“It is a black day for Sweden,”
October 22, 2015 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Sweden school attack: horror as sword attacker kills teacher and pupil. [The Guardian] [Article contains graphic descriptions of violence.]
Sweden has reacted with shock and horror after a teacher and pupil were stabbed to death in a school with a high number of immigrants by a masked man who was reported to have far-right sympathies. The man, who posed with students before starting his killing spree, was shot dead by police. There were scenes of panic in Trollhättan, an industrial city near Gothenburg, on Thursday as parents and pupils crowded outside Kronan school in the aftermath of the killings among large numbers of police and ambulances.
posted by Fizz (50 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Fizz at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2015


I have no words. My heart goes out to my Scandinavian brethren. No words, at all.

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posted by kariebookish at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Let's not turn this thread instantly into a place to argue about gun control in the US; other places exist, with their own issues.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2015 [61 favorites]


Let's not turn this thread instantly into a place to argue about gun control in the US; other places exist, with their own issues.

Indeed, if anything the article points out that citizens, politicians, authorities are concerned about issues regarding: immigration, religious extremism, bigotry.

I am not saying that this is the cause for this particular incident, only that it is a complex situation and blaming it on a single issue like gun control is reductive.
posted by Fizz at 11:42 AM on October 22, 2015


A quick glance at Swedish media tells me they've named the likely perp - no prior criminal record, police has raided his home where they found 'things of interest' and his recent social media activity does indeed show sympathy for fascism (especially Nazi Germany) and far-right politics (incl. The Sweden Democrats - previously) as well as something about "radical feminists assault men".

The whiff of 4Chan is strong.
posted by kariebookish at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


I will note that per the Guardian's coverage, the last school massacre in Sweden happened in 1961. (Although a school shooter was foiled while still planning his attack in 2004.)

Connections to gun ownership laws are spurious; surely the more logical comparison is to the politics of Anders Behring Breivik?
posted by cstross at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


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posted by lord_wolf at 12:05 PM on October 22, 2015


heartbreaking.

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posted by janey47 at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by tonycpsu at 12:14 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by mumimor at 12:24 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by Twain Device at 12:26 PM on October 22, 2015


Every new detail I read about this is increasingly mind-boggling. This seems bizarre even for a mass-killing!

For his victims:

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posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:28 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Other places exist, with their own issues.

West Sweden, specifically: right-wing extremism. To think that I live in a township where the so-called Sweden-democrats scored highest makes me want to barf on a regular basis.
Yet, here is still feels calm. Why? Because the refugees are only just about to arrive in these parts.

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posted by Namlit at 12:49 PM on October 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:56 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by sukeban at 1:08 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by Deoridhe at 1:16 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by magstheaxe at 1:31 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by trip and a half at 1:32 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by toerinishuman at 1:47 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by Kattullus at 2:26 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by ormon nekas at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:50 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by Songdog at 2:52 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by numaner at 2:54 PM on October 22, 2015


This is particularly disturbing to read after browsing through a few "alt-right" Twitter responses to the Captain America/Thor smooch.

There are a lot of these people out there.
posted by brundlefly at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2015


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posted by klausness at 2:58 PM on October 22, 2015


The man, who posed with students before starting his killing spree...

As horrific as it is, it's not a spree.

Journalists, please understand that these words have meanings and aren't just tack-on words you can use everywhere.

Teachers, you keep doing what you do.

Everyone else, keep cool.

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posted by hal_c_on at 3:03 PM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sometimes this world just seems so terribly, terribly old.

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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:50 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


My thoughts to the families affected.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 4:06 PM on October 22, 2015


My mom said that the students who took a picture with him thought it was an early Halloween costume. I'm too sad to go looking for stories in Swedish. Everyone back home is shocked and saddened and scared. All I could think was that I hope it's the last one for another 50 years, and that they won't go the "metal detectors at the door" route as a response. Yet I'm not hopeful...
posted by gemmy at 4:17 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


hal_c_on: "As horrific as it is, it's not a spree.

