Like everyone else, I have been watching coverage of the Ft. Hood shootings with great interest and with an ear tuned to the framings or the codes (to use Stuart Hall’s term) that are competing to rule the media discourse.   So, I intend my provocative and intentionally ambiguous title to telegraph that question.  How are Hassan and his actions being framed?  I’ve been watching CNN and listening to NPR primarily, so those are my field materials here.  There, as well as in the newspapers and blog entries I’ve seen, several different framings of Hassan seem to present themselves: 1) he is a solider with PTSD; 2) he is a troubled person caught in a personal crisis over career and relationships at midlife (thus he’s more like a “Post Office Shooter” or the DC Sniper); 3) he was motivated by religion, but it was his own individual interpretation of religion; 4) he was motivated by religion but he was influenced by someone (or someoneS) else (the suspect today is an Imam named Anwar al-Awlaki) who told him to do this (thus he’s some form of an “Islamic terrorist”).  These are circulating in a nearly textbook case of competing and contested framings.  So, let’s see what happens.  The structuralists, modernists, liberal-pluralists, and rationalists among you will of course want to point out to me that the “facts of the case” will resolve this as they become known.  To which I will respond–as  a post-structuralist–that the framings in fact will influence the facts in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  This is obvious when we look ahead to whether, where, or how Hassan can be judged by an impartial jury.  The way the situation is commonly framed will impose determinations along a number of dimensions.

One quick example of the competing framings, occasioned by the coincidence (?) of the Orlando shootings.  On CNN, on Friday, within a single three-minute news hole, CNN personalities framed Hassan as someone who was clearly influenced by something larger and outside himself, and called Jason Rodriguez a “wacko.”  There is a lot here.

Oh, yes, I’ll be self-revealing here.  I’m interested to see what kinds of ways this post may be deployed as a result of the way I’ve titled it.

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