What to call a killer


Photo by: BrooklynVegan

From the words “shooter” to “terrorist” etc, the “title” of  Stephen Paddock– the man who killed 58 people and injured 515 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas on October 1-  is being disputed over different media platforms.

Photo by: BrooklynVegan

Some people believe that the label the media uses for a killer, directly correlates with their race. However, the varying beliefs amongst people worldwide have sparked quite the discussion, even on national news.

While some articles argue that the lack of a known motive classifies Paddock as a “shooter,” others make the point that this event- the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history- is enough to call this massacre a terrorist attack and Paddock, a terrorist.

The definition of a terrorist according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “an advocate or practitioner of terrorism as a means of coercion,” which generally refers to a person who uses violence, or a threat of violence, to coerce people or countries into taking a certain action.

According to the definition, in order to truly categorize someone as a terrorist, one must know the killer’s motive.

The motive would then reveal whether the person committed the crime because they wanted to coerce a group of people, whether it be for revenge, personal satisfaction, etc.

Reed described her belief, that the media can be over opinionated when it comes to labels.
Photo by: Acacia Harrell


In the case of the Las Vegas massacre, the public does not know the motive of the attacker because he committed suicide shortly after his attack.

Without a definite motive or an agreed-upon label nationally, the classification of the attacker is interpreted by one’s own opinion.

“I definitely do think it should be considered a terrorist attack,” responded Junior Bella Westrich. She went on to explain that the amount of people hurt, for her, is reason enough to believe Paddock was a terrorist.

In contrast, Senior Pohai Reed responded,  “[He’s] Not [a] terrorist because he was already in the US and not coming from the outside.”

With so many contrasting ideas, one may come to the conclusion that “titles” are left to one’s own opinion. However, one idea that the country agrees upon when it comes to this attack is that whether Paddock is called a “terrorist” or a “shooter,” it doesn’t change the heinous nature of his crime.