I doubt that I'll say much about the shootings in Arapahoe High in Colorado. This story, though horrible, probably will not give rise to lingering mysteries. We should note, however, that the right-wing blogs have not hesitated to transform an act of madness into the stuff of politics.
In case you came in late, here are the basic facts: Eighteen year-old high school student Karl Pierson
, in an apparent attempt to take vengeance on the faculty member who had removed him from the debate team, shot two fellow students, then killed himself. His primary target escaped without injury.
Armchair detectives scouring the young man's internet trail soon discovered that, on Facebook, he described himself as a "Keynesian" and had expressed doubts about unregulated free enterprise. A fellow student went so far as to label Pierson a "socialist
." Even though Pierson does not seem to have used that term to describe himself, reactionary bloggers have, predictably, seized upon that unnamed student's assessment.
Frankly, I doubt that kid's judgment. Libertarian propagandists have convinced many naive youngsters that a "socialist" is anyone not committed to the principles of Ayn Rand.
Here's an example of how this matter is playing out on the right:
If he described himself as “Keynesian,” could this mean that teenage terrorist Karl Pierson was a disciple of Paul Krugman?
Did this bloodthirsty adolescent fanatic watch MSNBC?
"? Ridiculous. A vengeance killing is not terrorism. Murder for the sake of murder (Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac killer) is not terrorism. Even a psychopathic rampage (Virginia Tech, Newtown) is not terrorism. If our definition of "terrorism" becomes too elastic, the term loses all meaning.
Perhaps we should note that Pierson seems to have come from a religious
Even before authorities named the gunman, friends and neighbors were in shock as word spread that Pierson was a dedicated, bright student from a religious family that attends Bible study meetings.
Thus, instead of dragging Krugman into this, one might as easily argue that Pierson was a disciple of Jesus Christ. Does frequent Bible study lead to madness and violence? Before you answer, haul out your abacus, do some calculations, and tell me which is greater: The number of murders committed in the name of God, or the number of murders committed in the name of Keynes?
Obviously, I'm being facetious. I would never seriously
blame Pierson's act on his family's religious tradition.
My point is this: After a tragedy of this sort, many ideologically-motivated writers will study the assailant's online history for any nuggets of information which might be used to arouse the like-minded into rage-gasm. The people who play this game always disregard any data points which don't fit their preferred scripts.
(And then we have those sages and savants
who grab hold of such stories and run with them to the land beyond Beyond