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April 17, 2007

“But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue.”
Posted by Patrick at 09:18 PM *

Arthur Hlavaty reminds us of this, posted and widely linked to in the immediate wake of September 11, 2001. Relevant again:

Many people will use this terrible tragedy as an excuse to put through a political agenda other than my own. This tawdry abuse of human suffering for political gain sickens me to the core of my being. Those people who have different political views from me ought to be ashamed of themselves for thinking of cheap partisan point-scoring at a time like this. In any case, what this tragedy really shows us is that, so far from putting into practice political views other than my own, it is precisely my political agenda which ought to be advanced.
And don’t neglect the handy news poll off to the right.
Comments on "But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue.":
#1 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:27 AM:

PNH: “But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue.”

I think we can remove "significant," even.

#2 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Glad we have the template, now. Although, I'm sure there are some political consultants that will bemoan the loss of jobs and the automation of their profession.

#3 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Of course! When Democrats suggest exchanging a clearly-ineffective strategy for one that might actually keep people safe, it's 'cheap point scoring,' 'tawdry abuse of human suffering,' or sometimes 'appeasing Hitler.' When Republicans do it, it's 'defending us from terrorists.'

If you don't hang on Bush's every word, the terrorists win*.

*some restrictions apply. Void where inconvenient.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:28 AM:

If you're talking about the loonies jumping all over the Virginia Tech story ... well, let's count the ones we know about so far.

1. White supremacists autoposting to the Bishop thread.

2. Carol Iannone blames co-ed dorms and English majors.

3. John Derbyshire blames the victims for not having a sufficient "spirit of self-defense". Derbyshire is in the habit of saying things like that. Ana Marie Cox makes fun of him for it.

4. Privileged young white guy Nathanael Blake, who's also never put himself in harm's way, agrees with Derbyshire.

I'm morally certain there are more of them out there.

#5 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Teresa, one more: Jack Thompson has, reliably enough, declared violent video games the cause of the shootings.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Of course! That was bound to make the list.

#7 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:43 AM:

#5 Idiot gun-rights people opining that "if only there had been more armed people in the classrooms."

They were teenagers, you fools. Utterly ineligible, by federal law, to purchase handguns or apply for concealed-carry permits. We don't even trust them to buy beer.

#8 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:43 AM:

Barack Obama seems to have made a speech yesterday, mentioning the Virginia Tech massacre and then saying that losing one's job to outsourcing is another form of violence, but I can't find the full text of the speech online.

#9 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Ken Ham, noted Creationist, said the shootings were because of atheism in schools.

#10 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:38 AM:

This tragedy was caused by (too many/too few guns). If only there were (more/fewer) guns on the campus, it would have been avoided. American society needs to be (more/less) tolerant of possession of firearms, and carry of firearms in public places.

#11 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:53 AM:

> If only there were (more/fewer) guns on the campus, it would have been avoided.

Well, both, obviously. The gunman should have had fewer guns, and everyone else should have been allowed guns in case he attacked them with a knife.
We just need to identify the Bad People and not let them have guns, and let everyone else have guns.

#12 ::: Anton P. Nym ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:55 AM:

I heartily endorse this product and/or service. And I have since it happened in my home town thirty-two years ago. Plus ca change...

-- Steve's gotta read more Santayana.

#13 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:57 AM:

TNH@ 4
2. Carol Iannone blames co-ed dorms and English majors.

**Boggle.**Because it would have been so much easier for the girl at the reception desk in the Girl's Dorm to have stopped the killer before he got upstairs to shot anyone. (I was the girl at the reception desk off and on during college, doing work study. Had I been there, I'd now be a smear of jelly on a wall.)


Big Hank @ 7
#5 Idiot gun-rights people opining that "if only there had been more armed people in the classrooms."

Oh, excellent. A shoot out. Are these people crazy? (Well, yes, of course they are.)

#14 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:03 AM:

The more things change, indeed.

Although item 2 in Teresa's list at #4 is new to me. Not the co-ed dorms bit, but English majors? (Yes, I know that the gunman was an English major. It's just that I am not used to English majors being profiled as violently sociopathic, as opposed to those in the technical fields...)

...and now that I've gone and read the article, ah, I see. It's not that he was an English major that was the problem. It was that he wasn't a theology major. At least I guess that's what Iannone would have considered not "spiritually empty."

#15 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:06 AM:

And because I've been reading a lot of feminist blogs lately, I'm wondering why no one in the media's surprised or dismayed that a man went to slaughter a woman he thought he owned. They're only kinda sad that there was so much collateral damage.

Stupid women! Never shoulda gone to college anyway! Also, maybe they shouldn't allow themselves to be visible to men at all.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 9... There is atheism in our school system?

#17 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:23 AM:

> I'm wondering why no one in the media's surprised or dismayed that a man went to slaughter a woman he thought he owned.

Family legend has it that a relative of mine had to flee Texas after finding his wife and her lover in bed together and shooting them. Allegedly it would have been all right to have just shot him, but you were supposed to assume the woman was innocent and had been forced into the situation rather than shoot without asking questions.
But that was many many years ago, assuming the story is true, and one would hope things had improved.

(Though I'm not surprised that such things still happen sometimes, though of course I am dismayed.
That he would go on to kill everyone else he could is more surprising, and while with hindsight the police reaction to the first shootings was wrong, I don't think the initial assumption that they probably had an isolated incident that was over was wrong, but they should have thought about what might happen - after all it wasn't unprecedented. Isn't hindsight great. Perhaps we should add "As I implicitly predicted" or "As I could have predicted" to the template.)

#18 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:27 AM:

#4 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, et al. Surely this tagic incident is the result of the prevalence of Black Duster Overcoats in our society today. We must outlaw them.

Although I'm sure that Crazy Uncle Pat will link it to same-sex marriage.

#19 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:29 AM:

I find this rush to judgment agonizing -- I want to tell them all to STFU, and let people mourn. I try to tell myself that these are all clumsy, frightened attempts to make sense of the senseless -- something human beings appear to have been doing since Gilgamesh, with mixed results -- and that ultimately everyone will fall silent.

However, I do find myself moved by the point which has been made eloquently by Juan Cole and others, which is that this is what the people in Baghdad experience every single day.

#20 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:31 AM:

Loonie list, continued:

5. Rev. Fred "Kill Fags" Phelps, who has announced he will be picketing the funerals.

#21 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:31 AM:

Steve Buchheit @ 18: Although I'm sure that Crazy Uncle Pat will link it to same-sex marriage.

Also abortion, environmentalism, the UN, and PETA. Possibly NAFTA as well.

#22 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Apparently Westboro Baptist Church (Pulpit of the not-so-reverend Fred Phelp) has an axe to grind in this, too (scroll down past the asterisks):

WBC will preach at the funerals of the Virginia Tech students killed on campus during a shooting rampage April 16, 2007. You describe this as monumental horror, but you know nothing of horror — yet. Your bloody tyrant Bush says he is ‘horrified’ by it all. You know nothing of horror — yet. Your true horror is coming. “They shall also gird themselves with sackloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads” (Eze. 7:18).

Why did this happen, you ask? It’s simple. Your military chose to shoot at the servants of God today, and all they got for their effort was terror. Then, the LORD your God sent a crazed madman to shoot at your children. Was God asleep while this took place? Was He on vacation? Of course not. He willed this to happen to punish you for assailing His servants.
Words fail me.

Pandagon also links to yet another media outlet jumping on the "blame the victim" bandwagon. (Scroll past the discussion of gun rights down to the update at the bottom of the article.) Apparently the ex-girlfriend is to blame for sparking the massacre. By, apparently, "pouting and relaxing" provocatively or something. Who knew? I was too busy getting sidetracked by her totally off-topic and superfluous status of murder victim.

#23 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:37 AM:

A-ha. I see John Meltzer and I crossed in the mail on the WBC/Phelps connection. Minds, greatness, alikeness of thinking, word.

#24 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:40 AM:

At least one commentor has linked the shootings to the existence of co-ed dormitories and postmodernist English curricula.

#25 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:48 AM:

I am waiting for someone to speculate on why the shooter went to a German class. Or is that particular speculative train of nonsensical thought way too 20th century? Yeah, it is.

Postmodernist English curricula? Who -- what -- /sputtering.

#26 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:03 PM:

#19 Lizzy L - THANK YOU! My reaction too. I discount the usual irrational fringe jumping on this bandwagon, as the original post described so clearly. But even people I normally find sensible seem to be jumping all over "here's what the university did wrong, here's what the police did wrong, here's what I-could-have-told-everyone." Yes, we need to find what we can about how response could be improved. Yes, if there were egregious errors they should be exposed. I'm not so sure that anything we can learn about the psyche of the killer is all that helpful, but I suppose it won't hurt in terms of lessons learned for heading off other tragedies. But in any case we don't need to do those things - or, especially, expect the people and organizations immediately involved to do them - right this bloody minute!

I am, by the way, a Virginia Tech graduate from some years back, but I hope I would feel the same in any case.

#27 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:04 PM:

#21 Aconite, well, I don't think he could read all those ideas off the teleprompter before segueing into a spittle-flecked impromptu homily, but Crazy Uncle Pat can dream, can't he?

#28 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Someday, I am going to lock Jack Thompson and Fred Phelps in a room together, and see which one has an aneurysm first.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

All I know is this: I cannot, even dipping into my deepest, darkest feelings (the same ones where my villains spring from), begin to understand what prompts someone to go on this kind of rampage. I could easily understand how someone might choose to shoot someone they know. I can even sorta understand how someone in the midst of another crime shoots someone they don't know. I can't get my mind to find any sort of reason how people come to decide to shoot many, many people they do not know. (Not counting doing so for political or related reasons, of course.)

And since I can't manage to get my mind around it at all, I have think that anyone who thinks they have a single, simple answer is extremely self-deluded. It doesn't matter what that answer is.

#29 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Okay, here's another one.

- Misogynists who blame Cho's supposed "girlfriend" for setting him off by rejecting him. There's already a picture of her on the net. I'm not going to link to it.

Personally, I expect we'll find in about a week or so that Cho not only never had a "relationship" with the woman in question, but had never even talked to her.

#30 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Andy Schlafly over at conservapedia.com (yes, I'm still there) blames
- hard-core pornography (it's been 12 hours -- why haven't the cops told us what was on the guy's harddrive?)
- drugs
- that there were too many legal hurdles to locking him up based on his English teacher's report or disturbing writing
- a 23-year-old being allowed to still be on a college campus

Some of the other folks there are instead sticking with the more reliable & traditional "gun control laws disarmed the victims".

Not linking to avoid googlejuice, but the page topics are "Conservapedia:Would the repeal of gun control laws make incidents like the shooting at Virginia Tech less likely to occur?", "Seung-Hui Cho", "Talk:Main_Page" and "User talk:Aschlafly".

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:23 PM:

a 23-year-old being allowed to still be on a college campus

He's never heard of graduate students? Or law school, or medical school, or that a bachelor's degree in engineering is now a five-year degree in practice?

#32 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:27 PM:

According to NPR this morning, the guy had been reported to the campus authorities for stalking.

Oh, yes--twice. He was reported twice.

#33 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Jon Meltzer @29: it's already happened. "In an interview with The Times, Haugh said she knew of no connection between the killer and her roommate. . . . 'I’ve never seen him,' she said. 'I don’t know his name. Emily didn’t know him, as far as I know.'"

Graah. I still can't really get my head around it all.

#34 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:39 PM:

I'm waiting for people to blame immigration or pull up some other stereotype of Asians, as ESPN (yes, the sports channel) led their description of the shooter, once he was identified, by noting that he was a native of South Korea and a permanent resident alien.

