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Las Vegas shooting highlights how right wing violence has changed since the 90s

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 11:39 EDT

The horror show that went down in Las Vegas on Sunday, when Jerad and Amanda Miller reportedly shot two police officers, a third person, and then themselves was awful and terrifying but sadly not surprising. As with Elliott Rodger back in May, the thing that’s important to remember is that the absolute avalanche of paranoid, delusional reactionary discourse online and in other spaces is bound to cause some of the self-radicalized people to act out violently. We get this easily when it comes to Islam-inspired terrorism: When young men bury themselves in Al Qaeda-style propaganda online, that things like the Boston marathon bombing tends to follow makes sense. But, for political reasons, there’s a lot of pressure to minimize and derail when the issue is right wing or misogynist extremism at home, in no small part because there’s a lot of moneied interests that profit handsomely off sowing that kind of reactionary thought.

That said, what’s interesting to me is that right wing extremist actions are, so far, very different from what they were in the 90s, when the nutters were all riled up because Bill Clinton was in office. The tenor of right wing violence has changed. During the 90s, you had Eric Rudolph on his anti-gay and anti-abortion bombing spree that culminated in the Atlanta Olympics bombing. You had the OKC federal building bombing, as well. You had the stand-offs in Waco, Ruby Ridge and Fort Davis.

The same kind of people are around, declaring themselves “sovereign citizens” rather than have to admit they are subject to the laws of a nation that would dare elect a Democrat to office. There is, in fact, a lot of evidence that the movement has been growing rapidly. But until this week, with the Las Vegas shooting and the standoff at the Georgia courthouse, the actual terrorist and other violent criminal activity seems different than it was in the 90s. It’s clear that a lot of the nutters who flocked to Cliven Bundy’s ranch, including the Millers, were hoping the feds would stomp in and they’d get to live their Ruby Ridge fantasies, but even that didn’t happen. Unsurprising, then, that instead of committing crimes and holing up in their homes, hoping to provoke a standoff, the right wing extremists have instead gone into the public to have their fatal showdowns.

So what’s changed? I don’t think they’ve gone away or gotten any less violent, but it seems there’s been a big shift in how the right wing extremist enacts the fantasy of going down in a blaze of anti-government glory. Instead of home-based standoffs or bombings, right wing extremists seem to have plugged into the logic of the mass shooting. There have been plenty of terrorist attacks from right wingers, but it’s mostly been exactly the same thing we saw this week: Going out in public and shooting people.

I can’t help but think, therefore, that this is yet another sign that the gun industry’s marketing strategies are so incredibly toxic. The gun industry makes a substantial and growing amount of its profits from appealing to insecure people, primarily men, who are vulnerable to extremist right wing rhetoric. Since gun culture has increasingly been wed to the black helicopter crowd, your average right wing extremist now builds his self-image primarily around the idea of gun ownership and owning as many guns as he can. The gun has become this all-powerful symbol. In the 90s, the home-based standoff was popular because right wing extremists got it into their head that they should have a right to “opt out” of living in the U.S. and therefore the home became a symbol of a place where you should be able to build a magic force field around yourself. That appears to have largely fallen away, and now the rhetoric and symbolism is geared mainly to the idea that having a gun makes you a mighty person who should be able to impose your will on others. Thus, public shootings have emerged as the primary way for right wing reactionaries to commit terrorist acts.

Anti-choice website supposedly chronicle pro-choicers, actually displays anti-choice propensity to lie

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, June 9, 2014 10:57 EDT

Welp, I’m not writing about Game of Thrones today, because while that was entertaining to watch, it was just straightforward action and all the thematic stuff is getting clearly punted to next week. I can’t even speculate without getting deep into spoilers from the books. So I’ll leave it here. A little birdie did bring my attention, however, to this ridiculous website run by Life Dynamics called “People of Choice“. It’s a straightforward attempt to…


There is no “scientific” argument for claiming deliberately childless people are failures

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, June 6, 2014 17:51 EDT

I was on CNN to talk about a piece I wrote for the Daily Beast about the pope shaming people for not having kids. As usual, I think the pope has an amazing track record of being wrong in nearly every utterance about child-bearing, marriage, sexuality, etc. So you can…


Turns out the thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a hall monitor with pepper spray

By Amanda Marcotte

Tragic story of another school shooting at Seattle Pacific University, but luckily the damage was clearly limited compared to what it could have been. While the police believe he intended to kill many, many people, he only hit four and only one has died. That is because, as reported, a…


Sorry, Ross Douthat, but old Hollywood icons of masculinity were violently misogynist

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, June 5, 2014 14:42 EDT

He didn’t even mention Clark Gable, probably because one of his most famous scenes is him literally raping his wife as she fights him.* Ross Douthat, as everyone knows, is on a crusade to blame basically anything that goes wrong in society to that sordid imaginary day, occurring sometime in…


NRA apology to Open Carry shows that the NRA is a gun marketing group, not a rights lobby

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:16 EDT

They say, once you own ten of these, your wife starts wearing an apron and your dick grows two inches! Well, that didn’t last long. In a story that spread like wildfire, the NRA seemingly distanced themselves from the Open Carry Texas nuts, the guys whose anxieties about their suburban,…


Quin Hillyer may not have much, but he’ll cling to that “politically incorrect” life raft

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 17:09 EDT

Why must your sign oppress Quin Hillyer’s sparkling discourse? Hey, the conservative media can’t be wholly dedicated to taking a new and surprisingly hostile view towards the practice of trying to get POWs home safely with their families. Quin Hillyer decided to mix it at the National Review with a deeply…


Game of Thrones asks: When does the desire for revenge go too far?

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, June 2, 2014 9:39 EDT

Now that Mad Men is over, I have some space freed up to talk about the last three episodes of Game of Thrones. Scott Kaufman has recapped last night’s shocking episode here, so I won’t be doing that, but I want to add a couple of thoughts about the themes…


How dare you feminists besmirch the good name of misogyny?!

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, May 30, 2014 14:50 EDT

Updated: One of the people criticized in this piece has already thrown a fit and accused me of suggesting he supports woman-killing. Now anyone with basic reading comprehension skills would see that I not only did not say that I believe any of these folks approve of woman-killing, but I…


Hey, animal lovers: Another reminder that PETA is a terrible, no good organization

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, May 29, 2014 16:44 EDT

Kittens deserve better than PETA I often wonder if PETA exists solely to be a bunch of assholes while pretending to “care” about animals.* Their latest effort to try to bully people into veganism:: This is reprehensible. I’m personally a vegetarian and do try to eat vegan frequently, so let’s…