Times hack Roger Boyes - a name to which the only correct response is "No thanks" - defends his killer analysis of the Jokela school shootings. The article is filled with standard dodges people employ when they don't want to address the substance of the criticism headed their way. The actual issue isn't the flaws in Roger's hackery, oh no. The brave truth-seeker that he is, he's just questioning why these terrible events happened. His article was a part of a debate that's worth having - "don't you think?" - and thus when readers tear his ill-judged and ignorant theorizing to shreds, it illustrates how they're not interested in the answers.
Now sporting a Tuusula byline, Boyes has suddenly forgotten all about remote farmsteads and the lakes that surround them. Instead he holds forth on the soul-crushing qualities of sleepy suburbs:
Paradise on Earth, you say, but I wager not if you are a) the offspring of divorced parents; b) unemployed; c) a teenager stuck in a small dormitory suburb without much cash; or d) a polar bear.
Apart from d) those categories apply to Tuusula. Which is where I am writing from.
Aside from the rampant revisionism, he still can't quite get his facts right:
But you're right: Finland ranks as one of the happiest countries in Europe. It also has one of the highest suicide rates, the third highest divorce rate in Europe (beaten by Sweden again!) and 56 per cent gun ownership. So that adds up to a pretty complex society, no?
The suicide statistics are outdated and wrong (see yesterday's post). The gun ownership statistics are ludicrously wrong. According to one estimate, which is quite a bit higher than the official figures, there are 56 guns per 100 people in Finland. This, strangely enough, doesn't mean that 56 percent of Finns own a gun, because Finnish gun laws are so very lax that many people have several guns. (You might think that 56 percent gun ownership wouldn't sound plausible to anyone, but to be fair, Boyes wasn't the only one to make this mistake.)
The logical flaws in Boyes's approach, separate from all the factual inaccuracies, are also worth considering.
First, none of his theories seem to take into account that he's writing about an international phenomenon. He looks for cultural aspects that are specifically Finnish and then constructs general theories on why school shootings occur, even though there's no reason to assume that the parts of Finnish culture that are distinct from e.g. British culture (or American culture or Japanese culture) had anything to do with it. Boyes, however, considers the link to Finnish culture to be axiomatic.
Second, considering his eagerness to find some Finland-specific reason for Jokela, it's odd that he studiedly ignores the underlying facts of the incident. He writes about people being isolated because of physical distances, even though the killer's loneliness obviously had nothing to do with travel times. In his response, quoted above, he talks about divorce rates, even though the killer's parents weren't divorced, and unemployment, even though the killer was a high school student.