Last seen: 27 weeks 2 days ago
There's a term for the type of "rhetorical" behavior we've seen increasingly used to stir the pot -- the same type of verbiage and same concept behind the "who will rid me of this meddlesome priest" talk that put an end to St. Thomas Becket.
It's a term describing the actions of domestic enemies, domestic terrorists, zealots and radicals -- you know, Republicans and Tea Baggers. It makes its home among the hallowed halls of inappropriate political discourse, and calls forth the lunatics from the fringe whenever enough critical mass can be built up to trigger bloodshed, violence, chaos and destruction.
It's called stochastic terrorism, and it's a doozy:
Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.
This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.
This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do.
The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the "missile" set in motion by the stochastic terrorist. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those "missiles" in motion.
Here's the mechanism spelled out concisely:
The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.
One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).
The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."
The lone wolf who was the "missile" gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves.
Further, the stochastic terrorist may be acting either negligently or deliberately, or may be in complete denial of their impact, just like a drunk driver who runs over a pedestrian without even realizing it.
Finally, there is no conspiracy here: merely the twisted acts of individuals who are promoting extremism, who get access to national media in which to do it, and the rest follows naturally just as an increase in violent storms follows from an increase in average global temperature.
So, to answer the unasked question, "do you believe the constant, relentless use of violent imagery and rhetoric by Conservatives, Tea Partiers and their ilk is terrorism?" is "Yes. It's terrorism. A most insidious form of terrorism, with a long and bloody history."
OK? Good. Glad that's settled.