. . . which is relevant how, exactly?

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Kate, I've already seen calls for deporting all foreign students.

Every time I think I've plumbed the bottom of right-wing buffoonery I break through the crust and keep on going.

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Oh, and for the suggestion that the solution is to arm all college students, two words: Friendly Fire.

#37 ::: Michael Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:51 PM:

It's allowing people to attend institutions of higher education that is to blame here. If everyone were home-schooled, this tragedy wouldn't have happened.

#38 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:08 PM:

OtterB @ 26

Of course there needs to ba a post-mortem (and, oh boy is that an ironic term in this context) analysis of the police reaction, the school's reaction, etc., etc.. And of course that analysis has to wait until things calm down enough that it can be done objectively and with full information.

And no, none of this ranting has anything to do with improving reactions to emergency situations; it has to do with blame. If we can blame someone or some group for this horrific incident we can go back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that, come the revolution, we'll be able to prevent this sort of thing completely just by following our sacred ideology.

Maybe the NTSB should use this methodology. It would be so much simpler just to blame plane crashes on moral decay. Think of the time and money we'd save.

#39 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:09 PM:

I can't get my mind to find any sort of reason how people come to decide to shoot many, many people they do not know.

I once took a guided tour of Mackinac Island State Park. The guide pointed out the beautiful trilliums that were just then in bloom. "There's a $250 fine for picking trilliums. So if you're going to pick some, pick a lot."

#40 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:13 PM:

nerdycellist @ #15

I'm wondering why no one in the media's surprised or dismayed that a man went to slaughter a woman he thought he owned.

Ah. I've been avoiding the news for the last few days because it already reminded me too much of the April 1992 dorm shooting at IU, in which my classmate and dear friend Susan Clements and her very nice new boyfriend Steven Molen were killed by her ex boyfriend, who was a foreign national who'd had no trouble buying a bunch of weapons and ammo.

He intended to kill a lot more people, too--he had a list--but he lost his glasses in the struggle with Steven, so he couldn't find his way back to his car. He killed himself a few hours after he shot the others.

I guess nothing much changes.

#41 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:22 PM:

NB: I like foreign nationals. I just wonder how effective it is to background-check someone who's only been in the country for a couple of years.

#42 ::: Old Jarhead ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:23 PM:

As for blaming the targets for not spontaneously rushing the shooter - we train our young Marines and soldiers a long time and under harsh conditions to overcome the societal conditioning against dramatic violence and to ready them to obey orders to "rush the shooter" where they can be killed.

Derbyshire's comment on Flight 93 is obscene. Those passengers (1) knew what was happening and had time to consider a course of action, and (2) knew they were dead anyway if they didn't try. Even then it took a particular combination of personalities to launch that effort.

The kids in the classrooms had no time to plan.

People who have never had to make life or death decisions in crisis situations should be very chary about passing moral judgments on those who do.

#43 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:24 PM:

#36 James D. Macdonald, second that motion. Having taken combat fire-arms training and the Ohio class for concealed weapons (which my wife range qualified before everybody else, and she had never fired a pistol before - so proud of a husband am I- all the rest of the guys in class were big time hunters and shooters, my pistol jammed and there was a question if I reloaded it fully) I am very, VERY weary of those idiots who claim they want a handgun for self-defense. One word, adrenaline, you ain't hitting squat when it's flowing. Especially if you can't put 10 rounds on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper from 15 yards away while concentrating and able to take your time.

#44 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Hmmmm! The students may be too young to buy guns, but the professors aren't!

Of course, that means we'll have a huge, well-armed army of tenued far-left liberal intellectuals on our campuses, forcing our young people to smoke pot, have abortions, and marry gay.

#45 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Tina in 28 --

That one is, well, not easy (aren't you glad I don't have write access to the inside of your noggin?) but it's relatively easy to explain.

Berserk rampages are a fairly common, cross-cultural and over substantial time, human male response to having zero social status. It takes either a machismo culture or total isolation to make it really typical, but it's one of the standard failure modes.

I would consider it very unlikely that insecurity-maximizing social mechanisms, especially as applied to immigrants and non-whites, are going to get any assignment of culpability, but, well, this is one of the known ways people break.

The purpose of a system is what the system does, no matter what people say it is supposed to do.

#46 ::: Jim Toth ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Thank you! I was just thinking I needed to seek that out, and there you go posting it for me.

#47 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:45 PM:

Graydon, did people (men, I guess) go on killing sprees in pre-modern times, Gilles de Rais aside? Or are you thinking about specifically modern dislocation and destabilization?

#48 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Mary Dell @ 41 -- Cho had been in the US since 1992. His parents own a business in Northern Virginia.

#49 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:54 PM:

#47: what do you mean by 'pre-modern times'? The first reference to 'run amok' in English was 1672, who borrowed it from the Malaysians; Captain Cook wrote in 1772

"To run amock is to get drunk with opium... to sally forth from the house, kill the person or persons supposed to have injured the Amock, and any other person that attempts to impede his passage."

which sounds very familiar. I don't think that peninsular Malaysia in 1750 was particularly a modern society.

#50 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Graydon @ #45:

Wow. WOW. Thank you.

#51 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Lori Coulson @ #48:

My mistake. This is what comes of avoiding the news...

#52 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Somewhere or other I watched a clip of Jack Thompson talking out of his ass for about a minute before I had to shut it off or vomit. Most of these nasty reactions are sickening but largely ignorable, because they don't have all that much of a following, but people like him are allowed on national news and the average citizen buys it. It pisses me off. Violent entertainment = violent behavior? Screw that. The top-grossing movie of last year was the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so shouldn't we be seeing an increase in swashbuckling-related crime?

One of my favorite movies is Romero's Dawn of the Dead, but trust me when I say you'll never see me going to a mall to eat people.

#53 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:13 PM:

James at 36: Oh, and for the suggestion that the solution is to arm all college students, two words: Friendly Fire.

The word Ricochet also leaps to mind. My mind, anyway.

These folks who believe more guns would have made the Virginia Tech situation safer -- can we send THEM to Baghdad? Call it research?

#54 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:29 PM:

About rage killings/spree killings/ whatever the social science term of are is for these tragedies: a look at the etymology of "berserk" is also instructive.

#55 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:32 PM:

term of art.

Preview is so very little use when I am not wearing reading glasses.

#56 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Ethan @52:

Ditto. The quality of meat is so much higher at a nice Italian restaurant.

#57 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 02:45 PM:

As far as a more thoughtful response to the tragedy, there's hilzoy's, which was posted 2 days ago, before we even had many details.

The rest of it? Just mindless noise.

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Old Jarhead @ 42

You're absolutely right. In this case there's even more going against the students: the larger the group, the less likely that any individual will act quickly and alone; it's a natural reaction to wait and see what other people do.

Violent combat without getting worked up in advance is not natural to human beings or any other primate. It has to be trained in, and the training doesn't work for everybody in any case. The figure I've heard is that 25% of trained recruits freeze up in their first firefight and never fire their weapons.

But again, blaming the victims is very comforting. They're dead already, so you don't have to do anything to keep it from happening again.

#59 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:18 PM:

And because I've been reading a lot of feminist blogs lately, I'm wondering why no one in the media's surprised or dismayed that a man went to slaughter a woman he thought he owned.

Women don't own their own bodies; five men on the Supreme Court just ruled on the topic today. Why should anyone be surprised if one man in particular thinks he can just pick his own out of the state herd and lay claim?

#60 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Mary Dell (#40), nerdycellist (315): There's been so much about 'why didn't they lock down the campus after the first shooting?' and so few people answering, "Because men shooting women is depressingly common. Men following it up by shooting lots of other people is, relatively and thankfully, rare."

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:31 PM:

debcha @ 60

Yes, the reports I saw said that they figured it was a 'domestic incident'. That it meant someone was on campus who had shot two people already didn't seem to register much. Maybe the shooter kills himself then, or maybe not; it's still a serious crime. (There was one of those in my apartment complex a few years ago. He shot his ex and himself before the police arrived.)

#62 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Re: Locking down the campus.

My partner and I had that discussion the other night. She works at Ohio State University. We concluded that it is impossible to secure a large multi-building facility that does not have fences and gates.

OSU is holding meetings over the next few days with regard to emergency procedures. I don't envy the folk that are going to have to come up with a strategy to handle something like this.

#63 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Stefan #44:

Do we really want a bunch of female art history profs with no discernible reflexes handed guns?

The logical reductio ad absurdum (if any r.a.a can be considerd logical) is that they're not only required to become expert-rated, but held responsible for the students that get killed. No thanks.

(Yes, I know you were sending it up.)

All that said, I get a chilly feeling thinking about a student in one of my classes who I was very firm about flunking instead of allowing to drop without prejudice. Fortunately that was 10 years ago.

#64 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:51 PM:

For another pre-modern example of things getting ugly when you couple the low social status thing with a minimal hope of things getting any better, look at the people's crusade. The main differences are that the crusade had a groupthink element (there were 100,000 of them with a charismatic leader) and they didn't have access to weapons that could produce deadly force with a minimum of training and skill.

I don't know from crazed killing sprees, but in the SCA I love fighting people like Derbyshire who think themselves powerful machomancers. You just sorta hang back, block their one at a time over-powered attacks and let them stick their amrs and head into your favorite target zones. I'm guessing a 9mm pistol has a much larger prefered range than a sword and probably takes a proportionally longer time to cross.

#65 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:52 PM:

P J Evans @ 61

To be fair, they figured it was a 'domestic incident' AND they were already questioning the person they thought was responsible for the first shooting.

Granted, the original reports of "questioning the gunman" turned into "questioning but not detaining a person of interest who was definitely not the gunman" over the course of the day. But from what I've heard, shortly after the first shooting it would have appeared to VT at least that the police were handling it and no panic button was needed on campus.

#66 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:16 PM:

@63: "Do we really want a bunch of female art history profs with no discernible reflexes handed guns?"

What? What? What?

What in the hemmoraging heck does being gender or vocation (assuming that the vocation is not military or LE) have to do with whether someone might be competent with a firearm?

#67 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:20 PM:

George Smiley at #66: I think joann was talking about herself in that very specific description. Being responsible for others' safety directly is a huge responsibility, carrying a gun and being responsible for others' safety even more so, and if she considers her own background and reflexes not up to that level of responsibility I do not blame her. I know I would refuse a gun for the same reasons, only my line would be "female engineering graduate student."

Joann, if I misread your comment I beg forgiveness.

#68 ::: David Bishop ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:21 PM:

The typical response I see to 'arm everybody' or 'arm teachers and grad students' is 'ricochet' and 'friendly fire' (not just in this thread). However, I haven't seen anybody answer this: even with FF and ricochet, would the body count be more or less than it was on Monday? Would he have made it past the first classroom?

I don't know either, but dismissing it out of hand is hardly scientific.

(By the way, since I haven't posted here in a while and ya'll probably don't remember me, I ask these from the point of view of a liberal atheist - not exactly a wingnut)

#69 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:48 PM:

GeorgeSmiley #66:

You seem to be having trouble recognizing a clearly labeled reductio ad absurdum. But, just so you'll know why that particular reductive spin--

I'm a female art historian of no discernible reflexes. Speaking *strictly for myself*, no effing way I'd be able to step up to the bar[*] and do *squat* if a disgruntled student with an AK47 came into the classroom. I have no peripheral vision to speak of (consider my perceptions as being those of someone constantly on the cellphone, as discussed in the seatbelt thread--I've *got* peripheral vision, I just can't *use* it for some odd reason), and entry to classrooms is typically at the front, at right angles to where the teacher is holding forth. Add in that this would take place in a darkened room as I show slides, and the most I could expect to do is wave my laser pointer in the guy's direction--once I'd figured out that there was something I needed to do.

