Maybe the fact of having a Twitter account is sufficient to explain anti-social tendencies?

Please don’t have me arrested. Last year, I went into the local hospital for counseling — the depression was too much, I knew I needed help. I only went in for a few sessions before deciding nothing was going to help, other than my usual thorough bottling up of everything, but now I am a marked man. If I do anything socially unacceptable, you know, like pissing on the shoes of the next Republican I meet, you can bet it’ll be on the local newspaper with the declaration that I have “mental health issues,” and the police will put out an APB for the “mentally ill” man wandering the streets of Stevens County.

I shouldn’t have tried. Everyone is supposed to be 100% capable of bootstrapping themselves into happy, well-adjusted confidence, no matter what their circumstances, and failure to be constantly grinning like a used car salesman is a sign of weakness. That glum fellow over there in the corner could snap at any instant, you know.

I’m seeing it right now. There’s a killer on a rampage in Lewiston, Maine, and what does every news story have to say?

Police said Card had spent two weeks at a mental health facility this summer and was subsequently released.

He checked in to get his mental health evaluated (a good thing), and was released (presumably a good thing). This will now taint every story about his criminal act. It’s front and center, even though it may be entirely irrelevant. I can think of a lot of prominent individuals who ought to get a mental health consult who don’t.

There are other factors that are far more indicative of a problem. A history of domestic violence, for instance.

Robert Card, the alleged perpetrator of the shootings in Lewiston, carries a troubled personal history that is now under intense scrutiny. A retired military officer, Card has confronted legal troubles in the past, including multiple arrests for domestic violence and other offenses. Notably, one of his ex-wives had obtained a restraining order against him, revealing the troubling dynamics that marked some of his previous relationships. While the investigation continues, no conclusive evidence has yet linked his past behavioral issues to the recent shooting incidents.

Another telling bias in the stories is that many say “he may have voted for Barack Obama” — as if that’s an unlikely, weird thing. Only a few so far have been bold enough to say he’s politically right-wing.

Heavy reviewed the page shortly before it was suspended by X. It shows that Card followed and/or liked posts by X’s CEO, Elon Musk, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as well as a professor who studies terrorism and a number of prominent conservative politicians and pundits, including Donald Trump Jr. and Tucker Carlson. He also liked and shared posts by CNBC, as well as posts on finance.

In March, he liked a tweet by Trump that read, “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years… by far the largest group committing as a percentage of population… maybe, rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bulls*** on our kids?”

Man, Twitter was lightning-fast in pulling that account. A fan of Elon Musk was a mass-murderer? Better cover that up quick. Also, he was transphobic? That complicates that Trumpian narrative. For the record, there have been only four non-cisgendered mass shooters.

“4 shooters out of over 300 mass shooters since 2009 are transgender or non binary. That’s just 1.3 percent of all shooters,” Anthony Zenkus, a lecturer in social work at Columbia University, wrote on Twitter. “You just proved our point: 99 percent of mass shooters in the United States are cis gendered.”

Also for the record, I don’t think liking Elon Musk or Tucker Carlson is indicative of a tendency to go shoot up a bowling alley, because an awful, embarrassing lot of stupid people like them without any attempt to go on a murder rampage. It is just an indictment of our media that they are doing this ill-informed pattern-seeking, looking for any feeble correlation to rationalize a contemptible crime.

Maybe we should be more concerned with condemning domestic violence, or any history of violence, than with people’s efforts to improve their mental health.

Or better yet, let’s also do a better job of regulating guns.


  1. yoav says

    “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years… by far the largest group committing as a percentage of population…

    “as a percentage of population” are the important weasel words, given that the vast majority of the population are cis-gender than it is possible that these 4 represent a larger fraction of the trans/non-binary population than the other 300+ of the cis population.
    Ain’t lying with statistics fun?

  2. stuffin says

    Vite for Obama and piss on the shoes of a Republican are false flags. His ideology was definitely far-right.

  3. stuffin says

    Vote for Obama and piss on the shoes of a Republican are false flags. His ideology was definitely far-right.

  4. says

    There is this huge disconnect where people don’t seem to want to accept that what we classify as mental illness is natural human behavior that has always been with us. It’s not an excuse. But it gets treated that way by people who couldn’t define any condition competently on the spot. It’s regular humanity and they just don’t want to look. They want to wave the scary word around.

