On Thursday afternoon, Richard Rojas drove his car into the middle of Times Square in New York City, killing one young woman and injuring nearly two dozen more.
He later said he had… divine intentions.
People initially thought it might be a terrorist attack, but the truth was much more mundane: Rojas was on drugs. The man who had been arrested twice before on drunk driving charges “tested positive for PCP” this time around. Rojas, however, had a different explanation, according to CNN:
… [Rojas] told police that God made him do it, a law enforcement source told CNN.
The suspect, who suffered from “psychological issues,” told police he expected officers to shoot him, according to the source.
For me, this doesn’t seem like an instance in which religion motivated murder. But do you think that, if the suspect said, “Allah made me do it!” this story would have been covered differently no matter what drugs he was on? We’ve seen the mainstream media skip over the religious beliefs of a fundamentalist Christian and a pastor accused of murder when their religion didn’t appear to be the primary cause, while drawing attention to the fact that another man said “Allahu Akbar” during his crime that was also (seriously) unrelated to his faith.
This is almost certainly tragedy the result of drugs — and nothing more — but that doesn’t mean people wouldn’t try to spin it differently if the circumstances were altered slightly.
(Screenshot via YouTube)