Hours later, more gunfire: Connor Betts, 24, opened fire in a historic district in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, including his sister. Police stopped the attack in less than 30 seconds, shooting and killing the gunman outside a crowded bar.
After the bullets flew, so did the accusations: Some critics blamed President Donald Trump for the El Paso attack, citing his use of words like invasion to describe migrants heading toward the U.S. border.
Others pointed out that the Dayton gunman may have supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Twitter—and no one is blaming the Democratic presidential candidate for the Ohio shooter’s attack.
Still, a wise use of words is a constant Biblical theme. While the New Testament book of James doesn’t talk much about blame, it does talk about blaze. James writes of the tongue: “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
There are reasonable ways to talk about reasonable concerns over immigration, gun control, and other issues. But it’s best to avoid throwing flames, because we don’t know the flammability of those around us. That’s particularly important for public leaders reaching wide audiences. (Please see Marvin Olasky’s website-only column at wng.org/shootings.)
One person apparently absorbing this lesson: the original creator of the 8chan website that hosted the El Paso shooter’s manifesto. Fredrick Brennan, 25, started the site in 2013.
Brennan once wrote favorably of eugenics, and says he developed the views because of a painful medical condition that left him disabled at birth. After a falling-out with a new owner, he eventually cut ties with the company.
He now says the extremist site should be shut down. An internet cloud service that provided support to 8chan announced it cut off its services for the site after the El Paso attack. The current 8chan operators said they were working hard to find another home.