Earlier this week, two teenagers perpetrated a premeditated mass shooting at their charter school in suburban Denver. They murdered one of their classmates, a hero who rushed his killer in an effort to stop the slaughter, and wounded eight more. As authorities investigate the motives behind this horrific crime, we've learned new details about at least one alleged assailant's political views. He resented gay-"hating" Christians, and shared pro-Obama and anti-Trump material on social media. Via the Washington Examiner (redactions mine):
The social media posts by a suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in Colorado included opposition to "Christians who hate gays," criticism of President Trump, and support for the left-wing Occupy Democrats...On his now-deleted Facebook account, [the alleged shooter], 18, posted: "You know what I hate? All these Christians who hate gays, yet in the bible, it says in Deuteronomy 17:12-13, if someone doesn’t do what their priest tells them to do, they are supposed to die. It has plenty of crazy stuff like that. But all they get out of it is ‘ewwwwww gays.'"The other suspect in the shooting, which left one dead and seven wounded, has been identified as in court documents as [the other alleged shooter], a 16-year-old female who identifies as a transgender male and prefers to be called Alec...In 2016, Erickson shared a video of late-night host Seth Meyers criticizing President Donald Trump prior to the 2016 election, and had shared an Occupy Democrats post that praised President Barack Obama.
An Occupy Democrats meme he posted also criticized Fox News. When anyone associated with any element of the right -- even the extreme alt-right fringe -- commits an act of violence these days, many in the media rush to blame President Trump, or at least tie his rhetoric to a cultural 'climate' in which such despicable acts take place. As I've written about repeatedly, I find such arguments abhorrent. Deranged and evil people are responsible for their crimes, not politicians or mainstream political ideologies. Claims to the contrary are almost always guilt-by-association demagoguery and represent a cheap silencing tactic. I've made this point when both the Right and the Left have been tarred over the actions of somebody from their "side" of the spectrum. I stand by that view. But much of the press seems to be rather selective in applying standards on this front. Indeed, the suspected shooter's apparent leftism has hardly generated any major coverage at all. If he were a MAGA hat-wearing, 'build the wall'-chanting teenager, do you think that information would have been reported far more prominently? Don't bother; it's a rhetorical question.
We're just a few short news cycles removed from lefties lecturing conservatives about their supposed "incitement" against Rep. Ilhan Omar, assailing critics of her bigotry and ignorance for allegedly making her unsafe. In this Colorado case, we have a young man whose brain was apparently full of left-wing ideas, including the notion that Christians 'hate' gay people. He then decided to team up with a classmate to shoot as many people he could at his high school. Is it time for liberals to tone down their rhetoric and incitement? After all, people are getting shot. Whether or not his true motives were even remotely political (the Congressional baseball shooter was undoubtedly driven by intense partisan animus) is almost immaterial. Harsh words of criticism, even against bona fide bigotry, can have dangerous ripple effects, and might even put people in physical peril, right? That was the lesson from the Left on Omar. It was the "climate of hate" lesson from the Left on Giffords.
Indeed, it's a recurring theme whenever the facts appear to fit a certain narrative (even if they actually don't). Based on their own standards, shouldn't we be having a national conversation about left-wing rhetoric, debating the extent to which Democratic leaders and liberal influencers may have contributed to an overall environment that allows hate to fester and boil over? Another glaring double standard in this tragic case is the coverage of the students who walked out of a vigil because it was being politicized. As we've reported, this is what happened:
Frustrated, crying and angry, #STEMschool shooting victims hold an impromptu vigil in the rain Wednesday after leaving a gun-control vigil they felt inappropriately politicized their trauma. (They asked that I not photograph their faces close up, and I respected their wishes.) pic.twitter.com/cksRXGtYQA— Trevor Hughes (@TrevorHughes) May 9, 2019
The event Wednesday was primarily billed as a vigil to honor Kendrick Castillo, who was fatally shot in a rampage by two students at the STEM school here. Speakers at the school's packed gymnasium, however, were mostly politicians and advocates pressing Congress for more restrictive gun laws. After about 30 minutes, hundreds of students from the STEM School stormed out yelling "this is not for us," "political stunt" and "we are people, not a statement."...Wednesday night, the traumatized shooting survivors who exited the rally thrust lighted cellphones into the air and chanted "mental health, mental health," as their hands and voices shook in the cold rain. Angry students pushed and screamed at journalists, demanding to see photos they had taken...Many students appeared unaware the event was organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Jason Crow, both Democrats, both spoke at length about the need for federal action. The Brady Campaign invited reporters to cover the event.
Let's set aside the question of how it came to pass that a political advocacy group was able to so swiftly swoop in and commandeer a high school vigil for a recently-murdered child. It is simply undeniable that if the political views of the adults and the students in this scenario had been reversed, these kids would've been immediately lavished with fame and praise by the political media, and warmly championed by the popular culture taste-making class. Instead, from what I've seen, this story has gotten attention in conservative media circles and social media feeds, with relatively scant, perfunctory coverage elsewhere. One CNN segment actually suggested that it was the students who'd done some of the politicizing, by refusing to participate in an event that was being used by politicians to push a particular political program. That's quite a bit of framing from the network that brought us this spectacle last year. I wonder if they'll hold a similar primetime event for the Colorado teenagers who clearly weren't on board with instantly exploiting their trauma to advance the "correct" agenda.
I'll leave you with two names, and a harrowing thought piece. We are not naming the accused gunmen. We are mourning the loss of Kendrick Castillo, who died as he risked his life to stop the spree, and applauding Brendan Bialy who forcibly disarmed the shooter (an armed security guard, a former Marine, detained the other shooter):
The three students who disarmed a gunman in a Colorado school shooting leapt up from their desks without a word and with no thought for their own safety when they spotted the gun, recounted one of the young men. They slammed the teenager, a classmate of theirs, against the wall and struggled with him when shots rang out. Kendrick Castillo, who led the charge, slumped to the ground. His close friend, Brendan Bialy, wrestled the gun away and called out to Castillo. There was no response, Bialy told a roomful of reporters on Wednesday as he recalled what happened the previous day at STEM School Highlands Ranch. “Kendrick went out as a hero,” Bialy said. “He was a foot away from the shooter and instead of running the opposite direction he ran toward it.”...“They lost,” he said of the shooters. “They completely and utterly lost to good people.”
Speaking of those good people, David French wonders if these sort of extraordinary heroics are an imperfect antidote to the toxic spiral that perpetuates mass shootings:
As three straight mass shooters have confronted immediate, fierce resistance, has a Flight 93-style change happened? As policy-makers struggle to grapple with a problem beyond their control, citizens deprive shooters of the carnage and fame they crave: https://t.co/YeaehcKWxe— David French (@DavidAFrench) May 9, 2019