United States

Oct 10, 2017

Razer: how the search for ‘truth’ after Las Vegas has been used to delude voters

This US mass shooting, like other US mass shootings, has become what others have described with terrible precision as a Rorschach test.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada..

"We still do not have a clear motive or reason why," Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told press Friday. Five days had passed since the minutes of rounds fired by Stephen Paddock claimed 58 lives, and investigation was yet to yield a useful clue. “We have looked at literally everything,” said the NVPD in a joint appeal with the FBI, whose billboards seeking leads on cause for, or accomplices to, this planned atrocity are now posted across the city. Aaron Rouse, Las Vegas chief for the bureau, swore, “we will not stop, until we have the truth”.

An inversion of this vow informs current US speech around the massacre. It is reformulated by politicians, pundits and social media users to read: until you have my truth, I will not stop.

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27 thoughts on “Razer: how the search for ‘truth’ after Las Vegas has been used to delude voters

  1. zut alors

    I fail to understand why the motivation for the massacre is so vital. Whatever the reason, however illogical the act, nothing will prevent future mass shootings in the USA.

    1. Mike Smith

      Some things don’t have a reason, or a motivation.

      1. Woopwoop

        “They can see no reasons
        ‘Cause there are no reasons
        What reason do you need to be shown?”

    2. drsmithy

      I fail to understand why the motivation for the massacre is so vital.

      Are you kidding ? It was a rich old white dude. There’s no stereotype to easily lay over the top and write it off so nothing further needs to be considered.

    3. Saugoof

      Of course understanding the motivation is important and precisely this is our best hope of making sure massacres like these do not happen, or at least not happen as often anymore.
      There’s never an excuse for massacres like these, but there is always a reason. Sometimes that reason makes no sense, but if we don’t understand those reasons, we have no hope of trying to prevent them.

      1. Dion Giles

        There need be no speculation about this grub’s motivation when the actual, incontrovertible, FACT is that he had access to guns. The cause of the massacre that news commentators keep brushing aside with red herrings about the guy’s lunacy is the slavers’ and Injun-killers’ US constitution. That constitution, and the vile forces behind it, came to fruition when embolded traitors turned their guns on the elected government of the USA and even after their military defeat had enough influence to stop the North following the Civil War with treason trials and execution of the ringleaders.
        This evil finds expression today in the National Rifle Association with a linked chapter in Australia which runs shooters’ political parties for parliament and which has stashes of hundreds of guns planted all over NSW and probably other States ready for the gun freaks to collect when they’re ready.
        If we in Australia don’t follow up John Howard’s lead and organise against the gun freaks it’s only a matter of time before we see another Port Arthur massacre or worse, an organised armed uprising like those which keep springing up in the USA.

    4. Helen Razer

      It’s not a question of us failing to see, in the context I first mentioned it, though. It’s a matter of police procedure. And, you know, it is not a bad thing if a true investigation of the things or persons that led the killer to kill took place. (Unlikely as this is.)
      But, I guess you are basically agreeing with me, right? That all of this “he did it because of male violence” or “he did it because of mental ill health” or “he did it to give Americans an opportunity to be heroes” or even just “he did it because he had access to weapons” (again, no problem with weapons control; I stop being any sort of libertarian right there) is unproductive.
      I guess where we may disagree is that I do not think such argument is unproductive, because it produces a result. Which is not to see the bigger story about gun deaths in the USA, a percentage of which are administered by the state.
      So, sure, police may not be actually as effective in their killing as private citizens. But private citizens are, surely, more inclined to cling to their weapons with cold dead paws etc and their old second amendment beliefs if there is regular very visible proof that they have military hardware pointed at them.
      Not a fun conversation. Not meant to diminish the efforts of gun control advocates, either. Just a small effort to consider the thing in the big context of an arms race. (And to remind Australians that their products, like the Howard repeals, won’t necessarily export.)

  2. graybul

    What nuance could there possibly be . . . for slaughter?

