The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 20, 2013

It’s tough when people kill only for sake of killing

By Lynn Saternow

---- — The United States of America is truly the land of opportunity. Immigrants came here and founded this country and built it into the great land it is today.

That opportunity is still there today as foreigners come here to go to college, prosper, become American citizens and become a key part of society.

So what happened to Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsanaev, the two brothers who admitted to being the perpetrators of the bombings at the Boston Marathon?

People who knew them said they never would have suspected they would be capable of such a gruesome act.

Even though they hail from Chechnya, a Russian region that has some Islamic leanings, it’s hard to imagine that was a factor. When Islamic terrorists strike, they normally want to stake a claim to it.

Still, what drives people to kill? That’s a question that everyone has to consider.

Why would these young men — the 19-year-old Dzhokhar billed as a brilliant college student — throw it all away just to kill innocent people.

That will be psychoanalyzed again and again. People will come up with different theories. But is there any way to stop this kind of thing from happening again?

Lets face it – it isn’t only terrorists who kill people. We have seen murders right here in Mercer County. While some individuals may feel they have motive for such a thing, there are others who appear just to kill for the sake of killing.

I can’t help but think about the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case in 1924. The two very intelligent University of Chicago law students kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy just to see if they could commit the perfect crime.

They didn’t and they were caught. But does it get any sicker than that? To kill just for the thrill of it?

While people say the Tsanaev brothers seemed normal, so do a lot of others who commit crimes. Many serial killers who are eventually caught have seemed to be “just normal neighbors” to those who knew them.

Right away, people will start to form opinions concerning the Boston killings. Some will blame religion and fingers will be pointed and Islamic citizens of this country will be scrutinized again.

People will blame violent video games. The NRA will issue a statement that “Bombs don’t kill people. People kill people.”

There are the TV shows like “The Americans” that deal with terrorists positioned inside the United States or “The Following,” which is based on the cult-following of a popular college professor. Or how about “Bates Motel” which is a TV prequel to the frightening Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho?”

Do we become desensitized to murder and violence?

That will be debated again.

But what needs to be debated is how do we stop murder and violence. If it turns out the Tsanaev brothers did come here to commit terrorist acts in the name if Islam, will we control people from Chechnya from coming to this country in the future? Or other countries?

There are no easy answers.

The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion Page. He can be reached at