Death by firing squad

More than 100 people are now known to be dead due to these fires in southern Australia. They weren’t all deliberately lit, but some were.

I don’t understand the inner workings of the mind of an arsonist. That’s probably a good thing. I confess, I enjoy fire as much as the next pyromaniac. Scores of plastic soldiers can attest to that. But I do not understand how someone hears an extreme fire danger warning and decides to light a bunch of fires.

Here’s a study of the inner workings of an arsonists mind – and a “profile” of your average arsonist based on FBI cases…
Profile of an Arsonist
1. Have a below average IQ – somewhere between 70 and 90 points, one in four arsonists will fall below 70 points – the level at which people are considered mentally retarded.
2. They will often be “angry”.
3. Half of all arsons are committed by those younger than age 18; the other half is typically in their late 20s.
4.In arson cases involving older people, the motivation is usually for profit.
5. About 90% of arsonists are male.
6. Arsonists are are usually white (in the US).
7. If the arsonist is not angry there’s a fair chance they’re sexually aroused by fires.

Potential “red flags” to identify juvenile arsonists:

  • Children who start playing with matches or fire as early as age 3
  • Children who frequently engage in “daredevil” behavior, especially near fire
  • Children who mix chemicals or engage in “secret” fire settings in which they try different mixtures
  • Those who are noticeably excited while watching fires

Perhaps the media needs to reconsider broadcasting such warnings. There’s pretty much a blanket ban on reporting suicides in Australian news because of the fear of inspiring copycats. I wonder if the psyche of a clearly mentally unfit arsonist requires a similar level of protection. Perhaps a greater level given the harm they’re capable of causing.

There’s anecdotal evidence that arsonists are often members of the volunteer fire brigade – they use their training and knowledge to set the best possible fire, and then get to play around trying to put it out. That’s the mark of a sick mind.

The good news is that the perpetrators will face murder charges if caught.