The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dylann Roof: A Ninth-Grade Dropout Who Was Playing Too Many Video Games

Posted on | June 19, 2015 | 130 Comments

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says, “any argument starting off with ‘We don’t have all the facts’ is one that should probably remain unspoken.” That applies to bloggers as much as it does to the President of the United States, and yet it seems people want to score points off the Charleston massacre, rather than to discover why this actually happened.

The why will necessarily involve the who. Let’s understand that “hate” is not an amorphous thing floating around in the air. Hate must have a home in human minds, and so the particular human who pulled the trigger — Dylann Roof — should be the focus of our attention.

Not gun control. Not any other “issue” we may want to push.

Remember the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School? When that happened, I was working at The Washington Times and interviewed retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor who is author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (1995) and co-author of Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence (1999). Col. Grossman is an internationally recognized expert on the psychology of killing and, in 1999, he pointed to the phenomenon of “first-person shooter” games as a known factor in the atrocity committed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. This wasn’t speculation. It was a matter of fact that the Columbine killers were aficionados of these games, and the predictable reaction whenever someone points to this factor is, “Yes, but lots of kids play those games and don’t become mass murderers.”

Exactly. But you realize the same argument — “X cannot be the decisive influence, because lots of people are exposed to X” — can be used against any “cultural” explanation of behavior. Charles Manson was a hippie guru whose cult followers did a lot of drugs, listened to Beatles records and committed mass murder, but most hippies who did drugs and listened to Beatles records were neither cult members nor mass murderers. So what lessons could we, as a society, have derived from the notorious “Helter Skelter” killings? Most people at the time recognized the Tate-Lobianca murders as conclusive proof that the whole 1960s peace-and-love tune-in-turn-on-drop-out mythology of hippie culture was a lie. Manson collected his followers from among the broken flotsam and jetsam of castoff kids and runaways who flooded into San Francisco during the late 1960s. It was the Law of Large Numbers, really. When millions of kids climbed aboard that kind of bandwagon — rejecting parental authority to pursue a lifestyle of drugs, sex and rock-and-roll — it was inevitable that very bad things would happen to some of them.

You see that the example of the Charles Manson cult is not one chosen at random in this case, because Manson’s “Helter Skelter” fantasy was to incite an apocalyptic race war in America, and Dylann Roof’s murders had the same motive. Also, Dylann Roof had a drug problem. For that matter, Dylann Roof even had a Beatle haircut. Whether or not he was listening to the White Album backwards, we don’t know.

Please excuse my habitual sarcasm, but if you’re following the liberal media coverage of the Charleston shootings, you keep seeing allegedly intelligent people making a few simple-minded connections that may not actually have much to do with Dylann Roof’s crimes. “It’s the guns! It’s the racism! This happened in South Carolina! OMG! They fly the Confederate flag there!” All of this is obviously true, but exactly how much of this is really relevant? There are about 3 million white people in South Carolina, many of whom are racists and gun owners, but they didn’t kill people in Charleston, nor do they condone hateful violence.

As always, the liberal biases of the media lead them into a hasty pell-mell rush to assign collective political blame for a high-profile crime, a bias that fosters false beliefs which in turn have the effect of psychologically disarming society. We cannot prevent crime if we don’t understand crime, and understanding crime requires us to focus on the individuals who commit crime. Yes, the hippie culture of the 1960s was dangerous. And yes, we may say that South Carolina is a particularly “racist” environment. However, most hippies were not mass murderers, nor are most South Carolinians, and the attempt to defame white people in South Carolina by assigning collective blame to them — which is what the liberal media are so obviously doing — is the exact opposite of what responsible journalism is about. Let’s focus on the criminal:

According to classmates, Roof is a frequent abuser of prescription drugs.
Court records from Lexington, [South] Carolina — where he has been living in a trailer park — reveal he was arrested twice this year on charges of trespassing and drug possession. . . .
Roof used to skateboard in a Lexington suburb in South Carolina when he was younger and had long hair then.
Childhood friend Joey Meek had seen him as recently as Tuesday, said Meek’s mother, Kimberly Konzny. . . .
‘I don’t know what was going through his head,’ Konzny said. ‘He was a really sweet kid. He was quiet. He only had a few friends.’Joey Meek alerted the FBI after he and his mother instantly recognized Roof in a surveillance camera image that was widely circulated after the shooting.
In the image, Roof had the same stained sweatshirt he wore while playing Xbox video games in their home recently, Konzny said. It was stained because he had worked at a landscaping and pest control business, she said.
Roof attended ninth grade at White Knoll High during the 2008-09 school year and went there for the first half of the following academic year, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. The school system gave no reason for Roof’s departure and said it had no record of him attending any other schools in the district.
According to CBS News, school records show that between fourth and ninth grade, Roof attended six different schools, and repeated the ninth grade.

