by Simon Cottee
Thursday, 7
July 2022
Analysis
07:00

Twitter turns the Highland park shooting into a culture war

The shooter was neither a white supremacist or Antifa activist
by Simon Cottee
Shooter Robert Crimo III

In the immediate aftermath of a mass atrocity, there’s an all-too-human urge to know who did it, how they did and why they did it. We loathe and fear the killer, but love the mystery and intrigue surrounding them.  

Before the rise of social media, the task of explaining mass atrocities was discharged by journalists and accredited experts from the fields of criminology, psychology and even sociology. Now, the whole of the internet is in on the gig, or so it seems. Or at least the whole of Twitter, where, whenever someone goes on a killing-spree, legions of amateur criminologists come together to ‘discuss’ the collective fruits of all their sleuthing.  

The response to the Highland Park shooter, who killed seven people, injuring many more, at a 4th July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, sharply illustrates this: there is now a desperate manhunt going on to find the right perpetrator and the right motive. The suspect, who has been charged with seven counts of murder, is a 21-one year old man named Robert E. Crimo III. According to CNN:

Law enforcement have yet to establish a motive, but Covelli [spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force] said there has been no information to suggest the attack was ‘racially motivated, motivated by religion or any other protected status.’
- CNN
 

The absence of a clear motive behind Monday’s attack has done little to temper the speculations of the amateur criminologists on Twitter. Two opposing camps have quickly emerged; according to one, the suspect is obviously a Trump-supporting white supremacist. “Sorry he is a trumper. ultra maga,” tweeted one account. The evidence enlisted to support this claim are two alleged photos of Crimo: one in which he’s draped in a Trump flag and another showing him at a Trump rally: ‘You can clearly see him in MAGA gear. He was at rallies and on the streets with them. He has a political ideology and it’ll show.’ 

According to the other camp, Crimo is clearly an Antifa-supporting scumbag. The evidence adduced to substantiate this is that he looks like one: he is rake-thin and has multi-coloured hair and face tattoos: ‘Robert Crimo self-described himself as “woke” He has Antifa tattoos Are we going to see what a threat Antifa/Wokeness is?’  

It is hard to exaggerate just how commonplace this politicisation of terrorist incidents has become: a day before the Highland Park shooting, a 22-year-old gunman killed three people in a shopping mall in Denmark in a seemingly random attack. The suspect is an “ethnic Dane”, which is to say white. But for the amateur criminologists of Twitter he is everything they want him to be. Similarly, when it was reported that the 42-year-old suspect in the Oslo mass-shooting last month was of Iranian origin scores of Twitter sleuths mobilised to find the right blame-apportioning narrative: he was a man, he was a Muslim, and he was a symptom of gun culture.

While it’s tempting to project the sins of our enemies onto those who commit terrible crimes, it is irresponsibly inflammatory to do so until the evidence comes in. And even then we risk demonising a whole group of people based on the heinous actions of one of their number.

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William Simonds
William Simonds
1 month ago

Let me see if I get this straight: people cherry pick data to form opinions about events which support their prejudices? And then post those opinions on Twitter? And people of similar prejudices publicly agree with them on Twitter? Hardly breaking news.
Twitter is a wasteland.

Last edited 1 month ago by Skip Simonds
Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
1 month ago

Twitter is a cult

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 month ago

The first thing anyone should determine about any mass-shooter is what particular drug or cocktail of drugs (more common) had he been recently consuming immediately prior to the incident.

Keith Mcmaugh
Keith Mcmaugh
1 month ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Is America the only country with high rates of drug use and high rates of mental illnesses that is to blame???
America has the word record breaking gun violence and mass shootings, so we are unique, no?? And getting more and more shootings.

When high ranking politicians and SC approves more guns as a solution then there should be more deaths because a Good guy with a gun is always too late.
But it is too late for prevention, it is like disarming nuclear missiles – – – – no one will do it first: no body trust no one.
A mere 60 years ago, there were no mass shootings or school shootings but we now have an exciting Nation past – time, it seems to be catching on. The future looks to be more of the same as GOP is stronger and smarter.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 month ago

‘The suspect is an “ethnic Dane”, which is to say white.’

I disagree. ‘Ethnic Dane’ is correct. ‘White people’ don’t exist outside of the USA.

Last edited 1 month ago by Derek Smith
Naama Kates
Naama Kates
1 month ago

If the “sleuths” in question are just Twitter amateurs, what’s the issue with their speculation?

The “journalists and accredited experts” are beholden to these standards, not the commentariat.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

Twitter is nothing but a platform upon which the stupid and insane can give voice.to their mad rants. Unfortunately, at one point it also became the go-to source of news for journalists.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

What’s interesting about this case is that from what I read he got guns despite this state having the strictest red flag gun controls, including review of social media where he posted dodgy views.
So gun lovers can claim this example shows that even strict red flag controls don’t work.
And gun control supporters can claim this example shows even strict red flag controls don’t work.
Whither next?

Phil Gurski
Phil Gurski
1 month ago

alas the armchair analysis has been going on for a long time!