The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spinning Tragedy

Horrors like the Virginia Tech shooting are bound to become a rallying point for people pushing all sorts of pet theories, sometimes justly and sometimes inappropriately. But nothing brings out the hatred, callousness and sheer supidity of American conservatives quite like a tragedy, eh?

Presenting... the Very Special Olympics:

Proudly claiming the gold is Debbie Schlussel, who took reports that the killer was Asian and decided that he was probably from Pakistan. When that turned out to be incorrect, her new assertion was that the incident "is a demonstration to Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill multiple American college students." After all, what's the point of senseless mass murder if not to sell a race war?

National Review's John Derbyshire takes the silver with his assertion that if he'd been there, things would've been different: "Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake -- one of them reportedly a .22." Because this is just the type of total badass you'd want at your side in a crisis. Or at least ridiculing you for getting shot the next day.

For a valiant effort, some idiot snatches the bronze for suggesting that this could actually have been a terrorist attack for a very clever reason-- it looked nothing like one. "What really worries me is if this was a test for other attacks. If the man was testing College responses then the key would be to make this look like anything BUT a terrorist attack." Wow! What a supersleuth! I'll bet evildoers the world over are breathing a sigh of relief that this brilliant mind is too busy with nuanced political commentary to solve the planet's most baffling crimes.

Honorable mention goes to the always-reliable Instaputz. The site fails to claim a medal because it actually uses the words "we'll never know" in relation to the shooting, an astounding admission in the right-wing blogosphere. Unfortunately, it's to defend his own totally hypothetical bit of only-outlaws-will-have-guns illogic: "Reader John Lucas, who works with a Virginia law firm, emails that Va. Tech is a "gun-free zone." Well, for those who follow the law. There was an effort to change that but it failed: "A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly." That's unfortunate. Had the bill passed, things might have turned out differently, though we'll never know now." Man, that's profound. But I can think of one possible result of putting shootin' irons in the hands of binge-drinking teenagers.

Sadly, I have to report that at least one member of the progressive blogosphere was also in the race. While Garance Franke-Ruta didn't have a chance against this crowd, she certainly deserves mention for making a sweeping and completely unsubstantiated overgeneralization. Then trying to wiggle out of it when gently corrected by readers-- three times. "Because the first victim was a woman, and possible had a romantic connection to the killer, the police did not see her murder as a threat to the community. Now the police are pretty plainly telling the public that they failed to warn the campus there was a killer on the loose because they failed to understand that men who kill their partners are also threats to society." This is breathtaking stuff. Not just because it's free of conditionals, but because it's every bit as idiotic as claims based on race. Credit to Prospect readers for being so remarkably polite in their responses, but GFR's recent posts have all been the object of comment by co-workers for her insistence on finding the whiff of patriarchal conspiracy in any and all issues. As a doctor(al candidate in literature), I've seen many cases of this among otherwise bright women, and I have a simple prescription. "The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees, in every object, only the traits which favor that theory." Sure, it's from dead, white, heteronormative colonialist patriarch Thomas Jefferson, but he was a pretty sharp guy.