He dropped out of school after ninth grade. His parents were divorced, and his father and stepmother also reportedly had divorced. According to the Wall Street Journal, Dylann’s father had been pressuring him to stop playing video games constantly, and to find steady employment. His grandfather is reportedly a lawyer. His father is a contractor. There are some very interesting clues in this Mother Jones story:

Ken Mathews, an attorney who has been representing Roof in an ongoing drug-possession case, was, he says, “very shocked” to hear about what Roof had allegedly done. He tells Mother Jones, “The dealings I had with him, he was just a normal kid.”
Mathews, a Columbia, South Carolina, attorney, notes that so far in the drug case he has had “very limited dealings” with Roof. He says he saw “nothing that would indicate that [Roof] would take this type of action.” . . .
Mathews has known the Roof family for years, dating back to a custody dispute between Dylann’s father Ben and mother Amy over visitation rights concerning Dylann. . . .

So his family life was disrupted, he was shuttled from one school to another from the time he was nine or 10 years old, he dropped out of school as a teenager, became a drug-addicted loser living in a trailer park, constantly playing video games and, also, Dylann Roof was a racist who sewed Rhodesian flag patches on his jacket and had a Confederate flag tag on his car. OK, then, compare and contrast Dylann Roof to Colin Ferguson, who killed 6 people and wounded 19 others in the 1993 Long Island railroad massacre. Colin Ferguson was a crazy black racist who hated white people:

Ferguson spoke out against coexistence with whites and routinely made calls for retributive revolution. Ferguson regularly accused others around him of racism. During one occasion, Ferguson complained that a white woman in the library shouted racial epithets at him after he asked her about a class assignment. An investigation concluded the incident never occurred. Later, Ferguson attended a symposium by a faculty member discussing her experiences in South Africa. Ferguson interrupted the professor by shouting, “We should be talking about the revolution in South Africa and how to get rid of the white people” and “Kill everybody white!” When students and teachers tried to quiet him, Ferguson started threatening them, repeatedly saying, “The black revolution will get you.”

Colin Ferguson was dangerously crazy, but there are so many crazy people running around loose in America — because you have a “right” to be crazy here — that whenever something like this happens, there is invariably a media narrative about “warning signs” that this particular crazy person was unusually crazy and somebody should have done something about it. The other common media narratives involve guns (because liberals hate guns) and culture (because liberals hate our culture). There seems to be an unwritten rule in liberal media that if a particular crime can be interpreted as indicting America as racist, sexist or homophobic, this crime must instantly become The Most Important News Story of the Week. Liberal journalists salivate like Pavlov’s dog at the prospect of a Matthew Shepard-type hate crime, which can become the topic of a National Conversation About [Whatever], even if details of the case ultimately don’t prove what liberals say the story proves.

Jared Loughner was supposed to be a deranged Tea Party supporter, but when it turned out he was a psychotic obsessed with the 9/11 Truther conspiracy video Zeitgeist, the liberal media immediately lost all interest in Loughner’s motive. If a killer turns out to be just a nutjob, his crime cannot be made the topic of a National Conversation, and if it turns out that the criminal’s background, identity or motive are quite the opposite of the desired liberal narrative, this is Just a Local News Story of no larger national consequence.

My cynical sarcasm about these stories is always intended to highlight the media bias involved, and I do not mean to make light of the actual event. There were about 14,000 murders committed in the United States in 2013, according to the Justice Department. That’s about 38 murders a day or 270 a week. Over the course of a year, the national media will take a sustained interest in a comparative handful of these crimes. Not all murders are created equal, according to the media, and so we find them picking and choosing cases as nationally significant according to criteria that are quite often clearly politicalThe Creepy Little Weirdo who committed the 2014 Isla Vista massacre in Santa Barbara was a misogynist who left behind a manifesto explaining his resentments against women, and so there was a National Conversation to be had, with feminists lecturing us about What This Means.

