My nightmare

This is a story that worries me.

Jinming Li, an arts and business student in the class, was an eyewitness to the event. According to Li, a man of about 20-30 years of age entered the class and asked the professor what the class was about. The man closed the door, pulled two knives out of his backpack and proceeded to attack the professor. Students ran to the back of the class to exit out of the one class entrance.

It was a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo. You know what triggered it — it was an act of stochastic terrorism driven by the right wing’s current moral panic.

The good news is that while a professor and two students were slashed, they’re alive and recovering. The attack occurred in Canada, with knives. Here in the USA, it would have been guns, probably an assault rifle, and the only question would be how high the body count would go.

We do have one thing in common with Canada: an ineffectual response to such events. Waterloo has an app they provide to students, faculty, and staff that’s supposed to send out an alert when active threats are on campus. It took 90 minutes to send out warnings, well after the danger was over.


  1. F.O. says

    Is there research on stochastic terrorism?
    As in, do we have some hard data that connects violent rhetoric with this kind of attacks?

    From the top of my head I remember hate crimes increasing in the US when Trump was elected, but is there some competent sociologist that did the actual work of crunching numbers and excluding other possible causes and in general doing the actual science?

  2. whywhywhy says

    It took 90 minutes to send out warnings, well after the danger was over.

    But plenty of time to cause anxiety and fear within the community.

  3. moonslicer says

    I get so tired of this sort of thing. Yeah, I get mad at certain people, there’s plenty of people I don’t like one bit, but I’ve never assaulted anybody.

    I just saw on YouTube the case of some baseball commentator who (not realizing he was on the air) said, “the fag capital” or something like that, and got fired for it. Of course he had his defenders, others who are anti-LGBT. And there were the whiners, those claiming that Joy Reid says anti-white stuff and gets away with it. And those who said too much was being made of it. He was getting fired for one little sentence. And then he himself of course trotted out the standard, “This isn’t who I am.”

    One little sentence? Is anyone seriously going to believe this is the first time in his life he’s said something like this? And is anyone seriously going to claim that words don’t have consequences? LGBT+ people are getting pounded into the ground in many places these days, and are we expected to believe that what people say isn’t linked to what people do? Maybe they both come from the same place.

  4. raven says

    it was an act of stochastic terrorism driven by the right wing’s current moral panic.

    No surprise.

    Whenever you have hate speech, you invariably find that violence against the target groups follows.

    Calling the current hate campaign a moral panic really stretches the idea of moral panic.
    There is nothing moral about it and they aren’t even pretending that it is about morals.

    I’m not sure what you would call it though.
    A cynical ploy to wake up their base and get some money from them, maybe.
    It is simply right wingnut hate for the sake of hate. Hate is one of their methods for organizing their tribal group.

  5. quotetheunquote says

    Wow, this is truly shocking to me… I graduated from UW (BSc, BA) and still live just a few minutes’ drive from it. It’s practically the most laid-back, safe place you can imagine … I’m still trying to process this.

    Pretty appalling how badly the “UWSafe” app failed. I know I guy who works in the very same building in which the stabbing took place. He was blithely walking into work a few minutes after the stabbing, had no idea that anything was amiss (it’s a fairly large building).

    Edit: Just looked up the precise location – Hagey Hall 139. I had many classes in that room, when I was doing my BA. It’s got a nice row of big picture windows opposite the lectern, you can look out over the grass between HH and the Psychology building…

  6. says

    Until we know more about the attacker we won’t know why he didn’t have a gun. It’s not that hard to get a gun license in Canada, but having people go through the process of getting one prevents previously gunless people easily buying one on the spur of the moment.

  7. wzrd1 says

    lakitha tolbert @ 7, the attack you linked was conducted with a Ruger Mini-14 rifle. It uses the same ammunition and magazines as an AR-15 rifle. A knife tends to have unlimited ammunition, but is of a decidedly shorter range.

    quotetheunquote @ 6, such places are preferentially targeted by such people, as their security stance tends to be more relaxed.

    As for the app and lack of alerting, that’s beyond unacceptable! Would they also wait 90 minutes when an entire floor of a building is on fire? Tell the incinerated people to evacuate the fire after the fire department extinguishes the fire? One may as well just turn off the alarm systems to save electricity, while bragging about your state of the art alarm system!

  8. gijoel says

    I felt like making a snarky comment about good guys with knives, but honestly I’m done with this timeline.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    gijoel @ 10
    We have long been living in a bad episode of South Park. I expect some conservative American to suggest the canadian staff should carry katanas.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    It took 90 minutes to send out warnings…

    Eh? Per the linked article:

    Yan described a student in the class who ran out and screamed for others to run, which is when notifications popped up telling students to leave and when police showed up.

    Sfaict, the app notified people at different times; some hadn’t received a notice at all when the story was written.

  11. says

    It is impossible to show even a small fraction of all the links here, but, all of us have seen the incessant reports (with increasing frequency) of rtwingnut xtian terrorists, even in congress, that threaten, recommend, support and even carry out violence. (WTF: I have a photo of a sign I have personally seen lots of places recently that reads: guns, god and trump) The number of gun deaths in the u.s. this year is appalling. Some old person shot through their closed front door seriously wounding a young boy who went to the wrong house. Phoenix in Aridzona has had more incidents of gun violence per day this year than seems possible.
    The barbarians may not quite be a majority yet, but their increasing willingness to resort to violence at the slightest excuse makes it seem that they are. Hate of anything/anyone who shows any deviation from their twisted ‘normal’ is their mantra.
    Does PZ (and maybe most of us) need to start wearing a bulletproof vest along with a mask?
    Welcome To The Apocalypse!

  12. wzrd1 says

    Well, a woman was just sentenced to two years in a California prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail into an occupied bank and another on an occupied truck in the parking lot of said bank.
    The reason she did it? She was upset that she had to wait in line at the bank, argued with the manager, threatened to blow up the bank, left and came back armed with a firearm and a bag full of Molotov cocktails. She then fled police in a stolen Uhaul.
    Now, we’ve rolled back multiple fields of civil rights, soon we’ll get our apartheid again, women as property and maybe we’ll get it right for a second missile crisis and nuke it out. Give the righties their fever dream, backwards is better, so back to the caves! All, with that wonderful glow.

  13. John Morales says


    So he didn’t have legal access to firearms.

    But he clearly had access to firearms.

  14. wzrd1 says

    Heh, I spent time in Canada with the US Army. Don’t get me started on the PIA moving firearms around was. Not a foreign military’s weapons, just firearms in general was a royal PIA.
    And firearms aren’t uncommon in Canada, just military style of firearms are heavily restricted. But, our machine guns and sniper systems (basically, a massively modified for precision hunting rifle) were treated equally. Licensee possession at all times, secure storage, chain of custody for non-licensees, etc.
    All, just for a tournament.

    Next time, I’ll simply invade. Unarmed. With a tourist visa. ;)
    In the summer, as I loathe cold.