“Stochastic Terrorism” — GOP Party Official Dan Adamini and his Call for Lethal Violence Against Protestors Engaged in Non-Lethal Forms of Violence
On February 2, 2017 Dan Adamini, a former chair and current secretary of the Marquette County Republicans in Michigan, and host of the radio show “In the Right Mind” on WDMJ/WIAN, suggested that lethal violence should be used on protesters to suppress non-lethal levels of violence. As explained below, Mr. Adamini’s suggestion could very well have been an instance of inciting terrorism.
An article in the Sacramento Bee reports that Adamini tweeted “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.”
In a separate Facebook post, Adamini wrote: “I’m thinking that another Kent State might be the only solution … They do it because they know there are no consequences yet.”
Responding to the massive backlash he received in the media for these statements, Mr. Adamini claimed his words had been misconstrued. He said he’s working to stop violence, not to cause it.
THE RHETORICAL TOOL OF “STOCHASTIC TERRORISM” -PRESIDENT TRUMP AS EXEMPLAR PAR EXCELLENCE
The real estate mogul has joked that he could shoot someone on the street without hurting his political popularity, said that protesters opposed to his political ideas should be “roughed up,” worked closely with people who call for the execution of Hillary Clinton, and suggested that the problem with America is that “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.” (excerpt from Tara Culp-Ressler, “The rhetorical tool that allows Trump to incite violence without ‘inciting violence’”, August 10, 2016, ThinkProgress.org)
“Stochastic” means “randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
“Terrorism” is a notoriously squishy word that has been stretched and squeezed to fit the rhetorical purposes of describing or justifying violence. According to its Wikipedia entry, the most common understanding of the term consists of the following elements:
- It is the use of violence or threat of violence in order to purport a political, religious, or ideological change.
- It can only be committed by non-state actors or undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments.
- It reaches more than the immediate target victims and is also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society.
- It is both mala prohibita (i.e., crime that is made illegal by legislation) and mala in se (i.e., crime that is inherently immoral or wrong).
A good article posted by Larry Wolgemuth on Relativity Online provides a further discussion of stochastic terrorism.
“In a piece published in Rolling Stone, law professor David Cohen argues that Trump is engaging in what’s known as “stochastic terrorism” — an academic term that refers to the act of using suggestive language to inspire radicals to carry out violent acts. In this scenario, a lone wolf terrorist wouldn’t be explicitly instructed to commit their crimes, but they would be encouraged by rhetoric that appears to normalize that type of activity.” (excerpt from Tara Culp-Ressler, “The rhetorical tool that allows Trump to incite violence without ‘inciting violence’”, August 10, 2016, ThinkProgress.org)
Isn’t this precisely the type of stochastic terrorism we think of when we think of the way ISIS uses social media to inspire lone wolves to commit atrocities?
If we’re going to give Mr. Adamini any rope here to climb out of the hole he threw himself into, we need to be fair to all parties. And that includes ISIS. It is so very easy to see how an ISIS social media director, if captured and accused of inciting violence, could simply take a page from Mr. Adamini’s Talk Your Way Out of Anything book (e.g., “you must have misinterpreted our message … of course we meant to ‘kill’ and ‘maim’ only in the metaphorical sense as in to kill bad policies and maim your hatred of us! We don’t want anyone to get hurt! We meant the complete opposite and are only promoting peace! Here, have a flower for peace. We’re handing them out.”).
ADAMINI’S MEA CULPA SEEMS INSINCERE
Adamini just couldn’t resist trying to wiggle his way out of an apology. The apology starts out well, but then rapidly stretches credulity to the breaking point.
"It was stupid, it was poorly done," Adamini said of his posts on Twitter and Facebook. “I was not speaking on behalf of the GOP.” “We’ve got too much hate in the world,” he said. “The hatred really has to stop. I’m sorry I played a role in the spawning of hatred.” “I’d like to see the violence stop before we have a tragedy.”
Okay. Good so far. But then:
"But my goal was to stop the violence by protesters, not commit violence against protesters."
"The point I was trying to make, admittedly I did it very poorly ... was that the violence is really getting out of hand, and much like in the 1960s, the violence created an atmosphere where something terrible and tragic like Kent State could happen."
"We could be headed toward another Kent State tragedy if we don't get a handle on the violence," Adamini said.
"It sounds like I was calling for violence, but I was actually trying to call for an end to the violence. ... Some are saying I'm calling for the death of innocent protesters, but nothing could be further from the truth." (I suppose that means the “guilty” protesters should definitely be shot to death? And how exactly is “guilt” assigned? Is being anti-Trump an indicator of guilt? How about being anti-corruption? The corrupt may have a different view of guilt than that held by those who play fair.)
"There are paid agitators who continue to plague this country," Adamini told the Free Press.