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Family annihilator feared Obama reelection

A history of mental illness, the loss of a dear uncle, and a growing fear of Obama winning a second term in the White House took its toll on the mind of Mr. Peterson, a wealthy defense contractor, the friend said.

So reports the Daily Mail in a chilling story of murder and suicide. Defense contractor Albert Peterson shot to death his wife and two children (aged 13 and 16) and then himself. Neighbors told the newspaper that Mr. Peterson became increasingly paranoid about would would happen to the country if Obama was reelected.

The Washington Post reported another neighbor said:

He was worried about everything. He felt the economy was going in the wrong direction. He was worried about politics. He couldn’t shake things.

I’m somewhat of an expert on family annihilators, having watched a 2004 TV episode of Law and Order on that topic1. <faux expert>The family annihilator feels that they are at the center of their family and bear the total responsibility for the family’s wellbeing. If they become convinced that they cannot fulfill that role, they think it is better that the family, including themself, die rather than to fail due to his shortcomings.</faux expert>

Readers may be interested in this article by Catharine Skipp titled “Inside the Minds of Family Annihilators.”


1There was also a 2009 episode of Law and Order Criminal Intent on the topic.

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19 Responses to Family annihilator feared Obama reelection

  1. avatar
    Joe Acerbic September 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    To preempt claims that wingnut propaganda has nothing to do with this, these kind of stories should always be accompanied by a sample of a Limbaugh, Beck or any other such rant about how USA and the whole western civilization will be absolutely, totally destroyed if Obama is (re)elected.

  2. avatar
    Horus September 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    You reap what you sow, GOP!

  3. avatar
    richCares September 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    “You reap what you sow, GOP!”
    birther version
    You sew what you rip, BIRTHER!

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    One cannot read this story without examples of apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric coming to mind, but I don’t want to go there editorially without more facts. One web site I saw even described the guy as “tea party” without any source that I could see.

    Joe Acerbic: To preempt claims that wingnut propaganda has nothing to do with this

  5. avatar
    Zixi of Ix September 29, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    You will find no bigger critic of birthers and the current GOP than myself, having lost friends and changed my voter registration to reflect the fact that I am unwilling to accept lies as truth and will never vote for those (Mr. Romney & the GOP) who seek to benefit from the insanity and inanity that is birtherism and fearmongering.

    I readily agree with the underlying implication that birtherism and related “theories” are corrosive, nasty, racist, sick, and unhelpful. They benefit no one.

    But this man committed three murders, including his children; then committed suicide. The GOP didn’t do it. The birthers didn’t do it. They didn’t murder this family or cause this man to murder his family.

    Every adult is responsible for their own behavior. Every single one.

    If the birthers or the Republicans are responsible for this, then people overseas who have been rioting are right, and we in America are responsible for the murders and destruction overseas. If words against the President can cause you to murder your family, words against a religious figure can, too. Right? We’d have to agree that pornography and short skirts make people rape. And rock music, video games, and movies make people violent.

    Were the recent murders in Aurora really the fault of movie studios and comic book publishers?

    Should we have given Mark David Chapman a pass, and jailed J. D. Salinger instead?

    Is this really a road anyone wants to go down – blaming anyone besides than the person who chooses to commit a violent crime against others?

    Are we really so bereft of control that words, even nasty, corrosive words can cause most of us to commit multiple murders?

    If we are that powerless, then we’d be better off without a First Amendment.

    I would argue that this murder was the sole fault of the murderer.

    Birthers and a faction of the GOP are small-minded jerks. Many are outright bigots. Many are opportunists who see a way to make a dollar or gain power or votes. But they didn’t murder this family.

  6. avatar
    Thomas Brown September 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Zixi: I would also tend not to blame most Republicans. But the albatross they tolerate hanging around their necks is the more vitriolic folks at Fox, Rush “the Hutt,” web denizens like Lame Cherry & Butterdezillion, loopy celebrities like Chuck “thousand years of darkness” Norris, the Swift Boat/Jerome Corsi bunch, etc.

    Them, I blame.

