Turns out there is a price paid for spraying venom onto the internet


Horrifying. Read about the day Lane Davis murdered his father. Davis was deeply involved with the far, far right, working as an unpaid intern for Milo Yiannopoulos, writing for the demented Ralph Retort web site, and he finally snapped.

Lane had spent that Friday morning as he did most mornings, on the internet. This day, like the others, Lane read and retweeted posts celebrating the Second Amendment, bemoaning diversity, and spreading conspiracy theories that alleged Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta was involved in a child sex ring and DNC staffer Seth Rich had been murdered. It was the end of a busy week during which he contributed to the Donald Trump subreddit, and over on The Ralph Retort, a fringe blog where he worked as a political editor, (unpaid, according to the site’s owner), he had celebrated the idea of a Kid Rock Senate run, claimed America was under threat of Sharia law, and wondered whether CNN was “literally ISIS.”

Lane’s parents, Catherine and Charles Davis—Charles was known as Chuck to his friends— were used to their 33-year-old son’s outbursts. They had become so frequent that Charles had started recording the tirades on his phone. But that afternoon, they were tired of Lane’s screaming, wanted him to leave, and told him as much. Instead, Lane chased his parents around their home, spitting in his father’s face while screaming that he wasn’t threatening to kill them, but “pedophiles who were taking over the country.”

Whoa. Your 33 year old son is still living in your house and spends his time literally screaming at the internet? I think maybe it’s time to hold an intervention. Unfortunately, it’s people like that who get the most attention on the internet.

This 911 call goes on with ever escalating behavior.

“We’re trying to but he’s chasing us around the house,” she replied. “He’s mad about something on the internet about leftist pedophiles and he thinks we’re leftist and he’s calling us pedophiles. And I don’t know what all.”

Catherine laughed. “He just lives on the internet and he gets really worked up about everything that’s going on. He needs an intervention of some kind here.”

Police were on their way, the dispatcher told Catherine, and she hung up. But Charles’s phone kept recording.

His mother laughed. She’d become so inured to her son’s rabidity that she had lost all sense of perspective. That’s tragic, because the recording includes her son taking a kitchen knife and stabs his 73 year old father to death.

Not all right-wingers are incipient father-stabbers, but jesus…you have to recognize that somebody who’s ranting about PizzaGate, thinks Hillary Clinton leads a pedophile ring, and listens to professional internet assholes like Alex Jones or the Ralph Retort, has got serious problems. These aren’t the cause of the problem, but are symptoms that ought to be seen as potentially diagnostic.

It’s a metaphor for America. Like Catherine Davis and her dangerously lunatic son, we’ve gotten used to the Republican party and Donald Trump.

Comments

  1. rietpluim says

    Actually, all right-wingers are incipient father-stabbers. The only thing withholding them is society, which is the reason why they want to break society down. Like you said, it’s a metaphor for America.

  2. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    So, any bets on how long before this is touted by Breitbart as a setup by evil leftists/Clinton/Obama/CNN just to make Breitbart look bad?

    Anyone?

    Anyone?

  3. cartomancer says

    Not that I feel a great deal of kinship with this excuse for a human being, but you did get a little bit dismissive there of people in their 30s who live with their parents and use the internet a lot. It’s hard not to take that personally as someone who falls into the category myself. Happily so in my case. Some people are much happier living with their family, some come from cultures where it is normal and expected, some find it economically essential or economically desirable.

    I doubt you really meant to parrot that tired old bit of cultural policing, but the man’s age and residential choices really have nothing to do with this. I get that the “and spends all his time literally screaming at the internet” bit was key, but the whole statement did veer dangerously close to a somewhat unworthy sentiment in my opinion.

  4. Larry says

    What is really worrisome is that this nut job isn’t alone. There are so many just like him who’ve lost touch with what’s real and what they hear on Fox or from Jones. And for some reason, being indoctrinated by this bile and hatred short circuits the part of the part of the brain that makes us identify ourselves as humans and they start believing those who disagree with them are some how not worthy of living.

    This didn’t start with Trump but he has certainly caused them to be unleashed.

  5. asclepias says

    Seconding cartomancer. I get tired of hearing all these tropes about how a person must be a no-good loser because they still live with their parents. I live with my parents because I am not making enough money to try to live independently, and it was a conscious choice on my part because my sister is legally blind (that is, can’t drive) and has a multitude of health problems that occasionally require hospitalization in Denver (we live in Cheyenne). I am actively looking for work. I get tired of being lumped into the category of depressed, can’t-hold-a-job loser just because I happen to live at home.

  6. rayceeya says

    Ralph Retort?

    Retort is a kind of still used to refine and concentrate substances.

    Ralph is slang for vomit.

    Soooooo, Ralph Retort is a site that distills puke into concentrated puke?

  7. says

    Whoa. Your 33 year old son is still living in your house and spends his time literally screaming at the internet?

