I understand wanting to know if an adult killer had a political motive, particularly if his politics is shared by a large subculture. I don’t much understand it when it’s a kid. What does a kid understand about politics? How many kids, even older teens, are really so driven by politics that they’d kill over it? Politics is more likely to be window dressing for whatever it is that’s actually driven them to desperation. It’s a way to make their lashing out seem grander and less selfish than some pimply loser needing an outlet for his petty frustrations.

You could forgive people for taking an interest in the politics of today’s shooter despite his tender age if he had left a manifesto. That, at least, would constitute an attempt to formulate a political argument, which requires thought.

But this? C’mon.

A Nazi medal — and a communist hammer and sickle, which went unmentioned in the tweet. Coincidentally, it’s gone unmentioned or been deemphasized in other news reports about the shooter’s jacket too, all of which flagged the Nazi symbolism. Click here and scroll through the various screenshots compiled by Alex Griswold of the Free Beacon.

But it’s worse than that. This killer imbecile actually posted an explanation on Facebook of what his pins mean. He’s not a Nazi or a communist, he’s an edgelord. A really cheesy one, too. I’m surprised he didn’t toss a “Rick & Morty” pin in there for extra subversion.

We’re collectively trying to tease coherent political motive out of a (1) garment, belonging to a (2) kid, who’s probably (3) mentally ill, and who (4) finds symbolic meaning in Cthulhu. What have we become?

This comes with a price:

There’s no good answer as to how much coverage a shooter should get after he goes off. His identity and motives are part of the story and a natural subject of reader curiosity; if a jihadi blows up somewhere or a neo-Nazi shoots up a black Bible study group in Charleston, the public should know what drove them because the threat from their group is bigger than they are. But I’ve come around to thinking that the more tenuous the political motive is and the less it appears that the killer belongs to some threatening subculture, the less attention he should receive. Straining to find politics where there’s little reason to believe it really mattered gives the rando killers more cultural importance than they deserve. That’s destined to attract other rando glory-seekers, however inadvertently.

Exit question: