Mass shootings are horrific acts of evil. Read that again before moving on. But something about them is like catnip to reactionists who can’t wait to knuckle drag their way to a device connected to the internet, through which they channel their most desperate hot takes and blame games. They then use the dead bodies to fundraise. We do this every single time a gunman shoots up a gaggle of innocent people: blame anything other than the shooter. Today I’ve seen variations of the following blamed for the recent mass shootings, in no particular order:
- Donald Trump
- Donald Trump’s word choices
- Society at large
- Second Amendment
- Media outlets that maybe aren’t Fox but some other network someone else doesn’t like
- Toxic masculinity
- The discussion of toxic masculinity/war on men
- Video games
- The NRA
- Dana Loesch
- and guns
One entity is to blame for a mass shooting: the shooter(s). Does it matter what motivated the shooter? Absolutely. Motives always matter, especially if that motive calls for the killing of a certain type of person who was killed by the shooter. But you still cannot blame all isms for a mass shooting. There are plenty of racists and sexists out there. But racism doesn’t pull triggers. Sexism doesn’t pull triggers. Not all racists and sexists are out there mowing down schools, night clubs, or garlic festivals. Knowing a motive and blaming people or things which aren’t connected to the shooter in any real way other than the way you invented while you snapped your spine twisting yourself into a pretzel, are not the same thing.
The shooter who shot Steve Scalise was a Bernie Sanders acolyte. His motive: hating Republicans. But Bernie Sanders isn’t to blame for the shooting of Steve Scalise, no matter how much Sanders’ flyaway hair triggers your rage bone.
By the way, we’re talking about mass shooters who’re acting alone, committing mass shootings for their own twisted reasons, not terrorists. Terrorists exact violence and fear to achieve political goals. Okay? Okay.
Mass shooters are usually lone gunman who’ve snapped. The LA Times released a surprisingly cogent OpEd discussing this very topic. Do yourself a smart and read it.
Mass shooters are one strain of human evil. Evil is not a new concept to 21st century America. Evil has existed since the dawn of mankind. That’s “humankind” for you ladies who refuse to exercise. Cain killed Abel because Cain was a jealous asswipe. Cain didn’t kill Abel because he enjoyed World of Warcraft.
Mass shootings are “common” (they’re not common, but they may feel like it) for various reasons, not least of which is one shooter copies the other. In the sixties and seventies, serial killers were all the rage: Zodiac, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the Mansons, Jeffery Dahmer to name a few. But they’re not so much of a thing in America now as they were back then. Do you see where I’m going with this? Evil has always existed, sometimes it takes different forms.
I wasn’t alive at the time, but I feel pretty confident in saying Ted Bundy didn’t blame the discussion of toxic masculinity for his killing of dozens of ladies. John Wayne Gacy probably didn’t blame the societal stigma of being gay for his killing of boys. The normalization of the nuclear family wasn’t blamed for the Manson slayings. No one looked at Zodiac and thought “It’s the NRA.” Doubtful anyone heard about Jeffery Dahmer’s victims and said: “This is what happens when you make knives freely accessible to non-vegetarians.”
Yet because mass shootings are carried out via the same tool promised Americans in the Second Amendment, and usually in a span of minutes instead of spread out over years (as done by serial killers) now we’ve all got to put on our stupid hats and blame something other than who’s to blame: the shooter! Not the gun. Not a president. Not tweets. Not feminism. Not even socialism. The shooter. Related: WATCH: Joy Behar Blames Synagogue Shooting on Donald Trump.
Yes, we need to defend our rights. Yes, we need to fight back against evil. Yes, we should try to stop this from happening again. Fine. But maybe we could hit pause before sending our steaming piles of stupid out into the internet, where it’ll just cause more of a stink than its worth. Maybe we could wait for some facts.