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In what’s fast becoming a more terrifying holiday tradition than the Elf on the Shelf, we rang in the Christmas season with a mass shooting — this one at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs — and then another at a holiday party in a social services facility in San Bernardino. It would be crazy at this point to say with any confidence that there won’t be another, or two or three or four, before the ball drops.

These came just two weeks after a coordinated massacre in Paris, in which three teams of ISIS assholes killed 128 people and wounded hundreds more.

Over the last, I don’t know, half dozen? of these incidents, we seem to have added a new wrinkle to our well-rehearsed post-shooting routine: after we offer thoughts and prayers, and before we start the next go-round of the endless, pointless debate over gun laws that to date has changed exactly zero minds ever, we start to speculate over whether the latest wholesale slaughter was or was not “terrorism.”

They argued about it in South Carolina, when some asshole shot nine people in their place of worship, telling them to their faces that he was doing so because they were black.

They argued about it in Colorado: did the shooter’s remarks once in custody, which echoed the misinformed anti-Planned Parenthood tirade from a recent GOP debate, mean that his shooting up a Planned Parenthood office was “terrorism”? Planned Parenthood supporters were eager to classify it as such; the people who have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood by whatever means necessary, not so much.

Now they’re arguing about it in California: before the suspects were even apprehended, while it was still an “active shooter” situation with every cop in the valley looking for the armed and dangerous pair whose identities, at the time, were still a mystery, Republicans were rushing to call the shooting terrorism. Now that they have been caught (and by caught I mean killed), it turns out they were a married couple with Muslim names who have been to Saudi Arabia. Does that mean they were terrorists? Many people seem to think so. On the other hand, the husband had worked with the people he opened fire upon, so mightn’t that suggest a personal grudge, or even some kind of Islamophobic gaffe on the part of a fellow party guest that they felt they had to avenge? (Not hard to imagine, given the current climate.) Then again, what besides terrorism could explain these people having a stockpile of body armor and guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition at the ready? (Other than Black Friday, I mean.)

They argued about it for three years in Congress: The big gripe with the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Clinton over the incident in Benghazi that left four Americans dead was that they were slow to classify it as a “terrorist attack.” They hounded Clinton through multiple investigations and an 11-hour hearing and the worst they could accuse her of was not immediately announcing to the world that it was terrorism and not a protest demonstration turned violent.

Were these incidents terrorism or weren’t they? If I may paraphrase Mrs. Clinton, What fucking difference does it make?

The Republicans that were so eager to hang a crime on Clinton for Benghazi went crazy about this quote, and were quick to take it out of context and point to it as evidence that she didn’t care about the victims. But that’s (obviously) not at all what she was saying.

I don’t give a shit if these assholes killed who they killed to serve Allah, or because they hate abortion, or because they hate black people, or because the Lakers have only won three games this season. They’re fucking murderers, they deserve to go where murderers go, and I have little doubt that the ones who haven’t already will do so shortly. Knowing what misguided cause they were trying to serve, or score they were trying to settle, doesn’t make the people they killed any more or less dead, and it doesn’t make it any more or less important to put these assholes under the jail as soon as possible.

This is kind of like the big push, back in the ‘90s, to classify certain murders as “hate crimes.” Sure, some asshole killed Matthew Shepard (apparently) because he was gay, and he justly got two consecutive life sentences without parole for it. How and who does it help to add more for it being a “hate crime?” The dude is already never getting out. What purpose does it serve to slap an extra label on it? Is “murder” not sufficiently awful?

The motive for a crime is relevant if you are trying to prove that someone did it. And if a shooter is politically motivated and/or aligned with a terrorist group, it’s good to know that in order to be on guard against connected attacks. But speculating about it and discussing it ad nauseam in the media is only dignifying these assholes’ heinous deeds, elevating it from a crime to a cause, and giving aid and comfort to the likeminded. How about we just send these motherfuckers away anonymous and alone?

We may never know what drove Mr. and Mrs. Asshole to kill all those people. It may have been a long-gestating plan to kill as many infidels as possible, or it may have been a spur-of-the-moment crime of passion prompted by some kind of personal slight. It looks to me like it was a little bit of both: these two were tooling up for some kind of big event, and then someone voiced some anti-Muslim sentiment at the party and they decided Christmas had come early. But that’s just a guess. Feel free to make up your own story about it — maybe they were time-traveling Soviet spies, or aliens from planet Xenu! — if it gets you through the night.

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