A Terrorist Attack I Didn’t Know About and the Price of Hate Speech

I don’t remember hearing about this mass murder two years ago. But like all others, it’s heartbreaking, disturbing and frightening. This terrorist attack befell on an Islamic center in Quebec, Canada where a young dude entered and shot multiple people, killing six, injuring 19 and paralyzing one.

From the New York Times:

When Alexandre Bissonnette learned of Justin Trudeau’s now-famous tweet welcoming refugees to Canada, the waif-like 28-year-old political science student told police that he snapped.

Just hours after watching a television report suggesting Canada would accept immigrants spurned by President Trump, Mr. Bissonnette packed his Glock handgun and rifle, picked up a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, and trudged the snow-covered streets of Quebec to a nearby Islamic Cultural Center.

As 53 men were finishing evening prayers, he unloaded 48 rounds. Six people were killed — several of them by shots to the head — and 19 were injured, one paralyzed for life.

We’ve seen this act of hate-induced violence before, especially in resent years. We’ve seen it in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, and we’ve seen it in Pittsburgh last year. A place of worship where sanctuary is expected becomes a crime scene. Multiple innocent people killed by someone indoctrinated with far right wing messages of hate, fear and violence:

During the often chilling hearing, prosecutors, survivors, prison psychologists and people who knew Mr. Bissonnette painted a portrait of a socially isolated but intelligent young man who developed an obsession with the far right, mass killers, Donald Trump and Muslims…

Acting alone, Mr. Bissonnette also raised a difficult question: How did a mousy and soft-spoken chess-obsessed student from a middle class family become a killer?

In the month before his rampage, he trawled the internet 819 times for posts related to Mr. Trump, reading his Twitter feed daily and homing in on the American president’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. He kept a cache of guns underneath his bed at his parents’ house. Among his only friends was his twin brother, Mathieu.

Mr. Bissonnette told investigators he wished he had killed more people, and had wanted to protect his family from Islamic terrorists.

“I was, like, sure that they were going to come and kill my parents also, and my family,” he said in a video of a prison interrogation played in court.

Bissonnette was one of a growing number of Quebec youths who became interested in far-right, Islamophobic politics. But records show that he also was a troll who embraced incel culture and white nationalism:

François Deschamps, who ran a web page raising money for Syrian refugees, said Mr. Bissonnette had spent months trolling the group’s Facebook page.

“He liked to express views that were ultraconservative, racist and anti-Muslim,” he said, “He would also go to event pages of feminist groups and write ‘FemiNazis.’ ”

Like last month’s Toronto attacker, Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old who fatally ran over 10 pedestrians with a rental van, Mr. Bissonnette was preoccupied by Elliot Rodger, the man who killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., in May 2014 after railing about his failures with women.

Mr. Bissonnette also browsed websites linked to the white nationalist Richard Spencer, the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine African-Americans at a South Carolina church.

Here’s how it always is with these types.

The common link with these killers is that they’ve been losing in life one way or another or in general. They’re either under or unemployed. They don’t have a wife or girlfriend and no one would date them. They could also have zero social skills. I’m not trying to say they all have these issues or even two of them. (I believe some do.) One way or another, they have issues with living the life they want and feel they deserve.

To be fair though, we all have issues when it comes to life and we all want to live a happy one. So, we do what we can.

But these kinds of mass murderers never or rarely ever do any self-examinations or have gotten enough or adequate help, if they’ve tried to get some. They actively stay in the hole. They believe they’re in the hole they’re in largely because of the world. They feel ostracized and even oppressed. So, they search for explanations. And some end up on right wing sites that are in the business of blaming certain people i.e. blacks, women, gays, Latinx, Muslims, Jews, the left for society’s decline. They get angry because of what they read and hear. And then, you’ll have – at least – one dude pushed to the edge. He’ll grab a gun or two, bullets will fly and lives will be torn apart.

Innocent lives will be lost, because there are people with enough rage and ammunition who are told that certain groups of people are “problems” to society and why that terrorist is the real victim. (Not all victims of the massacre will be from those groups. Bullets will tear apart anyone in contact no matter who it is.) In the end, families will be dealing with the loss of their loved ones. Groups in the cross hairs of the hatemongers will live in reasonable fear wondering why this happens and when will it end. And a nation and probably the world will briefly mourn the deaths of a tragedy fueled by evil calling for more prayer and no action.

As for those on the right, the ones responsible for the hate messages which fanned the flames of anger will NEVER take any, responsibility that is. They will even probably go into hiding until the heat cools. There will be those who will try to shove any excuse other than what it is down the throats of the public. There will be lies protecting the far right by the far right. They will even try to DEFEND the shooters. And the hatemongers will continue using free speech to advance an irrational and even violent fear-based agenda.

Meanwhile, the left will call for more sympathy for the killers. They will want people to try to understand them, and see what made them go berserk. They detest any eye-for-an-eye reaction as their goal is to be better than they are. And like those on the right, their best solution is more talk, and even prayer.

And this will repeat itself, more or less.

Speaking of free speech, I know it’s a complicated subject. We pride ourselves in freedom, and I’m sure some Canadians have similar feelings even though it’s nation’s policy of freedom of expression are slightly explained. But where is the line drawn when it’s used for unnecessary and often false violent rhetoric and violence is carried out by those with enough rage and weapons who listen and absorb such messages? Free speech is not as simple as being able to say whatever you want AND not expect responses from others with the same freedom, NOR can we not expect anyone to take the words to heart and act or react to them. Yes, I appreciate the freedom of expression, and I don’t want it taken away. But even though there aren’t really government-sanctioned limits here in the U.S., that doesn’t mean people can engage in vocal chaos.


7 thoughts on “A Terrorist Attack I Didn’t Know About and the Price of Hate Speech

  1. It was big news here but also for the most part forgotten, unlike the massacre of 14 women in Montreal years ago. Polite racism here for the most part. I’ve heard, read people critique immigration, for example, using ‘code’ phrases such as taking away resources from ‘Canadians,’ read white.

      1. It is in some ways but not in others as with any place. They are not as emboldened as some of these loons in The States and the laws are different of course. Still, you have these incidents which are fewer and farther between, but that could just be a population thing. If I could do the math, I’d try to figure out the ratios.

  2. I didn’t know about the mass shooting in Canada either. Wow! It seems like we have become desensitized by all of the mass shootings because of the frequency of them. Sadly, nothing changes except the location of the next one.

  3. I remembered that one..it took me for a jolt,then it didnt. When it comes to mass shootings,Canada is one of those places that you really wouldn’t initially think of .Then again,it’s always places like that where people go do their dirty work.

    If there is anything that life has taught me is that there is no such thing as a safe place and as a Black woman, I have never felt that way. I think about how people will say how Black neighborhoods are unsafe. I would never feel safe on Quebec, or any
    ” safe ” havens that are declared such because of my race. If people luke that guy could go in there and kill some peace loving Muslims in God’s house,they will continue to kill POCs indiscriminately.

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