The Daily Beast is reporting that blogger and YouTuber Lane Davis, known online as Seattle4Truth, stabbed and killed his own father in what sounds like a psychotic break triggered by internet conspiracy theories and overheated political rhetoric. Davis was a frequent participant in the fringe, Trump-supporting subreddit r/The_Donald and once worked as an unpaid ghostwriter for Milo Yiannopoulos
It was a clear summer afternoon on July 14, on Samish Island—a small, idyllic community off the northwest coast of Washington state—where Lane, a balding, bearded, Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist and prolific YouTuber and Redditor, known online as Seattle4Truth, lived with his parents.
Lane had spent that Friday morning as he did most mornings, on the internet. This day, like the others, Lane read and retweeted posts celebrating the Second Amendment, bemoaning diversity, and spreading conspiracy theories that alleged Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta was involved in a child sex ring and DNC staffer Seth Rich had been murdered. It was the end of a busy week during which he contributed to the Donald Trump subreddit, and over on The Ralph Retort, a fringe blog where he worked as apolitical editor, (unpaid, according to the site’s owner), he had celebrated the idea of a Kid Rock Senate run, claimed America was under threat of Sharia law, and wondered whether CNN was “literally ISIS.”
It’s a pretty frightening story because people who rant and rave on the internet about similar things are many. Obviously, they’re not all on the brink of murder, but social media and today’s political chaos provide ample material to fuel the mania of someone with paranoid tendencies.
Catherine Davis called 911. The tape of her call was acquired by The Daily Beast.
“He’s not physically threatening us or anything,” Catherine told the dispatcher. “He just gets out of control and he’s ranting about stuff from the internet.”
Was Lane drunk, the dispatcher asked? On drugs? Was there any history of a mental disorder?
“No, not reported, but he’s not working and he gets on these rampages and he just needs to move on,” Catherine replied.
The dispatcher suggested Catherine and Charles stay away from Lane until the police arrived.
“We’re trying to but he’s chasing us around the house,” she replied. “He’s mad about something on the internet about leftist pedophiles and he thinks we’re leftist and he’s calling us pedophiles. And I don’t know what all.”
Catherine laughed. “He just lives on the internet and he gets really worked up about everything that’s going on. He needs an intervention of some kind here.”
Moments later Catherine Davis told the 911 operator that her son had stabbed his 73-year-old father to death.
I rail against conspiracy theories and theorists fairly often. I know a lot of people find them entertaining and love people like Alex Jones and many celebrated when Sean Hannity delved into the tinfoil hat arena with his obsession about the Seth Rich murder. President Trump himself is a conspiracy theorist or at least an enabler, suggesting Raphael Cruz had a hand in assassinating John F. Kennedy.
Crazy talk is easy to dismiss as just crazy talk, but it’s dangerous when crazy people listen to it and take it to heart. All the martial rhetoric being used in politics today and claims that we are “at war” with political enemies may not be to blame for violent acts like this one, but it certainly doesn’t help.
A Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder Steve Scalise and his fellow Congressional Republicans. Now a Trump supporter murdered his own father, triggered by political rage and paranoia. With all the corruption in Washington, the irresponsible media spinning fake yarns, and a President whose mouth (or Twitter feed) is always a few steps ahead of his brain, I hope were not seeing the beginnings of a trend.