The shooter expected a reaction out of his manifesto; discussing its content only promotes his ideology.
On March 15, a mass shooting at a New Zealand mosque killed 50 Muslims while they gathered for prayer. In the aftermath of the shooting, a manifesto from the shooter came out in which he discussed the role that media personalities had on his radicalization. These individuals included U.S. President Donald Trump, members of Turning Point U.S.A., Charlie Kirk,Candace Owens and the popular YouTuber Pewdiepie. This manifesto was leaked to the press along with an video stream of the shooter committing the act. In response to the claim that she was a major cause behind the shooter’s attack on the mosques, Candace Owens responded with “LOL” on Twitter.
Due to this comment and current fears over the increase in mass shootings, a new question has risen about the effects that media personalities have on the radicalization of mentally unstable individuals. While we should not disregard the effects of radical media on the population, the shooter’s manifesto is merely a call for attention from someone who has committed a terrible act. By focusing heavily on this manifesto and spreading its message, the world is playing the game the shooter wanted. Therefore, time should be spent not on the killer’s motives but on what should be done to prevent future atrocities.
The individuals in the killer’s manifesto come from a variety of currently controversial media figures. For example, Candace Owens currently faces criticism over her comments at a political event. She made several remarks about nationalism in which she attempted to use Adolf Hitler as the difference between nationalism and a concept known as globalism. Owens stated, “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and run well, OK, fine. The problem is that he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everyone to be German.” These statements caused an uproar because they were interpreted as support of Hitler’s rise to power and Nazi control of Germany in the 1930s up to World War II.
While these statements are caustic and should be heavily criticized, Candace Owens is being used as a pawn due to her heavily criticized statements. Her terrible speech may be partially to blame, but the shooter is using her as bait to stir up more controversy because she is in the public spotlight.
This theme of choosing popular criticized figures also continues through the shooter’s use of the online personality Pewdiepie. Currently, Pewdiepie has the highest subscribed channel on YouTube, which puts a spotlight on him as an important media figure, especially among adolescent males. This is further compounded by the many controversies that surround him. These include offhand racist outbursts, accidentally showing racist propaganda through the showcase of other YouTube creators and many other events. In addition, the comment “subscribe to Pewdiepie” from the manifesto bases itself on a faux internet conflict created by the creator and other individuals on YouTube.
We should monitor and speak out against dangerous and harmful speech, like that by Candace Owens, for its varying effects on individuals across the globe. However, it is important to be careful that in these incidents, distaste and discussion of these negative forms of media do not cause strife that plays into the hands of those who seek attention and conflict.
The shooter’s manifesto should be understood as a mentally unstable individual’s search for attention rather than a jumping off point for a discussion on the harms of media. By focusing on this shooter and his media-hungry message, we are not only doing what he wants — we are encouraging other individuals to commit similar crimes knowing that they will receive similar forms of attention.
By removing this individual from discussion, we limit his power and those who have similar goals. This helps produce a more free and open discussion where the effects of media can be more properly discussed to the benefit of everybody rather than benefiting the crazed views of a murderous individual.