In China, there have been seven reports of middle-aged people, six men and one woman, entering primary schools and attacking children with lethal weapons in the last three months. The most recent was yesterday in Hanzhong, where 48 year-old Wu Huanming attacked a kindergarten with a meat cleaver, killing seven little children, two adults, and wounding 11 other kindergarteners. Then he went home and committed suicide.
I feel it necessary to link you to all of the stories individually:
- March 4, Guangzhou: Xu Ximei, 40, hacks two preschoolers to death, injures four others, with a kitchen knife
- March 23, Fujian province: Former doctor Zheng Minsheng, 41, killed eight children, injured five with a machete as they arrived at school
- April 12, Xichang: Yang Jiaqin, around 40, kills eight year-old boy, 80 year-old woman, injures five with a knife
- April 28, Leizhou: Chen Kangbing, 33, stabs 16 pupils and one teacher at a primary school
- April 29, Taixing: Xu Yuyuan, 47, slashed 28 schoolchildren with a knife
- April 30, Weifang: Wang Yonglai, 45, hit five little children and one teacher with a homemade hammer, then went home and immolated himself
- May 12, Hanzhong: Wu Huanming, 48, killed seven toddlers and two adults, injured 11 other children with a cleaver, then killed himself
It's hard to talk about this. I presume this is why news agencies around the world report these incidents straight down, without trying to connect the dots or venture into analysis. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about Chinese society or midlife crises, but the idea of mature adults attacking toddlers with hammers that they made themselves is just too insane not to consider.
China deals with these things by executing perpetrators and censoring news stories, which is generally just how that government rolls. We can presume, with seven attacks in three months, that business as usual has not been sufficient to stop this wave. Indeed, it seems that these attacks themselves may deserve business-as-usual status. This isn't a new way of dealing with whatever demons cause this sort of behavior; in 2007, 28 year-old Kuang Xi broke into a Hengyang primary school and threw six kids out of a third story window, killing one and seriously injuring two.
It would be easy to condemn this phenomenon from afar as something barbaric and Chinese, but don't even go there. Don't even make me start linking to equally insane incidents in the United States in the last five years. It's not necessary. Let's just all agree that insane murder is a global phenomenon that happens in the midst of all of us.
Let's also remember that insane murder is nothing new. What's new is instantaneous global coverage of insane murder, which inspires what authorities often refer to as "copycat" incidents. On that level, it's hard(er) to blame Chinese authorities for censoring these stories. They could plausibly argue that they're doing so to save lives.
But what is a "free" media outlet supposed to do in this situation? They have to report the facts, although there is an infinity of facts out there, and only the ones that will get clicked on can be covered. They can't overdo this story, with so many other crucial stories competing for attention, and with that spooky "copycat" effect lurking around. And yet it seems wrong the way they just report the facts, "middle-aged former doctor kills little kids," reference one, maybe two, of the past incidents, and then move on. How can we business-as-usualize such attacks?
One might say that this is just The Way Things Are. This is not a new phenomenon, violence is everywhere, it happens, people kill each other, let's go, citizen. Move along. Nothing to see here. I agree. We all consent to the global culture of violence every single day, with every dollar or yuan spent, every mile per gallon, every KFC Double Down. But we need to see what that does to us. We need to see what happens when shame, dishonor, unemployment, relationship problems, and whatever other factors set the tone for these attacks percolate in the psychotic milieu of Business As Usual, as we have gotten used to it.
Grown men are bringing meat cleavers to schools and murdering other people's children!
Whatever you do with that knowledge, let it be for the benefit of all beings and in the interest of relieving suffering.