WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 2021
Preferred Storyline seem to change: Monday afternoon, in Boulder, a second mass shooting occurred.
This time, ten people were shot and killed. The previous week, in Atlanta, the corresponding death count had been eight.
Why do people engage in such crazy behavior? We can't answer that question. We aren't psychologists, psychiatrists or mental health experts or specialists—and the mainstream press corps shows amazingly little interest in consulting with people like that.
Why do people commit these acts? At this site, we can't say. We did think this:
We thought we might be seeing a "Storyline shift" as the event in Boulder has been reported and discussed. In this morning's Washington Post, the front-page news report starts like this:
SCHNEIDER ET AL (3/24/21): A 21-year-old Colorado man was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder Tuesday after authorities said he walked into a King Soopers grocery store on a quiet Monday afternoon and gunned down 10 people, including police officer Eric Talley, a father of seven who responded to the rampage.
In a news conference Tuesday, authorities identified the suspect as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colo., who was shot in the leg during the attack and later filmed being taken into custody. He was charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
The mass shooting—the second in the country in less than a week—has reignited the debate on gun violence, even as investigators struggle to identify a motive for this latest, horrific event.
According to this news report, investigators are "struggl[ing] to identify a motive" for this latest mass shooting.
It's possible that investigators will come up with a fairly clear-cut type of motive. It's also possible that they won't.
That said, the suspect's name, all by itself, suggests a possible racial / ethnic / cultural Storyline for those who want to rush there. We're sure there are people on social media who have already gone there.
Here's the good news—we didn't see people on cable last night pushing any such instant Storyline. We were struck by the framework Brian Williams built around this new event at the start of last night's broadcast:
WILLIAMS (3/23/21): The suspect, identified as 21-yearold Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is charged with ten counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting. His profile is familiar by now, according to investigators—a young man with mental illness and access to lethal weapons.
To his credit, Williams didn't run straight to a racial or ethnic motive for the killings. Instead, he said the suspect is a young man—a young man "with mental illness."
(From there, Williams introduced his first, three-member panel of guests. None of the three was a specialist in mental illness. This is the way the very dull minds of our upper-end press corps reliably tend to work.)
To his credit, Williams didn't start novelizing about a possible racial motive. To his credit, he didn't start novelizing about any particular motive at all.
To his credit, Williams seemed willing to wait for investigators to try to discern a "motive." That may not always be easy to do in crazy events of this type.
In some instances—think Dylann Roof in the Charleston church murders—a type of motive will be fairly easy to find. After a bit of investigation, it became fairly obvious that Roof had been acting, at least in part, out of a tragic and stupid racial hatred.
In other instances, no such obvious motive will come into view. At such times, the floundering sages who people Out Town will frequently turn, often quite quickly, to Our Town's preferred Storylines.
So it was last week in Atlanta. The journalistic tribunes who plague Our Town swept into action immediately, attributing racist and misogynist motives to the confessed killer.
Tomorrow, we'll look at one or two of these instant assessments—at these deliveries of Storyline. For today, we'll only say this:
Quite routinely, our major journalists' lack of analytical skill is truly amazing. They have the stories they long to tell—Al Gore said he invented the Internet!—and absolutely nothing on earth is going to stop them from those appointed rounds.
In Atlanta, our tribunes turned, with remarkable speed, to racial Storyline. Quite often, these tribunes reasoned in ways which would have made a cow cry.
Such writing offers a type of lesson about the nature of our self-impressed species. In all honesty, we just aren't especially sharp as a group According to major credentialed experts, we basically aren't "the rational animal," and we never were.
In the case of the Atlanta killings, the Storylines to which we turned emphasized racism and misogyny. In the case of Boulder, we were avoiding such instant judgments. We were talking about mental illness instead—mental illness and access to guns.
Does anyone think that the 21-year-old man in Atlanta wasn't afflicted with some sort of mental health issues? In our view, you'd have to be crazy yourself to doubt that possibility. But the heart is said to want what it wants, and journalistic hearts in Our Town preferred a different Storyline in last week's instant assessments.
Were these young men both "mentally ill" in some manner or way? We would assume that the answer is yes. Why else would young people engage in such lunatic, dead-end crimes?
More to the point, we'd like to see carefully-selected mental health specialists interviewed about such questions. But, for whatever reason, that isn't the game Our Town plays.
Last week, reading about Atlanta, we were amazed by the way our tribunes rushed to construct the stories they liked. We were struck by the very few comments about mental illness.
As they pasted their novels together, we were struck by their vast determination. They're determined to have it their way!
When it came to the Atlanta killer, they wanted to go straight to race. When it came to his Boulder counterpart, such novelization will be avoided here in the streets of Our Town.
Elsewhere, on social media, deeply unimpressive people will push that Storyline. This will prove how racist they are, we'll quickly say in Our Town.
Major anthropological scholars have explained this matter this way:
Here in the west, we humans have been quick to praise our own brilliant mental abilities. We've heard that we're "the rational animal." Beyond that, we've even heard that our journalists are "well educated."
One star was even sold to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar! Her work last night was a shocking disgrace, as we'll note later today.
Last night, Williams avoided instant ascription of motive. We have one word for that: Good!
In truth, the work of our upper-end journalists is routinely impossibly bad. Despite the claims you've always heard, The Dumbness runs deep in Our Town.
To appearances, our unimpressive corporate journalists love the freedom that dumbness provides:
They get to tell the stories they like. We're inclined to repeat what we've heard.
Tomorrow: "Baffling," the columnist said
Full disclosure: These are the assessments of major professors and experts with whom we often consult.