Journalists, please understand that these words have meanings and aren't just tack-on words you can use everywhere.
"

The FBI definition of killing spree, common as it is, is not the only definition of the word, is fairly arbitrary and contested, and should probably not be the main standard for a UK newspaper. The dictionary definition of "spree" is a period of uninterrupted and vigorous activity, such as a shopping spree.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:01 PM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of the articles I read referred to the costume as reminiscent of darth vader. I found it bizarre, it's clearly Nazi reference, ain't a lot of star wars massacres.

I look forward to articles talking about how to prevent the radicalisation of youth, etc etc.

Oh wait, they only do that for Muslims.
posted by smoke at 5:32 PM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


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posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 5:41 PM on October 22, 2015


One of the articles I read referred to the costume as reminiscent of darth vader. I found it bizarre, it's clearly Nazi reference, ain't a lot of star wars massacres.

It does looks quite a bit like a Darth Vader helmet. But the BBC draws the Nazi link quite clearly, and apparently local media are reporting the he posted about Nazism a great deal.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:42 PM on October 22, 2015


I mean, where do you think Lucas got his inspiration for Darth Vader and the Empire's look? I'll give you a hint, World War 2 happened first.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:48 PM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Double hint: They're called stormtroopers.
posted by I-baLL at 5:59 PM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Let's not. This is not the place for Star Wars pedantry.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on October 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


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posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:36 PM on October 22, 2015


Not sure that this hasn't been on the blue already, but there was a disturbing article on how school shootings (and, I suppose, school murders with other means than firearms) spread recently on The New Yorker, by Malcolm Gladwell.

As with anything by Gladwell, it's probably best taken with a grain of salt, but the idea of an ever lowering threshold for these types of murderous acts, through the accumulation of previous murderous acts, made sense and made me very, very uneasy. While the majority of the atrocities still take place in the US, there's nothing about the "cultural script", as described in the article, that wouldn't apply and couldn't spread via the Internet and mass media to anywhere with a supply of disaffected, easily radicalized young men.

My sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
posted by jklaiho at 11:57 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]




Sweden faces strain on services as migrant projection doubles

Sweden will receive as many as 190,000 refugees this year

One of these words is not like the other.
posted by xqwzts at 3:03 AM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


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posted by Ziggy500 at 3:44 AM on October 23, 2015


migrants vs. refugees:

The conflation of these terms is what makes the public debate so problematic over here. Huge amounts of people come as refugees, but when you turn around only once, public opinion has made them into "invandrare," immigrants, which could be anything really--in the eyes of many, simply "non-Swedish anything," or rather "intruders."

It remains to be seen, but I feel that the present refugees are going to have it (even) substantially harder in Sweden than those who came here during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s: Since a year or two ago, there has been a steady influx of people from some southern countries of the EU, who are, simply, migrants. Many of these have truly shitty living conditions in their home countries: they are not threatened to their lives but their livelihood. They enter Sweden legally (as members of the union), and are now sitting outside every other store and at every other street corner begging for money. Even if this, too, is a substantial humanitarian conundrum that neither the governments nor individual actors have yet been able to control, it has turned public opinion sharply against all people who--in the view of an increasing number of people--"don't belong here."

What happened in Trollhättan looks like one individual's inability to intellectually and emotionally handle the fact that all this is and remains an unsolved problem. What scares me is that society is made up of single individuals that all have, in one way or another, problems to process what's going on.
posted by Namlit at 6:26 AM on October 23, 2015


Sad news, indeed. It is also notable that quite a few refugee centers have recently been torched in Sweden.
posted by bouvin at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The FBI definition of killing spree, common as it is, is not the only definition of the word, is fairly arbitrary and contested, and should probably not be the main standard for a UK newspaper. The dictionary definition of "spree" is a period of uninterrupted and vigorous activity, such as a shopping spree.

