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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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Scribbles
Scribbles
6 years ago

Alan: I’m glad to hear that. I hadn’t heard. I understand they no longer hold any seats nationally. I hope fascism continues to break down like that. The far right is a scary thing.

The financial concerns those people raise are not founded in reality. I wonder if it’s just another dogwhistle. It’s that way in the states, but the UK is quite a bit different in how things like race and nationalism play out.

Arthur: I just get the impression you’re some furry who digs muscle dudes. I could be wrong ofc. Furries are generally pretty chill. I know a lot of artists and furries tend to be pretty big side customers for many of them. We were just pointing out that there’s a weird correlation between anime avatars and pedophilia/fascism. Not all animes are terrible people, but enough of them are that it’s kind of hard to ignore. I have no idea why this is.

Virtually: I think it extends beyond the Internet and subculture. Internet culture and these toxic subcultures of hate appear to be informed by real-world mainstream culture, directly. When people look at these kids and yell “sociopath” I think they’re missing the culture of antisocial individualism and fuck-you-got-mine staring them right in the face every moment of their lives. If we’re going to diagnose anything in the hopes of applying a workable treatment, treating the sociological issues that create these behaviors via something like liberation psychology should be the way to go. Treating people individually for antisocial behavior is not an effective means of stopping it. Western culture itself is rotten to the core with violence and exploitation as its contours are defined by exactly that. The violence we’re seeing is a raw expression of our culture. It’s only shocking because it’s happening to the white petty bourgeoisie as opposed to exported or segregated like it usually is.

Mockingbird: Thanks for the recommendation. As long as we’re swapping books, Toward Psychologies of Liberation by Watkins and Shulman is a very interesting mix of critical theory, psychology, and liberation theology.

Iris Scanner
Iris Scanner
6 years ago

David,

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.

This is one of the creepiest sentences you have ever written on this site.

If the killer had read Mein Kampf at a library, would you be warning about the dangers of “unregulated libraries”?

Is there any evidence at all that Lundin-Pettersson would not have killed if only he didn’t have access to YouTube and 4chan?

Virtually Out of Touch
Virtually Out of Touch
6 years ago

“Since i myself live in sweden (in stockholm however, which is pretty far away from Trollhättan)”

How is it? I just saw 2 videos of angry ranters ranting about “muslim invasion”, blaming an increase of rapes and everything else on muslim immigrants. Even MRAs who cry “false allegation” ever hour on the hour somehow think rape is happening at an alarming rate in Sweden these days. Here in the US muslims are not distinguishable from other citizens, they “assimilate”, blend in, keep their religion personal for the most part, not shoving in co-workers or classmate’s faces (though like born again Christians will try to turn you onto it if you get close enough to them, you just have to learn to deal with proseltyizers, weve always had them in the US, only Jews are immune to doing that, and for which I greatly respect them) . Why would Swedes be against the migration of such people? Muslims in the US constitute a large body of “responsible, hard working, tax paying, mostly professional” individuals and families. My intuition tells me something is off with these rape stats. Like someone is making them up and wingers are running with it without back checking and the anti-immigrant, Islamophobic MRAs are just taking their word for it and jumping on the bandwagon .

There will be minor cultural clashes which is expected and which can be benefitted from if you are open to sharing your culture with others and having theirs shared with you in an equal exchange of ideas. Who doesn’t love a wide variety of food, music, art, dance, etc? The Swedes I met are very open to these things. I can’t fathom thse things going on so my gut reaction is “made up” or at least “exagerated”.

Sorry for the misspellings and types. Small screen, broken keyboard.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

What’s Antifa? *Googles*

… Okay, fuck it, I’m asking David to ban you too. You’re clearly about as interested in the rules here as Slur-Slinging MRA #193450912.

autosoma
6 years ago

anyway to paraphrase Hamlet me thinks the lady doth invent too much.

as a great juxtaposition to all the negativity regarding immigration we’ve just had the battle of St Pancras. When you think about it the UK became a great economic powerhouse thanks to the skills, abilities, knowledge and entrepreneurialism of Flemmish wool farmers, Huganotte weavers, and loads and loads of other people who have moved into the country.

on a side note to flumux the racists… take a look at the painting in the Tate http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/N/N00/N00733_10.jpg The Death of Major Pierson. Centre stage is a is a rifleman defending his OC. It’s the first known depiction of a black serviceman in the British army, then look at the date 1781… I often find its abgiid argument to stop rasust blokes in their tracks.

on another side note I attended an interfaith Hafdalla this evening, first time multiple Jewish communities celebrated it together. The Lubovichers (the ones in the big fedoras) were typically standoffish and separationist -meh! But the ended up joining in.

