23 January 2016

I Finally Have a Word for It, "Stochastic Terrorism"

"Stochastic" is a word for an event that seemingly occurs randomly, but actually follows statistical patterns, which means that one can look there is some sort of cause and effect relationship involved.

Elisabeth Parker uses the term Stochastic Terrorism to describe the right wing's use of language and mass communications to inspire the occasional "Lone Wolf" mass shooter:
I recently argued for treating all mass shooters and bombers as terroristic threats. Now I’ll explain how the GOP ratchets up the threat level through a process called stochastic terrorism.

As we mourn the victims of the latest mass shooting, we can also clearly see a pattern: The shooters (or sometimes bombers) nearly always turn out to be white males with right-wing political leanings, and the media nearly always describes them as “insane” or as “disturbed loners.” Philly Mayor Michael Nutter and others view these attacks as looming terroristic threats, but — because the killers often lack formal ties with extremist groups — we often don’t want to call them “terrorists” because we’re still struggling to describe what has grown more and more obvious.

Luckily for us, someone has already coined the term we’re looking for: “stochastic terrorism.” G2Geek came up with it on Daily Kos back in 2011 in response to the Tucson shooting that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) with a severe brain injury that cut her term short.
Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

To further clarify, G2Geek later updated his post to explain that the stochastic terrorists aren’t the ones who pose the actual terroristic threats. No, they’re the ones who use their access to the media to broadcast extreme views that inspire “disturbed loners” like Dylann Roof and Robert Lewis Dear to attack. In his post, G2Geek specifically calls out hate-mongering people on Fox “News” like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Now, GOP officials, lawmakers and 2016 presidential candidates have likewise come under fire for their over-the-top, insane and hateful rantings about immigrants, gays, Planned Parenthood, blacks, and Muslims.
The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the “missile” set in motion by the stochastic terrorist. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those “missiles” in motion.
Ms. Parker asserts, and I agree that this is a part of a deliberate strategy, and I agree.

In, fact, I would argue that this strategy is already bearing fruit, as the fear of another Oklahoma City bombing, a classic example of Stochastic Terrorism, is keeping law enforcement officials from enforcing the law at the Malheur reserve in Oregon.

The question is how to stop it.

H/t Pieter Lugt‎


Stephen Montsaroff said...

I can also be applied to other terrorists, such as Daesh.

It is a force multiplier.

Matthew Saroff said...

It is a side effect for Daesh, for the US right wing party, it is a primary tactic, and has been since before Alan Berg was assassinated.

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