We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Every Two Weeks

This past weekend, a student named Elliot Rodger from Santa Barbara City College killed six and injured 13, the latest in a long series of school shootings that are all but becoming a normal part of American tradition. As usual, the killer left a cache of material behind to explain his intentions and milk as much publicity for his personal grievances as possible. This time, the focus was on women, and how they wouldn’t have sex with him.

Like they always do, the media have descended to explain away the madness. And like a Rorschach Test, each outlet had its own pet cause primed and ready to be read into the situation.
According to the FBI, mass shootings (defined as shooting events that kill at least four people) occur on average every two weeks in the United States. Yes, every two weeks. Yet we rarely, if ever, hear about most of them.

The reason is because these shootings are easily explainable. In most mass shootings, the crimes occur at a private location and the victims are people close and well-known to the shooter — family members, neighbors, friends. Many of them are attributable to gang violence or illicit criminal activities. Others are a crime of passion.
These shooters know what they are doing. They’re not “crazy.” They don’t just “snap.” Most of them spend months or years planning their massacres. Elliot Rodger had apparently been planning his shooting for over a year.

You don’t just show up with a 140-page manifesto and a large stockpile of weapons one day. You work at it for a long time. And you plan not only the violence, but the presentation for the audience, the performance — what they will see from you, what they will hear from you, the reasons why, the message. It’s all very conscious and deliberate.

And it works. Their killing sprees are specifically targeted to generate the most fear and uncertainty from the public, because the more fear and uncertainty they generate, the more attention they get. They then use all of the attention as a platform to promote themselves or whatever complaints they may have against society. It’s the Columbine formula. It works. And as Eric Harris pointed out in his journal, it’s not about the guns. It’s about the television. The films. The fame. The revolution.
If this sounds like a familiar strategy, that’s because it is.

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