[*] And it *would* be my responsibility. Once you've opened that door so that a professor can go armed to class in order to protect the students from maurauders, then there is no excuse for hir not to do so. And it's total failure on the part of the professor who's shot dead before zie can shoot back. I wouldn't sign up. I'm not teaching now, but I swear I'd resign first.

Then, please--consider the implications, practical and political, of an AK47, or even a pistol, sitting on the lectern. It would have to be in the open; it would take months of practice to get a useful draw. (And imagine me fumbling in my purse or briefcase--I can't even find my car keys without an extended fandango.)

As I recall the account I read, Jamie Bishop, the German professor, was the first person killed in his classroom. Expecting *any*body to have sufficient reflexes to deal with that sort of situation is so impractical as to be risible.

As to my comments about gender, all I can say is that my department was over 75% female, both grad students and faculty, and not one member of the faculty had ever, to my knowledge, even been in the same room with a gun, except in a museum situation. I was the only person in my graduate cohort, male or female, to have ever engaged in anything resembling a martial art, and that was fencing. I was simply discussing a situation I knew intimately.

#70 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:50 PM:

David Bishop @ 68

Here's why I wouldn't want to be in a classroom when everyone pulled out their handguns. When I was in Basic Training, they put us on the rifle range for familiarization with the rifle before trying to teach us how to be marksmen (no gender slur intended, we were all male). They paired us off, each pair got a firing position, and gave each of us a magazine with 3 rounds loaded. I was behind my partner; he was in prone firing position. He got off his first round, which was all he was supposed to fire. But, he got so excited that he turned around to tell someone about it. Of course, he turned his whole body, leaving me with a (locked, loaded, and unsafetied) rifle in my face. I sure as hell didn't trust him not to twitch his trigger finger, and neither did the sergeant. We both yelled at him, and I whacked him on the head, making a nice bonging noise on his helmet that got his attention.

Now imagine this same guy as he gets off his first shot at the berserker who's opened up on the classroom. with no one around to yell at him.

#71 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 05:11 PM:

A recent post by Brad Hicks in his LJ discusses what the likely (only?) outcomes would be in a similar situation if everybody were armed. Since the only times I've fired a gun have been target practice at a range, I don't feel qualified to opine. For anyone here who does have experience using guns (for more than plinking at tin cans or paper targets) who reads it, do you agree with his assessment?

#72 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 05:17 PM:

One of the more interesting comments I have seen on this whole situation was on BoingBoing http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/18/va_tech_shootings_sm.html -- scroll down to Laura S. Petrelle's comments on the near-futility of reporting crimes to campus police as opposed to community police, and how this may have contributed to this student's continued presence on campus.

#73 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Jack Thompson has popped off again? Does anyone know if "Gabe" of Penny Arcade knows about this yet? If not, I expect a "very special" strip as soon as he does...and more faxes to the Seattle Police Department demanding Gabe & Tycho be arrested. (Amazing how bent out of shape some people get if you donate ten grand to charity in their name...) After all, Thompson recently tried to get them into court under RICO as part of some game industry mafia arranged against him which, having met Gabe, is like waving a red bedsheet at a bull.

And Phelps---well, I keep hoping that someday, when he shows up to annoy the folks attending at some funeral, they treat him to the view that Molly Ivins said the Klan got the last time they marched in her neighborhood. That's guaranteed to preempt any onscreen time for him.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 05:35 PM:

One of my co-workers told me last year of the time one of his buddies incurred the wrath of someone who felt that a specific parking spot was his and pulled out a gun. My co-worker's buddy immediately slapped it out of his hand and picked it up. Good thing for the gun owner that the other person was a law-abiding Marine.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Susan @ 59... The Court's decision doesn't come as much of a surprise.

#76 ::: David Bishop ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 70

As someone who has been around firearms for a good portion of his life[1], I know *exactly* what you're talking about: people who couldn't get the concept of range safety drilled into their head with a Craftsman.

But again, would the body count be more or less in that situation? A lot of people seem to think that you would have the 30+ dead people *AND* collateral damage. Is that true (or - at least - plausible)?

[update] I just read "The Infamous Brad"s blog. I dunno whether he's right or not, but he's at least the first person I've seen that tried to make an argument, rather than state it as fact.

[1] son of a Marine, lived in Idaho for ~ 15 years, currently working for an outdoor outfitting company in Nebraska. On the other hand, I didn't *own* any firearm until very recently. I.e., I am familiar with them, but not a "gun nut" (whatever that means).

#77 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:13 PM:

Lexica @ 71

I think he's exaggerating a little when he says that no other outcomes are possible, but I think he's correct that those are the most likely outcomes. Firing a weapon at a human being is fundamentally different for most people* than firing at a target, or even at a game animal. Add to this what's often called "the fog of war", meaning people are screaming and flailing around and nobody knows what the hell is going on, and you have a recipe for either not seeing the killer in time to shoot, or for shooting someone else in the confusion.

And that's one of the reasons why this is not the same situation as Flight 93: they knew what was happening, had an essentially static situation to deal with, knew where the enemy was, and, most important, had time to think the situation through and plan their actions.

And even ignoring all that, there's something called "buck fever", where adrenalin can make a normally good marksman miss an easy shot, or shoot the wrong thing even when there isn't any confusion.

Let's put it this way: I wouldn't trust many people, including myself, and including a lot of the soldiers I served with in Vietnam to handle a gun well in that situation. A young vet recently back from Iraq would be a different story, but most of them aren't going to be using the G.I Bill for some time yet.

Oh, and if you want to see what a vet thinks of the way that vets might handle such situations, read some of David Drake's Hammer's Slammers stories. Drake was in Vietnam; he's not thrilled with the habits combat leaves you with.

* By definition a sociopath won't feel this way, but then most people sitting in a classroom during an amoker event aren't sociopaths.

#78 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:20 PM:

David Bishop @ 76

But again, would the body count be more or less in that situation? A lot of people seem to think that you would have the 30+ dead people *AND* collateral damage. Is that true (or - at least - plausible)?

It's certainly plausible, see post #77 for details.

Funny, I haven't fired a gun since I left the Army, and wouldn't really want to if I could avoid it. But the one person I immediately think of when I consider these situations is a lady I worked with in the 80's who was a target shooter. She's never been in combat to my knowledge, but she knows weapons, and is one of the coolest people in a tight spot I've ever met. On the other hand, as just about everybody says, you never can know until you're in the position.

#79 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:30 PM:

David Bishop, let's say, for argument's sake, that several of the people in a classroom are armed when a man with an automatic rifle walks in. Scenario One: he kills 30 people. Scenario Two: three people shoot, bullets fly, the gunman (who is wearing Kevlar) ducks back out the door and heads for another classroom, leaving X number of wounded or dead. Some of them are wounded (or dead) with bullets from their classmates' guns. Meanwhile, down the hall in the French class, people are dying...

Didn't happen. Could have happened. In fact, there's no way to know what would have happened if there had been more guns and a bunch of terrified amateurs shooting them. But the odds on it being "good" (for some value of "good") seem pretty small to me.

I can imagine the emotions of the well-meaning student with the gun who tried to shoot the gunman, missed, and ended up killing the girl in the chair next to his.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:33 PM:

About Fred Phelps...I saw a video recently of the Westboro Baptist Church singing (to the tune of "We Are the World") "God Hates the World." Yes, indeed. "God hates the world/and all its people..."

These people worship CTHULHU. They think everyone's going to Hell, and they want to be first. And you know, I hope they get their way—with regard only to their own postanimate destination, I hasten to add.

David 76: I had a conversation with someone once who claimed that he would have no problem with guns and ammo being sold out of vending machines in high school cafeterias (brought up by me as I tried to find an anti-gun control position too extreme for him, and failed). He is a gun nut.

He's not the only thing that qualifies, of course. The line is somewhere between him and the careful, responsible gun owner who keeps hir guns unloaded, safetied, and locked up when not in use, and who can't imagine why s/he, a civilian, could possibly want to own an automatic weapon of any kind. The latter person is not, in my view, a gun nut.

I won't try to define the boundary (I agree with Patrick on the usefulness of such things). But I will say this: gun nuttery is in the eye of the beholder. There are those who would tag me with the label because I have fired guns in my live AND enjoyed it, despite the fact that I have never owned a gun, and my enjoyment of firing my friend's guns scared the hell out of me. And there are people...like the gentleman I mentioned above. He doesn't consider himself a gun nut; nonetheless, if the term has any meaning at all, he's what it means.

There's no place outdoors within 5 miles of where I live where firing a gun would be anything other than a deeply antisocial act. Someone who's lived in a rural environment his entire life would think that not having a gun is crazy, and if I lived where you could fire a gun level at a height of 6 feet and have any chance it wouldn't strike a house and probably a person, I might agree.

It's impractical to live in Montana without a car. It's almost impossible to live in Hoboken WITH one!

So it goes.

#81 ::: Old Jarhead ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Joan #63

"Do we want profs with guns.."

A listserve I am on was discussing self defense for female professionals last year and the topic of arming themselves came up. I wrote a pretty comprehensive response about reality that I would be willing to share with anyone who would be interested. email Jim0928@gmail.com

#82 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:45 PM:

If everyone on every campus carried a gun, every single conflict would have the potential to turn deadly in seconds. So instead of an occasional, horribly deadly gun rampage, we'd have frequent, mildly deadly gun rampages, and pistols at dawn on the quads.


#83 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:56 PM:

#82:

[triumphalist con suite libertarian]
Yes, but everyone would be polite!
[/triumphalist con suite libertarian]

#84 ::: Old Jarhead ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:57 PM:

#71 Lexica,

I don't know if I am treading on thin thread ice here since I am new to this site but as I mentioned above I wrote on the topic of armed amateurs last year when some female attorneys who do family law were concerned about some incidents of violence and wondered if they should buy guns just in case. Since I DO know what it is like to face another human being with a gun in my hand I wrote this. It is long and , as I say, if this transgresses please be gentle when you whack me.

Or you can just ignore the post.

Or Teresa can moderate me.

______________________________________

Subject: Guns in the Office

If you intend to get a carry permit and pack heat for self protection you should keep several things close to mind:

1. Unless you have invested the time and money to be well trained in the defensive use of a handgun don't carry one.

2. Unless you are willing to spend the money and time to go to the range and fire your weapon at least monthly and at least a box of ammo at that time, don't carry one.

3. Unless you are certain that you have the emotional and psychological ability to shoot another human being dead, don't carry one. Do not count on "brandishing" the weapon to frighten the other party into submission - it is far more likely to dramatically increase the level of violence. Do not even consider "shooting to injure". Unless you are willing to put two rounds, center of mass, into the other person and kill him (usually) dead you are far more likely to end up the dead or grievously injured one.

4. A handgun is not a magic wand. Displaying it will not cast a spell of caution or calmness on the various parties. A loaded weapon makes people crazy - the person at which it is aimed, the persons who are witnesses, and often the person who is holding it.

5. Unless you are willing to purchase and practice with a handgun that is large enough and packs a sufficient punch to put an attacker down and down now, don't carry one. In the early 70's a female student at [University] was in her apartment with her daughter when an attacker burst through the door. She had a .22 pistol and shot him 4 or 5 times. He had a .45 and shot her once. He was arrested at the hospital. She was dead.

There are lots of sources of good advice on combination of caliber, proper ammo, and frame size for control.

