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Is the Trollhattan killer also the first killer troll? Anton Lundin-Pettersson’s online world

TrollFace_HD

Yesterday morning, a man wearing a military helmet and a Darth Vader mask entered a school in Trollhattan, Sweden, carrying a sword. After posing for a picture with two students who thought his outfit was a Halloween costume, he stabbed a teacher with his sword and began attacking other students. He killed two and seriously injured several others before being shot by police.

Those looking for a conventional answer as to why he did it don’t have to look too far: The killer, identified in the media as 21-year-old Anton Lundin-Pettersson, seems pretty clearly to have been motivated by racist and religious hatred towards Muslim immigrants. The school he picked for his violent rampage is overwhelmingly populated by immigrants; surveillance footage of his rampage reportedly shows that he deliberately targeted people of color.

A suicide note he left behind reportedly railed against immigrants. He was apparently also a supporter of a proposed anti-immigrant referendum, and a YouTube account identified as his followed several YouTubers known for railing against Muslims, including  Howard Bloom, an eccentric author whose latest book, the self-published “The Mohammed Code,” purports to show  how Mohammed sought to use violence to take over “the entire world.”

But Lundin-Pettersson’s rampage, while clearly driven by hate, was hardly a conventional hate crime. There is his bizarre outfit: in addition to wearing a Darth Vader mask (and a Nazi-era German army helmet) he reportedly shouted out Vader’s famous line “I am your father” as he launched his attack. And he apparently provided his own soundtrack for the rampage, playing what one witness described as “terrifying” Halloween music as he stalked the halls of the school, as if he were re-enacting a favorite scene from a movie or a hack-and-slash video game.

He may also have announced his planned rampage on 4chan the day before, in the creepy tradition of the Umpqua Community College less than a month ago. According to a screenshot now circulating on the internet — I haven’t been able to confirm it — he warned the denizens of 4chan’s r9k forum, in a post deliberately echoing the words of the earlier killer, to skip “school tomorrow if you live in Sweden,” adding a Trollface graphic along with his note and telling his readers that “my image will be of relevance.”

If the 4chan screenshot is real, it suggests that the Trollhattan killer was deeply enmeshed in “troll culture” online, a world in which violence and even mass murder can be reduced to an assortment of memes, where someone like mass murderer Elliot Rodger can be hailed, only partly ironically, as the “supreme gentleman” he famously declared himself to be.

Invariably, when people on 4chan or YouTube — or some other cesspit of the internet — start making jokes about mass killers, or even hailing them as heroes of sorts, we’re told that none of their comments really count; they’re just trolls, doing what trolls do.

But scratch a troll posting racist memes, and you will almost certainly find a real racist; scratch a troll posting misogynistic attacks on Anita Sarkeesian, and you will find a real misogynist. When trolls send rape and death threats to those they genuinely hate, their recipients need to take them as seriously as more obviously “serious” threats.

The world of the trolls is a nasty, hateful world, and those who soak in it too long may end up lashing out at the world in violent ways.

Indeed, it’s telling that the Trollhattan killer’s favorite YouTuber (if the account attributed to him is really his) was the noxious rager who calls himself TheAmazingAtheist. Lundin-Pettersson subscribed not only to TAA’s main channel but to his personal channel as well, and he favorited dozens if not hundreds of TAA’s videos (I stopped counting). Unlike some atheist activists, TAA doesn’t devote much time to trashing Islam; he’s far more interested in bashing Anita Sarkeesian and other supposed SJWs.

But TAA affects a hyperbolic “mad as hell” persona that, despite its obvious theatricality, seems to be rooted in a good deal of real anger. I can barely make it through a single video of his, and can only imagine the corrosive effect that watching dozens of his rage-filled videos would have on someone’s soul.

Naturally, YouTube comments being the cesspool that they are, the Trollhattan killer is receiving a good deal of posthumous support from racists, trolls, and racist trolls.  An assortment:

troll1

troll2

troll3 trlll4

troll5

troll6

troll7 troll8 troll9

There are critics, of course. And a few commenters who feel that he hadn’t killed enough people to deserve all this adulation.

trolcount trolcount2A reminder: these are from YouTube, not 4chan; I honestly don’t have the stomach to wade into the assorted 4chan threads devoted to the killer.

