On May 21st, 1998, at 8:05 AM, Kipland Kinkel, 15 years of age, entered the cafeteria of his high school in Springfield, Oregon, dressed in a beige overcoat and a hat, climbed up on a table and calmly began to fire into the crowd of his little schoolmates gathered there for a school function. At first they thought it was a joke, or a show put on by a candidate for class president, and didn’t immediately react. “I thought it was all a show. I’d never heard a gunshot before. It was like we were in a movie,” remarked Stephanie Quimby, 16 years old. When the first spurts of blood appeared, the high schoolers’ torpor came to a sudden end, and, screaming, they rushed to the doors and dove under the tables among the gunshots. A few of them were so petrified they couldn’t even move, and stood there incredulously, staring at their executioner, probably because “he looked totally calm, like someone who was doing something quite normal,” as one of them recalls. It was only when the young man went to look in his bag to get out his 9 mm pistol, since his semi-automatic rifle was out of ammunition, that he was finally tackled by a courageous student. Barely an hour after the events, which left two dead and twenty-three wounded, Kipland Kinkel lunged with a knife at the police officer interrogating him; he had stolen the knife at the police station and hidden it in an inner pants pocket. But there were no victims that time; he was immediately subdued. Upon searching the house, five homemade bombs were soon found which had been set to welcome the police, only one of which actually exploded; they also found the corpses of Kip’s father and mother. According to investigators, they had been shot the evening before the massacre. While waiting for his sixteenth birthday, the suspect was placed in solitary confinement in a juvenile detention center. Because of his suicidal impulses, all solid objects were kept out of his reach, and he was put under constant video surveillance; a report on his behavior was made every fifteen minutes and he was provided with only paper clothes.
To this day, nothing has come out to explain the reasons behind this act. “Efforts to find an explanation for this tragedy are being made once again.” (Liberation, Saturday-Sunday, 23-24 May 1998). Kipland Kinkel’s professors considered him as an “American high schooler like any other,” and the school’s principal maintained that as far as he could tell “there were no exterior signs of anything like this.” As for the murderer’s mom and dad, they were unanimously praised by those close to them as model parents, who always made sure at least one of them would be at home when their son was there so as not to leave him there all alone, and who were very imaginative in coming up with things to do to interest their son, often taking walks together and going on family sailing and skiing trips. “Their friends described the Kinkel couple as patient but strict, very devoted, loving, attentive and enthusiastic parents” (Chicago Tribune, May 25th, 1998). Like her husband Bill, Faith Kinkel taught Spanish at a nearby University. Passionate about her job, radiant and dynamic, she was as well-liked by her colleagues as by her students. “Violence was something totally foreign to her approach to life; she always promoted mutual understanding among cultures through education, communication, and travel.” (Scripps Howard News Service, May 26th, 1998). “Kip’s father, a distinguished tennis player, had tried to get his son into the sport, but he never really caught on to it. He was a loner, a timid child, small and slight, who clowned around in class to get attention” (Chicago Tribune, May 25th, 1998). It must indeed be admitted that Kipland Kinkel was a problem child. Not just because he “rejected any kind of authority,” as Barry Kessinger, Bill Kinkel’s friend and tennis partner, but above all because of his inexplicable fascination with destruction; no one knew where it came from, and it had never ceased to grow within him, in spite of his being on Prozac. His friend Aaron Keeney, 14 years old, “had stopped hanging out with him as much recently because he’d started doing strange things” (Associated Press, May 22nd 1998); it seems that Kipland Kinkel had a dark side. We have various corroborating evidence about this: “he dressed in black, and used to brag about having dismembered his cat and blown up a cow. He often put little bombs in people’s mailboxes, and used to like to throw stones at passing cars from overpasses. The evening before, he’d wrapped his neighbors’ house in toilet paper… His schoolmates had voted him the student ‘most likely to set off the third world war.’” (Le Monde, May 26th, 1998). Two of his classmates, Walter Fix and Shawn Davidson, even said that he’d shown them a black list of enemies one day, which he kept in a folder in his desk. And so, when it was his turn in literature class to read from his personal diary, he stood up on the podium and in a controlled voice revealed to the class his plans to “kill everybody.” “Everyone laughed at him, because we thought he was kidding,” recalls Jeffrey Anderson, 15 years old. It was in that same school semester, moreover, that he’d done an detailed, serious exposé in Spanish class about how to make a homemade bomb, even illustrating it with a drawing of his own where you could see how to attach the explosive charge to a clock. “He spent most of his time in class talking about weapons and blowing stuff up,” says Sarah Keeler, 18 years old, his neighbor. “He’d tell you just like that about how he wanted to kill stuff; I think he just likes how it feels to kill things. He was obsessed with weapons, bombs, and anarchy,” said his friend Jeff Anderson. At his fifteenth birthday party, he’d offered Jeff a tool for breaking into cars, and then gone and painted the word “KILL” in whip cream on the driveway leading to his house. Jeff’s mother didn’t appreciate these little jokes much, and she forbade him to ever come to her house again. The day before his bloody rampage, Kip Kinkel had been suspended for having brought a gun to school. His father had then called the Oregon National Guard to sign his son up for their youth program.
