64-year-old Stephen Paddock is responsible for an attack that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 people injured in Las Vegas last night — but don’t worry, officials want you to know, at least he’s not a terrorist.
Over the past 12 hours, elected officials and select media outlets have been extremely careful about how they’ve chosen to describe the man responsible for the largest mass shooting in American history. A lone wolf. A man who doesn’t fit the mass shooter profile.
Trump and media outlets like Breitbart, always quick to call Muslim terrorists, terrorists, selected to exercise much more restraint this time around and instead use polite euphemisms for white, male, American Paddock.
Of course, some of the media’s caution is obviously warranted — you wouldn’t want to make the same mistake the president did when he labeled the criminals behind a Philippines robbery “terrorists.” Still, Nevada’s definition of terrorism doesn’t require motivation for a violent act to quality as terrorism. Their state law defines an act of terror as: “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion and violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.”
There are perfectly sound legal reasons to hold back on calling Paddock a terrorist as of right now. But there are no perfectly sound legal reasons to have a double standard. Trump was quick to identify the man behind the London underground bombing as a “loser terrorist,” against the advice of officials. He then used the opportunity to push for his Muslim ban.
This time, Trump is far more reticent. And he’s not alone. Nevada Sheriff Lombardo has so far refused to call Paddock a terrorist on the grounds that: “We believe it was a local individual. He resides here locally.”
Here’s what officials, public figures and sometimes sloppy headlines have chosen to call Paddock thus far:
A “lone wolf” gunman opened fire on people attending a country music festival in Las Vegas, police said. https://t.co/rGJ5SIDp3B
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 2, 2017
Shooter’s Brother Says Stephen Paddock was a Typical Vegas Guy https://t.co/K1jWyKtWon
— TMZ (@TMZ) October 2, 2017
Stephen Paddock Doesn’t Fit Mass Shooter Profile https://t.co/DKMBe0ikaA
— TMZ (@TMZ) October 2, 2017
“He’s just a guy who lived in Mesquite who liked burritos,” is how Eric Paddock described his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock pic.twitter.com/q3MUgIa2Ws
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 2, 2017
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) October 2, 2017
Donald Trump on January 20: “this American carnage ends now.”
Donald Trump on October 2: “warmest condolences” to mass shooting victims.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 2, 2017
Learn more about how you can help victims of the Las Vegas attacks here.
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