Salvo 02.09.2024 9 minutes

Hostages in a Horror Factory

Horror Zombie Series

The frightening prospect of total madness descending on our nation. 

A 32-year-old man by the name of Justin Mohn displayed his father’s severed head on a YouTube livestream. Around 5,000 people were able to watch the 14-minute video before YouTube scrubbed it six hours later.

Mohn claimed to be the acting President of the United States of America. He called for Joe Biden to be kidnapped and brought to him. He told his viewers that for their New Year’s resolution they should murder any friend or family member who works for the federal government—like his father.

“Violence is the only solution,” Mohn said as he read from his manifesto while periodically taking sips from a bottle of water. 

In the hours after the story broke, a range of theories began to circulate. Could Mohn be the face of the deranged MAGA cult that Joe Biden warned us about? Or could this be a false flag? Is Justin Mohn another victim of MKUltra like the Unabomber or Charles Manson? Was this video created by AI? Or was Mohn verifiably psychotic—a violent extremist with a messiah complex?

So far, the official story goes like this: On Tuesday, January 30 in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania, a decapitated male, Michael Francis Mohn, was found in a bathroom by his wife; his head was discovered in a cooking pot in the adjacent room. Mohn was a federal employee in the Army Corps of Engineers. His son Justin recorded a video claiming to have beheaded his father, whom he called a traitor, and naming himself commander of Mohn’s Militia. Pennsylvania State Police later found him, along with the pistol on his person that he reportedly used to shoot his father in the head. The autopsy report shows that Justin then used a knife and a machete to sever his father’s head from the spinal column. Supposedly, Justin had no previous history of mental health issues.

The official story is never the full story—especially those with a horrific hyper-political angle like the Mohn tragedy. It will take weeks or months, if not more, to begin to understand the full picture. This is how reporting works—excuse me, this is how reporting should work. A story breaks. New details emerge. The story evolves. And the audience’s perception of the story grows ever more nuanced.

However, in the 24/7 buffet of media doom, too often the truth is sacrificed for expedience. As a consequence, widespread distrust in the media has accelerated while also creating a contingent of loyalists who believe whatever they’re told the first time they hear it, despite any possible future corrections (hidden like fine print at the bottom of old stories, if you’re lucky).

That doesn’t mean violent news stories such as Mohn’s are outright fake like some suggest. But you shouldn’t feel guilty if that’s your gut reaction—especially in cases like this when politically-motivated violent crimes are paraded throughout the media to confirm the bias of a certain political faction.

Increasingly, one’s interpretation of a horror depends on the political lens through which you observe the world. Some will suggest it’s grotesque to question the reality of such a horrific event. Some will suggest it’s insane to make Mohn a monolith for all of “MAGA.”

The comments under news reports on YouTube about Justin Mohn toggle between these extremes: This is your brain on MAGA. This whole thing smells fishy. I’ve never heard this much information shared so soon. Obvious psyop. This is what religion and politics do to people. Tell me your [sic] a fed trying to make anti-feds look bad without telling me.

Additionally, there is very little national shelf life to real-life horror. The news has manufactured so many horrors that it’s created schisms in reality.

Is it because people at large subconsciously need to memory hole these events to pretend that the horrors aren’t as abundant? Or is it because we’re desensitized from overexposure to 24/7 fear porn peddled by the media? Regardless, this has created hostages in a horror factory.

We know the routine. The shock will wear off. It wasn’t that long ago that a man who was released from a mental institution then murdered 18 people in Maine. It’s still over a year since the mushroom cloud over East Palestine. Since Maui was reduced to ash.

The Horror from Atlanta

The revolving door of tragedy spins at full speed. 

Enter the talking heads at CNN. They practically had frowns stapled to their faces so they wouldn’t accidentally gush with joy while delivering the news of Justin Mohn. If they could get away with it, they’d probably run wall-to-wall coverage of the severed head in Justin’s hands. Proof that their political enemies are monsters.

CNN brought in former FBI Director Andrew McCabe to discuss the beheading video. His agenda was transparent from the very first syllable uttered:

The bigger picture is extremely concerning. The bigger picture here is this is another example of the fact that the kind of overheated deeply politicized extreme rhetoric that you hear sometimes in this country from politically elected officials and leaders actually has an impact on these marginalized people with extremist views who might be…driven to embark in acts of violence. Some of the things that he has said in the video allegedly referring to woke mobs and things like that, that’s not dissimilar from rhetoric that I hear from some politicians that we’ve heard recently in the primary season…. This kind of language has an effect on the most extreme, most vulnerable, most potentially dangerous part of our population….

McCabe might as well have mumbled “Trump” between every word.

CNN is the same outlet that reported on the fiery but mostly peaceful protests as fires from riots raged behind their field reporter. Their objectivity is a facade. 