    It’s what has always been around us at higher resolution. So what if mental illness may be involved? I challenge them. “Be responsible for your dismissal, show it in the words of the killer and then explain how that changes anything? How that removes bigoted patterns of thought or action that come from the culture? It does not. It’s how the problem is shaped.”

  5. Robert Webster says

    I DO hang out on Facebook, because that’s how I keep in touch with my relatives, but it does have its perks. I have a “friend” who thinks Alex Jones is awesome, which is great fun, and somehow I ended up with a Palestinian who claims to be a part of Hamas and was crying about the war they started. All good fun.

  6. says

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    Not that long ago, I went to the dentist for my first-ever root canal. I was prescribed a synthetic opioid for pain relief. I therefore must be sympathetic to the current plight of the Sackler family† because there’s a nonzero chance that I might have become an addict. (Well, no, I discontinued use well before I even used up the entire prescription. “Pain” is just another four-letter word, usually less distressing than “vertigo and disorientation,” and I’ve had enough major surgery to have, umm, calibrated the instrumentation.) I feel no urges to go shoot up a town in rural Maine — or even rural Washington, which would be a lot closer. It’s election season: Gotta fill out my ballot first anyway.

    I’ll satisfy myself with suggesting that hanging, drawing, and quartering (individually randomized order thereof) of the Heffalump leadership in The People’s Chamber of Congress is merited by their own disloyalty to the Constitution. But not advocating actually doing so: That would stain the marble. Define however much of the above as sarcasm as you’re comfortable with, and while doing so consider that I distrust them because I’ve met them (17 current lower-house critters, 22 current upper-house critters, and at least a dozen upper-house-confirmed executive-branch critters including the very top of the pyramid. Pyramid scheme. Whatever.). And question exactly how many of them need far, far more contact with mental-health providers than Senator Fetterman has acknowledged having. <indubitablesarcasm> But it’s just a matter of days now until Fetterman goes Rambo on a Senate committee hearing… </indubitablesarcasm> But then, I’m old enough to remember Eagleton… and the sub rosa real reasons that was a post hoc rationalization to suppress the candidacy of someone whose, well, unsuitability for the Vice Presidency aren’t very well known.

    † Entirely deserved.

  7. raven says

    The vast majority of terrorists in the USA have been right wingnut extremists.
    Last year, all of the domestic terrorist victims were killed by right wingnut extremists.

    “All the extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists of various kinds, who typically commit most such killings each year…”

    Death and Extremism
    Mass Shooting Victims Dominate Extremist Casualties of 2022

    New ADL Data: Mass Shootings Accounted for the Majority of Victims of Extremist-Related Killings in 2022
    February 22, 2023

    Executive Summary
    Every year, individuals with ties to different extreme causes and movements kill people in the United States; the ADL Center on Extremism (COE) tracks these murders. Extremists regularly commit murders in the service of their ideology, in the service of a group or gang they may belong to, or even while engaging in traditional, non-ideological criminal activities.

    In 2022, domestic extremists killed at least 25 people in the U.S., in 12 separate incidents. This represents a decrease from the 33 extremist-related murders documented in 2021 and is comparable to the 22 extremist-related murders in 2020.
    The 2022 murder totals would have been much lower if not for two high-casualty extremist-related shooting sprees.

    All the extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists of various kinds, who typically commit most such killings each year but only occasionally are responsible for all (the last time this occurred was 2012).

  8. Robbo says

    i have noticed a trend in mass shootings. a commonality that doesn’t get as much media attention as i think it deserves. its there if you examine the backgrounds of all the shooters. they all have this in common:

    easy access to guns.

  9. laurian says

    Once more the only question that needs to be answered (and never is b/c its never asked) is who put the gun in the hands of latest mass murder.

    Until we hold the armorers of mass murderers accountable nothing will change.

  10. kome says

    I’m gonna disagree a little bit with “because an awful, embarrassing lot of stupid people like them without any attempt to go on a murder rampage” on stochastic terrorism grounds. I think that liking people who advocate for the dehumanization of others, especially when they do so in thinly-veiled ways using coded language that leave open the “and what should we do about these people” part of the conversation, is a predictor of going on a murderous rampage later. It’s not a strong predictor and it’s not the only predictor for the reason you stated, but affinity for people who promote dehumanizing ideologies is an incredibly common feature across the vast majority of mass shooters that we aren’t necessarily justified in downplaying its role as contributing to the motivation to commit a mass shooting.

