It’s hard to not be completely desensitized to the incidence of mass shootings in the United States. There are several hundred each year, and that number has almost doubled over a decade. It’s also hard not to be inured, while watching looping footage of police tape flapping in the breeze outside an elementary school, or tear-streaked mothers’ faces, to the painful eventuality that we’re unlikely to have any meaningful action on gun policy reform, no matter how many mass shootings happen. But, as Dan Hodges noted: “Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” This seems to have held true following the mass shooting at a Nashville area school that left three adults and three children dead. But, not wanting to avoid a chance to score political points, Republicans have seized upon a minor detail of the tragedy to fuel their culture crusade: The suspect in the shooting was trans. “Look, folks,” they proclaim, gleefully, “this is what will happen if we give any ground to the libs!”
This is, of course, abominable and intolerable– brought to you by the party of Jewish Space Lasers, the Globalists (aka the Jews) Are Destroying Everything, Everything I Don’t Like Is Woke Ideology, The Department of Defense is Overrun with Radical Marxists, Chemicals That We Refuse to Regulate Are Turning The Frogs Gay, and, really, all manner of similar absurdities. The Nashville school shooting has prompted similarly absurd screams from the same group. And trans rights are an easy target for the QAnon tribe.
The GOP: Seeking Ground Where It Lacks Any
As the Republican Party seems to be tearing itself apart over the looming showdown between poll frontrunner Donald J. Trump and Florida Governor and junior varsity fascist Ron DeSantis, it needs all of the ammunition it can get– pun definitely intended- to keep the donations rolling in and keep its electeds in office. The crazier, the better– as we saw with bona fide lunatic Kristina Karamo’s victory in the Michigan GOP, among other. In the recent years, with the overturning of a half-century-old Supreme Court candidate by a complacent, new conservative supermajority, the GOP lost its major talking point of banning abortion. Meanwhile, the GOP is terrified about the prospects of a majority-nonwhite America, which will effectively doom its chances after having relied for decades on centuries-old electoral structures that ensure that cows have more voting power than people.
But the “cultural threat” to America is still one potential avenue for discourse, so they have to find a new arena, and have turned to the Culture Wars. In a recent piece, I looked at how Republicans are blaming voluntary standards for corporate financial analysis and disclosure (ESG) for things like the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, or, the American Family. Obviously, it’s all ridiculous. But you know what sells? Controversy and outrage. In this case, note in the screenshot below that Breitbart’s John Nolte points out, regarding the Nashville school shooting, the shocking details of “four trans mass shootings in less than five years,” ignoring, of course, that over this time frame, there have been quite literally thousands of mass shootings. Trans people account for 0.129% of mass shootings, if we use John Nolte’s characterization and time frame.
Breitbart isn’t the worst of it, as I show in some screenshots below.
Know how many of them have been white men? While the data are somewhat hard to track– mostly because of the patchwork of law enforcement agencies that don’t talk to one another, a federal unwillingness (read: Republican lawmakers) to collect better data on gun violence- it’s somewhere north of 54%. And, uh, as many as 98% of the shooters are male! Now, folks, I’m not a statistician, but if you’re concerned about actions perpetrated by a group that accounts for 0.129% of the total, but you’re not paying attention to 98% of the perpetrators– doesn’t it seem like maybe you don’t actually have any sort of argument other than “I hate people who are different”? Twitter’s whatever-morning-quarterbacks are now claiming that not only is it problematic that the shooter was trans, but it’s actually evidence of a hate crime against Christians. Because– I know, I know- how could there be trans or gay Christians, right? Crazy!
To be fair, most of these aren’t reputable news sources. While I feel like it’s unlikely that Fox will be subjected to the full billion-plus-dollar tab in the Dominion lawsuit that it’s currently battling, the lawsuit highlights– through a thing called discovery, in which all of your dirty laundry can be aired to the court and entered into the public record forevermore- the fact that the “news” network gleefully purveys things that it knows to be factually false. And Fox is perhaps the most reputable, or least disreputable, of the whole bunch here.
Meanwhile, The Daily Caller, founded by white nationalist and Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and British-American sleazeball attorney Neil Patel, boasts a laundry list of absurd scandals, ranging from the fact that it operates as a quasi-nonprofit through some clever regulatory arbitrage to the fact that it has repeatedly promulgated debunked stories and conspiracy theories. This outlet may well be confused with The Daily Wire, the brainchild of Ben Shapiro (among others). The Daily Wire, which frequently shares fabricated and editorially-repackaged news from other sources, also has a film production subsidiary that has produced some terrible cinema as well as some surprisingly well-reviewed cinema— plus the likes of Matt Walsh’s transphobic propaganda documentary. And more.
So, while these sources aren’t really news, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are popular. They’re popular and unlikely to get less popular, because the American Right loves these culture wars. Also, referring back to my “stochastic terrorism” article on white nationalists blowing up critical power infrastructure, it is inevitable that the vitriol spewed, whether on primetime by commentators or by my father-in-law saying that The Transgenders Are Destroying America, will directly result in violence against trans people.
Allow me to be unequivocal:
We will not tolerate this as a society.