What is comes down to is that there is no way to prepare for the first time you point a loaded weapon at an identifiable human being and have to pull the trigger. The reason the military does repetitive, mind numbing, training is to try and ingrain the muscle memory and develop the reflexes so that brain does NOT interfere because if you give it a vote it will pause and then it is too late. Soldiers call the enemy by racial or ethnic names to depersonalize them so that they don't have to think about the fact that they are killing other people with mothers, fathers, kids, wives, and families. Troops assigned to Special Operations forces or Delta Force fire hundreds of rounds a month because in their job they have to be able to make a split second decision on whether the human in their sights is a target or a hostage or innocent.

The passive defensive measures discussed herein are excellent approaches and will be far more effective in provding security than a sign that says "This family law attorney is protected by Smith & Wesson".

When I was a young Marine we lived in southern Cal and one night about 2 am my wife said that she had heard a sound in the garage. I scoffed of course (husbandly response #1) but then I heard the sliding door of the VW van. There WAS someone in the garage. I got up and sneaked to the garage door and peeked - the dome light was one. Heart beat at 120, adreneline everywhere. As I whispered for my wife to call the cops I saw an arm - a little arm. A 5 y/o girl's arm! I stormed out into the garage to confront my little daughter and as I demanded an explanation she sobbed that she couldn't find her bunny rabbit and was looking in the car.

I had numerous weapons in the house - all locked up. After that I asked myself - "If I had had a weapon quickly available would I have gotten it and had it ready?" My answer was "yes". And then I realized that if I had I would have been confronting my little girl with a .357 in my hand. Accordingly I have never kept a weapon out of the safe in the house.

Given my background I obviously am not an anti-gun crusader. I believe, however, that the decision to carry a weapon in the office or on the street places an enormous responsibility upon the bearer to obtain excellent training, to commit to frequent practice and refresher training, to choose a weapon ideally suited for you and the purpose, and to stare into the mirror and ask yourself if you could really use it - and if you would make its use a truly last resort.

If you shoot and kill someone in the office you are not going to be celebrated as "Annie Oakley" and carried around the Family Law convention on a sedan chair. You are going to go to a private place and vomit until you don't think you will ever be able to stand up straight again.

#85 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 07:15 PM:

I've got two more words for those who want to arm students.

Floor Party.

Like it or not alcohol is a big part of college life. It's just not a good idea to mix the two.

#86 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Old Jarhead @84,

I think that's a well-written comment, thanks.

As to the chance of 'transgression', what's to transgress? (the only 'transgression' I can see is the suggestion that our hosts would "whack" at a comment. Our hosts have that calm and powerful self-control that comes from long experience online*.)

It's good that your comment is longer, because otherwise you'd have skipped one or more of your background, your experiences, your disclaimers, or your full 5 points. All of which were good to read.

----
* I've been a long-time reader and commenter here. what I see is that (or check out the threads on moderation):
1. if a comment is pure spam, it gets deleted. if a comment is pure troll, it gets disemvoweled.
2. if a comment has both a personal attack and a section with reasonable writing, often just the personal attack part gets disemvoweled.
3. if a comment is highly snarky to the point of sounding trolling or personal-attackish, our hosts (or other commenters) will often suggest changing the tone.

i.e. the overall assumption is that we all are reasonable, and that while we are capable of a short slip into unthinkingness, a reminder ought to bring us back.

#87 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Xopher @ 80: If (according to Phelps) God hates all the people, why do Phelps&Co. focus on gays? I suppose GodHatesFags.com is... well, catchier to people of a certain mindset than GodHatesPeople.com (hmm, it's been registered) or GodHatesEveryone.com (huh, so has that one).

Vengeance against a country by sending a nut to slaughter a bunch of innocent people at a school, eh? Y'know, I'm agnostic; I don't have any significant faith about the existence/non-existence of a deity. But I'd like to think that if there is a deity, He/She/It at least has better aim than that.

#88 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I think a lot of the reaching after "but what if the students were armed?" nonsense -- it is nonsense, reactive fire from in a crowd, with no psych prep and no warning? There might be someone on Earth who could do that effectively, if they trained hard every day, but I wouldn't bet any of my own money on it -- is a hope for better choices; surely there's a better choice than to die?

Surely there were better choices than the one the murder took, too, and I would bet my own money that he flat couldn't see those.

It's hard to see your real choices, the ones you've got somewhere outside how you construct the scope of the possible in your head; it's harder to do it on short notice and in fear of your life. Harder still when pretty much all of the choices you've got are bad, and nothing much in your life has prepared you for the idea that you might have to cope with someone trying to kill you for no reason at all.

Did anybody try to talk to the guy? (and yes, that has worked in other times and places.) Don't know, but it might have worked.

Collapsed choice space, and a tons of money and power going into keeping choice spaces collapsed -- that's what, after all, gay marriage and women's sufferage and freeing slaves were about, as arguments; when and where it's legitimate to use power to make some choices inaccessible -- aren't good things. One of the reasons is that the more people who don't see any choice in their life, the more people who have the choices of their lives taken away.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Old Jarhead 84: Thank you for that. That's excellent, informative, and helpful. Quotable, even.

#90 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Old Jarhead @ 84

Not a transgression, by my lights that was an informative and thoughtful posting. What's needed in discussions like this one is exactly this sort of posting, giving the rest of us the benefit of experience few have.

And believe me, I'm tired of hearing all the jabber about guns from people who've never held one, let alone fired one. There's not much of that here at ML, but there's enough extra out there to make up for that.

Also, what Kathryn from Sunnyvale said.

#91 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Old Jarhead @84, in my opinion your comment is full of useful experience and opinion. I've heard others who were/are in the military or police forces say similar things, but it's a bit second hand when I say "I know this guy who says...." Better to hear it from the guy himself.

And to speak for myself, a few years ago I was suffering from severe anxiety, taking the form of a phobia of home invasions. I wasn't sleeping at night at all, on edge from every noise. About 3 AM one night, terrified and exhausted, I started thinking that I should buy a gun to keep by my bedside.

At this point I realized that if I had a gun in my house, especially one kept loaded and not locked up, I would likely never sleep again. My problem wasn't that I needed a gun to magically make me safe. My problem was that despite the fact that I was safe, I never felt safe. Carrying a gun wouldn't change that. Seeking treatment for the anxiety did.

On some level I think this becomes a lot of people's problem after incidents like this one. For me, my phobia started after the shootings at Columbine; I was in high school at the time and felt like I couldn't take my safety for granted anywhere any more, even in my own bedroom. I think a lot of people are seeking something that could make them feel safe again. Some people think guns are the answer.

It's the same reason we see security theater; it's the same reason people are willing to hand over so much in the name of "security" after a terrorist attack.

Guns are tools; as Old Jarhead says, they're not magic wands.

#92 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:24 PM:

#88: The guy was approached by several teachers, referred to counseling, recieved a psychiatric evaluation after harassing female students . . . he had plenty of choices and opportunities to get help. There is an account by one of his teachers up on Salon.

I suspect he was a sociopath incapable of asking for help. The rantings he sent to NBC suggest a paranoid, narcissistic weenie with an immense chip on his shoulder, wrapped up in a dark adolescent internal drama."You forced me to do this! My blood is on your hands!" Sheesh!

There are some people who won't be helped with a little chat. "Won't be" as in "refuse to be." He needed to have help thrust upon him.

* * *

Oh, cripes. How long until this miserable situation gets mined for a Law and Order episode.

#93 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Old Jarhead #84: don't leave us in suspense -- did your daughter find her bunny rabbit?

#94 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Guns on campus?

Good lord, no. Any one who knows me, even a little, would shudder at the thought of me even handling a gun -- there's a reason I don't drive, ya know. ("Which end is the one you point? . . .")

When I think about the various chemicals available on my campus, I really really don't like the idea of armed, even well trained and armed, folk around a number of locations on campus. Bullets and various substances are Very Very Bad Ideas, and there's a lot of such substances on campus.

We've had problems, more than once, with trained police officers using guns and tasers far far too willingly. I hate to think of some of my peers, never mind faculty and undergrads, being armed.

Very very bad idea.

#95 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Oh my, what a party!

1) The thing any pro-cause group tends to forget (as PNH has said consistently here over the past couple years about various political measures) is that the people who will take your advice are not the people you want following it.

1.5) So, as with a draft, the only effective gun-carry rule would be a 100% mandatory "Everyone must carry a gun" rule.

2) As previously noted here: arming the underage, stressed, argumentative, depressed, angst-ridden, and often suicidal-prone adolescents on campus? Oh yeah, that's a smart idea.

2.5) Only arm the teachers. Yup, that's much better. Assuming the psycho knows how to shoot, and bearing in mind most classrooms have windows by the entrance, what stops the psycho from shooting what he knows is the only armed person in the room -- the teacher -- from the hallway outside the room? And now he's got another gun.

3) Yes, also friendly fire, cross fire, and ricochets, but wait, there's more.
Between 1/4 and 1/2 of the students will be tired of carrying their gun -- they haven't needed it all year, they're exhausted, running late, and so forth. But there will be nearly 100% of the student body carrying after the incident because now they "need" the gun. And over the next week how many people will be shot for carrying baseball bats, javelins, brooms and other devices that "look like" a weapon to a paranoid and panicked student? How many shot for reaching into a jacket for a pen, or countless similar "I thought he had a gun" concepts?

#96 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 09:59 PM:

Graydon@#45:

So, what, the process is something like "No one here gives me any respect. I'll prove I'm strong by killing them."?

Cuz, um... that lets me see the process, I suppose, but still not understand it. It's hard to prove something to someone who is dead. I understand people starting bar brawls or one-on-one fights with that sort of logic, but not the "let's massacre everything in sight" part. Conquest to prove one's might, in other words, is fully within my ability to understand, whereas random killing is not.

If I'm still missing something, chalk it up to my being female and try smaller words? :)

#97 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Tina @ #96,

I think it is more like "nobody respects me or pays any attention to me, but this time they will pay attention."

It works too - we're all here talking about this kid, after all.

#98 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Hiya, Old Jarhead. Welcome.

To get an idea of the attitudes by various of us toward firearms, you might visit this older post.

Nowadays it's hard to believe, but that was the first time a Making Light post got more than 100 comments.

#99 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:27 PM:

IMHO, it's a bad idea to change policy based on outliers. News is usually news because it's unusual; if it's commonplace, it isn't news but it's more likely to affect people. (News can also be news because it throws into relief a previously unrecognized larger problem.)

Getting killed by spree shooters or terrorists is news. Dying in a car accident or in a domestic incident isn't, usually. The not-news is what we should be trying to fix, not the news.

I also believe that stalking on college campuses falls into the "not-news so we should do something about it", but that may be bias from personal experience.

#100 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Tina @ 96:

I think it's also a matter of having nothing left to lose and therefore no reason to control/restrain oneself.

It's kind of a psychological/adrenaline vicious circle:
No one wants to be stuck on bottom, and as social creatures we require belonging to some society.
We can manage (somewhat) if one of these is taken away, but when denied opportunity for change or improvement, and isolated from the community group we start to go nuts.
Being stuck at the bottom generates frustration, which leads to anger;
with no one else to speak to, there is no outlet for these feelings, so it is internalized, and amplifies itself;
meanwhile, as the situation does not change, more stressors are imposed externally;
repeat until reach containment failure.

Pretty much each incident makes the person feel more isolated, and he eventually becomes convinced everyone is actively acting against him, which ratchets up the stress further, and makes it personal.
This gradually morphs into a need to strike back at the persecutors who are causing this anger and frustration.

#101 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:21 PM:

The thought of college students carrying firearms on campus gives me the willies. Especially with finals coming up.

#102 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:33 PM:

The thought of college students carrying firearms on campus gives me the willies.