Wetherby
Wetherby
6 years ago

The BNP was a thing for a while. But like so many organisations, including the NF from which it derived, it imploded in the usual internecine back stabbing of extremist parties. There’s a thing called the English Defence League that’s trying to fill the gap but not doing so well. There’s also something called Britain First but they seem just to produce Facebook memes.

Immigration is apparently the major political issue that concerns people here, but for the most part it’s based on economic fears rather than race issues.

I agree with all of that – in fact, the near-total obliteration of the BNP in the last five years has been one of the more cheering developments in British politics. But I suspect one of the reasons why it became irrelevant was that its support was always very soft, and once you got a more respectable party like UKIP that was anti-immigration without overtly racist overtones (not officially, anyway), it automatically became much more appealing.

But the genuinely Fascist hard right has been a vanishingly small minority for decades in Britain, and long may that continue. The main reason the BNP rose from irrelevance to moderately successful (they never had an MP, but at their peak they had nearly sixty local councillors and two MEPs) to irrelevance again in the space of only a decade is because there was a vast amount of immigration during that decade, especially following post-2004 EU enlargement, and the BNP was doing a very effective job of marshalling that kind of resentment thanks to one of the better-organised online strategies of any political party at the time (a necessity for them, as they’d been mostly denied access to the mainstream media).

But as soon as the media spotlight started to turn on them seriously, most famously/notoriously when the then BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared on the BBC’s flagship Question Time programme, people realised that they were a bunch of buffoons who stood absolutely no serious chance of gaining any real political power. UKIP, on the other hand, actually won an election in 2009 (to the European Parliament) and seemed much more plausible.

Incidentally, to illustrate just how irrelevant the BNP has become, not only do I have no idea who its current leader is but I couldn’t even pick out the name from a list of five with any certainty.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

SFHC — are you conflating Scribbles and Virtually? I ask because you’d asked if Virtually was pinging trolldar (yes), and up there seem to be replying to Scribbles with a call for banning, and I am a confused Argenti. Neither seems terribly keen on the standards ’round here, and I’m not gonna nay a call for banning, but better to be clear when invoking the banhammer?

On topic — nope. Just nope. I am unable to form real sentences that don’t consist mostly of four letter words, so I’m sticking with the four letters of NOPE!

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

@Argenti

Oh, no, the overreaction is because Scribbles has been calling for violence against and murder of right-wingers a LOT lately, not because I’m conflating the two idiots. ^^;

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

*And the murder of. Didn’t even notice the missing word.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

I am unconfused! Which is totally a word! I wasn’t sure on either of them since it seemed they’d both been respected regulars before I returned and thus my “um, what?” was at flukes, and I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt (hell, my nym is some seriously strained Latin for silver lining — Argenti : silver :: Aertheri : typo’ed cloud/mist/ether)

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

That’s the bizarre thing, Scribbles was a respected regular and I have no idea WTF happened. o_O The first time, we all wondered if their account was hacked by a gotcha troll, but at this point, I don’t even care anymore.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

… Oops, I just looked up the thread o’ weirdness and saw that you posted in it after I left, so I guess I don’t have to explain what happened. XD; Sorry.

Orion
6 years ago

Alan & EJ,

The story I’ve heard about surge of fascism in Europe is basically this:

1: The financial crisis did way, way more damage to Europe than America. Fascists thrive in hard times.
2: The EU itself keeps making things worse. When people can’t trust their diplomats to represent their interests and the currency union is a disaster, nationalism starts to look pretty appealing.
3: Establishment governments have mostly sided with the EU against their own people; neither neoliberals nor social democrats will actually do what the public wants, so they oust the moderates and vote in extremists.

Herlander
Herlander
6 years ago

David,

Pretty sure that printscreen announcing the school shooting is a fake/troll attempt. If you notice the screenshot, it has the post number 23594188, which can be directly linked with the the same number:

http://boards.4chan.org/r9k/thread/23594188

Notice that whoever did that fake also replaced the image for a troll face… its sick to say the least…

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

I don’t know how to look at the records of individual commenters–maybe that’s not possible. But I recall that Scribbles had sensible and insightful (nonviolent) things to say.

It can be hard to tell what’s what when communicating only through the written word.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ Orion

I wonder if there’s a correlation between popularity of fascist parties and number of non EU migrants?

I’m thinking of countries like Hungary for instance. They seem to be openly fascist and they’re also a major migration hub for Syrians etc. Or wad there a fascist tendency before and the migrant crisis had just highlighted it?

