Before They Are Mass Shooters, They Are Right-Wing Trolls
I really don’t know how this isn’t dominating the conversation; I guess the election in Alabama, net neutrality, Trump/Russia, the tax bill …
Actually, now I kinda do realize why this isn’t dominating the conversation. Still: it needs to be noted and remembered.
An angry young white male shot up a school this week. Wait, what? Who, where?
Yes, I realize that this has become a “no big news, same shit new day” event. Which in and of itself is horrifying, and probably the underpinnings to a couple thousand “What have we become?” op-ed pieces by Very Serious People.
But the point I want to bring out is this: the punk who killed kids in the school and then himself was for years showing escalating online bullying, griefing, trolling and more — ALL ON RIGHT-WING HATE “NEWS” SITES, AND IN COMMENT THREADS.
“Generally, mass shooters spend a period of time prior to their action steeped in studying previous shooters. They study the aftermath of these individuals. They have a great deal of esteem or respect for others who have done the same,” said Lenz.
“Add in the ideology, in this case these forums—it compounds the severity and the rate of radicalization.”
Lenz said the cocktail of violent rhetoric, mental illness, and economic despair is what leads to “mobilization,” the word experts use for the shift from radicalized online rhetoric to real-life behavior.
“What we’ve found with these ideologies is that they repeatedly lead to violence. There’s a dual line of radicalization happening,” said Lenz. “To steep yourself in Daily Stormer rhetoric and the sites like it is to put yourself in the headspace of where the violence is when not if.”
They go in the comment threads of sites like Breitbart, or FreeRepublic or RedState … and then they graduate to r/TheDonald and 4chan … and then they move down the funnel of hate to Daily Stormer.
And then they kill Americans.
This process isn’t just the bragging of Andrew Anglin & Richard Spencer. It’s actually happening. This is reality.
Right-wing sites recruit and pass on young freaks, and groom them to go out and commit mass murder. The path is there. We see it. It’s out in the open.
So. What are we going to do about it?