McCabe warned the audience that more political violence will look like Justin Mohn’s as the election season unfolds. Of course, no one mentioned that Mohn supposedly shared social media posts expressing anger at President Trump as well. 

Within hours of the beheading, CNN was able to turn this into a “language is dangerous” crusade. They seek to use anything they can to destroy our ability to speak freely. And they will dance around with the severed head of strangers to sell you on this point.

It’s important to observe who benefits from these depraved horrors. Watch how the media will downplay stories that offer evidence counter to their narratives and how they will exaggerate stories that support it.

It Has Happened Here

But the distrust goes even deeper than just the way the media has consistently lied to the American people.

I believe that a man named Mohn murdered his father, decapitated him, and read from an unhinged manifesto. But…

False flags are very real political tools. Merriam-Webster defines them as “a hostile or harmful action (such as an attack) that is designed to look like it was perpetrated by someone other than the person or group responsible for it.” (I encourage you to read up on the Years of Lead in Italy.)

It’s no secret that our own government is capable of maximum atrocities. We know they’ve dreamt up psychotic violent plans to murder and maim American citizens to heighten political tensions and inflame wars.

For example, in 1962 the Joint Chiefs of Staff went to President Kennedy with Operation Northwoods, a proposal to murder American citizens and blame it on Cuba to start a war. JFK rejected it and fired the man who presented the idea, General Lyman Lemnitzer.

The argument is that since we know something like Operation Northwoods was once brainstormed by those in power, it should then be stored in the not-so-back-of-your-mind when seeing political violence unfold. It’s a nasty feeling to carry around, but I don’t think it’s absurd to consider. It’d be ridiculous to think they just stopped wargaming violence in the sixties. I can only imagine what crazed degenerate bloodthirsty fetishists with federal contracts are dreaming up today.

When it comes to the news, taking something at face value can be a dangerous proposition. So the horror fades. And this destabilized reality is an absolute disaster for healing a psychologically mutilated nation. We can watch the same beheading video and totally disagree on what we just witnessed. No political side is immune.

Monsters on Main Street

I used to talk to my grandparents about the way the sixties unfolded in real time. Riots. War. Charles Manson. The string of assassinations. JFK. MLK. There were many horrors, and they seemed to have created long-lasting national PTSD. These images shocked the nation. They carved emotional scars throughout generations. My grandparents remember thinking about their daily lives differently in the aftermath of these horrors. Hitchhikers became boogeymen. Door locks were double-checked before bedtime. 

Many people today are open to the possibility that JFK’s assassination was carried out by bad actors within the government. Books like Chaos by Tom O’Neill support the theory that the CIA might have allowed Charles Manson to operate freely. If you’re willing to accept that, then it seems that nothing could be off the table.

It’s understandable why so many people today have lost trust not just in the media but in reality itself. See: the Covington kids, the Ghost of Kyiv, the hospital “bombed” in Gaza, Jussie Smollett, January 6, and “Good people on both sides,” to name a few.

Our nation has become a horror factory. Everything has fallen victim to the horrors—individuals and reality itself. We’re overexposed to mass-produced horror. It’s been commodified. Maybe this is a consequence of the internet, but I think it’s been this way for a long time; it’s just accelerating at a faster clip thanks to social media. (That’s not to say I think social media is all bad—it gives us the ability to subvert false narratives, for one.)

The horror factory and the world around it now seems to be at capacity. It’s trying to stuff more ghouls into an already overstuffed clown car. The American psyche can only hold so much horror before it snaps or stops caring. And maybe that’s part of the effort to destabilize reality…so we stop caring. We can’t get to that point, though some would argue we’ve long since crossed that event horizon.

As much as I urge people not to buy into the caricatures of their perceived political enemies (though even sometimes those do come true), I also urge everyone to remain conscious of their default skepticism bias. Not everything is fake, though it seems like so much pouring out of the news can be. Violence is very real. 

Real monsters do go on murder sprees throughout the horror factory. There was a young man from my town years ago who was in the local supermarket, and a deranged stranger came up behind him in the produce aisle and fatally slit the young man’s throat. I was once reporting on a story about a serial killer, and the mother of one of the victims (who I’d just messaged with) was randomly stabbed over 200 times by one of her other daughters, who then caved in her mother’s skull with a fire extinguisher. 

The difference between those stories and the ones like Justin Mohn is that they weren’t immediately used as political cudgels. We reserve the right to be weary whenever any story is swept up into the headlines. I just ask that we observe with patience. Remain suspicious of news that easily confirms your attitude toward anything domestic or foreign. True evil does in fact exist. 

On the same day Justin Mohn’s beheading video spread around the internet, there was another beheading in the news. The man who beheaded the statue of Satan in the Iowa Capitol was charged with a hate crime.

It was like a sick joke from the horror factory about the state of America. Good vs. evil. Violence vs. compliance. Total madness no matter how we looked at it, as a father’s severed head and Satan’s severed head stare back at us. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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