What is Scripted Violence?
Learn how Trump uses the rhetoric of “Scripted Violence”that encourages some of his followers to act out in verbal and physical attacks on Trump’s named scapegoats without a direct connection–but an indirect yet powerful connection that makes Trump morally culpable.
The phase “scripted violence” has been used in social science since at least 2002.
Author David Neiwert, who wrote the book Alt-America, told Salon interviewer Chauncey Devega:
Scripted violence is where a person who has a national platform describes the kind of violence that they want to be carried out. He identifies the targets and leaves it up to the listeners to carry out this violence. It is a form of terrorism. It is an act and a social phenomenon where there is an agreement to inflict massive violence on a whole segment of society. Again, this violence is led by people in high-profile positions in the media and the government. They’re the ones who do the scripting, and it is ordinary people who carry it out.
Think of it like Charles Manson and his followers. Manson wrote the script; he didn’t commit any of those murders. He just had his followers carry them out.
Some legal scholars have observed that President Trump has engaged in “stochastic terrorism.” CNN’s legal analyst Danny Cevallos opinion piece said Trump’s comments were likely protected speech, even when referencing a presidential candidate, because it wasn’t directed to inciting imminent unlawful action. And with respect to it being stochastic terrorism added, “It’s scary, and probably true…. It’s hard to predict or measure the effect with any certainty.”
[ DeVega, Chauncey (1 November 2018). “Author David Neiwert on the outbreak of political violence:”. Salon.]
See a Slideshow on the processes involved:
How Mobilizing Resentment Generates Scripted Violence: Analyzing the “Tools of Fear”
by Chip Berlet – Presented at the Pennsylvania Sociological Society Annual Meeting
Northampton Community College, October 25, 2018
(The night before the terrorist murders in Pittsburgh)
There is also a chart on linked processes that I developed for the Carter Center in Atlanta
Read the full final draft of my chapter:
“Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence.”
Coming Next Month:
Trumping Democracy in the United States:
from Reagan to Alt-Right
A New Book by Chip Berlet from Routledge
< https://www.trumpingdemocracy.us/ >
Challenging Right-Wing Populism, White Nationalism,
Gender Panics, Christian Dominionism, Neofascism,
Militarism, Environmental Plunder, and
Greedster “Neoliberal” Economics
Progressives, honest liberals, and ethical conservatives
are our short-term tactical allies
in restoring Constitutional government.
But prepare for what is coming by remembering
the words of legendary progressive muckraker
. . “Fascism and Reaction inevitably attack.
. . .They have won against disunion. They will fail if we unite.”
–George Seldes, You Can’t Do That, 1938
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
4.0 International License.