Non-physical defence mechanisms are interesting — we don’t want to accept a reality so we put up mental barriers, so to speak, to avoid conscious conflict or anxiety.
Take rationalization, for example.
When I heard about the northern B.C. murders, my mind was lit up with theories about what could have inspired not one, but two separate fatal encounters between Chynna Deese, Lucas Fowler and Leonard Dyck and their two suspected murderers.
One chance encounter between two of three parties made sense, but I just couldn’t rationalize how the two perpetrators could have had two separate-but-fatal encounters with their respective victims.
Maybe some sort of disagreement at a bar or restaurant that was witnessed by a third party?
Perhaps a hypothetical spat on a hiking trail or rural road that an onlooker happened to hear in the distance?
I was stumped, but it’s not surprising, because I was basing my assumptions on logic and defence mechanisms.
Initially in my mind there just had to be some explanation for (what I imagined at the time) must have been a crazy chain of events that led to the five deaths.
There was, of course, but the explanation was one that someone looking at the situation logically or rationally would never guess: the two suspected killers were simply (by their own admission in the cell phone video authorities found on their bodies) opportunists looking for people to kill, with these unfortunate souls being the ones who happened to cross their paths.
They had no plans to stop and said that, given the opportunity, they would have continued killing people without discrimination.
In short: they were simply looking for the most viable targets.
That’s scary, in the most depraved sense of the word.
Not because of the murder aspect — that’s just regular scary — but the opportunistic one.
I guess that another defence mechanism I’ve developed is that I like to think of serial killers or murderers as people I would be able to recognize oo the street as such, but that’s just not the reality.
Part of me feels like anyone capable of committing such terrible acts would give off evil vibes, give me a weird feeling in my stomach, anything.
But that’s the scariest thing about this story: killers can look like regular people.
When I first got into camping (I lived in Toronto and none of my friends were outdoors-y so I’d nearly always do solo trips) I would be afraid of every little crunch, squeak or — in the case of that one time in Algonquin where I camped next to a pack of coyotes (or were they wolves?) — late-night howl I heard from outside my dimly-lit tent.
And then after a couple of trips I just got over it.
The bush didn’t seem scary anymore, in fact, the animals and wildlife made it more inviting.
I’ve kind of had a similar trajectory with humans.
I used to be really skeptical of people and their motivations.
But the more and more I interacted with people the more and more I began to realize that even when people do mean-spirited or “bad” things, they often have a reason for it.
It’s like that age-old question about whether a man who steals the loaf of bread to feed his family is a bad man. The act is not ideal, but if it is done in an altruistic sense it’s still not a bad one.
The northern B.C. murders have me re-thinking that line of logic, because there’s no redemption to be had in an opportunistic killing spree.
There’s no altruism to be found in ending the lives of two young lovers and a university lecturer in completely cold blood.
And there’s no safety in the sense of knowing that anyone you meet could really have the worst intentions in mind.
I remember my parents would always tell me as a kid you can do everything right and still be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Secretly (while I do think my parents are very wise on many things) I always kind of thought this was stupid — if you’re a good person, you won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The northern B.C. murders made me realize I was wrong about that.
One last thing: These two individuals said they had planned on continuing their killing spree — this Thanksgiving, I am thankful they did not.