It has all the makings of a MASSIVE news spectacle: a would-be mass killer targeted three schools and places of worship, there was a manifesto, and there was a conviction.
So why does this Colorado conviction barely warrant a ‘blip’ on the news media’s radar?
There are two possible explanations — or a combination of them both.
One relates to the selected target. The other relates to the convicted offender who was (fortunately) turned in by a concerned relative before things took a violent turn.
First, the central facts of the story
William Whitworth, who identifies as Lilly, was arrested in March of 2023 after a sibling reached out to law enforcement stating Whitworth threatened to “shoot up a school.” Whitworth’s sentencing started earlier this month but was scheduled to continue on Tuesday. Whitworth, who once attended school in District 20, was arrested at her Elbert County home, and according to arrest papers, openly admitted to plotting shootings at multiple schools and churches. A notebook was found that listed potential locations of the planned attack, according to the affidavit. […]
Whitworth was originally facing charges including attempted murder, criminal mischief and menacing. Whitworth took a deal pleading guilty to 2nd-degree assault.
Attorneys for Whitworth argued she should not have served prison time and rather should go into a live-in treatment program. Whitworth’s defense has largely been about her claiming to have had severe mental health issues, such as depression, causing her desire to create detailed mass shooting plans.
“I’m truly sorry,” Whitworth said in court earlier this month, “I thank God I got out. You get addicted to the pain, depression, and isolation.” — KKTV
Whitworth targeted schools and churches.
If it was a mosque or possibly a synogogue, someone in the media might take this seriously. But that would usually depend on what narrative they could wring out of those attacks. As we’ve seen from violence that targeted Jewish victims in New York and New Jersey, their degree of concern depends to a surprising degree on what identity boxes they can check on the attacker. If it’s not someone from the recognized ‘oppressor’ class, it’s often not a story worth their effort.
The same goes double for churches. If, for example, a black church is firebombed or selected as the target of a shooting by some kind of racial bigot, that’s a huge story whose killer’s name will enter the public consciousness.
When churches and other Christian organizations are vandalized or even torched by abortion zealots or anti-religious bigots by the dozens (or, in Canada, by the hundreds) does anyone care? (This story was written when that number was closer to fifty.) Nope. A story about one chucklehead putting slices of bacon on the door handle of a mosque got far more traction.
Another explanation for relative media indifference is identity politics. What do we know about the offender?
We know that acts of violence — especially against a sympathetic target like a school — perpetrated are BIG news. They’re even bigger when the face of those attacks happens to be a suburban white male. Bigger still when that offender puts out a manifesto.
What do we know about this offender?
William Whitworth checks all of those boxes. But for some reason, this STILL isn’t a story that has gripped the nation. Why?
There is a four-word clue in the news clip we cited: “who identifies as Lilly”.
Whitworth is a dude who has ‘begun to transition’ to being a girl.
Should this matter? In a just world, a murderous felon is a murderous felon. Should it really matter if that felon prefers to wear pants or a skirt?
This is a purely political problem.
Not only do we live in a world that is broken and unjust, the current administration is selective in their enforcement of the law.
This, of course, emboldens whatever subgroup of offenders believe themselves immune to prosecution.
We’ve seen it with large-scale shoplifting operations. We’ve seen it with carjackings. Is this the leading edge of a larger trend with another group that sees themselves as immune to prosecution?
Let’s look at the message being sent.
But wait… there’s more.
The Nashville shooter’s manifesto would still be under wraps had it not been leaked to a right-wing media outlet. It expressed explicit hatred for Christians and white people.
Do you even remember this story? (Supposing you heard about it at all.)
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