks around the edges of the mask or tears entirely through it. Once the psychopath abandons the restrictions of conformity and begins to impose his own nature upon the larger group, he emerges as a catalyst for an overall behavioral shift. This can happen in one of two ways or in a combination of both. In the first, the deviant behavior is pathological with no intent whatsoever in controlling the larger group. Numerous instances of serial killings have prompted all sorts of changes in society, particularly related to passage of legislation, but none of this change was intended. To the psychopath, the associated shift in the larger culture was not even considered with regards to the behavior; the deviant behavior is it’s own motivation and the resulting societal shift is…coincidental. However, when the psychopath seeks to intentionally change the nature of the larger culture by imposing himself upon it, look out, because all bets are off.

Think of it this way: mass shootings like the ones in Colorado and Connecticut have brought about a lot of talk regarding the expansion of gun regulation and have added momentum to an anti gun subculture. If tighter gun laws come as society’s expression of need for them in the wake of these sort of incidents, this was probably not considered by the shooters when they locked and loaded. There is no grand design and maybe the need for heavier handed gun restrictions might be justified. This is a natural reaction to a pathologically deviant behavior which causes harm. There are some people, however, who claim these shootings were actually carried out by unknown conspirators in hopes of drawing support to overreaching international small arms legislation which was up for vote around the same time these shootings went down. If these guys are right, and they seem to present a fair amount of evidence, it means the behavior (shooting a bunch of innocent people) itself was not actually pathological, and that it merely served as a conduit of influence towards achieving whatever pathological need that heavier duty gun laws might serve.

Can you see the difference? The psychopaths who use their capacity to engage in deviant behavior as a means to an end are infinitely scarier than those whose behavior, as bizarre and/or terrifying as it can potentially be, are relatively benign on a macro level. Think of it this way: who is more harmful and has done more damage to the larger group…Ted Bundy or Dick Cheney?

Ha.

So all this being said, I have two absolute favorite psychopaths about whom I simply must share…

The first is Joshua Milton Blahyi aka General Butt Naked. I first learned about the General from a Vice documentary called “The Cannibal Warlords of Liberia.” During the early 90s, Liberia was engaged in a very nasty civil war. Blahyi, who was supposedly initiated as a tribal shaman at the age of eleven, had already participated in ritualized human sacrifice and cannibalism before the war ever began. With the onset of the war and his subsequent commission under warlord Roosevelt Johnson, General Butt Naked continued to engage in violent antisocial behavior, although on a much grander scale.

In Butt Naked’s heyday, he led a small army of child soldiers into combat, wearing nothing but sneakers and tightie whities and often carrying purses along with rifles and machetes. He described heavy use of alcohol and drugs, along with regular ritual killings and cannibalization in conjunction with the atrocities that were already being committed as a part of the war.

It was funny, in the Hostel movie, when the little kids used the bad guy’s head as a soccer ball. Dark and twisted, but still funny. It wasn’t funny when Blahyi talked about doing it for real. To my knowledge, he’s never been tried or held accountable for any of his past actions.

These days he’s a traveling evangelical Christian preacher with a wife and four kids. He wears clothes, along with his shoes and sports a bible instead of an AK-47 and a purse. These days he delivers seemingly relevant and well penned sermons throughout churches in Liberia. The documentary showcased one such sermon that I found to be, given the social context of post civil war Liberia, quite poignant and generally good advice on how the country should conduct itself in the future.

This crazy bastard isn’t my favorite psychopath because I venerate anything he did or does, it’s because he makes me think. Without a doubt, the guy is a monster all the way down to his marrow. His behavior, historically, has proven his status as a monster. I question, however, the nature of his pathological need…is it slaughter, blood drinking and severed head Olympics, or were these activities simply a means to some other end? Or both?

Personally, I don’t think monsters stop being monsters. It’s an ingrained part of a person’s identity. I do think that people often change tactics and evolve with the changing of the times. This is what I suspect has happened with the General. He’s still the same old rotten bastard he always was, he just conducts his business in a different way. He now speaks to people in a way which, from what I can tell, is likely to have a substantial effect on the social culture of the country. My question is, given who he is and what he’s done, do his words still carry value?