I believe it would have been in 1968, by most standards a considerably kindler gentler era, that one of my suitemates took offense at another's habit of going out for the day while leaving his radio on. Party A found Party B's reaction amusing.

I was the only other resident in the suite the day Party B threw a chair out the (unopened) lounge window.

For some reason Fragano's comment made me picture that situation with a gun added. I wish it hadn't.

#103 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:42 PM:

I've never been frightened of my students, but if I knew they were bringing guns to class I'd quit.

#104 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Re: Phelps et al.: Xopher (@80) is right. These people believe in a deity who personally sends a gunman to shoot up a campus, who personally sends hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornadoes to kill people and destroy cities, who personally oversees the condemnation and everlasting torment of pretty much every soul on this planet and enjoys it--and they worship that deity.

#105 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:32 AM:

#99 Fungi:

That's the comment that came to my mind, too. I have a hard time believing the situation wouldn't have been better in this specific case, had 5% of the students been carrying guns. But mass shootings are so incredibly rare, that almost anything you do to address their risks will cost more than it's worth. And if 5% of people were carrying, day in and day out, there would be way more accidents, and rare but nasty fistfights morphing into gunfights.

The same holds true of mechanisms for detecting and treating/locking up possible mass shooters. They're so rare, almost anything you do short of locking only violent felons and violent crazies up (what we do now) will end up catching far more people who weren't going to do this. You occasionally hear of some high school kid expelled or put into counseling for a weird violent story he wrote, or a disturbing picture--this is about what you'd expect, and it's of a piece with the stories of people with funny-sounding names getting hassled at airports.

There are a lot of common elements of mass-shootings and terrorism--in both cases, they're so rare that it's hard to accumulate data to predict them, and hard for any defense to make sense in risk analysis terms.

#106 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:39 AM:

#101, #103:

I go to a school that was shut down for the day after school admin consulted with the police and the FBI over a message posted to a discussion board. I feel sick to my stomach.

#107 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:42 AM:

There's a painful irony in some of the posts in this thread, given the starting theme.

#108 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:57 AM:

Aconite @ 104

and they worship that deity.

Well, of course they worship such a deity. It scares them absolutely shitless, and they hope that if they kiss its ass with sufficient fervor maybe it will leave them alive for awhile.

They've forgotten the old joke with the punchline, "You, I'm going to let you live."

#109 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:05 AM:

albatross,

You occasionally hear of some high school kid expelled or put into counseling for a weird violent story he wrote, or a disturbing picture--this is about what you'd expect, and it's of a piece with the stories of people with funny-sounding names getting hassled at airports.

it's really lousy, but being at such a remove from the events (i don't know anyone who has gone to virginia tech, or know anyone personally who knows someone, that i know of), my first thought upon hearing of the shootings was "i wonder how the folks in power will use this to abuse civil liberties or persecute a group, & which ones will they abuse or persecute?"

& so far, it seems like it'll be people who write "antisocial" fiction.*

i mean, i wish that even half the times some news head opined that the killer's "graphic, profanity-laced fiction" should have been a warning about his violent tendencies, he/she would bother to add "also women on two separate occasions reported him to police for stalking."

*the killer's disturbedness probably did come through in his fiction, as evidenced by the professor who was alarmed enough to pull him out of class & tutor him one-on-one. i think the professor was probably right to have done so, & that was the most the professor could/should have done.

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:25 AM:

1. Jarhead, that was an excellent comment. Thank you for posting it. My sole objection was that it had a bunch of out-of-place line returns in it. I fixed them.

I'd had a few episodes of being around guns being fired, but the old post Jim pointed you to was when I made my first real acquaintance with guns. I'm an editor. Guns turn up all the time in novels. I wanted to get a better sense of them.

I also wanted to dispel that weird magical charge I felt guns had. That firing range we went to in Manchester will rent you just about anything, from Thompson submachine guns and 19th C. dueling pistols (or replicas thereof) to guns that looked like Chuck Jones designed them. It literally made me dizzy. The feeling hasn't recurred on subsequent visits, so I guess familiarization worked.

I still have a lot of respect and wariness where guns are concerned, but now they don't scare me nearly as much as people who think guns will do magic things. I used to know a guy who worked at Disneyland in the summers during high school, and he told me about what employees there call Disneyland Syndrome. It's believing that the universe works differently because you've fallen into a story. Apparently people will pull boneheaded maneuvers at Disneyland they'd never try at home.

I know gun owners who talk about what they think their guns can do for them, and I swear, they're inside a story. You can tell because causality changes. They go on about how, with a gun, no one's going to be able to do this or that thing to them; and meanwhile I'm standing there thinking, "Yeah, you're going to have your gun to hand at every moment, you'll know what everyone around you is doing, and no one's ever going to quietly walk up behind you."

That's why I really liked the bits in your essay about how brandishing a weapon doesn't make the people you're threatening back down and stay calm. I've never heard anyone tell a story about having a gun pointed at them in which they had that reaction. The only people it affects that way are secondary characters in fiction. Someone who expects those outcomes is thinking fictionally.

2. Guns on campus. Right. Students have enough problems as it is.

3. The guy who did the shooting had snakes in his head. That's the big thing. He was a neurochemical loony. His teachers could tell that about him years in advance. So could the other students. It's not like there weren't dozens of warnings. Maybe the forms his craziness took were configured by who he was and where he'd come from, but environment can't account for the whole of it. At bottom, it's just neurochemistry gone bad.

#111 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:28 AM:

Teresa @ 110

I still have a lot of respect and wariness where guns are concerned

That's a completely appropriate feeling; you'd be a fool if you didn't respect something that has the power to injure or kill you if used incorrectly. I've spent most of my professional life working around electrical equipment, and I've been zapped by mains voltage any number of times. That doesn't make me respect it any less, because I've seen what happens when you don't respect it.

I've never heard anyone tell a story about having a gun pointed at them in which they had that reaction.

But how many news stories have you read about a couple of guys in a bar getting into an argument, and one pulls a gun and starts waving it around, so the other one kills him? It happens here in Portland several times a year. Maybe art needs to imitate life a little better.

Guns on campus. Right. Students have enough problems as it is.

Oh, I don't know. Might help to cut down on sexual harrassment of students by faculty, if the students have guns :-)

At bottom, it's just neurochemistry gone bad.

I think so too, but does it really matter? At issue is not how to cure him, we don't know how, even if we knew for sure what was wrong. We need to find ways to deal with such people in a humane manner that doesn't endanger others.

Don't expect too much in the way of help from science with people like that, at least in the near term. My son is a clinical research psychologist; his field is the treatment of severe schizophrenia. He talks quite a bit about pharmacological treatment, and he'll guarantee you there aren't any cures out there, and not many good palliatives, either.

#112 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:50 AM:

I'm against arming any group of people who are undergoing a lot of stress but not monitored for it or trained how to handle it, thanks*. I really doubt that arming the student populace would make incidents like this less deadly, frankly.

(*As distinctly opposed to police, who while they are in a high-stress job, both are watched for signs of extreme stress and given a good support system for it and -- very much as importantly -- given some very strong guidelines on when it's okay to fire their guns. It may not work 100% of the time but it's a heck of a lot safer than none of those measures being in place.)

In my ideal world, guns would not exist and their very concept would never have been imagined, of course, but since this isn't my ideal world, I'm generally in favor of things that makes people less likely to use them as a solution.

I sometimes wonder if school-run mandatory gun safety classes, including what happens when you mess up, might not be a bad idea. The people I know with what seem to me the sanest treatment of guns seem to all have had either early or prolonged exposure to gun safety and most of them have seen a gun's effects in action, whether it be hunting or active military service or knowing someone who was shot or volunteer or paid work in a hospital. Or just knowing that some kid down the street was out playing when the gangbangers decided to have a shoot-out on the corner (and yes, that's personal experience, and no, the kid wasn't physically hurt, thankfully, but still).

Much as I hate to make much of anything mandatory, in this case it seems worth considering.

#113 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Snakes on a brain. Freakin' crap. I hate it when that happens.

#114 ::: Nathaniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:11 AM:

>>Guns on campus. Right. Students have enough problems as it is.

>Oh, I don't know. Might help to cut down on sexual harrassment of students by faculty, if the students have guns :-)

I know this was meant as a joke, and that's cool... but on the serious side, I'd also like to observe that speaking as a graduate student/teaching assistant/hopeful eventual professor... the day the students start carrying guns to class is the day I stop showing up for work. We see hundreds of kids coming through every year, and most are great! But a regular part of the job is dealing with that portion of students who are distraught, or are frustrated, or are machiavellian jerks attempting to systematically lie and cheat their way through life, or believe that you and your grading scheme have irrecoverably destroyed their life and that the only option they have left is to convince you to make an exception -- whatever that takes. (In some cases they might even be right, though someone who's just spent 60 hours straight swigging stimulants and cramming is perhaps not to be relied on to accurately judge the big picture.)

Swapping crazy student stories is a staple of academic folklore. Sometimes they make outright threats. You can't close an office door or give a crying student a hug, then they have the option of accusing you of harassment. We pass on stories of the cases where frustrated students really *have* shot professors, thesis advisors...

I'm not trying to paint a picture of college teachers under siege -- it's not like we sit around all day fretting about this stuff. But may I just add a fervent "me too" to the not-giving-students-guns consensus?

#116 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:33 AM:

Some of your UK lurkers might have seen Bonnie Greer discussion the notion - apropos of the constitutional right to bear arms - that Americans believe they have the right - possibly even the obligation - to adjust reality to their personal view.

A concept to make your brain ache and needing a writer even more talented that Ms Greer to fully express (and he left the building last week)

I can't comment as it seems so alien an idea to the Americans I know. What about you guys?

#117 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:56 AM:

Tina @ 112

I sometimes wonder if school-run mandatory gun safety classes, including what happens when you mess up, might not be a bad idea. The people I know with what seem to me the sanest treatment of guns seem to all have had either early or prolonged exposure to gun safety and most of them have seen a gun's effects in action, whether it be hunting or active military service or knowing someone who was shot or volunteer or paid work in a hospital.

On the one hand, this sees like a good idea. On the other, I suspect it would be difficult to incorporate true, living examples of consequences in a mandatory program, and films don't have the same impact. Think of drunk driving -- almost all schools now have some program to warn students and demonstrate consequences, but how much does it really reduce the frequency of alcohol-related accidents? Not enough.
Unfortunately, a lot of students treat school as a hypocritical dog and pony show, and whether because of "I'm-too-cool-for-this-shit" peer pressure or the fact that students can recognize attempts to brainwash/change their thinking very often even 100% accurate portrayals are seen as propaganda and discounted. "Dude, it's not real, it's all special effects. They just want to control us."

#118 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:58 AM:

albatross @ 107: There's a painful irony in some of the posts in this thread, given the starting theme.

Well, there's simple topic drift, which is bound to happen, and then there's referring to an incident for the sole purpose of explaining how it illustrates the grand rightness of your position.

#119 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Tina wrote (112)
I sometimes wonder if school-run mandatory gun safety classes, including what happens when you mess up, might not be a bad idea. The people I know with what seem to me the sanest treatment of guns seem to all have had either early or prolonged exposure to gun safety and most of them have seen a gun's effects in action, whether it be hunting or active military service or knowing someone who was shot or volunteer or paid work in a hospital.

I would absolutely, one hundred percent, advocate, with perfectly clear conscience, mandatory gun safety and handling courses in school, starting very young (with gun safety of the Eddie Eagle style approach - guns are dangerous tools, if you see a gun, go get an adult, don't pick it up, don't play with it", and escalating to gun safety, management, and handling/cleaning* in High School - this would likely have to be a program started in the grade schools, and implemented in older grades as time went on, rather than implemented at all levels - and would have to be concurrent with many other changes in policy - and others (no striking students, frex) would have to be relaxed while on range).

