Sunday, August 04, 2019


Charlie Pierce is fed up with the notion that we should avoid naming mass shooters.

"The first W is Who." He's talking about the basic questions a news report is supposed to answer: Who, What, When, Where, Why.

What got us out of Vietnam was the truth about why we were there -- the Pentagon Papers and all that.

We think it's a good idea to avoid mentioning the names of mass shooters because we think all they want is fame -- mass fame, bestowed by mainstream journalism.

But fame, for at least a large subset of mass shooters, is conferred on 8chan and Reddit, where mass murder is encouraged. After reading El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius's manifesto (archived here), Bellingcat's Robert Evans writes:
The most important takeaways from the El Paso shooting are twofold:

1. 8chan’s /pol board continues to deliberately radicalize mass shooters.

2. The act of massacring innocents has been gamified.

This second point is illustrated clearly by some of the comments I found online in the wake of this shooting. In [a] discussion thread, after one anon posts screenshots of the El Paso shooter’s thread, another asks, “Is nobody going to check these incredible digits?” This statement is likely a reference to the shooter’s substantial body count....

Ever since the Christchurch shooting spree, 8chan users have commented regularly on Brenton Tarrant’s high bodycount, and made references to their desire to “beat his high score”....
When the mainstream press avoids talking about radicalized, channified mass shooters, it doesn't deprive the shooters of fame, because the mass media isn't where they want to be famous. They want to be famous in their demimonde. (They also think they're inspiring The Revolution, which appears to be more important to them than fame.) In addition, this avoidance means that the press is avoiding a discussion of how shooters are inspired to commit acts of mass slaughter. Most of the American public still doesn't know what goes on in these forums. Much of America doesn't know that they exist.

When the media doesn't talk about the shooters, it substitutes "positive" stories -- such as, in this case, "Army Veteran Hailed a Hero After Braving Gunfire During El Paso Walmart Massacre to Carry Out Crying Children." That's a courageous act -- but heartwarming stories about heroes in mass shootings are the equivalent of stories about GoFundMe campaigns for cancer victims (or shooting victims). They distract us from the central question: Why are we in this situation in the first place? Why do citizens of the richest country in the world need chatrity to avoid bankruptcy after getting cancer or being shot? And why do we have so damn many mass shootings anyway?

Name the shooters. Discuss the manifestos. Look into their lives, their postings, their purchases. (In yesterday's other mass shooting, in Dayton, Ohio, it appears that the perpetrator was wearing body armor.) Trying to deny fame to these jamokes seemed as if it might be a good idea, but it isn't helping.

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