Absolutely. Words are, well, words, and they all carry value. By removing the source context, the cannibal General, the words alone amount to, in my opinion, pretty good advice. If we disregard the history and very existence of General Butt Naked and consider only the family man Joshua Blahyi, it truly seems as though he speaks from a place of wisdom and honesty.

Perhaps that’s why he changed his name…maybe he understands something that everyone else should.

Once a man kills a child and eats it and then gives it to other children to eat before arming them and sending them into combat, once that happens, we can understand never to trust that person. That person is capable of anything and the behavior proves it. In order to ever be considered credible, the person has to distance their self from the behavior…or reinvent their identity entirely.

This is dangerous for everyone else. If Liberia forgets who General Butt Naked is, and engages Joshua Blahyi the preacher by adopting his ideas and teachings, they risk giving him power once more. In a few generations, the truth of Butt Naked will fade entirely and people will only know a famous preacher as a preacher. And we all know we can trust preachers, right?

This brings us to my other favorite psycho, one with whom we are all familiar, though only by his preaching name. Most folks have no idea who Saul of Tarsus actually is. Like General Butt Naked, he assumed another name and took up the cross.

Saul was born in Tarsus, now Turkey, to a Jewish father and a Roman mother. He is assumed to have been well educated, Tarsus having been considered the first century equivalent of a modern university town. Tarsus was also rich, both academically and culturally, and Saul supposedly came from a notable family with the means to provide just such an education. He was, in fact, educated in Jerusalem as a Pharisaic Jew and it is this element of his education which made his life notable.

Saul grew into a great persecutor of the early Christians, attempting to erase the new faith and it’s followers from the Earth, and he was there from the beginning. In the book of Acts in the New Testament, Saul is noted as approving of the stoning of St. Stephen, the first recorded incidence of Christian martyrdom. According to his own words, he persecuted Christians “beyond measure” and was both known and feared by those he encountered. Typical executions of Christians by Jews used stoning as the primary method, while those referred to Roman authorities were generally crucified (as in Jesus) or beheaded (like Paul). Speaking of Paul…

Our good friend, Saul of Tarsus, was headed south towards Damascus when he was engaged, supposedly, by the martyred Jesus, who told him he was being naughty and had better straighten up. Saul fell down and worshipped Jesus, became a Christian, and is thereafter known as Paul the Apostle. If you are unfamiliar with Paul, perhaps you have read some of his work, fourteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament. He also carries the burden of responsibility for the formation and ideology of the Christian church.

Paul never wrote about his conversion or when he was visited by the ghost of Jesus. Whoever wrote the book of Acts recounted that story, sometime after Paul’s death. Paul, according to scholars, didn’t actually write half of the books attributed to him, most of which are sermons and communiques directed towards the budding Christian churches in the places he visited. Depending upon who you ask, only between four and seven of Paul’s “works” were actually even written by the same person. And that person could have been anyone. Outside of biblical accounts, Paul is virtually devoid of mention in other historical records of his time. His execution, thought to have been at the hands of Nero, was not documented until more than a century after it happened. The bible even neglects to mention his beheading. The Catholics, however, claim to have unearthed his remains in 2009.

To Christians, Paul is central to the theology, with his teachings assigned value comparable to those of Jesus, even when they might not seem to be on the same page. Unfortunately, we are not usually presented with a historical context from which to interpret events coming from one source. Most of us, for example, are unfamiliar with the historical connotations of the term ‘Pharisee.’ If you ask the Sunday school teacher, she’ll direct you to the preacher who will tell you they were the Jewish rabbis who killed Jesus. That’s maybe a little bit true. No, actually it’s not really true at all.

They were Jewish church officials and they did happen to be Pharisees, but that term represented much more in those days. The Pharisees were actually a sect of Judaism, generally considered dominant over the Saducces (their primary rivals), the Essenes ( monks thought to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the Zealots (more of a renegade political movement, think Jewish Taliban). During the first century, violence amongst these groups was common and it is likely that Paul was engaging moreso in sectarian terrorism as opposed to the active persecution of Christianity, a concept which hadn’t actually come together yet.

It is important to remember that during the time of Paul, and especially his former days as Saul, there were no Christians. There were Jews who believed Jesus was the messiah, but there did not yet exist a true creation of a new people. Paul, or Saul I suppose, wouldn’t necessarily have identified as a persecutor of a new religion. I think he would be more accurately described as a member of the Pharisee sect, possibly identifying with the Zealots politically, who did his best to stamp out the beginnings of a a group of heretics before subsequently joining them and becoming a church leader.

