An icky, creepy (yet strangely apt) similarity

Separated at birth?

On the left, “Dr.” Marcus Bachmann, spouse of a certain US Republican presidential aspirant, and professional homophobe who always sets my gaydar bleeping. On the right, John Wayne Gacy, psychopath, serial killer of young men and repressed homosexual.

No respectable, accredited psychologist or psychiatrist would call homosexuality a disease, much less attempt to cure it. But “Dr.” Bachmann is not a respectable, accredited physician or psychotherapist. And he says LGBT people are “barbarians”, and he claims it can all be cured by prayer. Never mind that there has never been even one successful conversion from gay to straight; his racket is to try to pray away the gay. For pay, natch.

John Wayne Gacy was, on the surface of things, a fine, upstanding, conservative citizen who lived in the suburbs of Chicago, in a lovely house, complete with a lovely wife. But this heterosexual existence was one big closet, and in the crawl-space underneath it, the bodies of several young men were rotting and seething with maggots. Turns out that Mr. Gacy also was trying to cure the gay, but by projecting his own tendencies onto various young men he’d lured into his house, sexually assaulted, and then strangled to death with a rope. Since Gacy was a volunteer clown who entertained kids in his “respectable” day life, he gave his murderous modus operandi a cute, clownish name: the “rope trick”. In this way, he kept trying, unsuccessfully, to cure himself of his desire for same-sex love, which he had been taught, in true religious-right fashion, to regard as sinful and worthy of death. Only, since he couldn’t admit it in himself, because that would have meant death for him, he had to project it onto someone else, someone young and trusting and vulnerable (though not necessarily gay). That other someone became his scapegoat. He kept repeating this pattern, over and over and over again. Yet it never cured him of the gay. But he kept on doing it until finally, the FBI caught up to him. The day he was taken into custody was the day it finally stopped. His final victim count: 33 men.

33 young, potentially productive lives, lost to a psychopath who thought he could kill his own homosexuality by doing away with them.

The practical definition of insanity, some say, is to make the same mistake over and over again, expecting to get it right the next time. Both men, you might say, meet that definition. The one keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to cure the gay; the other kept trying, unsuccessfully, to kill it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Marcus Bachmann is a serial killer (although his brutish remarks lead me to believe that he does, at the very least, have some sociopathic tendencies). But his likeness to John Wayne Gacy, in looks and attitude, is pretty scary, no? And as long as no one stops him, like Gacy, he’s gonna go right on doing it. And messing up lives, much in the same way “Dr.” George Rekers messed up young Kirk Murphy, who later killed himself.

The practical definition of an insane society is one that permits this sort of thing to happen, over and over and over again, and never does anything about it, never learns anything from it, and never tries to stop it.

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This entry was posted in Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Illegal?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Pissing Jesus Off, She Blinded Me With Science, Sick Frickin' Bastards, Teh Ghey, The United States of Amnesia. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An icky, creepy (yet strangely apt) similarity

  1. Polaris says:

    John Wayne Gacy’s Chicago area home was about 5 miles northeast of my residence and his case was heavily covered by local news media during his trial and during the many years he spent on death row.

    Gacy was found guilty of killing 33 people, but former Gacy prosecutor Terry Sullivan said that Gacy’s total number of victims may have been a minimum of 100 people at a variety of locations. Gacy liked to travel and he told his lawyer that at least one of his victims was disposed of in the Des Plaines River.

    Some of the Chicago papers wrote that the younger Gacy sustained a serious head injury but no one really knows if it had anything to do to with his horrific behavior.

    • Sabina Becker says:

      A head injury might very well explain his disinhibition about killing, if the frontal lobes (the centre of inhibitions and better judgment) were affected; a lot of serial killers suffered at least one serious head injury, usually early in life. This might well cause a notable change in behavior; a previously placid individual would become “troubled” after that, and angry. They might have acted out at school, or tortured animals, before progressing to human targets. Animal cruelty is an early warning sign of psychopathy and the potential to be a rapist and/or murderer later on.

      Of course, not everyone who’s had a head injury turns out to be a killer; other factors are at play, too. The most typical pattern is a strict conservative upbringing, social isolation and physical, mental and/or sexual abuse as a child. There might also be a family history of addiction and other mental illnesses. Add a head injury that affects the frontal lobes to that, and you’ve got the makings of psychopathy. But head injuries alone won’t do that; I’ve had two concussions (one relatively small, the other worse, with lapsing in and out of consciousness and vomiting), and have turned out anything but psychopathic. Luckily, my upbringing was fairly devoid of abuse. That, I would say, is the single greatest risk factor for turning a normal child into a serial killer as an adult. A person habituated to abusive behavior is more likely to perpetuate and amplify the pattern after adolescence. And once disinhibited, with an established pattern of attack, that individual will kill and go on killing until arrested or dead, whichever comes first. If Gacy had been routinely abused by a close relative or neighbor early in life, as well as having taken at least one hard hit to the frontal lobes, I would not be the least bit surprised.

      Travel is another common characteristic of serial killers. Ted Bundy had a similar thing going; he was ultimately found guilty of killing 36 women and girls, but he bragged that his real death toll was in the triple digits. How much of this is self-important exaggeration, no one knows. But it could well be that several other “unsolved” disappearances of young women in the same areas and time spans as Bundy’s known killing sprees, matching the usual profile of Bundy’s victims (light brown hair parted down the middle, very attractive) might be attributable to him. The Green River Killer, too, travelled a lot as a trucker, and picked on truck-stop prostitutes, who are often runaways or homeless, and therefore less likely to be missed. His official death count was over 50, and that may be a lowball estimate.

      Computer-assisted policing and nationwide, specialized serial killer task forces could make high death tolls like that that a thing of the past, but it’s a question of political will, putting the right systems in place, and learning to recognize, very early, the patterns of serial killers. And in a time when policing money is more apt to be allocated to antiterrorist measures, SWAT teams to break into drug houses, or stormtroops to be called out against peaceful protest, that’s less likely to happen. Fiscal conservatism is leading to skewed priorities, and that could leave a big loophole for more serial killers to slip through. Bad news, in other words, for social groups already vulnerable: women and girls, minorities, prostitutes, and LGBTs.

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