As goes without saying, with the mysterious proliferation of motiveless massacres perpetrated by children – Kip Kinkel was the fifth case in one year in the United States alone – school killings have now taken on a real ritual aspect. They’ve even come to compete with the profession of postal employee, so infamous for these kinds of tragedies that it’s even used as a generic term to designate them (“going postal”) – and have given rise to a good number of debates, which always have a certain fundamental aspect in common: should gun ownership be prohibited? Should the age of criminal responsibility be lowered? Should the death penalty age be lowered? “Have we entered into a new culture of violence where children can no longer distinguish between reality and fiction? … Why are we so reticent to recognize the ever growing evidence that when children kill it’s most often the result of a brain dysfunction?” (ABC News, September 9th, 1998) In such conditions as these, how can we not be afraid of our own children? Should we double-bolt our bedroom doors at night before we go to sleep? What kinds of hints could parents look out for to indicate that their child could be a natural born killer? What’s left to do with them when antipsychotic drugs and behaviorist techniques aren’t enough anymore? Do they have to be put in cages, be given injections?
Unable to tolerate any longer the inept blather of those ideologues of capitalism’s next modernization process, the Negriists, on June 15th 1998 the critical metaphysicians sabotaged their monthly seminar. By our use here of the word “Negriists” we aren’t just talking about that handful of morons that come to Paris to hear the official interpreters of their imprisoned master’s pomposity, nor even just those who more generally consider themselves close to the “thinking” of Toni Negri. By “Negriism,” we are referring to all the whole pseudo-leftist, post-workerist, para-autonomist nebula of those who, since they’ve now grown old and currently occupy a slightly envied position in society, would like to believe that capitalism can still be revolutionary, and that therefore all they have to do is earn their living as employees, community militants, or artists in order to advance the communist cause. Moreover, it’s his way of still preserving his heroic vision of himself as a “dragon rider” (the expression is his) even in the most ordinary and banal situations, even in the depths of the most notorious servitude, that lets one recognize the negriist. So in his nullity he’ll never fail to quote Spinoza, Leopardi, Deleuze, Marx – the flattest parts of Marx, that is – Foucault, from whom he’ll only retain what’s accessible to him and which he can’t really even understand, the old senile Gorz, or even a hint of situationism. Indeed, if the Negriists could ever manage to discover the existence of the concept of “contradiction,” they’d have to abandon their sole ambition, which is to critique capitalism without critiquing its categories. But such a possibility is not to be feared among these slobberers, who can’t help but be profoundly fascinated by the commodity’s faculty for subsumption – nothing touches the Negriist emotionally so much as the “parable of Apple Corp,” since it shows that people like him, cagey leftist parasites, can become millionaires and even sit on the board of directors of a multinational corporation without ever renouncing their penchant for posing as revolutionaries and champions of freedom. In any case, if he’s allowed to talk theory he’ll always limit himself to describing the contemporary mutations of the capitalist mode of production, while religiously cleaning out of it even the slightest trace of the negative. Thus the negriist can deliver dissertations all day long about “affect-value,” “free labor,” “precarious hipsters,” “inflationist biopolitical entrepreneurs,” “subjective capital,” “machine-brains,” “cyber-resistance,” “existence wages,” or “putting emotions to work,” and do it without even the slightest touch of irony. The negriist’s biased unilaterality makes his discourse easily recognizable; it’s supposed to compensate, comically, for the frustrated reality he’s condemned to by his refusal to take the negative into account. It’s not rare to find, in Negri himself, that dense, pedantic gabble of university-professor logorrhea, that Deleuze and Guattari have left us the most undying examples of. Thus we can read from his pen, in number 42 – so early! – of Future Anterior, such lightning bolts as this: “expansivity, in all the directions of affect, exhibits the moment that transvalues its concept even so far as to make it able to sustain the shock of the postmodern.” Well, how about that! As for their utopia – because these people are utopians, the utopians of capital – it consists in the fine hope that when the world has in every way become a gigantic supermarket, there will be no more cash registers. It’s this aspiration to a kind of commodity communism that allows the negriists to applaud every new bit of progress made by capitalism in the chorus with all the other assholes, while reserving the sovereign right to do it with a sly wink. The “Benetton ideology” offers a spontaneously repugnant example of this manner of delivering oneself over to the existing order of things with hands and feet tied, and still putting on airs of intelligence. In spite of all our efforts in this direction, we’ve been unable to separate out what’s just naivety and what’s just opportunism in all these aberrations. Unless it’s all just plain stupidity. It seems, in effect, that the negriists are incapable of conceiving that we don’t just want to live in a world without cash registers, but one without commodities too.