Well, here we go again, with an obvious hate crime, and so now the liberal media are going to subject us to lectures about racism, and we shall have a National Conversation which will not mention, for example, that 12 people were killed and 43 wounded in shootings in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. And we can be almost certain that another dozen people will be killed in Chicago during the Fourth of July weekend coming up. There have been 175 people shot to death in Chicago so far this year, and nearly a thousand others wounded.

Today, June 19, is the 170th day of the year, and already 1,163 people have been shot (175 killed, 988 wounded) in Chicago this year, so by simple math we learn that in the previous 169 days of 2015, there were an average of 6.9 people shot daily in Chicago. That’s 48 shooting victims per week, of whom 7 were killed. Despite this astonishing level of deadly violence in Chicago, however, I can guarantee you that there are people today in Chicago who are watching CNN and shaking their heads about Dylann Root’s hate crime in South Carolina. And some of those people in Chicago (probably about 30 of them) are going to be shot to death in Chicago within the next month. Of course, not every murder in Chicago involves gunfire. People are killed by strangulation, blunt force trauma and other causes, so that there have been more than 200 homicides in Chicago so far this year, and it seems altogether likely that the total number of homicides Chicago this year will exceed 400.

Who is committing all those murders in Chicago? Maybe some crazy dopeheads who dropped out of high school. Just sayin’ . . .



130 Responses to “Dylann Roof: A Ninth-Grade Dropout Who Was Playing Too Many Video Games”

  1. Quartermaster
    June 20th, 2015 @ 4:14 pm

    Like most faux-constitutionalists, you’re hoot. Of course you “clearly see a willingness to twist the Constitution on yours”

    I tell you what. Go talk with Richard Dana, who was engaged to prosecute Jeff Davis for Treason, when then refused to do so because he didn’t commit treason. Dana was the second prominent attorney that refused, giving the same reason. Those men obviously knew something you refusing to see. If the Confeds had “rebelled” or “revolted” then it would have been an open ans shut case. They knew that secession ended the relationship, and that the Confeds had a right to do the very thing they did.

    I will not argue with a man that is so willfully obtuse. Have a nice day.

  2. RejZoR
    June 20th, 2015 @ 4:51 pm

    Stop bringing up games as the source of some fucked up psychopaths doing mass shootings. It’s a stupid argument with ZERO evidence to support it. He’s a younger person, of course he was playing god damn games. It’s 2015, everyone play games. People should really be suspicious of you if you don’t…

    Jesus Christ, that’s like saying someone became a killer because he brushed his teeth three times a day. Millions of people do that and it’s probably above the average, that doesn’t make them anything. It’s just what they do in their life.

    I’m a gamer who predominantly plays violent games and guess how many people I’ve harmed? ZERO. Guess how many I’ve killed? ZERO. Guess how much interest I have in shooting someone in the future? ZERO. I’ve been playing games for 20+ years. Stop throwing a bad light on me and my hobby because of some assholes with mental issues.

    Only ones making me angry are YOU people and ignorant yellow journos blaming games for such shootings every single god damn time they happen for the last 30 years. And yet, no one ever bothered or managed to provide any peer reviewed evidence to support this BS.

    Stop blaming games if you have no criminal/scientific evidence to support such idiotic claims.

  3. Charleston Murders and the Left (The Killers Manifesto) | Religio-Political Talk (RPT)
    June 20th, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

    […] The Real McCain notes some other factors that may have contributed to the “snap” in this nut: […]

  4. daialanye
    June 20th, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

    There you go again! Dana’s reasoning was that it would be nearly impossible to obtain a conviction of Davis before a jury of twelve white Virginians, and the result would be an embarrassment to the government, regardless of the merits of the case.
    The proper and sportsmanlike way for you to terminate this debate would be to say.
    “Gollee, Dai! You are not only extremely handsome but brilliant. you’ve demolished every argument I’ve put up, and I only wish I could nominate you for President.”

