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Conspiracy Theorists Struggle To Explain Vegas Horror

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Conspiracy Theorists Struggle To Explain Vegas Horror

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Hardly anybody today believes that once unsettling events like solar eclipses are caused by wolves or demons eating the sun. But when it comes to all-too-frequent eruptions of what Philip Roth calls “the indigenous American berserk,” many retreat into superstition, or worse.

Worse because we don’t blame mythological creatures for increasingly common mass shooting events like Stephen Paddock’s murder of 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas. Instead, we blame each other.

What caused the reclusive professional gambler—a classic American lone demento—to murder 58 total strangers from a distance of 500 yards? Well, who do you hate and fear?

No sooner had police blown down the door of the 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel to find the killer dead in the sniper’s nest he’d painstakingly constructed than conspiracy theories spread like wildfire across the Internet and beyond.

Even before Paddock’s identity was known, online sleuths at the anonymous message site 4chan fingered a totally innocent Arkansas man described as “a Trump-hating Rachel Maddox fan.”

The reasoning seemed to be that country music fans are Trumpists by definition, ergo…

Well, if Garth Brooks and Emmylou Harris are country singers, then I’m a country music fan who finds Rachel Maddow extremely annoying.

But a Trump supporter? Um, no.

Nevertheless, this cartoon-think quickly became one of Google’s “top stories” until supplanted by even crazier conspiracy theories put forth by attention seeking hucksters.

“Multiple shooters,” proclaimed a Facebook friend connected to law enforcement. People jumped right in, some proclaiming that video sound tracks they’d heard on TV were obviously altered to conceal them. Others speculated that FBI agents and Las Vegas cops scrubbed the sniper’s nest of evidence linking him to ISIS, probably to cover up a botched gun-running sting.

Mention of treasonous cops may have given my friend pause, because the thread disappeared. But not before one particularly imaginative woman pronounced her verdict:

Definitely not ISIS but Antifa. Probably led by no other than Soros, Clinton, Obama and some RINOs. Multiple shooters. All part of their wicked scheme to advance their NWO [New World Order] agenda, take away our 2nd amendment, cause more ‘policing,’ with end result being Trump’s impeachment. Better learn how to live off the grid. May sound crazy but I feel civil war is coming soon.

“Could a terrorist have set this guy up,” a New York literary agent wondered, “then shot him and slipped away before the cops got there?”

It’s all the “Deep State’s” fault, you see. Because it couldn’t possibly be that lax regulation allowing a homicidal lunatic to carry enough military rifles to arm an infantry platoon into a hotel and convert them to auto-fire without breaking a single law until the moment he began shooting might be a really bad idea.

Nor that maybe it’s time to bring the “well-regulated” part of the Second Amendment back into play.

Why, perish the thought!

And perish it did as right-wing hucksters of every variety took the imagined conspiracy to heights of sheer folly. Something called “Freedom Daily” pressed a theory involving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who supposedly funded “Antifa terrorists.”

According to an excellent Media Matters roundup, Infowars nutjob Alex Jones blamed “Democrats and their Islamic allies,” “Bolshevik” revolutionaries, ISIS, Antifa, leftists, Communists and globalists.

Jones predicts an imminent left-wing coup. “The enemy’s engaging us. Everybody needs to be packing,” he said. “Get ready–Democrats are going to be killing people, a lot of folks.”

On her Fox News program The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham endorsed similar speculation. Others blamed Jews (naturally), the Saudis, even Las Vegas labor unions. Lists appeared on social media alleging that every prominent shooter from would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley through Newtown, CT child murderer Adam Lanza were registered Democrats—all false, every one.

Psychologists who study them say that conspiracy narratives represent the self-protective impulses of people who feel powerless and threatened. The idea that evildoers collude secretly to stage-manage otherwise incomprehensible events like the Las Vegas massacre comforts people with the belief that nobody’s fooling them. They are in the know.

So are Democrats immune from such wishful thinking? Alas, no. However, conspiracists on the left have tended to focus upon a single salient fact: Stephen Paddock was a white man.

Writing in Slate, Daniel Engber noticed a consistent theme in media accounts:

 “ThinkProgress said that “when we talk about mass shootings, we are talking about white men.” Newsweek wondered if “white men commit mass shootings out of a sense of entitlement.” A CNN opinion piece bemoaned the fact that “America has silently accepted the rage of white men.”

Men, yes. White men, no.

Although blaming “white privilege” for every kind of evil remains fashionable in advanced circles, statistics show that white men simply aren’t disproportionately responsible for mass shooting events.
Regardless of Stephen Paddock’s mad rationale, it’s apt to follow him to his grave.
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Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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10 Comments

  1. FireBaron October 11, 2017

    Just for the record, over the past 40 years how many non-white guys were involved in “mass shootings”. And for clarification, by mass shooting I mean a single incident where multiple gunshots were fired at multiple victims.
    Now, how many of these were by white guys?

