Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post has written a column with the unwieldy title “‘Not racially motivated’?: The Atlanta spa shootings show why the media should be wary of initial police statements.” Actually, the shootings demonstrate, for the millionth time, that the public should be wary of mainstream media statements.
The initial police statement about the shootings was that they did not appear to be racially motivated. Instead, they were the result of “what [the killer] considers a sex addiction.” “He sees these locations [message parlors] as something that allows him to go to these places and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” the police explained.
The mainstream media quickly rejected this explanation. It insisted that the killings were racially motivated. They were the symptom of rampant anti-Asian sentiment fueled, to a significant degree, by former President Trump. Seizing on the Atlanta shootings, the Post has for days been running article after article about “hate crimes” directed at Asian-Americans
Monica Hess of the Post tried to counter the “sex addiction” explanation this way:
[The killer] could have stopped at strip clubs, pornographic video stores or multiple shops lined with wall-to-wall dildoes. But he didn’t. He drove 27 miles to Gold Spa, where he allegedly killed three Asian women, and then crossed the street to Aromatherapy Spa where he allegedly killed one more (the names of the victims at the final two establishments have not been released).
He chose businesses where the employees were not just women, but Asian women, not just Asian women, but lower-wage Asian women in a fetishized profession.
It seems, however, that the shooter drove to these “spas” because they were ones he had patronized. If that’s true, then the shooter’s choice of locations is fully consistent with the theory that he was motivated by guilt over sex. It neither supports nor refutes the suggestion of bias against Asians.
Other evidence strongly supports the “sex addiction” theory. According to USA Today, the killer “had been in rehab for sex addiction and was wracked with guilt about his sexual urges, according to two people who lived with him in transitional housing.” Moreover, he “was deeply religious and could not control his desire to visit massage parlors and engage in sexual acts, something that sent him into deep bouts of depression.” (Emphasis added)
What evidence, other than the identity of the victims, backs up the view that racial basis motivated the killings? None of which I’m aware. And it’s worth noting, as John Sexton does, that a highly-publicized attack on an elderly Asian man in Oakland by a black suspect has not been charged as murder even though the family believes race was clearly a factor.
Both of the killer’s housemates say they never heard him use racist language or disparage non-white people. Both say he was rarely online and, to their knowledge, didn’t frequent racist internet message boards or websites. Two former high school classmates added that he didn’t express political opinions in public and was not overtly racist.
Does the fact that the shooter chose to patronize Asian message parlors show some form of anti-Asian animus? I don’t think such animus can be inferred from the source of his efforts to achieve sexual gratification. In fact, according again to USA Today, the shooter told his housemates that he preferred these message parlors because “he thought the spas were safer than paying for sex elsewhere.”
As the matter is investigated further, perhaps evidence will emerge supporting the media’s conclusion that the shooter was a racist whose deadly actions were motivated by hatred of Asians. As of now, though, this view lacks support. By contrast, the “sex addiction” theory has a solid foundation.
So why has the media adopted the “hate crime” narrative? That’s an easy one. As Liz Sheld of American Greatness says, the media is bent on “sowing suspicion and division among Americans.” When bad things happen, it will always pick the explanation that casts Americans in the worst, most racist light, even if a more plausible alternative is staring us in the face.
As will Democrats, including Joe Biden.