On the "sanest treatment" - the majority - not all - of the gun owners I respect have been long-time owners/have spent a lifetime in the presence of firearms. This may be tempered by a semi-rural (Rochester is not The Big City, but it's not exactly Mayberry either - there's a million people in the Monroe County area) upbringing, during a time when gunshots heard from someone's back forty, or the local abandoned gravel pit just meant someone had some tin cans what needed aerating before being taken out for recycling. The exceptions are often folks who started out borderlline hoplophobes, confronted their fear, and decided that, hey, making pieces of paper into pieces of paper with closely-grouped holes in them is fun. There are, of course, plenty of folks in between - but by and large I find folks who grew up around guns tend to be pretty sane about them.

(speaking of which - I've got to go mail in my range membership renewal).

*I believe Graydon has pointed out - and I certainly concur - that usually after the dozenth - and certainly after the hundredth - time you've broken down, cleaned, and rebuilt and dry-fired a complex rifle after shooting, it's no longer a magic wand - it's an annoyingly complex and easly dirtied piece of machinery. A dangerous one that must be respected - but so is a chainsaw.

#120 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:33 AM:

Scott Yalor #119: by and large I find folks who grew up around guns tend to be pretty sane about them.

I believe that's true in general; exposure makes things real, mundane, and usually understandable. Vice versa, lack of exposure, or, worse, banning things makes them both mysterious and attractive. (Sex, of course, is the prime example of this.) That's why I rarely advocate banning things outright, in society at large. Education combined with regulation as necessary is a far better strategy for keeping both individuals and the society itself as safe and happy as is possible.

#121 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Over on one of the Washington Post's blogs (On Balance) there is a loon claiming that the VTech prohibition on students carrying guns caused the horrific body count.

When others (including myself) pointed out the danger inherent in barely mature, often drunk, stressed out students being armed and then confronted with a resolute and determined killer, he started with that nonsense about people are either sheep or lions, and HE of course intended to go down clawing and biting when his turn came.

He then went on to say that if no one had had a weapon, that at the least a bunch of students should have just gang-rushed the killer, trusting in his inability to stop all of them before they knocked him down. He also dismissed any attempt by some responses in the use of non-lethal but still effective devices (pepper spray/mace/stun guns) as defensive options. To him it was either carry a gun, or rush a gunman as a mob.

IIRC one of the first non-students killed did try and confront Cho when he started his rampage. Another professor blocked the classroom door with his own body, buying time with his life so that most of his students could jump out the windows. Those and others who blocked doors, etc, are the true heroes.

#122 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Lizzy L @25: I am waiting for someone to speculate on why the shooter went to a German class.

I have heard people complain that the German language was driving them insane. However, they usually mentioned only mild phobias or neuroses.

Tina @28: I cannot, even dipping into my deepest, darkest feelings (the same ones where my villains spring from), begin to understand what prompts someone to go on this kind of rampage

At 16 I would have understood perfectly. At 23, less so. Basically it's "I hate them all, I'm out of options, and that'll show them."

Bruce @111, But how many news stories have you read about a couple of guys in a bar getting into an argument, and one pulls a gun and starts waving it around, so the other one kills him?

I used to enough really stupid people to be glad that they couldn't easily get guns, for exactly that scenario. Strangely, every time I mention that on the internet, someone (or several someones) enthusiastically point out that knives, clubs and fists are really dangerous. One could get the impression that you do not bring a knife to a gunfight because it would be unfair towards the guys with the guns.

#123 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:12 AM:

Nathaniel @ 114

Yes, I hasten to say that it was meant as a joke; if the smiley at the end wasn't a tipoff, everyone please note this statement. Yes, it was at least mildly gray humor, if not really black, but it ties together what seem to be the two most common themes in this thread: that this was at least initially a crime against women, and that some of the reactions, especially those regarding the regulation of weapons, have been, well, ill-considered. That is, when they weren't downright loony.

#124 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:13 AM:

John wrote (121)
Over on one of the Washington Post's blogs (On Balance) there is a loon claiming that the VTech prohibition on students carrying guns caused the horrific body count.

Let's be accurate - it's a ban on anyone carrying guns - or any other non-sports - weapon (i.e. bokken, fencing sabers, etc.) on campus. Not just nineteen year old dorm-dwellers, but twenty-seven year old Army vets, thirty-seven year old "returning Adult" students, and forty-seven year old professors.

When others (including myself) pointed out the danger inherent in barely mature, often drunk, stressed out students being armed and then confronted with a resolute and determined killer, he started with that nonsense about people are either sheep or lions, and HE of course intended to go down clawing and biting when his turn came.

This, is, of course, bravado, unless he's actually seen the elephant. While there is a non-zero chance that he has, in fact, been in a situation where it was kill-or-be-killed, it is relatively unlikely.

On the other parts - part of the problem is, of course, the modern definition of "college student" - which is "barely mature, often drunk, stressed-out" - particularly the last bits. School is obviously going to be stressful - but why has it turned into such a cauldron of anxiety and angst that students feel the need to turn to binge drinking (and not just the occasional frat party)?

We're not doing a great job of teaching our kids "insecurity management" as Graydon would put it.

He then went on to say that if no one had had a weapon, that at the least a bunch of students should have just gang-rushed the killer, trusting in his inability to stop all of them before they knocked him down.

Unless you have hard cover (concrete, brick, solid wood construction of some thickness, a tree of some size, or an earthen berm or rise of some sort) within three-five seconds dash, charging the shooter likely is the safest thing you can do - remember that military standing orders for 'caught in an ambush' is to charge the shooter's positions before they can cut you all down.

He also dismissed any attempt by some responses in the use of non-lethal but still effective devices (pepper spray/mace/stun guns) as defensive options. To him it was either carry a gun, or rush a gunman as a mob.

All of these devices would have been absolutely as illegal - and carried much the same penalty - as a handgun would. They are also overall less effective in stopping someone (I've been maced - an accidental discharge when I worked in a store that sold security products - and I can see where someone that has flipped out would not, in fact, be disabled by it - it can be worked through. Tear gas, etc. - same thing. Stun gun? I dunno.)

IIRC one of the first non-students killed did try and confront Cho when he started his rampage. Another professor blocked the classroom door with his own body, buying time with his life so that most of his students could jump out the windows. Those and others who blocked doors, etc, are the true heroes.

The professor was Liviu Librescu. Absolutely a hero. A survivor of the concentration camps, he made sure that his students were able to get out through a window, sacrificing his own life that they might survive. On Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Rememberance day.

When my time comes, should it be necessary, I hope I face it with as much courage and conviction as he had.

#125 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Hmmm, lots of inexperienced-but-fierce relationships, booze, and brain-ticklers. Yup, what these people need is guns.

I wouldn't trust fresher-me with a loaded gun. Or an unloaded gun.

#126 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Martyn Taylor @ 116

that Americans believe they have the right - possibly even the obligation - to adjust reality to their personal view.

Not being facetious, but how, exactly, is this different from the behavior of other humans, no matter what nationality? I really don't want to enumerate a bunch of nationalities and talk about their particular reality warps, but I'd be surprised if we all couldn't name a bunch of them.

To put the best face on this, you have to remember that none of us has a pipeline to uncontaminated and objectively-true information about the way the world really works, so everything we believe is informed by the particular set of information we've been given by others over our lives, or deduced on our own by observation from our own particular vantage points. And then, of course, filtered through whatever kinds of judgement we've developed to establish believability criteria.

To put a somewhat less tasteful spin on it, we all want desperately to believe in some sort of comprehensible order in the world, one we can both see and accept as appropriate to our moral and aesthetic sensibilities, and we're willing (unconsciously, to be sure) to do a great deal of damage to logic and probability to make it so.

Note the 'we', please. Last I looked, I'm human too, and about mad nor-norwest myself.

#127 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:36 AM:

Inge wrote (122)
I used to enough really stupid people to be glad that they couldn't easily get guns, for exactly that scenario. Strangely, every time I mention that on the internet, someone (or several someones) enthusiastically point out that knives, clubs and fists are really dangerous. One could get the impression that you do not bring a knife to a gunfight because it would be unfair towards the guys with the guns.

Inside of 21 feet - and sometimes inside of 30 feet - a knife absolutely can be more dangerous than a handgun. Most police departments operate under what's called the 21-foot rule, which states, essentially, "that in the time it takes the average officer to recognize a threat, draw his sidearm and fire 2 rounds at center mass, an average subject charging at the officer with an edged weapon can cover a distance of 21 feet. Thus, when dealing with an edged-weapon wielder at anything less than 21 feet you need to have your gun out and ready to shoot before he starts rushing you or else you risk being set upon and injured or killed before you can draw your sidearm and effectively defeat the attack."*

In close quarters, a gun is dangerous in one direction - the direction the barrel is pointing. A knife is dangerous in two or three (depending on design) - point, edge, and possibly back edge (for a double-edged knife - like the average kitchen knife). If sharp enough, it doesn't even take much effort to cut with one - there are manuvers against grapplers that require just a twist of the wrist, even when the arm is "secured".

Knives are deadly weapons.

*taken from an article on PoliceOne about edged weapon defense.

#128 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:37 AM:

#84 Old Jarhead, excellent post.

I would only add this, when that person is done vomiting, they're going to shake until they think their bones are jelly. And then, more than likely, the police are going to handcuff them and lead them away.

#129 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 124

While there is a non-zero chance that he has, in fact, been in a situation where it was kill-or-be-killed, it is relatively unlikely.

IMO, highly unlikely. People who have seen the elephant rarely make pronouncements like that about what it takes to survive it.

remember that military standing orders for 'caught in an ambush' is to charge the shooter's positions before they can cut you all down.

True, but remember that charging soldiers are also firing their own weapons in an attempt to hamper the aim and rate of fire of the shooter. Also, they are supposed, wherever possible, to rush in alternation, covering each other as they move, to increase the suppressing fire (at least, that's what I was taught). These things make the survival rate and chances of actually stopping the shooter considerably higher.

Tear gas, etc. - same thing. Stun gun? I dunno.) Normal law-enforcement-issue teargas, yes, but there are stronger sorts used for riot suppression and combat situations. I've been exposed to both sorts; the second leaves you absolutely no alternative but to run blindly (quite literally) away and go cough up your lungs somewhere else. Stun guns are contact devices, useless for this situation. Tasers will work, they're becoming standard issue for police forces these days. There are, however, lots of reports of situations (at least 2 recently here in Portland) where the taser took considerable time to subdue, or required help in the form of batons; the target was so revved he (always males, as far as I know) couldn't stop.

Now lets talk about guns for a second. Forgetting armor, anything smaller than a .45 pistol, or a .357 with heavy loads, is not guaranteed to stop someone moving forward, especially someone large, with a lot of mass and determination. If you hit a vital organ, something smaller will do the job, but the odds in a room full of screaming people, against a fast-moving target are not good. So now remember armor; it's not hard to get a ballistic vest these days. Standard hand weapon training teaches you to shoot a burst of 2 or 3 rounds at the center of mass of the oncoming target: easiest to hit, contains a number of vital organs, and delivers the most kinetic energy in opposition to the movement. And that's exactly the place the armor covers.

What's the answer? I'm not at all sure there is one. Some situations, you do whatever you can and pray to the god of 20-sided dice, and the bear still eats you. So, yes, I might try to rush him, hoping others would go along, if only to shut up my yelling.

#130 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 124

sacrificing his own life that they might survive. On Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Rememberance day.

I can't describe very well the feeling that came over me when I read these words. The back of my neck tingled as my hair tried to stand on end, my throat locked up, and I started to cry. What an incredible mixture of deep irony and incredible triumph. On him be peace.

