At least one of the vignettes from Tom Begnal for Jan 29, 2012 deserves wider attention:
Lilburn, Ga. -- A 22-year-old man was fatally shot about 10 p.m. Saturday after the GPS in his car directed him to the wrong driveway as he went to pick up a girl who lived in the area to go ice skating. On seeing the car in his driveway, a 69-year-old man suspected a home invasion, so he got a gun from his house and shot it in the air, then he shot at the car as it was leaving, killing the victim. The victim’s 15-year-old brother and a female were also in the car, but not hit. The shooter was charged with murder.This is a tragedy -- and a predictable, preventable one. The term 'stochastic terrorism' has been applied to cases where public-officials are targeted. But I think it applies here, too.
(More after the orange-squiggle.)
For some background, see e.g. "Stochastic Terrorism: Triggering the shooters" by G2geek http://www.dailykos.com/... (among 50 other diaries and more than 400 comments on it. [And more discussion below, in a comment I added.])
Here's the mechanism spelled out concisely:22 year-old Rodrigo Abad Diaz, with his 15-yo brother and a friend in the car, drove to the wrong house (because his GPS led him there). 69-yo Phillip Walker Sailors was afraid it was a "home invasion." So he shot at the car -- as it was leaving! -- and killed the young man. (Perhaps someone can post their pictures.)
The stochastic terrorist [e.g. NRA and GOP officials] is the person who uses mass media [e.g. Fox] to broadcast memes [e.g. 'home-invasion', 'stand your ground,' 'cold dead hands,' prepper 'survivalism', etc.] 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. [...]
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 [we're] not responsible for what people in my [our] 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. [...]
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...
Who has spread this meme of fear about "home invasions", to the point that someone will shoot at a retreating car, with no further provocation? The NRA and the GOP, through their Fox vehicle.
More news updates, here: http://www.google.com/...
This is hardly the first such case. If you're a regular reader of Tom's series, you'll also remember the father who shot and killed his own 16-yo son, by (stochastic) 'accident', when the son was caught climbing into his neighboring aunt's house in the middle of the night wearing a mask. It won't be the last such case, but we can all work to reduce the odds of tragedies like this from happening.
Update 2:Thanks to occams hatchet for the diary "Former NRA political director: 'Somebody drives up my driveway, I'm gonna greet 'em with a gun'" He quotes Richard Feldman, former NRA regional political director and author of Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, from an interview for the 2011 HBO documentary, "Gun Fight":
I always keep a few guns around - there's a gun in my bedroom as well. And yes, they're loaded, because when I'm home, they're in use. Doesn't happen very often, but somebody drives up the driveway - it's almost always someone properly here - but if I don't know who they are, I'm gonna greet 'em with a gun in my hand.Sound familiar? (Rodrigo Abad Diaz' girlfriend says he was already leaving and rolled down his window to apologize and explain that he wasn't doing anything wrong, when Phillip Sailors shot him in the head.)
Update 1: with thanks to theboz for energizing this point, and apologies for the hasty cut-and-paste, let me add more on the meme of the phrase "home invasion." From my comment below:
Frequency of phrase "home invasion," 1945-2008:
Did Frank Luntz wire up a focus group, to come up with the phrase "home invasion"? Probably not, but the effect is the same. Little is more sacred and personal than the notion of one's home (e.g., "a person's home is their castle"), and little is more terrifying and intrusive than having this sacred private space invaded. Before 1982, such incidents were typically referred to as breaking and entering combined with assault with a deadly weapon (! -- what's happened to the 'weapon' in the new meme? gone!?), armed (!) burglary, (murder if it occurred), etc.
Since 1982, and especially since 1992, the use of 'home invasion' as a meme has skyrocketed. Take a look at the nGram chart below, which graphs the frequency of use of the phrase 'home invasion', from 1945-2008 (in books as measured by Google):
I'm guessing that fewer people of an older generation -- who formed most of their mental categories pre-1982 -- would use the phrase 'home invasion', although (like any good slogan) they can recognize what it means when others use it.
Words matter a great deal, in politics, surveys, polls, news, etc. We all know about the 'death tax' (vs. estate tax or inheritance tax), 'Clear Skies Initiative' (vs. deregulate EPA), 'Contract for America' (vs. the Gingrich Who Stole Christmas), etc. Describing burglars armed with guns as 'home invaders' gives a different spin to everyday life -- a spin that may have spun out of control in Phillip Walker Sailors' case, resulting in him murdering the innocent Rodrigo Abad Diaz in cold blood.