Monday, May 16, 2022

Stop Feeding Murderous Trolls

      The weekend saw another deadly nitwit of a mass shooter, this time in Buffalo, New York.  All the usual kinds of politicians came out and said the expected things (including blaming magazine capacity!).

     In a country of over 330 million, the supply of even one-in-ten-million people who want to work out a grievance by shooting strangers is plenty large.  You can even claim that with so many  people, violence is inevitable, and perhaps it is.  330 million includes plenty of aggressive criminals and violently insane people.

      I don't know if it necessarily includes this kind of criminal, someone so hopped-up on xenophobic rage-mongering that they set out to kill specific subsets of their fellow humans.

      There's an entire slice of news-and-commentary devoted to exploiting just this kind of anger.  There are serving politicians in both major parties who return to the well of bile over and over.  --But conservatives own the Buffalo shooter, who appears to have explicitly endorsed "Replacement Theory" in his crazysauce purported manifesto, the very same pernicious notion some GOP pols and Fox talking-head Tucker Carlson (among many others) like to slip in and wink at, knowing it's red meat to a base of worried WASPs.* Out of 330 million people, if you keep pushing buttons, you'll eventually come up with a bloody jackpot, a ticking timebomb who might have just screeched away in comments sections and chatrooms, who might have tripped over his own feet -- and instead gets fired up and motivated to go do something.  Something very bad.  Something I'm sure all the frontline, big-audience politicians and pundits would disavow.  They never meant that!  And perhaps they didn't.  Perhaps they don't understand that it is loaded.

      In the more-obscure (but hardly hidden) corners of the Internet are plenty of people who who damned well know they're handing out dynamite, and they cheer the blasts.  At one time, such ideas had no path to the mainstream.  Now they do. 

      Time to grow up.  Time to push such racist poison back into the universal disrepute it so richly deserves.  Time to stop feeding killer trolls.

       (I'm sure I'll get some both-siderism gripes.  Look, a killer is a killer is a killer; a mob is a mob is a mob.  I don't care what particular kind of murderous crap they espouse, it's wrong to go injure and kill others over it.  All citizens have a duty to stifle it -- starting with whatever part of it is within their easy reach.  What, you're afraid you political foes won't do their part?  Solve that at the ballot box.  Solve it in the public square -- without violence.  You can be the grown-up.  C'mon, it's not that hard.  Lots of Americans do so every day.)
* And to a considerable tranche of Catholics and Jews.  History suggests those groups are still on thin ice with the worst of the worst at the political extremes, but the human capacity for self-delusion is almost limitless.  It's a nasty day when that balloon pops.

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