The Left's latest speech suppression gambit.
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You may have recently come across the term “stochastic terrorism.” It seems to have been used rather a lot lately in public discourse by the sort of people you imagine spend most of their days vigilantly on the lookout for something to be offended by, people whose every interaction is laced with the prudish passive aggressiveness that is wokeness. It’s the Left’s latest speech suppression gambit, for whom winning arguments is no longer a worthwhile endeavor but preventing them is.
By definition, stochastic terrorism is the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act. The concept itself is technically valid. Given a population of sufficient size, you will always find at least a few wackos who get caught up in some paralytic thought-helix induced by political emotions in a manner that’s more extreme than your average Joe, ultimately going down a road that leads to violence. You can’t predict such a thing, but you can reasonably conclude it’s inevitable. It’s the randomness, the inability to know who, what, when, where, or why, that’s the “stochastic” part.
The idea is that a prominent person with a big enough platform and broad enough reach knows that someone, somewhere is listening and will basically become a Manchurian Candidate who attacks a specific target on their behalf. For example, the extremist left-wing YouTube program The Young Turks recently called for banning Tucker Carlson from television because he went after hospitals for grooming kids and now someone’s going to plant a bomb or something.
Purveyors of this concept claim that the plausible deniability is the point—i.e. Tucker Carlson, given the size of his audience, can supposedly rest assured that someone out there will go after whoever falls under his rhetorical crosshairs, and because Carlson doesn’t specifically call for violence, the attack can’t be linked directly back to him.
Note the sheer amount of projection required to label Carlson a stochastic terrorist, though; in this way, you can have people associate him with all manner of imaginable violent or immoral acts even if no act has been committed, and the more you assert he’s a stochastic terrorist, the more immediately you can pin the blame on him the moment something does happen, regardless of details. This is how people with IQs of Submoronic-to-Moronic have convinced themselves that even beloved Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is a stochastic terrorist:
Never mind that Rowling has never said anything vitriolic about anyone, or that she’s the one who is so often ruthlessly attacked for believing in biological sex and advocating for women’s rights; never mind that speech isn’t violence, or that statistical abstraction isn’t a substitute for evidence. All that matters is that the person being labeled a stochastic terrorist is loathed by a sufficient number of spazzes. They’ll seek to cancel and silence whomever they perceive standing in the way of their cause without regard for proportionality or accuracy.
A perfect example of “the growing threat of stochastic terrorism,” according to the loudest mouthpieces in the mainstream media, was the recent incident involving stock-market phenom and fine liquors connoisseur Paul Pelosi and a hammer-wielding, skivvies-wearing gentleman who we’ve been told embodies everything that’s wrong with right-wingers and was somehow radicalized by rhetoric aimed at Nancy on the interwebs. That’s the prevailing narrative, at least, despite an abundance of information suggesting the attack was the culmination of a decade-long drug-induced psychosis of a hippie nudist from Berkeley.
Ironically, it just so happens that we do have a host of excellent “stochastic terrorism” examples—from the Left. Let’s take a short trip down memory lane.
Remember this little spiel from Chuck Schumer?
As soon as the Dobbs draft was leaked in May, pro-abortion activists answered Schumer’s call, posting the home addresses of SCOTUS justices online. A thread on Reddit with four addresses collected more than 25,000 upvotes in less than a day.
The point in publicizing this private information was to enable targeted harassment. To the surprise of no one with any decency in them, the non-stop demonization of the justices led one individual to take things even further, plotting to assassinate Brett Kavanaugh. And the dude was serious:
In the weeks before traveling to the Washington, DC area, the man accused of attempting to murder Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh researched how to assassinate individuals and said he would be "shooting for 3" justices, according to a search warrant application from the FBI.
Nicholas Roske, who prosecutors say traveled to Kavanaugh's home with a pistol, extra ammunition, a tactical knife and other gear, looked up terms like "most effective place to stab someone" and "quietest semi auto rifle," the application states. — CNN
Yet, even after the Kavanaugh plot was foiled the White House still refused to condemn protesting at justices’ homes.
When the Dobbs ruling finally came down, pro-abortion agitators and activists put on a stochastic terrorism clinic:
Even now, pro-life centers and churches are still being burned down and vandalized, with nary a mention of stochastic terrorism. Outrage about this has been dismissed as “the Right’s new bogeyman.”
Then there was Joe Biden’s needlessly divisive September speech on the “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” and his remarks about half the country being “semi-fascists,” soon followed by some scumbag named Shannon Brandt intentionally hitting and killing 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson with his truck because he thought the kid was “part of a Republican extremist group.”
And of course we can’t forget the summer of 2020, when false rhetoric about an epidemic of police shootings of unarmed black men and gravely irresponsible sensationalist coverage by the mainstream media led to over $2 billion in insured damage to American cities across the country, with thousands of destroyed small businesses in Minneapolis alone. No BLM activists were ever accused of stochastic terrorism for spewing inflammatory bull about the inherent racism of all cops, nor were any politicians for encouraging rioting.
Stochastic terrorism is such a stupid term. It really is. Someone who uses it seriously — someone who applies the label unto others — brings to mind the same type of person who tweets about their eight-year-old son making suspiciously on-the-nose anti-Trump statements. Judgmental, absolutist, intolerant, and neurotic, they are devout practitioners of the progressive pseudo-religion in which censorship is an article of faith, immersed in a political culture that has long inculcated them to believe they can comfortably silence whatever views they arbitrarily place into prohibitive categories, convinced that it’s 1933 in Weimar and that without more regulation of speech — especially on Twitter — the world is going to end or some such ridiculousness, completely oblivious to the fact that both Soviet communism and Nazi fascism had strikingly similar puritanical streaks and were also hostile to anything outside their own order.
Much in the same way that all manner of discourse is swept under the label “hate speech” so that the phrase now essentially means “views that make me uncomfortable,” stochastic terrorism’s convenience lies in the term’s elasticity. It’s a catch-all premised upon a vague appeal to authority. It’s also sufficiently obscure to appeal to the progressive clergy, who love to infuse conversations with novel, arcane vocabulary that allow the speaker to flex superiority over the “less informed.” Such lexical abominations, which are like intellectual catnip for progressives, are status signifiers meant to be interpreted as evidence of enlightenment and Good Person™ bona fides. In this sense, stochastic terrorism functions similarly to, say, BIPOC.
Moreover, this clever use of euphemism is imbued with the illusion of intellectualism and has a national security veneer to it. It sounds legit, as if the province of the erudite. “Stochastic” is not a common word except in the world of probability and statistics. To the average person, it suggests sophistication. But the truth is that the phrase didn’t exist until 2011, when some random blogger coined it on the progressive site DailyKos to describe the Gabby Gifford shooting.
Going forward, there’s no reason to believe the Left’s adoption of stochastic terrorism as a concept will be defined by consistency and good faith. That much is already clear. The way this crude political weapon is being used is to suggest that when somebody on the Right criticizes someone on the Left, even if it’s as part of a political argument, what they’re actually doing is “stoking hatred” in the expectation that some random person will be radicalized by the rhetoric and then commit political violence on their behalf. The point is to politicize and attribute incidents of violence to ideological opponents—logic, evidence, and causality be damned. It’s about policing speech and criminalizing political opposition. And as we’ve seen, left-wing media, activists, and apparatchiks apply the designation only in one direction: rightward.