After at least five individuals were killed following a mass shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper, questions abound regarding the perpetrator's motive.
The suspect at this time, a white male, is not cooperating with investigators. The shooting, which occurred on Thursday afternoon, happened at the Capitol Gazette, a paper that’s affiliated with the Baltimore Sun.
Official: Suspect in newspaper shooting is white male; believed to have used shotgun; not cooperating with investigators. https://t.co/eqz9m1EspH— The Associated Press (@AP) June 28, 2018
Although no motivations are known at this time, it’s worth pointing out that just yesterday an influential conservative voice had called for citizens to attack the press. Now he insists it was just a joke.
Milo Yiannopoulos told two reporters on Wednesday that he “can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” But on Thursday, when a gunman actually did what he wished, Yiannopoulos changed his tune.
The conservative icon suggested he was simply trolling when he made his comments yesterday. Yet his callous remarks were something he still stood by, as he wrote in a Facebook post just minutes after the shooting occurred, “I regret nothing I said, though of course like any normal person I am saddened to hear of needless death.”
“Amazed they were pretending to take my joke as a 'threat,' I reposted these stories on Instagram to mock them — and to make it clear that I wasn’t being serious,” he added.
Yiannopoulos should know better — especially as conservatives across the country are calling for “civility” to return to our discourse. However, those calls for civility only seem to apply to liberals. Conservatives, meanwhile, continue to spout hate, purportedly as a joke, or in the president’s case, as part of a "two-minutes hate" style speech.
Just two days ago, in fact, President Donald Trump, while giving a speech in South Carolina, repeated a favorite line of his, calling the press the “enemy of the people.” Trump has said the same in the past as well, and his hatred of the media has been well-documented.
That hatred has been transferred to his loyal base. Just hours after the shooting was reported, Michael Edison Hayden, a playwright and analyst at Storyful, documented several examples of right-wing extremists actually celebrating the deaths of journalists.
The alt-right has been rooting for violence against journalists for years. Now that blood has been spilled in Annapolis, these guys could't happier. pic.twitter.com/2Fo2f4MJr3— Michael Edison Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) June 28, 2018
While conservatives decry the words of some Democratic lawmakers suggesting peaceful protest as a means to promote change, they have ignored their own hatred and vitriol, which have likely emboldened others to act out in violent ways.
Trump, Yiannopoulos, and many other right-wingers have engaged in rhetoric that hardly suggests they want a “civil” debate in our politics. It’s far-past time they get called out for the violence they seem to espouse, even if it's just, as they say after the fact, a joke.