    Reply
    1. Gene Lyons October 11, 2017

      About 63% of them, almost exactly proportional to the ratio of white men in the American male population.

      1. MissNomer October 11, 2017

        According to this Slate article, “the most current census estimate that 76.9 percent of Americans [both sexes] are white.” That means that 38.45 percent are white men. That means white men are in fact disproportionately responsible for mass shooting events. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/10/what_the_white_mass_shooter_myth_gets_right_and_wrong_about_killers_demographics.html

        1. Gene Lyons October 11, 2017

          The article you reference explicitly and in great detail refutes that argument. People can read it for themselves.

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    Reply
  3. danp5648 October 11, 2017

    Sandy Hook DNA Evidence On Long Guns Clear Win Conspiracy Theorists
    https://youtu.be/knQuTKhPUxE

    Reply
  4. Dapper Dan October 11, 2017

    Wtf is wrong with these people ? Is there something they’re taking like too many drugs ? This madness is contagious and people are talking irrationally. It’s the equivalent of the United States having a nervous breakdown. Good work conspiracy theorists you’ve managed to bring this country to its knees. Happy now ?

    Reply
  5. Theodora30 October 11, 2017

    “… statistics show that white men simply aren’t disproportionately responsible for mass shooting events.” True, but men are definitely disproportionately represented:
    “In the U.S., 98 percent of mass shootings and 90 percent of all murders are committed by men.”
    https://www.metro.us/news/majority-mass-shootings-committed-white-men
    Our culture promotes a toxic masculinity with its emphasis on macho men – or men pretending to be macho. I will never forget how impressed many of our mainstream liberal media journalists and pundits were by Dubya’s swaggering and faux cowboy routine. Of course it was Gore who actually went to Vietnam, not chickenhawks like Bush and Cheney.

    Reply
  6. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 11, 2017

    I don’t wish to get into statistics and quantitative analysis, although these at time give us a sense of the dimensions of what we’re dealing with.
    So, let’s look at the data gathered thus far on those committing mass murders over the past decades, and from the evidence gathered on motives, we find irrefutable evidence that the majority of the perpetrators were from at least modest backgrounds with households whose members are to a larger degree than other populations associated with the majority element—the dominant segment—of America society.
    However, we lose our way in this thicket if we choose to emphasize the skin color/race.
    Skin color doesn’t by itself cause an impulse to commit atrocities, but has been shown across the globe to “color” how people respond to others and to social circumstances.

    What we need then is to start with the premise that all humanity is created as members of the same Human Family, who differ as expected according to innate talents, outer configurations, and environmental/social factors which influence how we will respond in the future in a variety of situations.

    From there, we all need to coalesce around an cogent and agreed upon set of standards which help answer questions like: “What defines being human?”; “What is expected of the individual as a human?”; and “How should such a person be taught,and at what point in life, about what it means to be human?”.

    These are the sort of questions which the Baha’i Communities across the planet are engaged in discussing—from children to adults and the elderly, in what are called “The Ruhi Series” of booklets. This series was conceived by the Baha’i Communities in Bolivia, South America, reviewed and approved with suggestions for improvements by the Universal House of Justice which guides the affairs of the Baha’is across the globe, and had the series of material distributed in the major languages of the Baha’is wherever they reside. I’ve participated, going through the entire sequence of Books, as have Baha’is in Liberia and Nigeria where I spent some time as a visitor; the Baha’is in Arab countries, in Russia, Japan, Australia, etc. are engaged in the same study, with their friends and relatives who may or may not be Baha’is.

    This methodology involves not only studying the material, but engaging in Service Projects in their neighborhoods in order to put the lessons into practice in order to help fellow members of the community where such Study Circles are held. This inspires the children, “Junior Youth”, Youth, and Adults to understand what it means to be a Human Being based on the principles inculcated in the pantheon of Baha’u’llah’s Writings, complemented with a study of extant Texts from the Religions of the previous Dispensations to show the harmony of the Messages revealed by all the Prophets and Messengers sent over the eons by God to every corner of the globe during our evolution.

    So, I would strongly encourage you all to at least investigate what the Baha’is in your places of residence in America to look into what this “Ruhi Study Circle” concept is all about. perchance the children in my neighborhood who I exposed to the Teachings of Baha’u’llah, by taking the initiative to form a neighborhood Children’s Class using “Book 3” of the series as a starting point. These children by now are becoming responsible youth in their neighborhood, and showing great potential to influence their peers to be noble and aspiring young women and men.

    Reply

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