I have seen different debates and discussions in the network related to, Alek Minassian, the man who was driving a van with which he ran over innocent pedestrians, leaving 10 people dead and 14 injured in Toronto, is mentally ill, a radicalized misogynist or a terrorist, or some combination of that?.
For some, it makes no difference: people are dead, others are fighting for their lives.
Many more are traumatized.
Whether it was hatred or disease that made Minassian climb into that truck and turned it into a two-ton killing weapon, it don’t make a difference from any point of view to tell the truth.
The debates or discussions within the social media will never bring back the victims or even heal the wounded from their traumas.
Many think mental illness is to blame.
This is mainly based on reports that Minasian belonged to a special needs program group in high school, and wandered the school halls “meowing like a cat.”
Others believe that, Minasian is a violent misogynist.
They think this because of Facebook group to which Minasian belonged. Those in this group call themselves, “Incel Rebellion” (involuntarily celibate), members of this group admire shooter Elliot Rodger, a real psychopath who would carried out an attack in Santa Barbara, California. The creation of such profiles or groups reflects a trend in dangerous on-line culture, fuelled by fragile masculinity.
And others have considered Minasian nothing less then a terrorist – based on literal interpretation of what happened in Toronto, our collective reluctance to use the label in cases where the perpetrator does not shout first “Allahu Akbar”.
Each characterization has merit.
I’m just not sure which point of view is actually “correct”. What is clear, however, is that this is a painful attack upon Canadian society.
Early characterizations are often incorrect, most of the time.
Pulse’s Nightclub bombing in Orlando, Florida, for instance, was labelled as an attack directed against the LGBT community, but that claim was discredited in court when it was revealed that the shooter had no idea that Pulse was a gay nightclub .
A security guard at that club recalled the gunman asking “where all the women were” just minutes before weapons were discharged.
The recent shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, was also characterized as an uproar by a member of a “white supremacist group”, until the accusation were revealed as a deliberate hoax.
Some will argue that labeling perpetrators of attacks can help us understand who they are and their motivations, helping to make changes to avoid future attacks.
But in the vast number of cases, the perceptual experience of masses and even the researchers themselves are not accurate.