    They’re the ones who tell poor saps at the ends of their ropes like this one that AMERICA IS ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED BY OBAMA. No hyperbole is too extreme, no scenario too alarming, no smear too vile for these turdhats. They lie, and then exaggerate the lies, while claiming to be the only pure and trustworthy source of Truth. They’re the ones who say America is about to be ruled by Muslims. That a Socialist hell awaits us should BHO be re-elected. That Chinese and UN armies are massing on our borders to help subjugate Americans at Obama’s word. That the President is really the head of al Qaida.

    I believe they scared the crap out of this guy. Remember the guy who shot up a Church, who turned out to have just read “100 People Who Are Destroying America,” damn near a hit-list of Liberals? Or the guy who shot and killed cops because he had been told to expect “Obama’s gun confiscation squads” who also round up “patriots” and put them in “FEMA camps”?

    Very few, if any, elected Republicans spout such drivel. Only Allen West and Michelle Bachmann come to mind. But if you want to point at a “trigger” for this sad event, I’d start with Strormfront, WND, Glenn Beck, Jerome Corsi, Orly Taitz, and their demented, shameless ilk.

  7. avatar
    Slartibartfast September 30, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    While I would agree that the murderer is at fault here, I think it bears pointing out that one of the necessary factors leading to this tragedy was a mindset that shared much in common with the birthers and that was very much a result of years of right-wing propaganda. While this man was responsible for his own heinous crime, those who have been trying to encourage this mindset through fear-mongering and misinformation aren’t exactly innocent themselves.

    Zixi of Ix:
    You will find no bigger critic of birthers and the current GOP than myself, having lost friends and changed my voter registration to reflect the fact that I am unwilling to accept lies as truth and will never vote for those (Mr. Romney & the GOP) who seek to benefit from the insanity and inanity that is birtherism and fearmongering.

    I readily agree with the underlying implication that birtherism and related “theories” are corrosive, nasty, racist, sick, and unhelpful. They benefit no one.

    But this man committed three murders, including his children; then committed suicide. The GOP didn’t do it. The birthers didn’t do it. They didn’t murder this family or cause this man to murder his family.

    Every adult is responsible for their own behavior. Every single one.

    If the birthers or the Republicans are responsible for this, then people overseas who have been rioting are right, and we in America are responsible for the murders and destruction overseas. If words against the President can cause you to murder your family, words against a religious figure can, too. Right? We’d have to agree that pornography and short skirts make people rape. And rock music, video games, and movies make people violent.

    Were the recent murders in Aurora really the fault of movie studios and comic book publishers?

    Should we have given Mark David Chapman a pass, and jailed J. D. Salinger instead?

    Is this really a road anyone wants to go down – blaming anyone besides than the person who chooses to commit a violent crime against others?

    Are we really so bereft of control that words, even nasty, corrosive words can cause most of us to commit multiple murders?

    If we are that powerless, then we’d be better off without a First Amendment.

    I would argue that this murder was the sole fault of the murderer.

    Birthers and a faction of the GOP are small-minded jerks. Many are outright bigots. Many are opportunists who see a way to make a dollar or gain power or votes. But they didn’t murder this family.

  8. avatar
    richCares September 30, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Birthers should pay close attention to this story as it’s path they seem to be follwing with their unbridled hate.

  9. avatar
    Majority Will September 30, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    “I think it can now be said, without equivocation — without equivocation — that this man hates this country,” [Limbaugh] said. “He is trying, Barack Obama is trying, to dismantle, brick-by-brick, the American dream. There’s no other way to put this. There’s no other way to explain this.”

    (source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78553.html)

  10. avatar
    G September 30, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    Agreed. What you have said mirrors my position on this horrible tragedy. I’m sickened, saddened and angered that he took the lives of his family down with him.

    Sadly, I suspect we will see more tragic stories like this, as the downward spiral of paranoid delusional denialist hate is hard to break, for those who get sucked down it…

    Slartibartfast:
    While I would agree that the murderer is at fault here, I think it bears pointing out that one of the necessary factors leading to this tragedy was a mindset that shared much in common with the birthers and that was very much a result of years of right-wing propaganda.While this man was responsible for his own heinous crime, those who have been trying to encourage this mindset through fear-mongering and misinformation aren’t exactly innocent themselves.

