This guy gets it, and for that, he gets credit. I’m glad someone has finally told the truth about the reaction to the mass shooting.
Socially, Americans and American media have developed a pattern in responding to these sudden incidences of mass violence. It starts with the initial hunger for any and all information, often absent of much concern about its accuracy. Give us all of it, and we’ll sort it out as we go. But even from the very start, we’re not just looking for information about the incident. We’re looking for who is responsible for the violence. No, not the actual shooters. Who else is responsible? Speculation begins immediately about the shooter’s political affiliation, as though this is any way relevant. Dear’s voter registration has him listed as a female! Does this mean he’s transgendered? Is this the transgendered movement’s fault? No, it turned out to be a data entry error, and even if he did identify as transgendered, the answer would still obviously be no, the transgender movement was not responsible for his actions. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) got into some hot water for speculating about this odd little detail, though really he was trying to point out that it was awfully early to be speculating about Dear’s motives.
The problem, though, is that Dear’s motives may matter to the courts and to the law, but why is this a matter for presidential candidates, politicians, and society at large? Because, for some people, it can’t just be Dear’s fault. The culture war demands that everything bad that happens is due to the actions and attitudes of one’s ideological opponents. Everything bad that happens is due to the failure of society to monolithically embrace one’s view of how the world should be run. And when people operate under such collectivist attitudes (on either the left or the right) about society, obviously the behavior of a person who acts out in violence is (and must be) an indictment of whatever ideology or philosophy that person operates. Dear is an indictment of anti-abortion conservatives. ISIS attacks are an indictment of leftist support for diversity and the entire Islamic faith.
Since nobody’s ideology can lay claim to all the world’s mentally ill people, because that’s not how serious mental illness works, we end up with absurd comparison stories like this clickbait from William Saletan at Slate, arguing that Christian extremists from the Carolinas have killed more Americans in the United States than Syrian refugees. His goal is ultimately to challenge the argument that the fleeing Syrians are a terror threat to the United States, but his poor logic begs to be thrown back in his face by pointing out how tiny even that number is (less than 100) compared to the total number of Americans murdered in just 2014 (14,249). And even the total number of Americans murdered annually pales in comparison to the number of Americans out there (nearly 320 million). Statistically speaking, if you’re an American, you’re unlikely to ever be murdered at all, be it by mentally ill ISIS death-cultists or Americans suffering some sort of psychotic break from reality.
But no media site ever got readers by telling them, “You’re probably never going to be murdered,” and no politician wins votes that way. If every crisis is an opportunity, then every person with signs of mental illness is a potential crisis, and therefore an opportunity.
Given this regularly occurring cycle of responses to mass violence by the disturbed, is it really any mystery how college campuses turned into one massive emotional freak-out session? Where did they get the idea that invoking vague mental health issues to demand “trigger warnings” and safe spaces and declaring speech that contradicts their opinions or offends them to be a form of “violence”? They learned it from us, of course. They’re just extending it to its natural, absurd conclusion.
Man, is he right. The response for both sides has been, quite frankly, morbid. 😡