#131 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:06 AM:

There's a real difference in quality between a police officer who is trying to take someone into custody and who would really prefer not to do all the paperwork associated with drawing, far less discharging, his firearm, and a person with his weapon in his hand who has already decided to kill you.

As to the rushing ... sure. That might work, if you've drilled and trained until it's reflexive, so has everyone else you're with, and you're certain of the reactions of the guy standing to your left and the guy standing to your right.

Please note that Prof. Liviu Librescu was someone who we can be fairly certain recognized the sound of gunfire for what it was, had practical experience with survival, and knew that the only sure defense against someone with a firearm who wants to kill you is to be somewhere else. He gave his students that chance.

#132 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Tina in 96:

I'm not saying any of this makes sense; I'm saying it's a fairly common failure mode of human brains.

Everybody's got their map of reality, which is what they actually interact with; this is what brains do, create that map.

The map is never the territory, but sometimes it gets folded really badly.

You know how people who are feeling suicidal often think "they'll be really sorry when I'm gone"? The amok version is apparently fairly close to "I'll make them sorry"; it's the more aggressive response to stress (and thus rarer) and it's also hard to emphasize enough that both cases are pure, one hundred percent, magical thinking. It has almost nothing to do with actual other people and lots to do with having a busted model of other people in one's own head.

Every normal, useful response -- wanting social approval, wanting there to be negative consequences for those who treat you badly -- has failure modes. The more stress, the more likely someone's head gets into a failure mode instead of the normative, useful response. Also, the more stress, generally the more extreme the failure mode.

So the process is something like "No one here gives me any respect. I'll prove I'm strong by killing them."? isn't far off; it's a second order mutation of "I will fight if not treated with respect", which is a very basic social animal thing. It doesn't do anything good but the "hey, wait, they'll be dead; I'll be dead" step isn't getting considered, or if it is being considered it's being treated as a feature because that way the pain will stop.

#133 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:38 AM:

Interestingly, we *did* have gun safety in school, complete with BB rifles, how to breathe when you fire, shooting at targets and so on. This was in middle school in Louisiana in the early 1980s. Safety ed in 7th grade covered a lot of stuff like that in general. (I think we also had bits on how to fall, how to break grips, and so on; the course was kinda-sorta linked to PE.) In 8th grade was when we had the shooting; I think the course was actually called lifetime sports.

Louisiana has a lot of hunting culture, so probably lots of other kids in my class had much more experience than I did. Still, I count it a good thing.

#134 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:55 AM:

> Interestingly, we *did* have gun safety in school

We shot .22 rifles with the CCF. But they were for shooting at cardboard targets in the range, and for being locked up in the armoury, and that was it.
The OTC at college did a bit more, but I don't think anything would have been remotely useful in a situation like this.

#135 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:08 AM:

There's a sign I see every day on the way to work that strikes me as especially ironic just now:

"The voices aren't real, but sometimes they have good ideas."

And sometimes not.

#136 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Kevin Granata; he was the professor who, on hearing the gunfire, went up to the floor Cho was on and confronted him. Before he did this, however, he directed 20 frightened students into a room with a lock, where they remained safe until the police arrived. He was killed; another professor who went with him, Wally Grant, was injured but escaped.

#137 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:31 AM:

134: I hope no one thought I was implying that learning about gun safety in school would have been remotely useful in a situation like this. I was responding to the discussion further upthread about how to teach that guns aren't magic wands.

#138 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:08 PM:

#28 Tina: "All I know is this: I cannot, even dipping into my deepest, darkest feelings (the same ones where my villains spring from), begin to understand what prompts someone to go on this kind of rampage."

#45 Graydon: "Berserk rampages are a fairly common, cross-cultural and over substantial time, human male response to having zero social status. It takes either a machismo culture or total isolation to make it really typical, but it's one of the standard failure modes."

At its very base, it comes from the same impulse as trolling. It has been demonstrated to you, time and time again, that you are not wanted. That you have nothing to contribute. You are worthless. All you have to offer is the black stain of your presence. So, you think, might as well make that stain as big and black as possible, no? If being repellent is your only talent, then why not go for the gold?

If you've ever played any online shooters, the pattern is familiar. Someone is joins the server who's a bit outmatched, or maybe is just having a bad day. They die. A lot. They get frustrated; their teammates start yelling at them, calling them names. Then, randomly, they start taking aim at their own team. Sure, they get slapped for it, and pretty soon they get banned. But they get the satisfaction of watching a body fall. They get to have the upper hand, if only for a second, if only by breaking the rules.

Of course, in a game, you always have the option of quitting, of giving up. But what about real life failure? Who do you blame when you can't figure out how to succeed at life? You can blame yourself, and many do--they are the suicides. Or you can take your anger out on the system that set you up to fail, and everything, everyone, is part of the system.

And going out in a blaze, glorious or otherwise, is an idea much lauded in our culture. Make a last stand. Take the bastards with you. Die with a gun in your hand. Violence is such an integral part of manhood. Take an angry, frustrated, young man who's been told he's a worthless excuse for a human his entire life, and he'll likely see embracing violence on a colossal scale as a fine way of making up for years of incompetent masculinity. Women implode quietly, as they have been taught to do; men explode violently, as they have been taught. Once dying stops seeming worse than living, then why not go out in a blaze of infamy?

#139 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:24 PM:

#137 No, I didn't think you were implying it would be useful, I was agreeing with you that we learnt they weren't magic wands.

#140 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:04 PM:

And going out in a blaze, glorious or otherwise, is an idea much lauded in our culture. Make a last stand. Take the bastards with you. Die with a gun in your hand. Violence is such an integral part of manhood. Take an angry, frustrated, young man who's been told he's a worthless excuse for a human his entire life, and he'll likely see embracing violence on a colossal scale as a fine way of making up for years of incompetent masculinity.

Am I the only one thinking we should be working to set Mister Rogers up as the US masculine ideal?

#141 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Scott Taylor @127, Inside of 21 feet - and sometimes inside of 30 feet - a knife absolutely can be more dangerous than a handgun.

My gut instinct has been wrong before, so I guess I'll have to take your word for it that a guy drawing a gun to settle an argument in a small pub or at a crowded beer fest poses a lesser danger to everyone around than a guy swinging his fists, a chair, a beer stein or a knife of the kind he's likely to have in his pockets.

Still seems counterintuitive.

#142 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Ursula L --

Mr. Rogers is a poor choice in a number of respects.

The core problem is something I tend to call the Quaker Dilemma -- Quakers are ideal neighbors until the steppe nomads show up. (Anybody cheerfully willing to hurt you until you do what they want.)

To be actually ideal, a masculine ideal (like a feminine ideal) has to include traits of character suitable to utterly crushing those who would disdain the public peace for personal gain, and then not using this for personal gain. There's a reason for the mythologizing around George Washington, and the holding up of Cincinatus as an ideal, and such like.

Inge --

It's not a measure of danger to a crowd, specific lethality, or total lethality; it's a measure of danger to you. The question is whether or not you can react in time to get yourself out of danger. That 21 foot distance is the distance inside which the answer is reliably "no". (Also the "doesn't matter if he's got a flowerpot" distance; you're going to lose if you don't act first.)

#143 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Greydon -

The US, right now is the steppe nomad of the world. Running where it isn't wanted, creating chaos, and thinking that its might makes right.

And getting terrible results relying on this method. It poisons us on the national level, and it corrupts our culture so that violence is seen as a viable option for any slight or insult.

Turning the nomads into Quakers is exactly what we need.

#144 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Ursula L --

Except that you have many people of good will yet among you, whose chief problem is not being any damn good at coping with the lawless and violent among your fellow citizens.

Being a Quaker is damned hard; it's not going to ever go mainstream.

#145 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:44 PM:

God hates people, this I know
Phelps's flock has told me so.
He made us so very well
We are only fit for Hell

Jesus, God hates us.
Christ, how He hates us.
God hates all people
And I hate people too.

#146 ::: S. Ann Ran ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:59 PM:

A lot of the people who are talking about having college students armed are not currently students, either by being in the professional world or by being professors, so let me just offer this current (going for a masters in library science) student's opinions on us having guns:

No. Way. In. Hell.

Last night I played a variant of table-top D&D were the 20 yr old DM wrote on the whiteboard in the room (we use rooms in the student center) "DM am sleep-deprived; forgive the silly!" And another player was going on 48 hrs with no sleep. Personally I was running on 5 hrs, 3 hrs less than I prefer. We were barely coherent enough to play our role-playing game, and somebody wants to arm us with weapons?

Next week is what we call Dead Week - traditionally the week before finals when no unexpected assignments can be given, but in practice, we're dead tired studying and writing final papers. I expect to be fully strung out by next Friday, and I know I won't be in the minority of students.

I'm very happy the University of Kentucky has a no gun policy on campus, I like living, thank you.

#147 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:48 PM:

inge @ 141, Scott Taylor @ 127

Correct me if I'm wrong, Scott, but I think you were saying that, given two people with the intent to harm each other, one with a gun and one with a knife, the question of who is more likely to survive depends on how far apart they are to start with. I think, inge, that you're considering the two separate situations of a person with a knife or a person with a gun getting ticked off and threatening the rest of the bar. Not quite the same thing.

Of course Scott is talking about 2 people equally well trained on their respective weapons, and equally intent on harming the other. Luckily, that rarely happens; it usually takes a while for two people to work themselves up to killing, giving bystanders time to get clear or intervene effectively.

Or not. One of the most tragic killings here in the last few years involved a bartender who tried to stop a fight and was killed for it.

#148 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Graydon @ 144

Being a Quaker is damned hard; it's not going to ever go mainstream.

Too flippin' right, mate. I grew up in Philadelphia and knew Quakers as a kid; as a teenager I marched in anti-war demonstrations, and helped plan them with Quakers, many of them working with the AFSC. I have tremendous admiration for them, and no intention whatsoever of becoming one. I know my limits.

A point of distinction: West Coast Quakers aren't the same as East Coast, which you might have guessed if you knew that Richard Nixon was a Quaker from California. Don't judge Quakers by the West Coast; you'll misunderstand the tradition completely.

#149 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Bruce @ 148

My impression of Dick was that he was barely a Quaker by most standards (I stopped believing he was when he ordered the bombing of Cambodia).
(I'm speaking also as someone with Friends on my tree right up to the 1850s. Got thrown out for marrying 'contrary to doctrine'. My brother got the genes, I think, if there are such things as Quaker genes.)

#150 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Bruce @147: Yes, once I got my brain in proper gear that's what I suspected.

I have occasionally been too close for comfort to scenes where tempers flared or someone felt he had something to prove, or it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and a fight broke out -- usually in a crowded place. The people involved only wanted to hurt each other, and, without guns, mostly stayed on target.

As I said, I used to know some people with a tendency to get into fights. None of them got killed or killed anyone. With guns in the equation, they might not have been so lucky.

So, you won't find me complaining about a law that usually keeps guns out of the hands of people with short tempers and a fondness for drunken quarreling.

#151 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 05:20 PM:

inge @ 150

So, you won't find me complaining about a law that usually keeps guns out of the hands of people with short tempers and a fondness for drunken quarreling.

There aren't too many people who are not into drunken brawling who'd disagree with you I think, at least up to the point of agreeing that it's OK for the barkeep to hold the guns while they're in the saloon. But ... you can't always do that, which is why you need police around who know how to defuse situations without using lethal force.