  5. ChaoticWin
    June 20th, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

    Article seem to be drawing at least one conclusion which isn’t supported by the facts (at least insofar as they are known at this point): That he was playing too many video games. It was Meek (his friend) and Meek’s mother who recognized the shirt Roof had been wearing the last time Roof had hung out /over at Meek’s place/, where they played video games together. It does not state that Meek went over to Roof’s place to play video games. It’s possible that Roof had his own video game console, but that bit of information has not yet been revealed.

    The other implication is that Roof was obsessed with first-person shooters. Again, this is speculative, as there are countless games which do not involve wielding a gun or killing people. For all we know, he was obsessed with FIFA and thus it might be implied that sports fans are potentially dangerous! I realize that is not the conclusion or the basis of the entirety of the article, but the implication seems one worthy to address.

  6. Quartermaster
    June 20th, 2015 @ 7:51 pm

    Keep raving. If you really think anyone would have tried Davis in Virginia you’re a bigger fool than I thought. Dana knew he couldn’t get a conviction anywhere. There was no case. It was the same story with the first guy.

    You’re about as sharp as a marble, dude!

  7. daialanye
    June 20th, 2015 @ 11:43 pm

    Part of your argument isn’t with me, you realize—it’s with history.

  8. Minicapt
    June 21st, 2015 @ 12:03 am

    HMS Challenger was a boat.


  9. DeadSparrow
    June 21st, 2015 @ 3:16 am

    >video games

    Time travels exists. This article is proof of that. Welcome to the 1990s people!

  10. Livnthedream
    June 21st, 2015 @ 5:51 am

    Go home Jack Thompson, you’re drunk.

  11. From Around the Blogroll | The First Street Journal.
    June 21st, 2015 @ 6:56 am

    […] Robert Stacey Stacy McCain on The Other McCain: Dylann Roof: A Ninth-Grade Dropout Who Was Playing Too Many Video Games […]

  12. Quartermaster
    June 21st, 2015 @ 7:25 am

    Hardly. That’s yours. You make the mistake thinking I’m arguing with you. That’s a conceit on your part.

  13. Four Fingered Fred
    June 21st, 2015 @ 10:13 am

    maybe because he shot people instead of getting shot himself?

  14. Daniel Freeman
    June 21st, 2015 @ 11:44 am

    That doesn’t explain the veneration of Assata Shakur.

  15. Quartermaster
    June 21st, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

    ” For the last 30 years racist is the worst thing you can be in America”

    No, no! That’s true only if you’re white. It’s OK to be a flaming racist if you’re black or Latino.

  16. Quartermaster
    June 21st, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

    Kinda like Herpes Zoster. The virus is already present, it just flares up and is quite painful to endure.

  17. Derf Montgomery
    June 21st, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

    Well you’d be very wrong.

  18. arcadius
    June 21st, 2015 @ 6:05 pm
  19. wgone
    June 21st, 2015 @ 9:17 pm

    Everyone plays these video games, there is no mechanism or science to point to video games as the culprit. What appaers more feasible is the fact that most of these mass killers, have been on antidepressants and been treated as defective since childhood. ONLY American boys are put on Ritalin etc (up to 20%) and these drugs make a certain percentage go crazy. Blame the school system – that feminists teachers have turned against normal boyhood behavior. Stop treating boys as though they are defective girls. The government and politicians are in glee that women and girls are now doing significantly better than boys that are giving up. Its not video games dumbass! Its your crazy ass politics.

  20. JohnnyL53
    June 22nd, 2015 @ 9:37 am

    In 1969 the car I did my Driver’s Ed in was a yellow Charger with a green vinyl roof. Lovely car.

  21. JohnnyL53
    June 22nd, 2015 @ 9:51 am

    The problem is the symbol of your “culture” has been appropriated by racists. Look, I’m Virginian, I even attended the Centennial of the surrender in Appomattox, shook the hand of one of General Lee’s descendants that were there for the occasion. Had the battle flag hanging in my dorm room at Va. Tech. But you know and I know that maybe a couple of percent of the people flying that flag really think about the culture and the rest use it to show their feelings about blacks. It’s a flag that symbolizes rebellion against the United States. You can honor your ancestors and still get rid of the flag. Time to get rid of it. I’m sure that there are plenty of Germans that feel aggrieved that they can’t fly the swastika to honor the memory of their fathers and grandfathers. Oh wait. that’s illegal there because of what that symbol has come to mean. Time to treat the Stars and Bars the same way. Time to grow up and quit hiding behind the code words of “Lost Cause” etc.