  3. Kiki Dolo

    > Estimates for fatalities by police fire this year in the US are up around the 1000 mark.
    Weapons are needed by populations with repressive governments.

  4. Nudiefish

    Everybody knows that removing the huge hoard of guns in the US would solve the immediate problem, but that is only half of the bigger problem. The other half is the psychology of the United States itself. They see their fellows, and the actual government, as predators. Ya need guns for predators – even of you are an accountant on the wrong side of 60.

    Perhaps it all originated in the civil war, which is pretty funky when you consider it as a notion? For years one set of Americans set out to murder and destroy the other half. After which everybody rattled along in mutual distrust. What has fundamentally changed?

    This random sniper thing in America has now been set in stone and we all better get used to the idea of it happening a whole bunch of times every year. Thoughts and prayers, folks, thoughts and prayers…

    1. graybul

      Not so Nudiefish. Any attempt to remove the guns . . . would ignite of itself, the social pathology that drives their American ‘dream’. And should that occur it will not be “bunches”; but in ‘Australian’, massed mobs . . . . living, their dream. Justification for and of, their dream.

  5. Bill Hilliger

    It seems for many Americans it’s god, Jesus, the bible and its fairy tales, pray, pray and pray some more. But real happiness is notoriety and a warm gun, …bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

  6. Dion Giles

    The gun freaks are on the warpath, hell-bent on unravelling the interim measures promoted to the community’s great benefit by John Howard. They brazenly advertise their aims with party names like “Shooters’ Party”. With increasing numbers of guns around the country, and hidden stashes of hundreds of them, this Australian chapter of the Yank NRA needs to be confronted until it is fully exposed and broken up (and its guns confiscated). This means confronting it within all the social organisations and think tanks in which it embeds itself, including the mainstream political parties.
    The public do not threaten the lives of the gun freaks, but the gun freaks sure as hell endanger OUR lives.
    Before the next gun massacre there needs to be a tightening of gun laws nationally making it a criminal offence to possess a gun outside a supervised lockup in a club,
    with no loopholes, and serious career-busting accountability covering every law enforcement officer to seize assiduously every workable gun in private hands without any nods and winks.
    Japan’s gun freaks went ape in 1942 but now it is one of the safest countries in the world with its citizens totally forbidden to own or carry guns. That’s a situation to which we must aspire – or live (and die) with the mounting threat of the freaks who seek spreading gun ownership.
    The 58 or so people killed in Las Vegas are dead not merely because some mongrel had a brain deficiency but because he had access to guns. Just like the grub at Port Arthur.

    1. Mike Smith

      But you haven’t demonstrated what in Australia you’re trying to prevent. The USA, sure, is a basket case in this respect, and you can readily point to what you’re trying to accomplish. If the Shooters Party can get their candidates elected, well, it is a democracy. PHON would worry me more, but again, they are using democracy to achieve their goals.

  7. Draco Houston

    I feel this is an excellent point:
    “This is a nation that upcycles those machines used to slaughter the “terrorists” of other countries to control its own citizens. This is an arms race that a militarised police force is always going to win.”
    The militarization of police really puts into perspective the violent force that can be brought to bear by the state. Alongside present day examples of civil war it is very difficult to imagine taking on such a force.

    The Syrians, the rebels in Ukraine and so on took from the state their monopoly on violence, as a competing armed force, but have been unable to end the war on their terms. This should give everyone pause, even if they support current gun rights for individual US citizens or not. A “well regulated militia” will get torn to shreds no matter how many fancy small arms they have hoarded. The best they can hope for is a stalemate. This is not something you want to be impossible, if a population of people can not withdraw consent even through the most extreme means then there is no reason to gain our consent.

    Something promising to come out of the past year or so is a rise in inconvenient protest, protest that seeks to shut things down instead of being a noisy target for cops. The best example would have to be Catalonia. Even the vote itself was a clever move to frustrate the Spanish state, police simply could not prevent everyone voting and the resulting footage speaks for itself.