  11. garnetstar says

    I read somewhere that being convicted of, or otherwise having committted, domestic violence, is more highly correlated to becoming a mass shooter than is any other factor. I seem to recall some statistic that 64% of mass shooters had a previous history of domestic violence.

    Yet, terrorizing domestic partners is not counted as a “mental illness”! It’s not even stigmatized, really. I think that it should be a legal reason to confiscate the abusers’ guns and not permit them to buy any more.

  12. says

    Domestic violence is a comorbidity in 80% of mass shooters.

    This guy was a shooting instructor. Anyone want to guess the comorbidity of “gun nut” and “mass shooter”? “Gun nut” is too vague. But I bet owning multiple guns is a flag.

  13. wzrd1 says

    Jaws, only vertigo and disorientation? You lucky soul! I don’t get those effects, well, what little may be present is trivially dismissed. I get gifted with a rather generous histamine response. Back itches infernally, I get congested, blood vessels dilate significantly to make for a measurable decreased in BP and overall, feel like I’m quite literally dying.
    Generally, less pleasant than using an angle grinder in place of toilet paper in the bathroom.
    So, can’t recommend either opiates/opioids or angle grinders for bodily usage.
    Had a dental appointment yesterday at 1400, got home at 2000, due to traffic fouling the bus route and missing my last day schedule bus and had to wait an hour and a half for the night schedule to begin. Fun, given I had three molars extracted. First thing when I got home was pop my evening BP and thyroid meds and some naproxen.
    Then, gummed some baked beans, as I really didn’t feel assed enough to make anything better. Tonight, it’ll be split pea soup with some rye bread. Tomorrow, it’ll be back to solid foods, if my usual healing rate continues.

    I have however, considered destroying a bowling alley. Largely, due to it being so ill maintained that the parking lot would likely have given superior performance to the lanes. Alas, I was fresh out of cranes with wrecking balls.
    And there was one restaurant in specific that I’d have happily taken a flame thrower to, after suffering from a rather unpleasant case of food poisoning from the ill preserved, poorly prepared and undercooked seafood at the establishment. Thankfully, someone beat me to it, saving me the trouble of finding a flame thrower. That was good, as I was fairly busy plowing through a case of toilet paper at the time (yeah, with kids and a wife, we bought TP by the case).

    Still, PZ would’ve been wrong to piss on a Republican’s shoes. Proper behavior would be to piss down their back and tell them that it’s raining.

    But, PZ did undermine his own argument. After all, 1.3% of any population is a supermajority to Republicans.
    Well, as long as the 1% is the top income 1%, anyway.
    I’ll just get my jacket…

  14. beholder says

    4 shooters out of over 300 mass shooters since 2009 are transgender or non binary. That’s just 1.3 percent of all shooters…

    Fun fact, huh? File that one away for later, right? Math problems involving low probabilities and framed by our pathological availability of guns in America is so fascinating!

    Will two mass shooters ever try to shoot up the same place at the same time independently of each other, and shoot each other first before hurting anyone else? Does it still count as a mass shooting? What were the odds? Will there eventually be a recurrence of a finite system where we start seeing all the same mass shootings over and over again?

    One thing we can count on is that Congress will never restrict the availability of these weapons. A true impossibility.

  15. says

    PZ, I, too, am aware of my mental state being very distressed and darkened by the horrendous events in which we are immersed. I do not seek ‘formal’ help to relieve the distress because I realize that mental/emotional healthcare is still a very primitive, slow and hit-and-miss proposition. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to seek help. That is a healthy sign of awareness of one’s mental state. And, it is a sad failing of our society that some would be willing to condemn you as if that seeking help was an admission of mental defect and weakness.

    One tactic we use is to avoid the disease of social media. Its often toxic, unbridled, emotional flood has unbalanced too many to the point of either violence or suicide.

  16. says

    I just read the following on:
    here is that pertinent social media post:

    John Pavlovitz
    “I and millions of people in America struggle with mental illness—and we’d never consider violence toward anyone. We’d certainly never walk into a mall or a church or a school and gun down strangers.”
    Stop Blaming Mental Illness for Mass Murders
    I have mental illness. I’ve battled it fiercely for more than half my life. Over two decades ago, I began to realize I was different from many people (or at least I thought I was). I knew that that…
    7:46 PM · Oct 25, 2023

  17. numerobis says

    Has The Onion posted their usual story about this yet?

    ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

  18. says


    They’ve certainly had the customary thoughts and prayers: “Let’s pray that most of the victims were either ‘independents’ who have to be convinced or Democrats. Good, hard-working real-‘murikans are hopefully safe, and we’ll pray really hard and really publicly for their families and loved ones if not.”

    What, too cynical? I was… around… during Heffalump administrations in which some of the didn’t-have-to-be-confirmed-with-public-hearings political apparatchiks came just short of saying that in front of the uniformed furniture (that is, most of the time they stopped short).

  19. raven says

    They’ve certainly had the customary thoughts and prayers: “Let’s pray that most of the victims were either ‘independents’ who have to be convinced or Democrats.

    That was similar to my first thought late last night when I saw the headline.

    That is one less Trump voter when they catch this guy.

    Canceled out if the majority of his 18 dead victims were Independent or Democratic party voters.

  20. gijoel says

    Thoughts and prayers! I’m praying you won’t think about banning metal penis substitutes.

  21. chrislawson says

    Not sure where Zenkus got those figures from, but Mother Jones hosts a database drawn from FBI figures showing that since 1982, there have been 148 mass shootings and 150 perpetrators (two shootings had two perpetrators). Of those, only one is identified as trans. So it’s not 4 out of ‘over 300’ since 2009. It’s 1 out of 150 since 1982.

    If we use a simple confidence intrerval calculator for a proportion with continuity correction, we find that k=1, n=150 gives us a p of 0.0067 with 95% CI of 0.0004 to 0.0422, that is, 0.04% to 4.2%. Since the best estimates of prevalence of transgenderism in the population are around 0.5%, what this really shows is that this data is useless for determining whether transgenderism is a risk factor, a protective factor, or uncorrelated. It’s a bad faith argument on its face. Even worse, though, is bringing it up when there is not a shred of an indication that the shooter is transgender. It is nothing more than a distractor, using the current minority-to-be-hated to stop people addressing the real causes.

  22. simplicio says

    Congratulations. If you can prove you went in for counseling, all you need is evidence that you beat your wife, and you’re qualified to buy a gun. Or you could come to TN, and regardless of any criminal record, you can go to any sporting goods or department store they’ll have your favorite weapon waiting for you. May I suggest an AA-12? Much more effective than those wussy AR-15s.

    Regardless of any campaign to stop this nonsense, our Governor knows how much we really want to protect ourselves. At least Minnesota hasn’t realized the importance of being able to display your gun wherever you go (yet).

  23. birgerjohansson says

    At the Colbert show, there is a brilliant monologue about how the new speaker ignores the mass shooting issue (The disturbing part is at the end of the video).
    “Mike Drop: Disturbing facts about speaker Mike Johnson”

    Yesterday, Colbert had a visit from the Talking Heads.
    Which reminds me, the House majority is on a Road To Nowhere, ignoring Psycho Killers. As for the crazy Republican House lady, she had nothing to say about stopping gun violence And She Was temporarily absent from the headlines.

  24. wzrd1 says

    chrislawson @ 26, as I recall, that “manifesto” was described more as a journal and plans.
    Although, the FBI wanting to suppress it is a matter of grave concern, it is in keeping with a modest, if noisy movement that wants to burn literature as well.

  25. flange says

    The media frequently refers to these miserable human beings as being a “firebrand.” As in, this person is just over-the-top enthusiastic and wacky. Not the vile, thuggish, lying assholes these people are.

  26. wzrd1 says

    shermanj @ 33, my phone sent me an alert a few weeks ago about my potentially becoming a fall risk, due to an increase in my double support time. Didn’t know it, but it was monitoring my gait.
    What it doesn’t know is, I walk with a cane, leaving only one hand free to either push/pull a shopping cart or lug groceries in only one hand. Obviously, once one goes above 5 pounds and my typical bag load is around 10 – 15 pounds, that’s going to impact my gait.
    Thankfully, it’s not measuring my profanity rate while walking, the sidewalks around here are atrocious. The city had planted trees on multiple occasions, always choosing trees that would lift the pavement, rather than a deep taproot species. Well, that an concrete cancer in concrete that looks to be 20 – 30 years old (and only that apparent age, judging from the weathering).

