Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

I’m Against Serial Killers

Posted by Neal on January 8, 2005

I’m disgusted. I’ve learned there are people employed by our government who actually get paid taxpayer money to write “rules” like these:

As children, most serial killers:

  • Liked to start fires
  • Wet their beds
  • Abused animals
  • Were abused by their parents

In addition, serial killers usually:

  • Murder their first victim in their 20s
  • Daydream compulsively about violent acts

Well, I am proud to say that I am totally against serial killing, and I think people who spend time writing rules like these are a curse on society. Serial killers abuse animals as children? Serial killers are themselves abused as children? Excuse me, we shouldn’t be condoning the abuse of animals or children, not to mention serial killing! And declaring that one’s 20s are when one should commence one’s serial killing is downright heinous!

Now I understand that people who formulate these kinds of rules do so based on studies of many serial killers. But I think a society in which serial killers lead us non-serial-killers by the nose is not a good society.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on serial killers.)

7 Responses to “I’m Against Serial Killers”

  1. I can tell you’re being sarcastic, but I don’t quite get it. Are you making a point about how these aren’t really “rules,” but descriptions?

  2. Justin said

    I think his point is that these are: 1) pretty useless because no “explanation” counts as justification, and 2) even if the descriptions are valid, they suggest that serial killers are practically role models. What kid never wet their bed before being toilet-trained? What kid never was fascinated by fire? How about pulling the tail on a cat or dog just to see what would happen? The difference between normal and serial killer is awfully blurry here.

    On that note, I better get moving, because I apparently have less than 2 years left to start my career as a serial killer. What kind of freak would I be if I started in my 30s?

    –SC

  3. Chris said

    Is it because they used the word “rules”? As in, “These are the rules serial killers should follow”?

  4. Neal said

    The quotation marks around rules weren’t actually meant to repeat someone else’s words; they were scare quotes, intended for humorous effect. If I’d been speaking, I’d’ve been making those annoying V signs with my fingers. I was deliberately misunderstanding the distinction between rules that simply describe a situation (the kind that FBI profilers and linguists try to find) and those that prescribe behavior–the misunderstanding that an author recently featured in the PBS documentary “Do You Speak American?” seemed to harbor, when he called descriptive linguists a curse on the race.

  5. blahedo said

    I don’t really have any problems with the polysemy inherent in the word “rule”, but this post did give me a great example for illustrating misconceptions about conditional probability. Namely, just because most serial killers wet the bed doesn’t mean most, or even many, bedwetters will grow up to be serial killers!

  6. huh? said

    Im disgusted at the fact you fail to realize if people did not write these so called rules ( actually descriptions) there would be no way to find characterize these deviants, or even research how and why these things happen. These things are not a checklist for murders but rather a sample of what has happened or usually happens in the process.

  7. According to those rules most of my friends would qualify for a serial-killers casting. Now,seriously, I guess it’s all about conceptual clarity,isn’t it?

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