  11. avatar
    Lani September 30, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    I recently raged against stereotypes of houseless people and must now again rage against the failure to acknowledge mental illness, which is a medical illness and should not be shunned, shamed and ignored. Clearly, the family knew that this man was not functioning appropriately, and many people knew it, yet they failed to intervene. That is is true tragedy. It’s not a political question. He was obviously paranoid and for some time. Yet no one intervened. And that is the real story. If it wasn’t fear of a 2nd Obama term, it would have been something else. Yep, Faux Noise and others fed his paranoia, but they didn’t necessarily create it.

    This is very tragic. I doubt it is political.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 30, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    While I appreciate and largely agree with what you said, I don’t think that we necessarily have to assign blame solely to one cause. Sure an adult is responsible for their own actions, but a mentally ill adult isn’t, and someone who hands a loaded gun to someone not mentally competent has to share some of the burden of the consequences.

    Even rational adults require facts to make rational decisions, and for all of us we get our facts from friends and news sources. If the news source is wrong we can make wrong decisions. Look at the mass suicides at Jonestown, and other doomsday cults.

    In this case, I think a series of causes exist. First Mr. Peterson’s family and friends probably did recognize his mental state and should have gotten some help for him. Peterson’s paranoia led him to believe that killing his family was the preferred solution to the coming crisis, and fear mongers made him evaluate the future incorrectly. And beyond that, a drug side effect might be a contributing cause and who knows what else.

    Zixi of Ix: Birthers and a faction of the GOP are small-minded jerks. Many are outright bigots. Many are opportunists who see a way to make a dollar or gain power or votes. But they didn’t murder this family.

  13. avatar
    G September 30, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Agreed.

    Dr. Conspiracy: In this case, I think a series of causes exist. First Mr. Peterson’s family and friends probably did recognize his mental state and should have gotten some help for him. Peterson’s paranoia led him to believe that killing his family was the preferred solution to the coming crisis, and fear mongers made him evaluate the future incorrectly.

  14. avatar
    Tarrant September 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Things like this make me shudder and recall, as an example, butterdezillion’s various posts about how she’d rather kill her children than let the “FEMA camps” take them during a second Obama term.

    There is real mental illness out there and it’s sad that while physical illnesses and issues are given a lot of attention, mental problems are often simply ignored or disregarded or considered just to be a “weakness” of the person rather than an actual illness. As Doc said, combining mental illness with inaccurate “facts” and paranoia fed repeatedly can lead to real harm.

  15. avatar
    Joe Acerbic September 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Tarrant:
    Things like this make me shudder and recall, as an example, butterdezillion’s various posts about how she’d rather kill her children than let the “FEMA camps” take them during a second Obama term.

    They’ll all be disarmed and taken to FEMA camps where they’ll undergo mandatory sex change operation, conversion to islam, gay marriage and regular abortions, regardless of sex or pregnancy.

  16. avatar
    G September 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Agreed. BZ is a classic example here. I have been concerned that she is a danger to herself and her family for quite some time now.

    Tarrant:
    Things like this make me shudder and recall, as an example, butterdezillion’s various posts about how she’d rather kill her children than let the “FEMA camps” take them during a second Obama term.

    There is real mental illness out there and it’s sad that while physical illnesses and issues are given a lot of attention, mental problems are often simply ignored or disregarded or considered just to be a “weakness” of the person rather than an actual illness. As Doc said, combining mental illness with inaccurate “facts” and paranoia fed repeatedly can lead to real harm.

  17. avatar
    DP September 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I read this a few days ago. It really is sickening. I realize he was mentally ill, but still. Most people who do this sort of thing do it after they’ve been financially ruined or some other devastating event. It’s inexcusable, but you can retain compassion for someone who just took a big enough blow that they cracked. They still seem human.

    But this? The guy and his family were doing fine. The mere thought that someone murdered their family in order to spare them from the coming dystopian hell where somewhere, somehow, a poor person might be getting health care, is beyond appalling.

    Nice looking kids. Again, I know he was ill, but looking at them really makes you wish he was still alive so you could punch him in the face.