It would explain why fascism is almost negligible in the UK. We’ve taken like 4 Syrians or something.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ Orion

I meant to also mention that I agree with your thesis about resentment of the EU. I think people reacting to that though have gone mote left leaning. I’m thinking of Greece and Spain for example. It’s more of an anti austerity, fuck you we’re not paying the loans back sort of vibe.

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

@EJ (The Other One)

In my opinion, this is a contributing factor to the outpouring of support we see from terrible people on the internet towards mass killers such as Lundin-Petterson: They desperately want to live in a society which has a place for assholes and which has a high degree of internal conflict, because that’s the only society in which their unmodified, unmoderated behaviour would fit into. In this worldview, a taxpayer-funded school which teaches the children of poor immigrants is a symbol of a society which does not Other any of its members, and therefore is a huge threat to them.

Yes!

I agree with you — and I also see it a little differently.

Yes, they want to live in a society that has a place for assholes. And I believe that they also actually want all the comforts of a society that takes care of people, and a society in which people look out for each other and get along.

Aaaaaand they want to be the Standout Assholes in this society, insulting and hurting others.

Just like MRAs want women to cook their dinners and clean their homes and fuss over them and have sex on demand. In return for this devotion, the MRAs want to be the Standout Assholes in their homes, insulting their wives, controlling them, deceiving them, tricking them, gaslighting them, and even beating and raping them. It only makes sense that MRAs would fear, loathe, and be enraged by feminism. In no way do they want a society that is fair to others!

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

David, it makes a lot of sense to delete what Scribbles said, and not just for the sake of what Scribbles said today.

If you were to allow people to advocate violence on this website, it wouldn’t take long at all for us to have some pretty undesirable fellow travelers.

If I want that, I’ll go to 4chan. (Shudder.)

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
6 years ago

As a child of two former Californian educators who are now retired, and who remembers their years spent in classrooms as a student – everything is different now than it used to be. We may have had more than a few textbooks that were out of date because of budget reasons, but we weren’t so focused on education as knowing the things on a multitude of standardized tests. Heck, there weren’t as many standardized tests then as there are now. People complain about how teachers are compensated for lower salaries with other benefits, their union memberships, and being one of the last occupations that have defined benefit pensions rather than the private sector 401K. When teachers see not only the lower salary but also the efforts to reduce or eliminate the other ‘perks’, while the required education still often results in having student loan debts and so forth – fewer people want to go into the profession. And then everyone else wonders why good teachers are becoming harder to find!

The state of education, the economy, politics, all of this and more combines to create a ‘perfect storm’, if you will, that brings out the worst in humans.

pkayden
pkayden
6 years ago

Anytime I see racist posts on Youtube, I immediately flag the comment. I think if everyone did this, Youtube would get the message and stop posting comments with the “N” or “F” word, etc.

Or maybe I’m just being naive.

Scribbles
Scribbles
6 years ago

Pkayden, I think you envision a world as it should be, not as it is. I report them too, but youtube does more than just tolerate fucked up comments. If you have any eye bleach ready, go ahead and youtube “white genocide.” Youtube hosts fascist propaganda, happily.

bvh
bvh
6 years ago

@EJ (The Other One)

My working hypothesis is that what people find comforting in such a society isn’t the dream of winning, but the inherent conflict within it. Tellingly, when confronted with the alternative of a society with less conflict, people will often use gendered or homophobic language to dismiss it: A society which has a conflict between rich and poor within it is manly, virile, aggressive, and allows people an easily identifiable Other to castigate; while a society which lacks conflict is effeminate, unmanly and unable to achieve great things. Most of all, a society which has inherent conflict within it has a place for assholes and assholish behaviour, while a society where people try to get along has no place for them.

Interestingly, a common theme in such discourse is the belief that a cooperative society will be less able to defend itself against outside threats. If nothing else this is absurdly unsupported by historical data, but it seems to be a genuine belief.

Thank you for this insight. This matches with my thoughts and observations, but I was never able to pin down WHY would anyone WANT to live in Hell, or at least, Heck. The idea they need to believe assholes have a valid place to feel secure, fits with the evidence.

skiriki
6 years ago

@mockingbird — yeah, it is very much a case of “Seriously!? You don’t see what’s wrong with that!?” followed by gut-sinking feeling of despair. Another annoying aspect of it is some Dutch people complaining how “outsiders are telling us to change”, and absolutely refusing to see the fact that those complaints are coming from people who are of Dutch nationality, just people with darker skin, because of course it is only pale ones who count and everyone darker is always an outsider with nefarious agenda. /s

Stories always change; why not change the story of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet for the better? They could easily awesomefy it for 21st century, and there has been some effort on that front, but a depressing huge chunk (we’re talking about like 90+%) doesn’t see a problem and resists change. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwarte_Piet)

Somebody stop the world, I want to get out.

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