Faced with the progress of negriism diffused throughout the pseudo-contestation milieus – primarily within AC! – and the upcoming launch of the negriist meteorology magazine Alice, the critical metaphysicians decided to make these worms know the fate they’ve got coming to them. A poem for four voices was therefore recorded, with very nice letterist wordplay, such as an ecstatic “trilili!” accompanied the howling of our hydrocephalic friends’ most fetishized concepts, all over a background voice chattering in negriish. No one was surprised that our ferocious little revolutionaries were gathering in the Protestant Students’ hall – not much changes, apparently – in Paris, right in the middle of a famously red neighborhood, the 6th arrondissement. Upon arriving we found a little social climber from said magazine in the middle of entertaining them all with his defecations. These specters of theory proved worthy of themselves in practice, because they didn’t manage even to come together enough to stop us from playing our tape recording, or even responding to our insults, and in the end they sat there frozen with fear at the red hot cast iron voice of comrade Raguet. Thus it is our glorious duty to report the death of this newborn negriist group. We’ll take care of informing the victims’ families.
“The psychiatrists found nothing to explain the act of 23 year old Alain on Father’s day, when he coldly killed his father and shot his mother.”
Marius Oreiller, 51 years old, a model employee at the SNCF, never saw who killed him on Sunday, the 18th of June 1995, Father’s day. And the only gift given him by his only son was a 8 mm bullet in the neck, fired point-blank.
Alain Oreiller is 25 years old now. But he doesn’t like talking about “that story.” When asked by the president of the Creteil criminal court, he responds: “I’ve told the story fifty times, both to the police and the judges. It’s the past; talking about it won’t bring anyone back!” But president Yves Courneloup insists. Visibly infuriated, the young man consents to giving a short summary again, which he tells with a scornful grin. “I’d taken a pill of ecstasy at some friends’ house, and I hadn’t gotten much sleep. My dad woke me up. We didn’t argue about it or anything, nothing special. I went up behind him; he was watching TV and didn’t hear me coming. I fired. Then my dad was dead, that’s all.” Yves Corneloup gets angry: “Your father isn’t dead, you killed him!”
“Yeah, same thing.”
“No, it’s not the same thing at all!”
“Alright, fine, I killed my father, that’s it!”
François, his mother, who survived it all, comes up to the bar to tell about her son’s sudden explosion of hate and violence.
Her voice shows no rancor or anger, just an immense sadness.
“Around 1 o’clock, Marius and I had finished preparing our meal. My husband went to wake up Alain, who was still asleep in his room.” At the time, his being woken up at any time whatsoever was always a subject for arguments. So was Alain’s refusal to work. The evening before, the boy had told his friends: “Man, I’m sick of my parents always hassling me to get a job.” But since June 18th was a day off, the couple weren’t thinking about such things. In their small living room loaded with rustic furniture, Marius and Françoise had even opened up a bottle of champagne. When Alain went into the room, he found his parents sitting there holding their glasses. “Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Father’s Day. Happy father’s day, dad!” he said. His father offers a toast to him; Alain refuses; it just so happens that he’s on a fast. Since the whole family’s there, François invites Marius and Alain to go into the dining room and she goes into the kitchen to fetch some snails. “When I came back, Alain pointed a revolver at me; I thought it was a toy. And then I saw my husband slumped over the table, his bleeding head lying in the leftovers. I approached him; I really didn’t grasp what was happening. And then Alain hit me in the face with the butt of the gun and knocked me down. ‘My son,’ I asked; “what’s got into you?’”
The reply froze her in fear. “There’s no more son. You’re going to suffer. I’m not acting out of sentiment anymore!”
