Using the Rhetoric of Mass Shooting to Conceal Domestic Terrorism: Political Friend or Enemy?
Presented During: Death, Trauma, and the Media
Sponsor: Mass Communication Division
Thu, 11/19: 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Room: Asynchronous Session
In recent memory, the increasingly frequent occurrence of mass shootings in the U.S. have made such events rather commonplace. In the U.S., while mass shootings might not be surprising, what is shocking is how American media distinctly frame mass shootings based on the shooter's perceived identity markers. More specifically, U.S. media frames White mass shooters as "political friends" and portrays non-White, Muslim perpetrators as "political enemies" for mass shootings that resemble similar fatalities and destructive outcomes. In this paper, I argue that the selective use of the rhetoric of "lone wolf" and "mental illness" to frame mass shootings committed by White perpetrators in the U.S. functions to conceal the issue of domestic terrorism. Ultimately, the two distinct narratives following mass shootings in the U.S. contribute to coherent worldviews that conceal and subvert ongoing debates over gun control and gun accessibility.