General Question

squirbel's avatar

Why are random gunmen not treated as terrorists, with the involvement of government agencies and punishments?

Asked by squirbel (4292points) August 7th, 2012 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

23 Answers

Mama_Cakes's avatar

GQ. I’d like to hear what others have to say.

squirbel's avatar

I also look forward to the discussion, as I genuinely want to know.

The article included above relates little to the question except that the incident happened 7 hours ago, and a random gunman was the perpetrator.

psyonicpanda's avatar

A good question to go along with this on is what constitutes a terrorist? A terrorist can be defined as simply put a person that terrorises. So anybody could be a terrorist. Including the person in your question. What distinguishes them from eachother is how the Governments decideds to deal with them.

ragingloli's avatar

They are white.

Coloma's avatar

Well, it seems to me that “terrorism” imparts an act of violence against country or government and therefore this would be the demarcation line between “terrorism” and other acts of violence. It could be said, certainly, that random mass murderers are responsible for proliferating a sense of “terror” in the sense that they are unpredictable and one never knows when they might strike, not unlike “terrorists”, but, again, I think the difference is political not personal.

filmfann's avatar

How do you see them as being treated “Royally”?
They are described as nutjobs or extremists.
They probably shouldn’t be described as terrorists, since a terrorist’s weapon is fear. These guys are too random, and many are without a focused agenda, other than anarchy.
Wade is described as a neo-nazi and a white supremacist. Okay, he did have a political stand, but certainly killing Sikhs doesn’t fit with a focused outcome. Yes, it is a hate crime. No, it isn’t a part of some ongoing or future extermination of all the minorities of the world.
In the end, he will be regarded as nothing more than a wacko.

marinelife's avatar

Terrorism speaks to motivation. You have to be perceived as a terroristic threat. Otherwise, the killings are under the authority of the local police.

squirbel's avatar

People who are minorities and who practice religions other than Christianity or Catholocism are certainly afraid, and perpetuating fear and hatred is certainly working among these populations.

Do you not believe that these people are fearful?

bolwerk's avatar

To answer the original post: because if you treat every non-terrorist as a terrorist, you simply erode meaningful use of the word “terrorist.”

@marinelife is right, @squirbel. Terrorism is a tactic, one frequently employed by governments and militaries, to deliberately instill fear in people or the population, usually for ideological/political reasons. Maybe the Sikh temple shooter was doing that, but I’m not so sure. I think it’s more likely he was just acting out some right-wing fantasy about killing brown people or Muslims. Maybe he was trying to get revenge for something – which might elevate it to an act of terrorism.

The unambiguously accurate way to describe such cases is “mass murder,” not terrorism. The other recent mass murder in the news recently, in Aurora, almost certainly seems like it was not terrorism. It seemed design to entertain the mentally unstable shooter, and perhaps had little other purpose at all.

Terrorism doesn’t need to involve killing people either. IRA bombs were meant to destroy landmarks, and they largely tried to avoid killing people. The Arkansas cat killing, where the word “liberal” was scrawled onto the murdered cat of a political candidate, might count.

King_Pariah's avatar

I don’t know, everything I’ve read labels the shooter as a domestic terrorist.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you brand someone a terrorist, it gives them the validation and notoriety they are seeking. If not recognised as a terrorist, the perpetrator is just another nut job that will soon be forgotten by those not directly affected by their actions.

The penalties for murder are no less severe than the penalties for terrorism.

Trillian's avatar

“Local police called the attack an act of domestic terrorism, but other sources tell CBS News correspondent Bob Orr it may be more accurate to refer to “an investigation into a possible hate crime.”
Did you read your own link? The very first sentence said he had been shot to death. How does that equate to being treated “royally”? (Btw, one is treated “like Royalty” not royally, but I digress.)
Why are you looking to pick apart an investigation which has just now begun, and what difference could it possibly make what label is given at this point?
What are you even talking about here?

squirbel's avatar

To trillian:

I stated in the follow up statement that the linked article had little to do with the question.

It is a big picture question, asking the general population about a fear that is very real.

To others who question my use of the word “royally”, it is a snipe word, and little else. It exaggerates the difference between local justice and that of the government’s for criminals.

Trillian's avatar

In that case, the article you linked does not support your statement. It actually invalidates it.
So, what data do you use to support your assertion?

TexasDude's avatar

Every report I’ve seen has called the Sikh temple shooter a domestic terrorist. I personally think it should be treated like a hate crime. It’s just as silly as designating the Fort Hood shooting as “workplace violence.”

squirbel's avatar

Trillian, the fact that entire communities are scared that people with guns will come into their areas of worship or into their lives, shooting up their stores, homes, etc is evidence enough.

The number of shootings that happen every week are immeasurable. The reason they continue is because the punishment is too long and soft.

That article does not work against the big picture question I am asking. You are a person who is so focused on minutiae that you can’t see the broad wall in front of you. I am asking, again, a big picture question.

TexasDude's avatar

@squirbel, actually shootings like this really aren’t that common. And the number of shootings per week is measurable, but not as common as you might think. High profile ones just seem that way because of the media circuses that result, among other reasons. And I don’t think a lack of effective punishments is what causes shootings like this. I think an ineffective healthcare/mental health system, poverty, and/or a tense cultural climate are more responsible.

Trillian's avatar

Again, I ask, what documented evidence to you have of your assertion?

bolwerk's avatar

@Trillian: She’s sort of right. This stuff panics people. That’s why it gets the air time it does. You’re much more likely to die in a car wreck, but people don’t panic about that because it’s not sensational.

cazzie's avatar

I have no idea what criteria need to be met in the US. Motive, association and state of mind are taken into account here. We are currently dealing with a mass murderer. Something that has, thankfully been very rare here in Norway. (we can look back to WW2 and actually compare to invading armies here, unfortunately.)

I believe terrorist attacks are somewhere between individuals acting on some mislead notion and the occurrence of an invading army. Individuals acting essentially on their own, even through the notion of having read doctrine and manifestos of anti.social networks or groups, if the order to act, or the plan wasn’t handed down as an order or somehow coordinated from those groups or those Indoctrined or Manifested, then, one can only agree that the person was acting alone, however misguided and deluded.

Trillian's avatar

And this translates into evidence of random gunmen being treated “royally”? That was the original assertion, of which I have yet to see any supporting evidence.

jerv's avatar

There is a difference between an ideologically motivated crime and one driven by mere homicidal insanity. You can attack our people, but don’t you dare attack our ideals!

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