COMMENT

We should all leave the house more, go someplace nice, the beach or the park or, best of all, the mall, walk the dog, get a dog, get a feed, get a life, drive some place, drive in circles, visit a boring relative - anything to avoid staying indoors and zoning out over the idiot box of the modern age, ie the instruments of the internet.

The day of Friday's mosque attacks was pure shock. The day after the mosque attacks was pure mourning. By Sunday, things were back to abnormal, with New Zealand doing its familiar obsessive thing, apportioning blame, going off, going batshit crazy, as conducted on social media. When tragedy strikes, behold the tweets of wrath.

We should close down gun shops. We should put Sean Plunket in a box and drop it in the middle of the ocean. We should not allow Chelsea Clinton to attend a vigil to honour the dead: "Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric you put out there," she was told to her face.

Advertisement

Yes, let's close all those things down – sorry, Sean! – and everything will be better except it won't. Haters gonna hate. Terrorism finds a way. Strangely, the guy who caused this tragedy has been kind of sidelined; very little of the social media stuff I've been looking at through glazed eyes has been about that armed moron.

Let's make this about him just for a second. Let's not resile from having a robust, necessary conversation about a culture which actively promotes anti-immigration sentiment – how's it going, Winston Peters? - and let's continue to be keenly, profoundly aware that the most important people in this entire conversation are the victims and their families. Of all the messages on social media, the one that had the most impact was this, from the New Zealand Police, on Sunday: "The death toll now stands at 50."

But let's return to the killer, briefly. Let's go out on a limb here and consider the possibility he's a complete nutter. I received a great many messages from readers in response to my previous commentary about the killings and they included a note from a man called Paul, who wrote, "I read his manifesto. He is not an idiot, just crazy."

Good to know. This is not to suggest he was some kind of lone wolf or that his actions were in isolation – by the way, who was he talking to in his stupid 17-minute film, when he kept referring to "lads" and "boys"? But it seems he acted alone. He was the only person in the car, in the mosques, at the end of a gun. Let's blame him. Let's blame the nutter.

But please let's not bang on about the end of innocence when really all that happened is that it was the end of pretence. New Zealand is full of idiots and nutters wanting to take out Muslims or anyone they think of as Other. "I reckon white people are pretty safe from these guys eh," as the Auckland comedian James Roque wrote on Twitter.

I stayed inside most of Sunday reading media and social media and eventually I went outside. I saw happy families, couples holding hands, mothers breastfeeding, people eating spare ribs, beetroot salad, rotisserie chicken. I looked at my phone. Another reader had responded. Keith wrote, "When you mix races and relax the immigration policies, this is what happens." God almighty. Step away from your phone. Give the internet a rest.