  27. says

    @35 wzrd1 said: my phone sent me an alert a few weeks ago about my potentially becoming a fall risk, due to an increase in my double support time. Didn’t know it, but it was monitoring my gait.
    I reply: Have some with the phone spyware, take your phone and strap it to a neighbors dog’s collar and then have the dog run and jump all around the yard and see what kind of ‘alerts’ you get!

    And, I agree with the problems we face from our ‘wonderful’ paved sidewalks. Of course, his arrogance, the mayor of our stupid little city wants to spend About 37Million USD on a new city hall when many city streets aren’t even paved let alone have curbs and sidewalks. Society is mostly a catastrophic failure!

  28. wzrd1 says

    shermanj @ 36, our problem largely revolved around the city having good intentions, with exceptionally piss poor implementation. Planting trees, which was good, but alas, they selected shallow rooted trees, which then pushed the sidewalks up and turning pavements into obstacle courses. The trees then died off due to a dearth of water.
    They gradually replanted with slightly better selected trees and added easements near the curb to allow water to soak into the ground. Far less flooding now, that appears to be a state wide program, as I’ve also noticed sizable runoff collection ponds that are connected to local creeks when the water level rises enough to flow into them. At least those were reasonably well designed, if now mosquito sources.
    A few bat houses would’ve been a good investment as well. :/

  29. Nemo says

    I just assumed he was a right-winger, because, you know… mass shooter. But I waited in vain for the manifesto or obvious hate-crime pattern to his victims, so I wasn’t certain. Still, I think it might be relevant. (See kome #11.)

  30. wzrd1 says

    Nemo @ 38, the last reporting I reviewed (mere minutes ago), police were called to his home to evaluate if he needed to be examined under a File 6 report and placed for psych evaluation if necessary. As he refused to answer the door, police basically back burnered it until receiving a note from his National Guard commander.
    Previously, he had been hospitalized due to threats while on National Guard training duty on a military installation, resulting in the mandatory hospitalization and evaluation. Maine does have “yellow flag laws” that would remove firearms temporarily from his possession until he received treatment and clearance, if a court so orders.
    His commander then spoke with his brother, who assured the commander that he’d retrieve the service member’s firearms and secure them until he received treatment.
    He subsequently had run-ins with fellow service members while off duty, alleging that they called him a pedophile, which they denied. He threatened to shoot up his National Guard armory, raising some security concerns and increasing security patrols.
    The commander, apparently presuming that the father and brother had retrieved the firearms, suggested to the police sergeant to leave him alone to cool off.
    Meanwhile, another story suggested he and his girlfriend broke up, the shooting locations were places they frequented when dating.
    The rifle used was a battle rifle type, not the usual AR-15, but the higher power AR-10, which has about the same power as a 30-06 round and more than capable of killing a grizzly bear. The pistol, the same model that the Army uses, a 9mm semiautomatic. Recently purchased the pistol retails for around $650 – 700, the rifle $1100 – 1200.
    In comparison, my competition rifle retails for $2100, plus optics totaling around $3500. My competition pistol cost around $2000 after customization work for precision. They’ll remain locked up until cleaning time early next year, then await time when I can take them to a range and defend myself from unperforated paper.
    Haven’t replaced my hunting rifle, as I’m no longer in any condition to be dragging a deer out of the damned woods.
    I do have excellent home defense. Good locks and a fairly high floor in my apartment building, if I need more, I still have my cane.
    And I happily fired off my antigovernment ballot yesterday.

    Overall, it looks like bad timing for efforts, with family short stepping relieving him of his weapons, as they did note that he was known to answer the door with a gun in his hand.
    The only time I ever routinely went to or through a door with a gun in my hand was when I was in a war zone and well, it was required.

    I did have one soldier with slightly similar symptoms, he was already a veteran, so when there was some trouble, I drove him myself to the VA hospital and directed them to not release him until they had him stable and with a secure medication supply and treatment plan. Which, happily they did. He was subsequently discharged under psychological grounds and remains under occasional VA care as needed. Nobody wants to argue with a master sergeant.

    Issues: The police can’t force their way into a home without either a warrant or clear evidence that a crime is in progress or evidence is being destroyed while awaiting a warrant.
    The father and brother appear to have soft pedaled retrieving the firearms.
    The service member/shooter didn’t seek professional mental health guidance.

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