    There are some 70+ year-olds who live in their rich uncle’s house and scream at the internet all night. Seems it’s a “thing.”

  8. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @Marcus Ranum,

    Yeah, but at least they get away for a few rounds of golf on the weekend.

  9. Scientismist says

    we’ve gotten used to the Republican party and Donald Trump.

    Yep, the real danger isn’t any particular one of the daily outrages committed by Trump, or even his entire administration. The danger is that we get so inured that, like that poor mother, we chuckle while calling 911. The danger is the concept of “the new normal.” And even some Republicans are finally figuring that out. Isn’t that exactly what Jeff Flake was warning the Senate about yesterday?

    But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing — until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.

    It’s getting so not even Republicans can stand what the Republican Party has become.

  10. says

    The problem isn’t “33 year old son is still living in your house” — that’s fine. My 30+ year old sons are welcome to move back in, and we’d be happy to have them here, except that they seem to be living lives that are incompatible with living in tiny, remote, Morris, Minnesota. The problem is “spends his time literally screaming at the internet”. Who does that? I spend a lot of time on the internet, I might occasionally moan in despair, but I don’t start chasing family members around the house shrieking and waving a knife.

  11. blf says

    I don’t start chasing family members around the house shrieking and waving a knife.

    That sounds more like teh evil cat.

    (Snark mode OFF…)
    There does seem to be a point here? In this case, the person’s individual living arrangements aren’t relevant (other than in the sense they brought him into contact with the victims, which clearly could have happened anyways). So why bring it up?

    Perhaps because the victims, being in such close contact over sustained period of time with the person, would be among the best-placed to realise there is a problem. A serious problem. And, perhaps especially since they are family, motivated to do something.

    My reading of the OP (and other sources) suggests they didn’t realise, or perhaps more likely, underestimated, the problem. A concern then, as poopyhead pointed out, is the “normalisation” of the person’s behaviour.

    So why bring the living arrangements up? As an illustration of how insidious this “normalisation” can be.

    (I suppose the above might sound like victim-blaming. It is not intended as such, and there is no suggestion the victims contributed to the problem. Indeed, the father seems to have been calling out the son.)

  12. erichoug says

    There are so many people right now who live on fear and hate. Both are poison and both will kill you.

    I feel sorry for his family. They will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. The uncle who murdered grandpa because he read something crazy on the internet.

  13. multitool says

    If I had a megaphone that everyone in America could hear at once, and I yelled ‘Eating Drano will make you immortal!’, a large number of people would die.

    The art of right wing media is that it synchronizes people with preexisting mental problems to react the same ways to the same events, instead of just being chaotic. When elections are won and lost by only a few points, that’s enough power to wreck everything.

  14. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    multitool:

    The art of right wing media is that it synchronizes people with preexisting mental problems

    I suffer from clinical depression and PTSD. I have “mental problems”. I am not a right wing extremist. I am not synchronized with right-wing media. I disagree with your use of the phrase “mental problems”.

    There is copious evidence that right-wing authoritarians have a specific way of processing information, reacting to that information, and acting on that information. Hierarchy, conformity, othering, and other modes of behaviour are part and parcel to the RWA mindset. And yes, the right-wing media does synchronize people with an RWA mindset to react to events, when the event is presented in the correct manner, in a way that is beneficial to corporations and the extremely wealthy.

    In short, I agree with idea behind your comment, I disagree with one of the terms used.

  15. says

    multitool:

    The art of right wing media is that it synchronizes people with preexisting mental problems

    No. This does not have much to do with people who are mentally ill, and it’s quite wrong to imply that most of the people paying attention to right wing media are mentally ill. There’s a whole fucktonne of people who soak up right wing media every single day, for years on end, and these are the people who live by you, work by you, pet their dog and attend bbqs and all that shit. That is what is so damn terrifying.

  16. blf says

    Not preexisting mental problems, but “predisposed to be sympathetic” (to the claims presented), perhaps especially when combined with a tendency towards “uncritical acceptance” or feeling coerced (e.g., peer pressure, employer pressure, economic pressure, …)?

  17. says

    Blf @ 21, I think a lot of it can be put down to aggrieved entitlement, a need to place blame, and an authoritarian mindset, as mentioned by Ogvorbis @ 19. People who are often found to be opining about ‘the good old days’ are likely to believe such toxic crap. Change can be frightening.

  18. blf says

    Caine@22, Yes. I suggest “aggrieved entitlement, a need to place blame, and an authoritarian mindset” are characteristics of those who are “‘predisposed to be sympathetic’ (to the claims presented)”, albeit not a definition as such. And “[p]eople who are often found to be opining about ‘the good old days’” could be said to have “a tendency towards ‘uncritical acceptance'” — said days probably were not that good (for people similar to to themselves or for others), a point a moment’s critical thinking should find — albeit I admit that specific example did not occur to me.