  22. Jack Burton
    June 23rd, 2015 @ 9:47 am

    If they made that today the girl would be a Jew, one guy would be black and the other Hispanic, and omit the Battle Flag of course.

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    […] is all over the headlines today, which was nothing that would have seemed a logical consequence of Dylann Roof’s shooting spree last week in South Carolina. What has happened, we may surmise, is that some activists, politicians and journalists reached an […]

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    June 24th, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

    […] rush to ban display and sale of the Confederate flag in the wake of last week’s shooting in Charleston should cause concern for an person intelligent enough to understand how such precedents, once […]

  25. MichaelAdams
    June 24th, 2015 @ 10:14 pm

    Well, the right of secession might be imaginary, but Lincoln imagined it, too, and defended it in the US House, in 1846. I do tend to think that, if secession had been illegal, there would have been no reason to pass an amendment to make it so. I’d also point out that Southern states were required to ratify, as a condition of readmission, because there were insufficient Northern

    states who wanted to give up that “imagined” right.

  26. MichaelAdams
    June 24th, 2015 @ 10:20 pm


  27. daialanye
    June 25th, 2015 @ 8:04 am

    The opinion (more like a wish) of this person or that, of this state or that, has no merit compared with the facts I’ve already presented. There is no right of secession under the Constitution, and this was unalterably proved for all time when the North put down the southern rebellion.

    And had the South been successful it would only have proved that a rebellion could trump a Constitution, not that a specious right of secession existed.

  28. daialanye
    June 25th, 2015 @ 8:08 am

    You’re stating, in effect, that the banner has become inconvenient, and surrendering the right of free speech and freedom of thought is the easier course. Easier, perhaps, but not the proper course.

  29. MichaelAdams
    June 25th, 2015 @ 10:22 am

    But, you are not arguing facts. You are arguing law, and people disagree about law, which is why we have lawyers and judges. Two lawyers refused to prosecute Davis for treason, because they believed that all the LEGAL elements of the crime were not present. Another lawyer, A. Lincoln, argued the point of law in the US House, in 1846, that the states had the right to withdraw from the Union.

    Slavery is often mentioned in the pro-secession propaganda in 1860. However, 96% of White Southerners did not own slaves. They did understand, how well or clearly is not known, that there was something amiss in the North’s extraction of wealth from the South, by means of the Protective Tariff. While people talked about Abolition and Manumission in the years of the Articles of Confederation, and until the first Tariff was passed, all such discussion petered out after that. The lack of cash forced people to revert to earlier, pre-cash methods of doing business, like barter and, sadly, slavery. Then, when slavery was abolished, share-cropping was expanded, because there was STILL insufficient money to do straight cash business. Again, while you seem to wish to argue facts, you have not addressed the fact that an insufficient number of Northern states would ratify the amendments, giving up rights which they believed that they had. The reconquest of the South was a fact, and it forced a change in the law, making secession illegal, which people, including A. Lincoln, believed that it had not been, before then.

    Oh, another important point of law: it would not have been necessary for a jury, in Virginia or elsewhere, to convict Davis, since Treason cases are tried before the Supreme Court.

  30. daialanye
    June 25th, 2015 @ 11:16 am

    Assuming you are correct and in context about Lincoln’s actions in 1846 as a member of the Illinois delegation and an opponent of the upcoming Mexican War, the argument falls flat before his actions in 1861. As for Jeff Davis’ potential trial, you might read the written advice of Richard Henry Dana to the government—it has primarily to do with the practicality of trying Davis, not his guilt, and is predicated upon trying him in Virginia.

    My position has nothing to do with 96% of whatever, tariffs, sharecropping or anything else, and you’re simply wasting good electrons by bringing them up. I have only these points:
    Secession was unconstitutional.
    The Confederacy itself was anti-secession.
    The breakup of the United States was an idea fraught with terrible consequences for the future.
    Grant and Sherman effectively settled the question for so long as the United States will exist.

    And this, finally—from the point of view of the South’s interests the assassination of Lincoln was the most stupid act of the war.