Weed, Women, and Video Games: Right-Wing Media Blames Just About Everything but Guns for Highland Park Shooting

In the wake of another horrific mass shooting, right-wing media heavyweights have broken into their well-rehearsed song and dance numbers that blame such recurring tragedies on weed, antifa, antidepressants, video games, and even “lectures” from women—which is to say, everything except America’s stunningly lax gun laws.

On Monday, Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, a 21-year-old white male armed with a rifle similar to an AR-15, allegedly killed seven people at a Fourth of July parade held in Highland Park, Illinois, wounding an additional two-dozen-plus attendees. (Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, with more charges expected.) In Tucker Carlson’s coverage of the rampage, the Fox News star revived Reefer Madness–esque arguments linking cannabis use to violence. “Like Crimo, [a lot of young men in America] inhabit a solitary fantasy world of social media, porn, and video games,” the host said. “They are high on government-endorsed weed. ‘Smoke some more! It’s good for you.’ They’re numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out at every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors.” Carlson then blamed women for the violent rage exhibited by young men like Crimo. “Of course they’re angry…. The authorities in their lives—mostly women—never stop lecturing them about their so-called privilege,” he continued. “Try to imagine an unhealthier, unhappier life than that. So a lot of young men in America are going nuts. Are you surprised?”

About two hours later, Laura Ingraham pushed the same talking points—or as she put it, “mounting scientific evidence” connecting violent behavior among young people to “sustained cannabis use”—to explain away the shooting without mentioning guns. “What can regular pot use trigger in young men in particular? Psychosis and other violent personality changes,” the host said. As the faces of other mass shooters flashed onto the screen, Ingraham, who made the same argument following the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, suggested that stoned eyes are a clear warning sign exhibited by mass shooters: “These are the eyes of some of the mass killers who have reportedly been regular pot users. Look at them.”

Others have attempted to take a simpler route to paint Crimo as a leftist, essentially arguing, Well, he’s tattooed his face, dyed his hair weird colors, and dressed as a woman to evade the police, so he must be antifa! “If you look at antifa, that’s how they look!” said Fox News host Greg Gutfeld. Newsmax’s Greg Kelly made similar claims on Tuesday. “Take a look at him…and quite frankly to me, I’ve seen [his] type before,” remarked Kelly. “He looks a little antifa-ish, doesn’t he?…You know he was caught wearing women’s clothing.” Kelly went on to add that “maybe, like leftists all over the place, [Crimo] liked wearing women’s clothes, even though he’s a he.” (In May, similar bogus assertions were made about Salvador Ramos, the Robb Elementary School shooter. In what appeared to be an attempt to haphazardly pin Ramos’s violent acts on their political enemies, conservative figures, including Representative Paul Gosar in a since deleted tweet, falsely claimed the shooter was trans or wore women’s clothes.)

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