    Smaller groups can still use these sorts of tactics (blocking roads for example) to increase the cost of any given action by the state. Protestors in St Louis did a fine job this year, the canceled big events alone would have cost city hall and local businesses a lot of money. If people keep the pressure up this way the local and state governments would have to rethink what lengths they should go to to protect their police officers. Get it to a point where they are thrown under the bus instead.

  8. Wallywonga

    The frenzied search for an explanation in these situations is to appease those pollies in the NRAs pocket who still may have any conscience.
    Every other mass shooting up to this time has apparently had a motive, however contrived or feeble, to which Paul Ryan and others conclude – there, don’t worry, be happy.
    The most chiling conclusion here is that an apparently sane man (by US standards) simply concluded to himself “I’ll do this, because I can”.
    Certainly a new benchbark in 2nd amendment inspired individualism.

    1. Wallywonga

      Sorry, correction – “most chilling conclusion..”

  9. old greybearded one

    The first known mass shooting happened in Germany, I think in 1914. the perpetrator clearly did it to become famous. I think it is this bullshit cult of celebrity that drove this bloke. To ugly to be a Kardashian(maybe), so let’s go down in history. What is more this firearms stuff is recent. The Supreme Court backed gun laws until about 1998. We should be wary though Helen that we do not neglect the part played by the arms makers, eg Colt, Browning, American Outdoor Brands (aka Smith and Wesson). They bankroll the bloody NRA.

    1. Helen Razer

      Didn’t Paddock work for Lockheed?
      I get that it is possibly instructive to describe the reasons someone takes such action. Celebrity. Toxic Masculinity. “Terrorism”. He was possessed by the devil or just a mean guy. etc. etc.
      I am just making the case that it is destructive to not describe the entire context. And if we are talking about truly high-powered weapons (and the truly efficient killing machines are all held by the state) we can’t not talk about all of them.
      I am thinking, for example, of what it would mean to be black in the USA and live your life in very real fear of it ending. And then thinking of white and live your life hearing state propaganda that your life could end at any moment due to a brown or a black man. Or, you know, now a Russian. A Muslim. Whatever is the flavour of the month.
      How are you not tempted to get a gun in such a nation?

      1. Helen Razer

        ^ “being” white

      2. Wallywonga

        Yes, but this guy targeting a white-bread country music festival?
        Agree Helen about the social tension in the US, but is it all racial, or also/ moreso economic divide – the “haves”and the “have nots”? If you look at the diversity of successful people in the US they are not just white males; gun death statistics correlate pretty closely to socioeconomic status, not just race; unfortunately lower socioeconomic/ poverty classes in US includes a preponderance of blacks and hispanics (both higher in gun death statistics).
        And supporting this – some US studies have appeared showing that availability of health care through Obamacare/ Medicaid actually reduced crime rates. But hey, would that soften those republican hearts?

        1. Helen Razer

          No. I didn’t say it all happened across easily traceable cultural lines. (Although, clearly, in the case of fatalities by police fire, it does.) At the barest level: the nation could sort of be said to be at war. To be super sappy about it, fear begets fear. And this old fear than informs the USA, where you once had the right to bear arms because no one really trusted that this whole democracy thing would work out, recrudesces because a nation knows that there is a militarised force with stuff pointed at it. I am saying I try to imagine why second amendment stuff is retained in people’s heads. And it’s not very hard. Although, for us Australians who (unless we live in the NT) will never (or are unlikely to) face a whole lot of hardware and might, it is easy to forget what that tension might feel like.

  10. Itsarort

    Yep, I did it because I’m an arsehole and I could, and with a little bit of shitty planning, no idiot would stop me until it was too late. And, there’s gotta be thousands of other fucking arseholes just like me, floating about, skulking around, biding their time, waiting to be the next big man on the campus. So merry christmas you weak, pathetic bastards!

    1. Itsarort

      However, I couldn’t have been as effective as I was in Las Vegas without easy access to high powered, semi-automatic weapons with large magazine capacities. So, as far as Australia’s concerned, well done JH on that one.

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