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Reason and the Mob Boss Killing

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(Flickr/Mike MacKenzie/Creative Commons 2.0)
(Flickr/Mike MacKenzie/Creative Commons 2.0)

Can killing a noted Gambino mob boss be due to radicalization?

Twenty-four-year old Anthony Comello was arrested for purposely striking down Francesco Cali in front of his family home after having lured him out. A picture of him in court shows he raised his hand, showing an inked QAnon symbol on his palm, along with the words, “MAGA forever… UNITED WE STAND… Patriots in charge.”

It seems that every story of late about an incident of extreme violence seems to be looking at radicalization (or “violent extremism”) as the justification – either that or mental health issues (and oftentimes a conflation of both).  Because there is no way a “normal” human being would ever commit such a horrible act if there wasn’t something wrong with them, right?

In today’s world, radicalization is almost becoming normalized just as being an extremist has become an accepted part of our identity as a society. Mainstream media is quick to jump at the speculation that, in these cases of crazy violence, there must be some motive that is greater than the perpetrator’s own decision.

In the case of Comello, references to the QAnon conspiracy theories and his belief in Trump’s rhetoric are being cited as a possible reason why this young man killed the notorious mob boss.

Yet this ideology is not even part of a greater organization that has been around for decades with a fixed ideology. Rather, the QAnon conspiracy theory is little more than thoughts and opinions shared on the internet — hardly an ingrained belief system by any means.

In news stories about the killing, noticeably absent was speculation that he was paid off by another mob member to do the job.

However, there is chatter about mental illness and personal reasons he might have had for making such a severe choice to take someone’s life. (Cali reportedly refused to let Comello date his niece.)

Yet, ultimately, it was a choice that Comello made himself .

All too often, it is becoming easier for society to place blame on anything other than the individual responsible for the violence that we witness in our everyday lives, thus removing a large degree of accountability.

These rationalizations — specifically, the need to identify these violent acts with an ideology in order to justify them — cause a level of desensitization in society.

Over time, they can also become the cause of this type of violence.

Becoming a part of something greater than oneself gives certain people an identity and purpose. Yet, by society facilitating finger-pointing at these ideologies, does that mean that individuals get to be absolved for their violent actions?

No matter what our belief system may be, it doesn’t justify killing and criminal acts of violence. It is entirely possible that we act out of emotion. Still, that doesn’t mean that we are not responsible for our choices.

 

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Christianne Boudreau

Christianne Boudreau is a contributor to Clarion Project.