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The Sun-Times Paid Mary Mitchell To Write This Astounding Column About The Las Vegas Shooter

"The man who killed at least 59 people and injured more than 527 in Las Vegas is a terrorist," Mary Mitchell writes for the Sun-Times.

Is he?

I don't think so.

A terrorist is someone who uses violence to create fear in advance of a cause.

So far we don't know what motivated Stephen Paddock to unload a hail of automatic gunfire on hundreds of people attending an open-air concert in Las Vegas. He may have just lost his mind.

Does it matter if we Paddock a terrorist?

Yes. The only way to prevent such horrors is to understand what they are. Preventing terrorism calls for a different response than preventing the result of, say, mental illness.

*

"And he's a terrorist who could operate under the radar because few would suspect a white man to be tangled up with the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)," Mitchell writes.

But the FBI has already declared that they have found no ties between Paddock and ISIS - even if ISIS is claiming him as one of its soldiers.

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"That could explain why Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, was able to get 16 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition into the Mandalay Hotel, and why he was able to hole up for three days without raising the suspicions of the cleaning staff."

Paddock's white maleness could explain that, but we don't know that it does. Mitchell is presuming the hotel staff was aware of his weapons cache.

*

"Paddock blended in with the Las Vegas crowds. Whereas Omar Mateen - the terrorist responsible for the Pulse Nightclub massacre in which 50 people were killed and 58 were wounded - stood out. Before the massacre, Mateen had been investigated as a threat because of comments he made to co-workers."

Look, I take the point - boy do I take it - that white (and male) privilege extends to mass murderers. But Mateen had made comments to co-workers worthy of investigating. We have no information as yet that Paddock acted in a way that should have touched off suspicion among authorities.

*

"Donald Trump, then the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency, used the Pulse Nightclub tragedy to reiterate his call for a 'temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.'

"But what do you say when a well-to-do white man stands in a window and fires at thousands of country music fans like he's shooting ducks in a barrel?"

Easy. You point out that white males by far commit most acts of mass murder on American soil. Then you discuss gun control.

*

"An 'act of pure evil,' Trump said on Monday.

"It also is domestic terrorism."

Wait, what? We don't know that yet.

*

"Eric Paddock is adamant that his brother did not belong to a terrorist or hate group.

"He's just a guy. He lived in Las Vegas. He played at the casinos. There's nothing. That's what's so bizarre," the distraught brother told reporters.

"No trouble with the law. No mental illness. He was a wealthy guy playing video poker . . . on cruises," the brother said, shrugging his shoulders in frustration.

"That would make him the perfect terrorist. After all, who would suspect a guy like that being capable of mass murder."

Wait, what? How does a well-compensated columnist for a major news organization make that kind of leap at just the time when clear thinking is most needed? How does that columnist's editor let a piece so lacking in logic be published? Why not, as editor, ask the columnist for a clearer thesis, perhaps even helping her think through what she wants to say?

*

"But on Monday, the FBI was quick to dismiss ISIS' claim that it was behind the horrific mass shooting.

"'We have determined at this point no connection to an international terrorist organization,' the FBI told the New York Post."

So your whole column has been invalidated!

*

"For now, Stephen Paddock is being described as a 'shooter,' and a 'lone wolf,' as law enforcement officials try to find a motive that could explain why a seemingly 'normal' guy would launch such a deadly attack.

"Whatever the motive, America has been dealt an agonizing blow.

"'If he had killed my kids, I couldn't have been more dumbfounded,' Eric Paddock told reporters.

"'I mean he was not an avid gun guy at all. The fact that he had those kind of weapons . . . he had no military background . . . he's a guy that lives in a house in Mesquite,' Eric Paddock said, as if that excluded his brother from possibly being a terrorist."

As if!

Um, does Mitchell know something the rest of us - including the FBI and Paddock's own brother - don't?

*

"Something changed dramatically because Stephen Paddock didn't suddenly run amuck.

"He was planning this for a long time. These were fully automatic firearms. You can't even buy those in Illinois. I think you can buy them in Nevada, but they are federally licensed," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

Sure, let's take it from from the ISRA, our state's version of the National Rifle Association.

*

"'They had to be licensed by the FBI. So far there is no evidence of that. He must have gotten these things off the black market,' he said.

"Pearson also pointed out that Paddock could only fire these automatic weapons for a minute.

"'They get too hot and you have to change the barrel on them or the barrel would melt. These guns came from an illicit source, that's my guess,' he said."

Let's just let the rifle guy guess - about something that may not even be relevant except, if you follow logic, in suggesting ways to, um, crack down on guns.

*

"Stephen Paddock may not fit the profile of a terrorist, but he acted like one."

But you told us he was one.

*

"That makes this the scariest mass shooting thus far."

No. What makes this scary - one could argue Newtown was the scariest, given that the victims were almost all children and the setting was a school - is that we may never know what compelled Paddock to kill so many people. It would be much easier to understand if he was a terrorist. That, though, doesn't mean we should make him so before we know it's true.

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Also:

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on October 3, 2017


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