Then Alain Oreiller shot his mother. But the gun, a smuggled pellet pistol, didn’t work. He pulled the trigger a dozen times with no effect. He opened the barrel, and aimed again. “I put my hand in front of my eyes and then a shot went off,” Françoise went on. “Everything went black; I felt like I was dying and I was so angry because I couldn’t help my husband.” The shot Alain fired passed through his mother’s hand before lodging itself in her forehead. When she opened her eyes again, Alain had put music on, and poured himself a glass of Veuve Clicquot. “Things are gonna change around here. I’m the boss around here now!” Françoise tried to get up. “I thought I was dreaming. But he said, ‘What, you want another one?’ and fired again.” This shot only grazed Françoise. Alain stood up, hands in his pockets and his body hunched over, and said: “I want a bitch, see? So you’re gonna be my bitch now!”
Having made this declaration Alain left, leaving his mother for dead. He spent two days wandering around the Vitry-sur-Seine area, then hit up the Vincennes forest area; “I was thinking I could find a whore.” He was arrested by the police a few steps away. Neither the two days full of debate, nor the reports from all the experts, were able to explain Alain Oreiller’s act. The psychiatrists talked about him having an Oedipus complex, but no one could explain the action itself. It was “an enigma,” said one of them; others suggested he was “too spoiled” a kid, blamed a “suffocating” climate, a “scant” environment, an “authoritarian” upbringing. Just like Marius the railwayman, Françoise, the daughter of a peace officer and an accountant at the same corporation since 1972, had dreamed of having a child that would share the same faith in her fundamental values: honesty and hard work. But, even early on, Alain, “an adorable, very well behaved child,” would just sit there looking out his window with envy at his friends playing in the courtyard in front of the building. “I had lots of toys but I always stayed cooped up.”
Later, in spite of the private schooling, scooter, and car offered him by his mother, the adolescent Alain went off this all too straight and narrow track. “When I was 9 years old I dreamed that if it weren’t for my parents I could conquer the world,” he wrote as an adolescent. Except that he was never brave enough to just leave the familial cocoon. He even went in for a test to be a TGV [high speed train] driver; he alone was accepted out of 500 candidates. “We were in heaven!” said Françoise. But for Alain work and authority were “just annoying stuff.” After five days’ professional training, he quit the job. And the tragedy happened not long after that. For the past three years, Françoise has visited the prison every other month. She brings him money and clothes. She started making visits as soon as she was able to move about again: “no matter what he did, I can’t abandon him; he’s still my son,” she told the court. The mother and her son write long letters to one another; Françoise’s letters are really beautiful, simple, and poignant. Without the slightest affectation, she tries to explain her suffering to her son, and how she misses her husband, the man she loved. She wants Alain to understand that he still is and will always be his murdered father’s son. Alain responds that he thinks he’ll come back to live with her when he’s free in their little apartment in Vitry-sur-Seine. “We can’t be separated, we’re a family.” Françoise trembles with fear at such prospects. When Maurice Papon was freed at the beginning of the Bordeaux trial, she phoned her lawyer in a panic: “Could it be possible that Alain might get the same treatment?”
However, the three psychiatrists agree on one point at least: they’ve found no trace of any mental illness in Alain Oreiller. They can’t even find the slightest sign of any “psychotic episode” having taken place at the moment of his deed. One of them, because he had to report something, put forth the hypothesis that Alain was in a “hypnopompic state,” in other words, an “incomplete awakeness in a twilight state,” which received only a polite skepticism from the magistrates.
On June 1st, the attorney for the prosecution, Marie-Dominique Trabet, requested twenty years’ imprisonment for this “egocentric little pick up artist, this big narcissist who can’t stand anyone resisting him.” And after three hours of debate, the jury passed that sentence. (Liberation, Thursday, June 18, 1998.)
On June 19th, 1998, a handful of critical metaphysicians publicly humiliated “the young and effervescent Laurent Gutmann,” who with his complacent theatrical direction had dared to transform Calderon’s metaphysical masterwork Life is a Dream into a hipster boulevard-theater show. The fact that his Pygmalion had just been rebuked and gotten told to look out or else one day he and his peers will be strung up “for lack of profundity” didn’t prevent the lead actor in this buffoonish play from proving us right and admitting that he’d been taken advantage of. And so yapping whores of both sexes there that day – mostly from the “cultural milieus” - got to experience true silence, probably for the first time in their lives. They don’t have to worry; they’ll get plenty more chances.