A few days ago there was yet another shooting in America. Well, there was likely MANY shootings that day scattered around America, but only one made the biggest headlines.
That incident involved Craig Hicks (age 46) of Chapel Hill , North Carolina who shoot and killed 3 of his neighbour’s over an alleged parking dispute. However, the biggest media coverage is based around the ideological backgrounds of all involved. Craig Hicks is an outspoken Atheist and his victims were muslims.
I learned of this crime first from the youtube community (most of my atheistically oriented content creators had videos out), and then from news sites.
Many atheists were denouncing this, for obvious reasons. But more importantly, they were AGAIN forced to explain to many of the ignorant masses that, this is NOT the logical conclusion of embracing an atheistic philosophical outlook in life. Nothing wrong with that (using this as a teachable moment).
However, the media loved this story. It had all the buzzwords that make for headline news in America, including an extra dose (terrorism) for good measure. Pretty much everywhere I looked, from news organizations on both sides of the political spectrum and even so called “progressive” sources, was the question . . . Was this terrorism?
I even heard one youtuber (Tim The Bartender, or Tim Black. I have linked to his videos once or twice) basically call out all publicly outspoken atheists for causing this to happen. Because their atheistic rhetoric apparently led to this.
This was an accusation that would have made me laugh had it not been so frustratingly STUPID.
For one thing, there is the right wing fear machine that is online pretty much 24/7. I can think of 2 incidents of violence just off the top of my head that one could easily attribute to that toxic stream of information.
And to flip sides on the political spectrum, there is all of this anti-cop sentiment in the US fuelled by situations of perceived police brutality and use of excessive force.
Now do not get me wrong, I agree in many cases that things went to far. But I look at every case as a separate incident. Each has its own nuances that one must consider.
However, this whole social media backlash is not just fuelled by people with logical opinions. You also have to deal with the bandwagon crowd, and those with a bias against the police.
Given the environment that has been created in the past year or so, its not surprising that someone who turned out to be not all that mentally stable, lost it and killed 2 officers of the NYPD.
However, I do not see anyone calling out either of the above noted social entities for the actions that seem to be a by-product of their existence.
The idea that Atheists are somehow spreading a message of Islamophobia and muslim hatred is ridiculous.
First of all, I hate the word “Islamophobia”. Its stupid and unnecessary. Considering that none of the other religious or non-religious factions are so openly attempting to make criticism of their beliefs, socially unacceptable.
But moving on, I have been part of the atheist community for the better part of 10 years. Quietly for about half the time, vocally the rest.
In all the time that I have been most active, from my early days on facebook debate groups right up to the last year or so when most of my interaction was in youtube comments under potentially hundreds of videos, I have NEVER seen an atheist call for violence against any theists. Not once.
What I have seen however, is theists do it. Mainly fundamentalists losing it after losing patience with atheists, homosexuals or whatever ilk is on their last nerve that day.
They usually insulate themselves into their little slice of the digital world and proclaim to their peers about how its time to “take back the nation”.
So we have pretty much settled that the atheist community played no part in this crime. Frankly, anyone who reads either the old OR the new definition of the word will know that.
But there is another word that I keep hearing associated with this case. That word is Terrorism.
Most media outlets are either asking if this is an act of terrorism, or reporting it as an act of terrorism. Given the details that have been released about the case so far and the definition of the word, its looking not applicable.
The killer has said that it was caused by an apparently ongoing dispute over parking, and so far the police are verifying that by asserting they have found no evidence to believe anything otherwise. The FBI are looking into the case and the details may change, but so far the terrorism angle looks flat out wrong.
I suspect that that this would be nothing more then a small footnote in the world of news media had it not been for all the buzzwords.
You have a member of one of Americas most untrusted and misunderstood groups going after 3 members of another one of Americas most untrusted and misunderstood groups. Throw in the word terrorism somewhere in the report, and your guaranteed to get clicks or to sell papers in post 9/11 america.
That is not to say that this shooting does not represent a problem in American society. However, the one that is getting the most attention now, seems to not even BE the problem (in this case).
When I look at this situation, I do not think “What would drive an otherwise seemingly rational atheist to kill 3 muslims?”.
I think “Why did it seem appropriate to solve a parking dispute with deadly force?”.
Don’t spin your wheels on a perceived problem, when a very real problem is staring you in the face.