Mental health (with respect to the Christian Terrorist in Austin, TX and the shooter in Florida) and Trump's latest sexual escapades are both red herrings *. The first was created by Trump in order to distract people from the real issues (military assault weapons in the hands of children, for example); the second is more likely serendipitous – for Trump.
* Red herring: something that is intended to be misleading or distracting from an important issue. Logical fallacies may be used as red herrings.
In Trump's usage, mental illness falls in the class of relevance fallacies, the notion that one topic is connected to another topic in a way that makes it appear that the second should be considered when considering the first.
If you believe Trump, then studies of mental illness and throwing money at detection and treatment become the sine qua non of preventing mass shootings and gun violence. If you believe the premise that children shouldn't have military assault weapons then things that fall under the rubric of "gun control" become the sine qua non.
The problem is exacerbated by the seeming inability of the American people to conduct a civil, rational, and logical conversation about this issue – or most issues. No matter what the issue, we the people seem to be immediately and rigidly polarized. I blame social media as well as the so-called mainstream media.
By the way, did you catch my logical fallacies? Tying "children" and "military assault weapons" together was designed to provoke a strong emotion and increase polarization. Saying "sexual escapade" rather than "adulterous behavior" was designed to minimize the importance of that issue.
What about "Christian Terrorist"? The man was a home-schooled, Christian fundamentalist who, if the press is to be believed, attended a home-school social group that conducted war games with cream pies. No one seems to be calling him a Christian Terrorist (much less a "White Christian Terrorist"). If he'd been Muslim, the press and Trump would be pissing "Muslim Terrorist" and "radicalized" until their bladders were flat.
If you want to read how one NY Times writer explains his coverage, try this link:
My linking "Christian" to "Terrorist" is no more valid than Trump and the press linking "Muslim" to "Terrorist." Or, it is equally valid. God is love and Jesus preached "love thy neighbor"? Yes, but Jesus also told his disciples, "If you do not have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." Of course, it's all mythology, and the Quran is largely plagiarized from the Jewish Bible.
I've said this, before. It's in the introduction to "Holy Fire": "If Hitler and Goebbels had the internet, we'd be speaking German."
Can you imagine Leni Riefenstahl turned loose on YouTube? Compare "Triumph of the Will" to something like "Across the Pacific," which (after “Casablanca”) is probably the second best Hollywood propaganda film of the era. (Second best, in this case, is still pathetic. Seriously. Picture Sidney Greenstreet kneeling at a Japanese style altar committing seppuku.)
At the risk of hyperbole (itself a fallacy of logic), the internet may be more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.