In response to the welter of mass shootings that’s cropped up lately, Malcolm Gladwell observed that it’s a fairly predictable example of mob behavior. I wrote about it almost a year ago.
David French (again) worries that we’re living Gladwell’s prediction out in the worst possible way:
In both my military and my civilian careers, I’ve been in meetings and discussions where someone points out a potentially unsolvable weakness in our systems and says, “Well, I hope the bad guys don’t figure this out.” I have a sick, sinking feeling that a vicious terrorist just “figured out” a path to even greater notoriety.
After mass shootings, we often focus on the instrument of death to the relative neglect of the culture of death. There are very human reasons for this — the cultural problem feels so big, so impossible to address, that we fix our eyes on the things we think we can control. We seemingly can’t control whether shooters become famous. We can’t control the fact that there are young men drawn to their example. We can’t control which aspects of their murders will capture the imagination of the next wave of killers… I’m old enough to remember Columbine vividly. We all recoiled in horror but, in hindsight, weren’t horrified enough. We did not realize that a new cultural script was written right in front of our eyes. I hope and pray that I’m wrong, but the New Zealand shooting feels more momentous even than the killings of the recent past. This was online darkness brought to life, then streamed back online. Another threshold has been crossed, and I fear there is no going back.
The worst among us are causing the herd to logroll the entire society into really, really bad decisions. The New Zealand shooter in particular – he calculated his atrocity’s approach to the media (!) precisely to logroll dim-bulb Americans.
And the herd doesn’t make great decisions even in the best of times.