  18. avatar
    Keith September 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    On topic (sort of) from Australia:

    Alan Jones is the Australian equivalent of Beck/Limbaugh (sort of). He was once a very popular coach of the National Rugby (Union) team, but has morphed into an extremely powerful RWNJ Radio jock, heard only (thankfully) in Sydney (station may play into Canberra too, I dunno).

    He is extremely close to the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbot, and is mind numbingly critical of anything the Prime Minister does, wears, or says; how she sits, now she stands, the color of her hair, her dress, her shoes; her children (or rather, lack thereof), her marriage (or rather, lack thereof), etc, etc, etc.

    He has gotten into deep trouble several times for his vile rantings on the radio. He was caught out making editorial comment for pay and incited a riot by reading a text message that encouraged people to ‘”Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge… get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day”‘ and leading a supportive talkback session about the message.

    In 2011, he suggested, on radio, that the Prime Minister should be shoved ”into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea,”.

    So now to last month.

    The Prime Minister’s father died in early September. She left an important APEC meeting in Russia to deal with that before going to New York for the UN meetings last week.

    So now to this last weekend.

    Alan Jones made an appearance at the Sydney University Young Liberals meeting held at the Watermark Restaurant at Balmoral (a Liberal Party stronghold – the Liberal Party is a misnomer by the way, they are the conservative party in Australia).

    At the meeting, Jones was the successful bidder for a jacket made out of chaff bags – an item commissioned and donated by an executive of the Woolworth’s company – the Community Relations Manager (Woolworths is still a big retailer in Australia – Supermarkets, hardware, electronics, variety). Then in his speech, Jones referred to the grieving PM’s late father, John Gillard – a man who was obviously very close to, and extremely proud of, his daughter – and said that he ”died a few weeks ago of shame” because his daughter was such a liar, liar, liar.

    Well its really hit the fan now. Radio station sponsors are getting thousands (not an exaggeration) of emails demanding that they cease advertising on Jones program and to their credit, I think some sponsors are doing just hat. The station is getting demands that the Jones be fired (he is part owner of the station – can they do that? – dunno).

    Politicians from both sides are denouncing Jones and the Liberals are, some of them, suggesting a reevaluation of their dealings with Jones. Tony Abbot, the Liberal Party leader, gave a very luke warm expression of disappointment with Jones remarks, but is terrified of crossing him. The Greens Party is demanding that all politicians should refuse to go on his program or have anything to do with him.

    Jones has fronted a press conference where he issued an apology. Of course, he then proceeded to rationalize it and qualify it and duck responsibility so much that it was obvious that he wasn’t apologetic at all.

    He claims that he is trying to call the Prime Minister to apologize personally, but needless to say, the Prime Minister is not taking his calls.

    Further reading:

    Jones buys jacket made of chaff bags

    The whole town’s disgusted with the Jones ploy

    Roxon calls for 2GB rethink of Jones

    Jones forced to eat words

    How low can this shameless old dog of the ‘old’ media go?

  19. avatar
    G September 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Well, I hope the public outcry does some damage to your irresponsible firebrand. I wish a sense of shame and outcry against incendiary behavior had a bigger place in our society here…

    Keith: Well its really hit the fan now. Radio station sponsors are getting thousands (not an exaggeration) of emails demanding that they cease advertising on Jones program and to their credit, I think some sponsors are doing just hat. The station is getting demands that the Jones be fired (he is part owner of the station – can they do that? – dunno).
    Politicians from both sides are denouncing Jones and the Liberals are, some of them, suggesting a reevaluation of their dealings with Jones. Tony Abbot, the Liberal Party leader, gave a very luke warm expression of disappointment with Jones remarks, but is terrified of crossing him. The Greens Party is demanding that all politicians should refuse to go on his program or have anything to do with him.
    Jones has fronted a press conference where he issued an apology. Of course, he then proceeded to rationalize it and qualify it and duck responsibility so much that it was obvious that he wasn’t apologetic at all.
    He claims that he is trying to call the Prime Minister to apologize personally, but needless to say, the Prime Minister is not taking his calls.