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What Drove the School Shooter in Finland to Kill? (Updated)

John on November 8, 2007 at 12:51 am

From the AFP:

A teenager at a school in Finland went on the rampage Wednesday, shooting dead seven classmates and the headmistress, having first signalled his intentions in a video posted on the YouTube Internet site.

Police identified the killer as 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen, who died from his injuries late Wednesday after shooting himself in the head following the massacre at Jokela High School in the small town of Tuusula.

Witnesses described chaos and panic as Auvinen killed his headmistress, five boys, two girls, and wounded a dozen others as they tried to flee the carnage.

Whenever this happens the first thing I think we all ask is why? While I don’t think a complete answer is ever possible, there are certainly clues to the general direction in which we should look.

For starters, it appears the young man was a fan of Harris and Klebold. He posted several You Tube video lionizing their massacre at Columbine. The videos themselves have been removed, but the summaries are still available. One tribute to the killers is titled “Natural Selection and Wrath – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold” and is described as follows:

If you have made some research and read Harris’s journal, you will propably [sic] notice why the song and it’s lyrics are perfect for this video.

The song he chose to set the video to is Assault the Weak by Impaled Nazarene:

Blood sprays the landscapes again
As we lauch full-scale attack
This has been going on too long
Your existence is a joke

Assault and destroy all the weak
Crush them with an iron fist
My world doesn’t need scum like you
Finally it’s the payback time
The new dawn soon will rise
You will pay with your fucking life

Screams of pain fill the skies
As you watch your breed to die
Your prayers are said in vain
As Satan’s generation leads the way

Shoot to kill Crush to destroy

What will be left of your world
Is just a hole in the ground
We will change the history
Set new standards for a human being

Shoot to kill Crush to destroy

Pretty disturbing stuff and clearly coming from an extreme anti-religious point of view similar to that of Eric Harris. If that’s not clear enough, two weeks ago he posted another video titled “Criticism & Irrationalities of Abrahamic Religions.” [View here]

Another tribute to Harris is titled “3 Revolutionaries 3 Wisdoms – 3 Revolutionary Acts.” Here’s the description:

Three great men with intelligent minds and message. Rest in peace martyrs Eric Harris and Timothy McVeigh. Strength for political prisoner Theodore Kaczynski. You will never be forgotten.

There are also numerous videos of Adolph Hitler and the Unabomber, all of them added over the last two weeks. Pekka-Eric claims not to be a fan of the Nazis, but we know Eric Harris was. If he had read Harris’ journals, it’s possible his fascination with Hitler stemmed or was tied to his fascination with Harris.

In the days leading up to the shooting, Pekka-Eric posted a two-part manifesto titled “Natural Selector’s Manifesto.” Part one’s description begins as follows: [One of Pekka-Eric's video's on his philosophy is here.]

How Did Natural Selection Turn Into Idiocratic Selection?

Though his profile and account has been suspended, some blogs did get a look at it before it disappeared. This blog appears to have either cut and paste his profile or, possibly, to have transcribed several of the videos. Consider a few samples:

What do I love / what do I like?

Existentialism, self-awareness, freedom, justice, truth, moral & political philosophy, personal & social psychology, evolution science, political incorrectness, guns, shooting, BDSM, computers, internet, aggressive electronic and industrial rock & metal music, violent movies, , FPS –computer games, sarcasm, irony, black humour, macabre artm mass & serial killer cases, natural disasters, eugenics

All of this tracks pretty closely with the words of Eric Harris who said in his journal:

I have something only ?? and V have, SELF AWARENESS.
call it existentialism or whatever the fuck u
want. we know what we are to this world
and what everyone else is.

Here’s another telling bit from Pekka-Eric:

Humans are just a species among other animals and world does not exist only for humans. Death and killing is not a tragedy, it happens in nature all the time between all species. Not all human lives are important or worth saving. Only superior (intelligent, self-aware, strong-minded) individuals should survive while inferior (stupid, retarded, weak-minded masses) should perish.

This is reminiscent of Hitler obviously, but also of Nietzsche. Again, it is also reminiscent of Harris, who said:

just because your mommy and daddy tell you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a fucking law of nature? wrong, only science and math are true,everything, and I mean every fucking thing else is man made.

How did an 18 year old arrive at such a dark view of life. He describes the process:

Total War Against Humanity

Hate, Im so full of it and I love it. That is one thing I really love. Some time ago, I used to believe in humanity and I wanted to live a long and happy life but then I woke up. I started to think deeper and realized things. But it was not easy to become existential knowing as much as I know has made me unhappy, frustrated and angry. I just can’t be happy in the society or the reality I live. Due to long process of existential thinking, observing the society I live and some other things happened in my life I have come to the point where I feel nothing but hate against humanity and human race.

Life is just a meaningless coincidence result of long process of evolution and many several factors, causes and effects. However, life is also something that an individual wants and determines it to be. And I’m the dictator and god of my own life. And me, I have chosen my way. I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.


And remember that this is my war, my ideas and my plans. Don’t blame anyone else for my actions than myself. Don’t blame my parents or my friends. I told nobody about my plans and I always kept them inside my mind only. Don’t blame the movies I see, the music I hear, the games I play or the books I read. No, they had nothing to do with this. This is my war: one man war against humanity, governments and weak-minded masses of the world! No mercy for the scum of the earth! HUMANITY IS OVERRATED! It’s time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks!

Clearly the shooter was unbalanced. There are mentions of anti-depressants in his videos. But that only begs the question. Was his unbalanced mental state the cause of his extreme views or were his extreme views the cause of his unbalanced mental state?

Finally, it’s striking to me how similar this boy’s perspective is to that of Eric Harris. Both had a naturalistic worldview which led them to hold other people in complete contempt. And tragically, both Eric Harris and Pekka-Eric Auvinen were seemingly driven by that contempt to do things which are simply too horrible for most of us to contemplate.

Update: An article in the Sydney Morning Herald notes that Pekka-Eric’s girlfriend had dumped him recently. Apparently people are blaming her for the shooting. In response she says, “He did what he did because he was who he is.”

The article also notes “According to media reports, he had repeatedly expressed admiration for Hitler and Stalin and he names Nietzsche as a favourite author on his YouTube account.” Eric Harris was also a big fan of Nietzsche.

Update 11-08: New press account today that, as with Cho Seung-Hui, Pekka-Eric was a bit of an outcast and may have been bullied. Add that to the list of possible motivations.

Also, someone made a mirror of Pekka-Eric’s You Tube profile page. What’s amazing to me is that the Belfast Telegraph article which linked to the page says this:

Sturmgeist89, whose web page was last updated just before midnight on Tuesday, gave a hint as to why the Jokela killings had happened. “[They are] political and much much deeper and therefore I don’t want this to be called only as ‘school shooting’,” he said.

I would have thought the first line of his online profile was an even bigger hint:

I am a cynical existentialist, antihuman humanist, antisocial socialdarwinist, realistic idealist and godlike atheist.

Again, I can’t help making the comparison to Eric Harris who said in his journal:

I feel like God and wish I was having everyone being OFFICIALLY lower than me I already know that I am higher than almost anyone in the fucking welt

I’d call that more than a hint.

Update 11-09: Here’s the final video posted just before the shooting.

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