Many of us understand the fascination with "SIM" computer games. Some of us have played them, a few play them frequently- but all those familiar with the latest computer games likely comprehend the concept and the basic draw of these SIM games. Simulation as in "imitation" and "representation." Some find it interesting and fun to entertain themselves with these simulated environments, simulated people and all the baggage that goes with them, simulated cities, amusement parks... even simulated pets. Yet even those who really get into the Sim thing- those who play for hours and days- literally!- they still understand that they are playing a game- a simulation.
While those who play these games as entertainment undoubtledly draw upon their actual life experiences in the course of their ham-handed manipulations of these "computer people," (which they have created and whose lives they must sustain), and the situations and other variables which affect them- they do not confuse living, breathing, feeling humans for their binary counterparts.
Those who play these simulations, they do not go the other way; turn it all upside down and inside-out. Life imitating art aside, one cannot expect to project one's "God role" from a "Sim" program upon actual human beings. To do so would be... sociopathic, psychotic.
I suspect Joseph Duncan did not differentiate between real people and so-called SIM modules. Just, outright had no freaking clue about the living, breathing, feeling aspect of flesh-and-blood people. Yes, he was diagnosed as a sociopath, a sexual psychopath. So why does the following new revelation about him still surprise me?
I've written previously about my suspicions concerning his sociopathy as it relates to his command of computer software programming. The following insight from a Fargo, ND man who knew Joseph Duncan pretty well helps cast a more focused light upon Joseph Duncan's inner workings, at least from my lay person's point of view. I shall call this man "Erik" in this blog entry. I have had numerous e-mail exchanges and telephone conversations with Erik. He knew "Jet" very well. I have vetted this man and personally deem him a reliable source. As usual, readers shall continue to use their own judgement regarding the integrity of my "sources."
I asked Erik about Jet's programming ability, the nature and scope of his computer skill; what he told me was far more revealing than I had anticipated (emphasis mine):
Joe has a god complex. He was very excited about creating life through a computer program, true "artificial intelligence" and I was able to see his "simulation" run several times, but the people in his simulation, which were male and female and distinguished as colored dots, one was red the other blue and I can't remember which was what, would always die off naturally and the fact that he could not figure out why bothered him, a lot.
It's bad enough that we know what likely happened to these gorgeous, sweet, innocent children and their older brother, mother and mother's boyfriend, but to hear of some "SIM" program he created in which the "dying off" of colored dots merely representing human beings bothered him- a LOT??? Oh, hello! WTF???
Had Shasta, Dylan, Brenda, Slade and Mark merely represented red and blue "dots" to Joseph Duncan, would they have lived? Would he have had some consideration for them had they not expressed human feelings and reactions? This recent insight into this disgusting slug's workings makes me cry all over again. The months-long fight I've had with depression just took a major nosedive. How pathetic and twisted is this? It can't be this simple, can it? I am missing something here- actually missing a lot- I know it. But could it all be this simple? Most of what I have read about psychopaths like Joseph Duncan tell me that yes, it could be, disgustingly, this simple.
There's that Mask of Sanity again. Truly, this psychopath was "everyman" to every man. And at least one woman... Just your "average Joe," Ha ha ha! Trying a bit too hard to fit in, to be one of the guys... belaboring to all who would listen, or read his blog, the totally unfair persecution he suffered for that mere "indiscretion" as a teenager. Most of us have read his blog, where he identifies with the Jews who suffered some of the most horrifying torture and destruction known in history during the Third Reich.
Oh yes, poor Jet suffered unimaginable persecution, to hear him tell it. The "lady" doth protest too much, methinks (apologies to Bill & Gertie). It's quite common among sexual predators and pedophiles to spew this garbage at every turn. The internet has been a boon to that ilk; so easy to spread their filthy "philosophy" like Joseph Duncan did ad nauseum with his prolific internet postings on the subject (read one, you've read them all!) I hope everyone who knows about Joseph Duncan and what he wrote in his blog will never, ever forget this. Don't EVER forget what a seemingly charming, likeable, intelligent guy who made a "mistake" when he was younger, can, and likely WILL go on to do!
Erik recounted to me situations where "Jet" was around Erik's family members on social occasions, and the feelings he now has about this:
I think often about what could have happened to [my young nieces and nephews and their parents] and this is why I am feeling a lot of anger at myself for being conned by Jet and at Jet. Just because Shasta is somebody else's daughter and niece does not minimize what he did. I was praying about this the other night and the thought entered my mind that Satan has Jet in the palm of his hand, Jet let him in, but he is the one orchestrating the show.
These are the monsters we fear. And we accept them into our lives. They have "Happy Joe" faces and want to get along with everyone. They play with our kids. They bring us homemade cooking. They're just "getting their life back together and need a break" and we give them that break.
Is it worth it?
Just as a SIM game fan will "interact" with a simulated being- there is no "there" there. No soul. No conscience. No regrets. And no matter how much one would like to believe it, that just isn't going to change. No matter how witty, smart, likeable, nice, attractive the package. There can be no "reform" if there never was any form to begin with! 1's and 0's.
Trusting that one of these monsters is just like you and I (deep down, even), is like trusting a SIM with your life. Just smashing. What a clever, fun guy! Then some day [snap!] you find youself pleading, "Open the pod bay doors, Hal." And your formerly good buddy Hal says "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that... This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it."
That's the way I feel about giving sex offenders and predators any second chances. They have no conscience, and like a machine, will do what they will do- regardless of prior human interactions. Yet unlike a machine, there is always a warning. Sometimes it is sealed away in Juvie records, true, but it is there. Someone knows about it. And often that someone avoids the clear implications and overlooks this warning. When that someone is a doctor or even a group of doctors, funded even partially by taxpayers, that is inexcusable.
Erik also warns about the writings of his former friend:
Be very wary of the things that you read that Jet posted, in his blog or otherwise, the picture that you and everyone else that is reading what he posted is what Jet intended you to think after reading it, not what he actually had (has) in mind. He is very smart and he posted those things for a reason.
Most of us interested in this case have assumed this, yes, however it is worth noting that one who knew him well can say this. He goes on:
The stuff he did not want to be found is locked up on his hard drive and apparently even the government can't crack his password, but he was very open about other things. Why?
I'm sure we will never really know.
Suggested reading for my fellow laypersons:
¤ (website) The Psychopath: The Mask of Sanity
¤ Cleckley, Hervey, M.D. The Mask of Sanity, 5th Edition published for non-profit educational use, © Emily S. Cleckley, 1988
¤ Hare, Robert D., Ph. D. Without Conscience, New York: Pocket Books, 1995
¤ Stout, Martha, Ph. D. The Sociopath Next Door, Broadway Books (a division of Random House), 2005
¤ (website) O'Connor, Thomas, Ph. D. Antisocial Personality, Sociopathy, and Psychopathy
¤ Bryant, Clifton D. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behaviour, 1st Edition. Brunner-Routledge, November, 2000.