America has a growing problem with stochastic terrorism

David Pakman
Liberal Opinion

David Pakman

Host of The David Pakman Show
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The deadly shooting in Buffalo in which ten people were killed after a white teenager went on a rampage inside a supermarket renewed focus on “the great replacement theory.” That idea suggests that white people are being replaced by minorities. The suspect in that massacre referenced the theory in a manifesto he allegedly wrote before the shooting. Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman argues that the attack in Buffalo is another example of how stochastic terrorism may be fueling these acts of violence.

Now, when I say stochastic terrorism, I’m not saying that the individual in the media has broken a law. I’m not a lawyer. And I don’t believe that that’s the case. I’m not saying you could charge anybody in particular, because of a shooting that someone else did, through the media, that is people in the media. This is not an issue of saying their speech is against the law. It’s more an issue of responsibility. And of us as people in the media, understanding the effect that our words can have. I make every effort not to make irresponsible speech on my program. And when I get something factually wrong, I make every effort to correct it right away and not to bury the correction at the back of whatever. And, of course, I make every effort never to make a speech on my show, that could be misinterpreted, as inciting or suggesting that any kind of violence should be done. 

We are now seeing panic from those on the right, who have been espousing this great replacement theory ideology, distancing themselves from it. Ben Shapiro recently said, actually, the great replacement theory stuff, it’s it’s really woke ism, a left wing ideology. That’s not true. But that’s how Ben Shapiro has chosen to deal with it. Tucker Carlson recently said, on on his first program after the Buffalo shooting, that this is just a mentally ill person, and that we can ascribe a politics to their ideology. That’s very convenient for Tucker because it just so happens that all of the ideology, all of the people espousing the ideology, that the shooter included in the alleged manifesto, are right wing individuals. So it would be very inconvenient for Tucker Carlson for anybody to be connecting it to politics, but of course there is politics in it. So this is where it comes from.

I want to talk today about a term called stochastic terrorism, stochastic terrorism. It’s a term many are not familiar with. And it is very relevant now, in thinking about the aftermath of this horrible racist, terrorist attack, targeting black people in Buffalo, New York, I first that I was able to find I first talked about stochastic terrorism on my show back in 2011. And stochastic terrorism is a mechanism through which anybody with an audience a large enough audience can put messages out there, which over time become increasingly likely to cause someone in the real world to go out and commit a terrorist attack. 

And I and many others are arguing that the constant drumbeat of rhetoric from right wing media from extreme right wing media pushing generally, the idea is under what’s called the great replacement theory, this has significant overlap with white supremacy, this has significant overlap with white nationalism, are exactly what ultimately inspired the shooter to go and target black people in Buffalo, New York recently, the way that this works is as follows. You go on air and you’ve got an audience, the audience is 100 people, you going on air and saying, they’re sending brown people to replace us white people, they’re going to take over, they’re going to reshape America, they’re going to change our culture, they’re going to make the country dirtier and poorer, as Tucker Carlson once said, If your audience is and we really got to do something about it, if your audience has 100 people, and you do one show, it’s not super likely that any of those 100 people are going to go out and commit real world violence on the basis of what you’ve said. But if your audience is 10,000, and you do a show for a year, the odds that someone in your audience is going to take that message and act on it starts to go up. 

And when your audience gets large enough, if you have an audience in the millions over a period of years, because of the realities of the United States, there’s lots of people predisposed to violence, there’s lots of radicalized people. If you pump that message out to millions of people, every day for a decade, it starts to become almost likely that someone in the audience is going to go out and commit an act of real world violence we saw this years ago, there’s a guy named Glenn Beck, who used to rant and rave on his old show about an organization called the Tides Foundation doesn’t even matter what the organization does, you don’t need to know anything about it, other than you can research it if you want. But what you need to know is that after ranting and raving about the Tides Foundation for so long, a viewer inspired by Glenn Beck was actually stopped by California Highway Patrol on his way to the Tides Foundation to deal with the problem that Glenn Beck told him about. So there’s numerous examples of this. 

Now, when I say stochastic terrorism, I’m not saying that the individual in the media has broken a law. I’m not a lawyer. And I don’t believe that that’s the case. I’m not saying you could charge anybody in particular, because of a shooting that someone else did, through the media, that is people in the media. This is not an issue of saying their speech is against the law. It’s more an issue of responsibility. And of us as people in the media, understanding the effect that our words can have. I make every effort not to make irresponsible speech on my program. And when I get something factually wrong, I make every effort to correct it right away and not to bury the correction at the back of whatever. And, of course, I make every effort never to make a speech on my show, that could be misinterpreted, as inciting or suggesting that any kind of violence should be done. 

We are now seeing panic from those on the right, who have been espousing this great replacement theory ideology, distancing themselves from it. Ben Shapiro recently said, actually, the great replacement theory stuff, it’s it’s really woke ism, a left wing ideology. That’s not true. But that’s how Ben Shapiro has chosen to deal with it. Tucker Carlson recently said, on his first program after the buffalo shooting, that this is just a mentally ill person, and that we can ascribe a politics to their ideology. That’s very convenient for Tucker because it just so happens that all of the ideology, all of the people espousing the ideology, that the shooter included in the alleged manifesto, are right wing individuals. So it would be very inconvenient for Tucker Carlson for anybody to be connecting it to politics, but of course there is politics in it. So this is where it comes from.

This is the term stochastic terrorism that can be used to explain this mechanism that we’re not saying is is a crime, although in certain cases If you are so directly inciting a particular individual, there might be a crime. That’s not what what these right wing media people are doing. They’re speaking to everybody. And you never know who it is in their audience that might hear it, and might go act on it in the real world. And now we’re dealing with it in a very real way. 10 people are dead, three injured as a result of that ideology that has been pervasively beaten into people over the years by many and right wing media.