It's not a common word, it's part of a technical term. Like 'mass' or 'serial' or 'nuclear'; it has a very clear definition.

'spree killing' is multiple murders in multiple locations. It isn't contested. This isn't a 'America isn't the centre of the world' issue. Its an actual technical term.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:46 AM on October 23, 2015


This isn't a 'America isn't the centre of the world' issue. Its an actual technical term.

But people who may have having an emotional reaction to this news may certainly be excused a lapse in pedantry, don't you think?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2015


So this was a wannabe nazi who systematically walked through a primary school building ("excitedly marched through the corridors as if he was in the military" according to people who've seen surveillance videos), explicitly looking for "non whites" to kill, and we have people in this thread quibbling about non-US media's use of fuzzily defined US technical terms? With the main complaint being that he killed enough people, but didn't move far enough? MetaFilter, I'm disappoint.

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But enough about losers in nazi regalia. Let's follow good reddit's example, which took a break from being superficial reddit today to celebrate the teaching assistant Lavin Eskander who was the first to confront the killer, and delayed him enough that a bunch of kids got away. To quote the top poster in that thread, "I like the fact that I don't know the name of the killer and I haven't seen his photo. But now I know the name of the hero and I have seen his photo. RIP dude. You were one of the good ones. Thank you for being a hero today."

(PS. Here's a short film about Christmas in Trollhättan made by the local collective of directors that the TA and his brother belonged to.)
posted by effbot at 11:15 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Gladwell piece is good in showing how that this sort of attack has become ritualized, a subculture, textbook, normalized behavior of sorts. I was talking about this in the Roseburg thread, how while gun control and better mental health care will go a long way towards reducing the problem, it doesn't hit the core causes- alienation in society. (As this form of violence goes global, it's going to adapt to local cultures. So gun control, while important, is not a panacea.) I think the New Republic response to Gladwell, while having an overly-combative and contrarian title and tone, actually complements his analysis quite well. The piece quibbles about Gladwell's metaphor of school shootings to a slow-burning riot, and pins the blame on weakening social ties.

What would turn a potential copycat shooter away from killing? Gun restrictions would obviously go a long way in stemming the bloodshed. But it’s also worth looking at the structures of our society. Psychologists have argued that shooters across the spectrum are driven by a desire for recognition and respect. [...]

This recurring desire for recognition has led psychologists to conclude that communities need to do a better job of “help[ing] disillusioned youths find a place for themselves in society, something many of them feel they lack.” They suggest guiding would-be shooters to find jobs or activities at which they excel and encouraging them to discover ways to use their talents that will earn them positive attention.


People used to belong to churches, to civic associations, to communities. Now we find kinship on the internet, with imagined, virtual projections of personalities, some not even alive. If anything, these toxic ideologies- anti-immigration, white nationalist, PUA/anti-PUA, etc., are just another channel for disaffected youth to rally around.

In many ways, I feel that the internet and the media- information- are responsible for these attacks in the same ways guns, swords, or explosives are- they are all tools that enable the mindset of a spree killer to form.

Has anyone since Columbine brought up The Stranger by Camus in the context of these shootings? That whole book really explains it all, doesn't it? The anomie, the nihilism, the senseless violence.

As an aside: weren't serial killers all the rage back in the '80s? Or maybe in the '70s, after the Manson murders and Zodiac. The media's lurid, sensationalist coverage, the way people set up twisted fandoms of the murderers, etc. Isn't school shooting a present-day equivalent to that dark fixation? How did serial killing cease to become a pop cultural phenomenon?

And what happened to the '90s after going postal? When did the stereotype of mailmen snapping stop being a joke?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:26 AM on October 23, 2015


I like the fact that I don't know the name of the killer and I haven't seen his photo.

The "Some Asshole" Initiative in action. I approve.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:45 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


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