  19. gijoel says

    @22 This^

    I think there was a report from the SPLC about far right guys who commit hate crimes. From what I recall they tend to be aggrieved men, that mooched off a partner or family whilst gorging themselves on far right hate sites. Lane Davis fits this profile to a T.

  20. multitool says

    He didn’t kill any minorities, he killed his dad and destroyed his own life. What was the master plan here?

    I have had depression too with suicidal ideation since I was 5. I agree mentally ill people are statistically less violent than ‘sane’ people, but when a mentally ill person becomes violent, it looks different.

  21. blf says

    gijoel@24, Quite possibly. But claim related not to those who commit (hate) crimes, but to “right wing media [synchronizing people] to react the same ways to the same events”, which is not at all the same thing.

  22. says

    No, I think his living arrangement is relevant. Not because all people who keep living with their parents for a long time are losers or anything, but because it fits a pattern (which is different from a stereotype. He fits that as well, but that’s a different discussion).
    There is a set of mostly male young(ish) adults who usually come from “good homes”, who grow up having everything done for them and who feel entitled to keep having everything done for them. Therefore they become aggrieved once they move out of their teenage bubble and notice that the world isn’t mommy and daddy. That few potential girl friends are looking forward to being the live-in caretaker, cook, sex doll.
    But often mommy and daddy will keep on pampering their boys who don’t just live at home but who never actually contribute anything meaningful to the household they live in (which doesn’t necessarily mean money but also cleaning, taking care of relatives in need, etc.)
    I know too many stories that start like that and too few that end well.

  23. multitool says

    Also this:
    “A 2015 report from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism found that former members of violent white supremacist groups showed almost half (45 percent) reporting being the victim of childhood physical abuse and about 20 percent reporting being the victim of childhood sexual abuse. ”

    https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-08-23/what-makes-people-join-hate-groups-studies-say-childhood-torment-social-isolation

    While we can agree that being a rape victim is not a mental illness, PTSD is a mental problem. Privilege is a factor, but apparently not the whole story.

  24. says

    Multitool:

    He didn’t kill any minorities, he killed his dad and destroyed his own life. What was the master plan here?

    He was angry. I read another article, which stated his father had called him a nazi and racist, and things went worse from there. He was very upset about the call to 911:

    “OK well, so here’s the deal. If I am going to go to prison for threatening to kill somebody, I mean…” Lane Davis can be heard saying on an audio file of the 911 call.

    Source.

    It’s hardly uncommon for people to kill in anger, it happens every day. Having had mental problems yourself does not excuse your implication, or tarring with a wide brush. You should understand why that’s wrong. Like Ogvorbis, I have PTSD, and I do not appreciate the standard trotting out of ‘mentally ill’. You have no basis for it.

  25. says

    Multitool:

    “A 2015 report from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism found that former members of violent white supremacist groups showed almost half (45 percent) reporting being the victim of childhood physical abuse and about 20 percent reporting being the victim of childhood sexual abuse. ”

    Jesus Fucking Christ, stop. That’s fucking enough. I was the victim of abuse throughout my whole childhood, and like many people who were, did not go on to join hate groups or kill. You have absolutely no basis whatsoever for persisting in tarring all people with mental problems in this manner.

  26. says

    @#11, Scientismist

    It’s getting so not even Republicans can stand what the Republican Party has become.

    But you’ll notice they don’t speak up about it until they hold a majority in both houses of Congress plus the presidency. Republican repugnance for bad behavior is like Democratic repugnance for Wall Street — not even slightly plausible in light of their behavior over the last few decades.

  27. hemidactylus says

    I don’t think it was PZ’s intent to overblow the “living in mom’s basement” trope that is not uncommon in online discussions. He actually emphasized the need for *intervention*. Something such as Boghossian’s street epistemology might be useful to defuse ticking conspiratorial mind bombs, though he is far from self-critical himself sadly enough.

    But I do echo the sentiments of #3 cartomancer and #5 asclepias. There are economic, cultural, and caretaking reasons for older kids to live with parents. All warranted.

    Ogvorbis and Caine have addressed the mental health tropes.

    There is much toxic material out there that is more accessible now than before. People such as Alex Jones revel in it. I enjoy a reading of David Icke’s reptoid fantasies now and then and have read several meta intense books on the problems of conspiratorial thinking. I encounter it quite often. But I would hesitate to assume a typical fan of Jones or the relatively milder Icke is apt to *do* bad things to others. As PZ differentiated above between symptoms and causes. But they are both responsible for sending people off into dystopian fantasy lands with no bases in reality. That’s unhealthy. There is plenty to lament without bringing Bilderbergs or Reptoid bloodlines into the mix.

  28. hemidactylus says

    Come to think of it my disabled from birth uncle lived with my grandmother his entire life. Not that anyone needs provide a reason that justifies living with their parents. I think our exacting standards of capitalist success and independent individualism provide the subtle subtext.

Leave a Reply