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Multiple Shooting Atrocity I-Spy

June 18, 2015

Multiple shootings are as American as apple pie, Frasier, and disastrous foreign military interventions. But when one happens, how many of the following can you spot in the minutes, hours, days and months afterwards?

Minutes:

  • A trending hashtag on Twitter.
  • Wildly conflicting initial news reports which will later be used by “truthers” as evidence that the incident never really happened.

Hours:

  • Networks and news websites switching to rolling news coverage of the incident, irrespective of whether there are actually developments to cover, and filling time with commentary from assorted pundits.
  • (If the shooter was black) Calls from right-wing pundits for the black community to ask itself some searching questions about violence.
  • (If the shooter was white) Reassurances from right-wing pundits that this was a lone wolf.
  • (If the shooter was black and the victims were white) Explanations from right-wing pundits that this was a racist hate crime motivated by hatred of white people.
  • (If the shooter was white and the victims were black) Emphatic denials from right-wing pundits that racism could possibly have had anything to do with this tragic, senseless and above all completely inexplicable act, and that anyone suggesting that it is is clearly motivated by racism against white people…
  • …which is the real racism today, as racism against black people had entirely stopped until Barack Obama brought it back, probably because he is motivated by post-colonial hatred of the white man.
  • Comment threads on any news story or article by a right-wing pundit demonstrating that racism against black people is still very much a thing.
  • (If the victims were from a marginalised group such as the LGBT community) A right-wing pundit explaining that the shooter is the real victim.
  • A right-wing pundit claiming that the real problem was that the victims were not armed and the solution is more gun ownership.
  • Alex Jones or one of his acolytes claiming that this was a false flag attack designed to make it easier for the Government to take away people’s guns.
  • A right-wing Christian pundit explaining that the incident occurred because the nation has turned its back on God, legalised abortion and raised taxes.

Days:

  • Emergence of a “truther” movement “just asking questions” about the official account of the incident on the basis of the initially conflicting news reports; questions such as “was the whole incident a hoax staged by the Government as a pretext for taking away people’s guns?”.
  • Well-meaning attempts by liberal commentators to suggest that there is an intelligent debate to be had on gun ownership in America.
  • Howls of outrage and invocations of tyranny from the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America at the prospect of any infringement of their second amendment rights.
  • Explanations from right-wing pundits that any proposals from well-meaning liberals for restricting gun ownership would not have made a difference in the current case because it wasn’t that kind of gun anyway, and they would have prevented the victims from owning guns that they could have used to fight back.
  • Death threats on Twitter against well-meaning liberals for suggesting that widespread gun ownership might not be an entirely good thing.
  • Endless psychoanalysis of the perpetrator(s) based on nothing more than hearsay and speculation, with a little psychological projection thrown in for good measure.

Months:

  • Truthers bombarding survivors and victims’ relatives with claims that they are “crisis actors” and demanding to know where the “alleged” victims are hiding.
  • Truthers finding a barely recognisable person in a blurry photograph of a crowd near the scene of the incident which looks slightly like a barely recognisable person in a blurry photograph of a crowd near a previous such incident, thus proving that both were staged by the Government.
  • Legislative attempts by Democrats to introduce tighter controls on firearm ownership being defeated.
  • Legislative attempts by Republicans to relax controls on firearm ownership succeeding.
  • Increased ammunition and gun sales as people stock up, egged on by claims from the gun lobby that the government will soon ban them.
  • Another multiple shooting atrocity.
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