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.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.