Small Wars Journal

Did the New Zealand Shooter Change the Cultural Script?

Did the New Zealand Shooter Change the Cultural Script? By David French - National Review

As the number of massacres mounts, the best explanation for the never-ending stream of copycat killers, both here and abroad, remains the one articulated by Malcolm Gladwell in his seminal article on school shootings, called “Thresholds of Violence.” Essentially, he argues that each mass shooting lowers the “threshold” for the next, and inspiration matters — a lot.

Gladwell’s focus was on school shootings, and he does an effective job of demonstrating the way the Columbine killers laid down a “cultural script” for subsequent school shooters. In fact, subsequent shooters often imitated the Columbine killers so much that their own shootings were essentially “versions” of the Columbine attack.

 

If you translate this analysis to the horrific New Zealand massacre, you can see similar patterns emerge. The New Zealand suspect allegedly called out previous mass shooters, such as the Charleston church shooter, and even apparently went so far as to pay tribute to mass killers by name on his magazines, including the Quebec mosque killer. Note that two of the individuals he highlighted slaughtered innocent people in houses of worship. To an extent, his crime was a version of theirs.

 

But here’s the thing that is even more disturbing than the simple, horrifying fact that this depraved man killed 49 people. Here’s the thing that’s more disturbing than his apparent copycat killing: He livestreamed the act, and in so doing he not only made millions of people direct witnesses to the slaughter, he may well have created the next innovation in the mass-killing contagion. He may well have written a new cultural script…

Read on.