At this point, I think it’s become clear that websites that permit the posting of this sort of unregulated hate speech — from 4chan to Reddit to YouTube — are enabling the hateful troll culture that seems to have turned Lundin-Pettersson into the monstrous “troll” murderer who took two lives yesterday.

 

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James Haynes
6 years ago

But scratch a troll posting racist memes, and you will almost certainly find a real racist; scratch a troll posting misogynistic attacks on Anita Sarkeesian, and you will find a real misogynist.

hell you got antisemitic racial memes about her as well

Judas Peckerwood
Judas Peckerwood
6 years ago

Some days the state of humanity makes me root for a killer asteroid so that Earth can just start over.

Binjabreel
Binjabreel
6 years ago

That’s it. Fuck everything, bring on the class X solar flares, burn the entire internet to the ground.

newbie
newbie
6 years ago

Too soon to talk about toxic masculinity? Yeah, I thought so.

Some sort of username
Some sort of username
6 years ago

Kinda telling how many of those YouTuber posters had 4Chan meme avatars and anime avatars. A friend and I have noticed that people with anime avatars normally seem to white supremacists and/or bigots, somewhat ironically considering the origin of anime. It’s an odd contradiction but one that normally holds up when it comes to reality.

RosaDeLava
RosaDeLava
6 years ago

Oh, but we should actually be focusing on the white genocide! /s

I wonder if those people who praise those men who go on killing sprees never once consider the possibility that they might one day be on the wrong side of the barrel (or sword, whatever). Probably not.

lkeke35
lkeke35
6 years ago

Rosadelava: Yes. I’ve found that tit is exceptionally easy to be smug about other peoples behavior when people believe they’ll never be on the receiving end of anything awful they think is happening to someone else.

Rape, police brutality, mass shootings… those are other peoples problems that those people need to fix, seems to be the theory.

catmara
6 years ago

@RosaDeLava

I wonder if those people who praise those men who go on killing sprees never once consider the possibility that they might one day be on the wrong side of the barrel (or sword, whatever). Probably not.

I imagine that they think about it all the time but in their fantasies, they are the “good guy with the gun” who will save everyone.

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

Do the trolls consider that they’ll be on the wrong side of the gun or sword?

Judging by how some of them talk (and by how a few of them act), they’re suicidal. And so they decide to go out in what they consider to be a blaze of glory.

They hate people of color. They hate women. They also hate everything else that lives. They hate themselves. They hate life itself. And they’d like the rest of us to join them in their misery.

Bina
6 years ago

But scratch a troll posting racist memes, and you will almost certainly find a real racist; scratch a troll posting misogynistic attacks on Anita Sarkeesian, and you will find a real misogynist.

And scratch a troll posting murder “warnings”, and you find…?

Virtually Out of Touch
Virtually Out of Touch
6 years ago

Again, sociopaths are way more than just .02% of the population.

Bina
6 years ago

“Unwashed Crevice”? Roosh, is that YOU?

freemage
6 years ago

Dear Amazing Atheist: Please, please, see the sort of fans you attract, and consider the reasons for that.

******

VOoT: And again, please, no internet diagnoses. You can pinpoint sociopathic behavior, but not label people sociopaths–that’s the job of trained psychiatrists evaluating their patients–and ONLY their job.

AltoFronto
AltoFronto
6 years ago

@ Some Sort of Username – Japan & Germany were allies during WW2 – each of them considered the other to be an inferior race.

What makes these assholes call each other “hero” for attacking unarmed citizens in the most cowardly, shitty way possible? The mentality behind this weird glorification is disturbing.

I’ve noticed that most kind, tolerant people see everyone as unique individuals who have value, but these hate-filled shitbags always portray themselves as superhuman, and everyone else as a monolithic entity of lesser beings.