Also worth considering is Jewish tithing law, which did actually specify a ten percent contribution to support the priest class. The high council of priests, the Sanhedrin, was subsequently behind the execution of Jesus. Ten percent of everyone’s salary was, and still is, a lot of dough and it makes sense that the governing preachers would have a vested interest in protecting that. A splinter sect of Judaism that virtually absolved it followers from the authority of the Jewish temple would have been considered to be a major financial threat and it is through this context of history that Saul of Tarsus emerges as an enforcer for a religion-based protection racket.

In doing such, Saul had people stoned. Later, when he wrote the verses that would be used to formulate the first Christian church, he even boasted of it. I think he was a dirtbag who was capable if manipulating and inciting other people to do some awful shit. Through a modern understanding of human nature, the established patter of behavior indicates that the Apostle Paul was actually a dangerous psychopath.
Incidentally, Paul was not even technically an apostle. According to Jesus’ homeboy Peter, you had to be a disciple before you could be an apostle. Paul never even met Jesus. Furthermore, much discourse exists regarding fundamental differences between the teachings of Paul as opposed to those of Jesus, some being downright contradictions. In these respects, as well as all others mentioned, feel free to do your own sound research and make up your own mind.

Regarding Paul’s theoretical identification as a psychopath, he is not all that different from General Butt Naked. Both men engaged in violent and manipulative psychopathic behavior before adopting a new identity and becoming traveling evangelists. As with Butt Naked, Paul’s historical pattern of behavior raises questions as to the validity of his later teachings and writings.

In Ephesians, Paul instructs slaves to “obey your earthly masters.” Apparently, it’s more important to set a good Christian example as a slave than to experience God given free will. He also writes, in Romans, that governments and leaders should be obeyed and that they are “ordained by God.” Isn’t that interesting?

It is also through Paul, in his same letter to the Romans, that a renewed justification in the persecution of homosexuals is derived. It is more likely that he was referring to the pederasty associated with some forms of pagan religions. I find it darkly comical that the same form of sexual deviancy he spoke against has persisted in the very church he founded for centuries. That was a direct stab at the Catholics, by the way.

In a handful of passages, good ol’ Paul sets our women folk in a place of submission, asserting authority over them and directing that they quietly learn from men. I’m not kidding or even exaggerating about that. Look in Corinthians, Timothy and Ephesians. I think it’s elsewhere as well. This doctrine, sadly, is actually still applied in some American communities and written words attributed to a proven dickhead who existed two thousand years ago.

The trouble, again, with people like Joshua Blahyi is that eventually we forget he used to be General Butt Naked and that he fed people’s children to other children. He has also, as Paul did, boasted of it in an expression of feigned repentance. Disassociating the historical context from the identity of the teacher is very dangerous and leaves people open to manipulation. The changing of the name is significant and coincidentally, symbolic of the act of a wolf zipping up a sheep costume.

Paul, or rather Saul, is of much more concern than Butt Naked, however, because his teachings not only reach a global audience but have established much of the doctrine that his audience subscribes to. Furthermore, these teachings have persisted for generations, with each becoming more ignorant of the cultural implications of the belief system than the last.

I think I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he claimed that Paul did more to subvert the message of Jesus than any other man in history. Considering how much of the foundation of the Catholic Church, and the Protestants actually, is based upon Paul’s teachings, an assertion that much of the church itself is a subversion of the very idea of Christ is not at all out of the question.

Paul’s influence is, in fact, prolific, and he is certainly notable as one of the most influential psychopaths in history. Butt Naked is small potatoes, compared to Paul, but I think they are cut from the same cloth and find society’s acceptance of their “conversions” and veneration of their teachings to be both fascinating and horrifying. Imagine being a sheep and seeing a wolf. Just as you start to flee, the wolf says, “Wait…hold up…give me a second to put on this sheep suit and then you won’t have to run. You can just go back to eating grass and breeding. Every now and then, my homeboys and I will eat one of you and it’ll be ok because Jesus said to do it like that.” So you say, “Ok.”

Indeed.

