Elections

Media Driven Terrorism

Now that Trump has ‘jumped the shark’ regarding bigotry and advocating the termination of the Constitution, only the most extreme of his followers will remain. No amount of ‘whataboutism” will excuse the ex-president’s grotesque behavior. Trump may have reached an inflection point, unable to recover from his self-inflicted wounds, but what of the significant minority of his remaining extremist followers

For years the Ex-President has used language that is ambiguous enough to provide him with plausible deniability for any violence that follows. Trump has consistently denied any invidious intent or has claimed that his comments were merely a joke. Henry II’s exclamation, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” resulted in the murder of Archbishop Becket.

Similarly, some convicted of political violence have cited Trump’s reckless rhetoric as a motivating factor in their crimes. A 2019 political cartoon by ‘righthandedleftyartist’ shows Trump on television saying, “These are horrible, horrible people…”. A figure in the shadows, wearing a MAGA cap and holding a rifle, says, “I’ll handle them, Mr. President.”

This is an illustration of stochastic terrorism. The word ‘stochastic’ comes from the Greek word ‘stochastikos’, meaning ‘random.’ Stochastic terrorism can be defined as hate speech targeting an individual or group, amplified by mass media, which may provoke random acts of violence by unstable individuals. Such lone-wolf attacks are predictable but random. Media moguls who offer a platform to demagoguery while rationalizing it as ‘free speech’ are every bit as morally reprehensible as the speaker.

Sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-stochastic-terrorism-uses-disgust-to-incite-violence/

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/hate-speech-online-extremism-fed-pelosi-attack-terror-experts-believe-2022-10-29/

https://eeradicalization.com/stochastic-terrorism-why-this-is-a-worrying-trend-and-who-bears-responsibility-to-curb-this-phenomenon/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stochastic

https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/binaries/content/assets/customsites/perspectives-on-terrorism/2021/issue-5/amman-and-meloy.pdf

Thanks and a tip of the hat to DonkeyHotey for the image of Twitter owner Elon Musk.

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