What can be done to challenge this worldview? It seems to be pervasive amongst killers.

daniel_d
daniel_d
6 years ago

Most of us in Sweden believe that this awful thing comes from what the political party “Sweden deomcrates” are saying/suggesting to those that listen. Just to mention some few current things: the partystop names are pointing out regugee camps and the same top leaders says that the camps should be demolished and the refugees “done with”… We have had in Sweden about 15 burned downed refugee camp and now we have this awful thing. What this is the Sweden democrates politic in practice.

…well apart from the 20% that say that they will vote on this racist party Sweden democrates (just for example, their leader joined when sweden democrates did march in nazi uniforms and had books burning meetings)

justlikeheaven
justlikeheaven
6 years ago

Yeesh. When I was but a wee lad (IE: 3 years ago) I was once a big fan of TAA. Alot of my early views on feminism were shaped by his reaction to them. Took me a while (and my older sister) to fully understand feminism.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ altofronto

It’s not so much that the attitude is pervasive, it’s that the attitude is a pre requisite.

As we’ve discussed before, most humans just cannot commit serious violence or kill. The inhibition against killing is very strong and hard to overcome.

The most effective technique for overcoming the inhibition is to attribute a strong sense of “otherness” (sometimes called “distance”) in the target. In essence you have to define humanity in a way that includes you but excludes them.

Incidentally the fact that this illusion can be easily shattered can be a lifesaver. In war one of the best ways of stopping the enemy shooting at you is to take your helmet of. You’re an individual again.

Saying “My name is…” can also be effective.

DieKampflesbe
DieKampflesbe
6 years ago

The Amazing Atheist is a pretty terrible person. Kevin Logan has a decent video rant about him up on youtube. He’s scary. Scarier because I used to like him when I was a young teenager just getting on youtube. The guy who did this obviously got off on it. Awful.

History Nerd
History Nerd
6 years ago

Ugh, The Amazing Atheist makes me fucking sick ever since I watched his video about Amanda Todd. She killed herself after being tormented by fucking pedophiles, not just normal horrible teenage bullies.

dhag85
6 years ago

I’m way too drunk right now, but I’ll add my comment to this and the general political climate of our country in the morning. All I can say right now is fuck it all.

History Nerd
History Nerd
6 years ago

From The Fifth Estate (Canadian version of 60 Minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRidpO7kUO0

History Nerd
History Nerd
6 years ago

Err

AltoFronto
AltoFronto
6 years ago

@ Alan – I know, that’s why I think there needs to be a real attempt to combat this entire way of thinking, and to prevent people getting to the point where a mass murder spree sounds like a good idea.

I studied Psychology – I know all about dehumanization. And I disagree that “most” people won’t commit acts of lethal violence given the right conditions.

But it’s no good telling the gunman what your name is and hoping to appeal to the last shred of human kindness in him, if there was ever a chance to prevent him from ever wanting to aim a gun at another human being in the first place.

The question is – how do they get to that point, and how do we stop them?

I have a feeling that reducing wealth inequality might help – they are all so shit scared that somebody else might be getting more than them, or taking something away from them by existing. And fascism tends to flare up during times of economic uncertainty.

Oddly enough, though, it seems extreme right wingers are always dead set against any policy that might actually benefit them, if it also means benefitting others.

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

According to South Park, the way people act on 4chan and in youtube comments is just reality and you should have thicker skins against it.

If I meet someone I hate, it’s likely Trey Parker and Matt Stone are a big part of the reason why I hate them.

R Cawkwell
6 years ago

The killing of two young people by someone notmuch older than they are is awful, very saddening. My sympathies are with the victims’ families.

Looking at the comments David included in the post, I find it disturbing that so many people congratulated the killer, as though killing children was an achievement.
I honestly can’t fathom the thought processes of people who praise murderers, and especially those who said his ancestors would be proud. Really? Apart from a gross misunderstanding of (presumably) Viking age Scandinavian culture and religion – Valhalla is referenced – why would anyone want a child murderer in their family? (and it’s stupid misrepresentation like those comments that help give Norse pagans a bad reputation).

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