The accepted perception of a person’s conversion from a homicidal maniac to a respected follower and teacher of Christianity is not an easy feat. Serial killers and other criminal psychopaths try that shit all the time. In these two cases, Saul and Butt Naked, the success is notable and the results are, particularly with Saul, measurable on a grand scale. It’s why I say they are my favorites. Of all the psychos and socios that exist in history, most are known for deeds directly associated with anti social personality spectrum disorders. These two guys, the ones I enjoy reading about, have been able to reinvent their personas entirely, right in front of their victims, and then be warmly accepted as new men.

I don’t believe in conversions. I only understand calculated tactical shifts in behavior designed to elicit a response and I’m telling you, these guys are motherfucking masters at it.

When I was three years old, I tried to burn a kitten alive in a red hot wood stove. Maybe I was four…it doesn’t matter…I remember it quite clearly though. My grandmother had stirred the fire up and then stepped out the back door to fetch a load of firewood. With the stove door ajar, oxygen had poured in and the coals were glowing bright orange. Now I can’t say why I did it…I have no idea…but I laid hands on that Siamese kitten and shuffled over to that wood stove and chunked her in like a stick of kindling.

Now apparently, there is an art to properly incinerating a small animal and as a small child, of course, I didn’t understand this. Actually getting the animal into the fire was the hard part and although I was successful initially, I completely dropped the ball when it came to closing the door and finishing the job. Although a simple step in the process, it is key and this is why:

If the door is not closed, the cat escapes and cats escape danger like no other creature on this planet. That kitten launched out of that stove like a Roman candle, a smoking sparking streak of singed fur and utter terror, straight across my shoulder, bounced off the wall and disappeared behind the sofa. I remember small wisps of smoke trailing up until she stopped simmering.

Besides being the only way to keep the cat in the fire, closing the door also removes trace evidence. Even a little boy can embrace the Deny Everything principle. Who knows…the cat could have just left. But I didn’t close the door, remember?

My grandma stepped back in after a few moments and, well, she didn’t have to be Columbo to smell burnt cat all over the living room. I was busted. There was no denying it. No getting away. The proverbial stove door closed on me as she cornered me and beat my little ass,

My little ass was still hurting a half hour later when she snatched me up and beat it again. I had no idea that heaving a kitten longways into a bed of hot coals would be such a big deal.

Maybe if I had I would have closed the door.

I never got around to perfecting the art of live cat cremation, not yet at least, but I have closed a stove door or two in my day…that part I did get down.

It’s important, you know, for a guy like me. Evidence is never a good thing, after all, unless you’re a special federal prosecutor or a theoretical physicist and last time I checked, I am neither.

What I am, is a high functioning, primarily non-violent sociopath. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is what I call it, for lack of a better way to place myself somewhere on the human behavioral spectrum and to avoid using words like sociopath or psychopath.

I won’t refer to the terminology again…because I don’t like any of it and it isn’t the truth. I don’t think of myself in psychological terms, but as an individual, just like everyone else.

Just like everyone else…ha.

I don’t process fear the way you do. An abnormal functioning in my brain limits my fear response significantly and virtually obscures any level of your fear from my perspective. For example, it didn’t occur to me that the cat was in fear or pain when I shoved it into the fire, I was only curious about what would happen. It’s not willful disregard of the cats suffering-the suffering never exists in the thought process in the first place. And as for my fear…if I gave a shit about getting caught for trying to barbecue my grandmother’s cat in her living room I’d have closed the fucking stove door.

The reason I don’t process the fear you may feel is because I lack empathy and it’s the same reason I don’t easily pick up on any other emotions you happen to be expressing. It’s not that I don’t care how you feel, I just don’t notice.

I’m not a bad guy, I promise. I have close friends and family, living pets and the best fiancé ever. I have to work for these things, mind you, and success at interpersonal relationships is a constant struggle of trial and error as I try to make my life work around and amongst other people.

It’s hard, after all, for a selfish prick like me to leggo half his eggo to anyone.
Flame broiling a kitty like a Whopper is much friendlier business but fortunately for my cat, my grandma nipped that little problem in the bud with a piece of hickory kindling. Twice.

I did threaten to toss my cat in the wood stove last week. She just gave me the “I-double-dare-you-to-try-motherfucker-look” and pretended to cover the cat sausage she just fired out in the floor next to the litter box with some sort of pretend cat sand.

Maybe I deserve a cat like Bunny.