The scariest thing I think I ever saw was one night in Vietnam when I pulled guard duty. I was 60 feet up in the air in a tower with a machine gun. This particular tower was over the PX which is where the bar was. Sometime about 11 or so a whole bunch of guys came running out of the bar waving their rifles, and the phone in the tower rang. I was told, "Unsafety your machine gun, make sure the ammo belt is unkinked, and point it down at the pavement in front of the bar. We'll tell you if you have to shoot." I could probably have wiped out about half the people down there before the rest of them killed me. Luckily for all concerned, they weren't drunk enough not to be afraid of the battalion Sergeant-Major; he gave them a good tongue-lashing for whatever it was they'd done and sent them to sleep it off.

Drink and firearms do not belong on the same person.

#152 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 126

In my experience, very different. That's why I was asking.

I live on a crowded little island of anarchists who all want their garden hedge the size they want it, but when Margaret Thatcher said 'There's no such thing as society' most of us looked at each other and thought 'What's she talking about?' I suspect many Americans would just nod and wonder why it needed to be said.

As I said, I don't know, but if someone like Bonnie Greer is raising the idea as a possible part-explanation for such actions it is probably worth consideration.

Thanks. I'll go away and think about what you said.

#153 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:49 PM:

Even if people can't reach the ideal perfectly, a "Mister Rogers" masculine ideal would be a vast improvement. An ideal won't be reached 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean that it is a bad ideal. The question is, does reaching for the ideal make one a better or a worse person?

If violence is needed, it should be seen as shameful, a sign that you've failed to solve problems in a reasonable way. Not something heroic. The heroes are the ones who can take a crisis and calm it down, not the ones who escalate it.

So that men feel more inadequate if they reach for a gun, rather than thinking they're somehow redeeming their masculinity.

#154 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:10 PM:

Ursula L --

No, necessary violence shouldn't be regarded as shameful, because that way the person who has already had to do the job gets the added burden of being declared morally repugnant.

Sane attitudes to force (and to power) don't gravitate to either loathsomeness or glory. It's a question of the job at hand and necessity and the least sufficient means, all in the absence of convenient absolutes.

That's significantly more complicated, but it works better.

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:36 PM:

These people believe in a deity who personally sends a gunman to shoot up a campus, who personally sends hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornadoes to kill people and destroy cities, who personally oversees the condemnation and everlasting torment of pretty much every soul on this planet and enjoys it--and they worship that deity.

That last is the bit I don't understand. I can't imagine giving worship to a god that evil. I'd like to think that even if I were absolutely convinced that such a god was the One True God, I'd fight and undermine and corrupt against him until I died, and scream defiances as I was cast into the Lake O' Fire™—but maybe I'd be as cowardly as the Phelpsians.

#156 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:13 PM:

It's been a very long time since I read Piers Anthony's Tarot trilogy, and I don't remember it very clearly, and from what I do remember, I'm glad of it. But I seem to recall that it was ultimately determined that the True God of the planet Tarot was Satan... and that all the faithful True Worshipers were ultimately rewarded for their lives of causing harm by an eternity of torment in hell, while all the do-gooder nonbelievers were condemned to spend perpetuity in heaven. I do clearly remember thinking, in some bewilderment, "What was the point of that?"

#157 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Xopher at 155, me too. You said it upthread: these people worship Cthulhu.

One of these days, perhaps, you and I might be able to get together and have a conversation about our respective approaches to the divine. At least, I would like to do that. Someday...

#158 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:53 AM:

Xopher @155,

Reminds me of the Slacktivist blog's discussions on the Left Behind series. The latest book is set in post tribulation / post-judgement earth*. In one scene a bunch of children are happily playing and then running up to Manly Protagonist to ask him to teach them about the deity. These are children who just watched their parents thrown into hell one week earlier.

I might not say this about other books, but there is a great gaping need for Left Behind fanfic, to point out how very odd the authors' mindsets are. Just by his LB posts Fred at Slacktivist is doing a mitzvah.

Also reminds me of a recently read, nicely detailed and interesting article on the Phelpsclan (can't find, sorry). They believe that when the Rapture occurs, God's going to call all believers up to heaven. All 100 of them that go to the Phelpsclan church. (Makes me wonder why they stay-- perhaps they want to take the Heaven's Gate approach, but must provoke other people into doing the dirty work for them. Wouldn't be surprised.)

-----------------
* all previously surviving nonbelievers have been squashed like bugs. Anyone now alive on earth is a believer, a zombie-believer**, or a small child***

** ok, maybe not the people returned with 'glorified bodies,' but what about the 200 billion aborted (natural or medical) zygotes who've been transformed into 33 year olds? They've had no experiences- they're the very definition of philosophical zombies****.

*** under 7 years old, because all children were taken during the rapture 7 years prior, but children could be and were born after that without being raptured. Nice, that.

**** This is Just To Say:
It is a truth
uni-
versally
acknowledged,

a thread
in possession of a
hundred
commenters,

will be
fortunate to see
just one
zombie poem

#159 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 09:13 AM:

#153 Ursula:

This seems completely wrong to me. Violence is a means to accomplish ends, and many wonderful ends cannot be accomplished without it. There's nothing shameful about the violence used by a policeman to haul a murderer off to jail, or that used by a random person to chase off his would-be mugger. Without those kinds of violence available, civilization as we think of it--women walking alone on the street, stores with glass windows, specialists studying math and music and science, markets that let you almost buy anything made anywhere--wouldn't survive a month.

Violence is a necessary component of survival in a world with any immoral agents in it. If our morality tells us it's shameful and evil, then we put morality in opposition to survival, on an everyday basis. This is a disaster.

I think this is happening in US popular culture. It's behind this kind of antihero character we get all the time, who has discarded all rules binding him, and thus has become strong enough to fight evil. You need to torture someone? To smack around innocent people till you find the guilty party? To kill an innocent person or two to make an example? You need to steal something, or blackmail someone? Go ahead--discard those rules. Then you can become strong and defeat the bad guys.

And this is an idea, and an example, that leads to nothing good. It's a recipe for becoming a monster who is convinced he's an angel. And we provide that lesson in movies and books and TV shows every day, for adults and kids alike to learn.

Ayn Rand (of all people) made a big deal of this point, that when you set morality against survival, you destroy the whole concept of morality. She got plenty of stuff all wrong, but she nailed that one out of the park.

#160 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 10:04 AM:

#154 Graydon: "No, necessary violence shouldn't be regarded as shameful, because that way the person who has already had to do the job gets the added burden of being declared morally repugnant."

Violence is a negative-sum game: something is always lost. I know that analysis lacks excessive complications, lacks shades of gray, but there it is. People interested in increasing the sum of the world should never regard violence as anything other than an occasional, distasteful necessity. Sometimes, of course, it's the lesser of two evils, but it should always be the last thing to come to mind, when all other options have been exhausted.

You're acting like the difference between necessary and unnecessary violence is some bright-line test, easily-discerned, when really they are quite difficult to distinguish, and always subject to interpretation. I'm sure Cho felt his choice was forced upon him and necessary, but somehow I disagree.

I really think that violence could use an aura of disreputability. There are a few too many wanna-be George Washingtons running around just begging to be convinced that (while violence is regrettable and ought to be used only as the last resort) it really is necessary to, say, invade Iran. When violence is glory, situations where it just happens to be the only option will manufacture themselves. (Everybody wants to be a super-hero.)

Ursula L.: Personally, I could stand to see a lot more praise of Mr. Rogers,* though I don't think he's the answer. Mr. Rogers is perfectly nice, but then he is never given any reason not to be. It's those who are pushed to the edge, and still don't resort to violence who ought to be more praised in our society. I really can't think of any examples of what I mean other than Gandhi, which just goes to show.

(I could stand to see a movie or two where violence doesn't turn out to be the right answer. Say what you will about heist capers, at least they put some value in cleverness and avoiding conflict. Then there was that Jack Ryan thing about a nuclear weapon at a baseball game, where prudence and caution turned out to be right--but I wish it wasn't such a singular example in my experience.)

#159 albatross: You really think that an aversion to violence is a negative survival trait? Seems to me quite the opposite. What do you think is a more dangerous course of action, when someone pulls a gun on you: pulling your own, or standing very still? Violence is a very messy and inaccurate tool, quite capable of turning your good intentions to dust. I wouldn't want to risk using it unless it was my only option. I think that this point of view is very beneficial to my survival.

*Speaking of which, have you heard the urban legend that Mr. Rogers was actually a combat-decorated ex-SEAL, and wore those long-sleeved sweaters to hide his extensive tattoos? Violence is quite a pervasive meme.

#161 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Graydon @ 154 (in response to Ursula L). No, necessary violence shouldn't be regarded as shameful, because that way the person who has already had to do the job gets the added burden of being declared morally repugnant.

I gotta disagree. I'm with Ursula (though not necessarily with that specific choice of masculine ideal. I find Mister Rogers kinda creepy).

The seven foot tall kenpo black-belt who taught me everything I know about violence (I'd love to say this took place on a distant mountaintop in Japan rather than a dojo in a pennsylvania shopping mall, but so it goes) made it perfectly clear to us students, even as we spent every weekend enjoying the manly activity of punching and kicking each other, that the actual use of violence would signify our failure to defuse a situation. This sense of shame was absolutely necessary, and makes it easier to judge situations when violence may be the lesser evil. Doing damage of your own can be "the right thing to do" but this does not make the price (the toll, the nasty results of twisting someone else's arm until it snaps, the whedonesque understanding that power and its uses have serious consequences for all concerned) magically vanish.

#162 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Heresiarch writes What do you think is a more dangerous course of action, when someone pulls a gun on you: pulling your own, or standing very still?

Standing very still, of course, with my hands visible.

#163 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Strike that, reverse it.

#164 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Heresiarch @ 160: "I could stand to see a movie or two where violence doesn't turn out to be the right answer." -- there was some of that in Serenity. It was a moderately violent movie but it seemed clear that whoever initiated violence lost thereby. At its conclusion, some characters eschewing unnecessary violence allowed events to proceed... well, less disastrously than they might have.

#165 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Good morning. Some (not entirely random) thoughts about violence.

There is a difference between violence and force which is not always apparent to all actors. If you are standing in the path of an advancing car, and I knock you out of the path, I am exerting force but not committing violence. My intent is benevolent. A screaming four year facing a hypodermic needle is not under threat, although her subjective experience may tell her otherwise.

We make a social distinction between police forces and vigilantes, and when the police forces begin to behave like vigilantes, we (ideally) punish and reform them.

We have discussed just war theory in other threads. My church's Catechism states that while the use of force to defend oneself is legitimate for a government, it is subject to rigorous moral considerations. It also speaks of "the ancient bondage of war."

As a martial artist, I am committing to protecting myself and others from harm in a way that will do the minimum damage to all, including the instigator of the harm. Is this always possible? No. But that is the ethic my training requires.

#166 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:10 AM:

No, necessary violence shouldn't be regarded as shameful, because that way the person who has already had to do the job gets the added burden of being declared morally repugnant.

I'm fine with that. The person who has to do the job doesn't have the job of just applying violence, they have the job of diffusing the situation, with nonviolent means being preferred, and violent means being used only as a last resort, when all else has failed.

Although I didn't say "morally repugnant" I said "a shameful failure." Not pointing fingers and saying "you're horrible" but looking at the situation and saying "what went wrong? What could I have done differently to make this work out better?" And others don't say "you're wonderful" they say "it's a shame things got so out of control" and "what could we have done better to prevent this?"

Violence as an occasion, not for ticker-tape parades, but for self-reflection and reflection on the state of society, and how things must be improved.

The Real Men being those like Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr., who use moral persuasion, or like Jimmy Carter conducting negotiations between Israel and Egypt, using great skill to achieve peaceful results where it seemed impossible.

Anyone want to work on a list of male role models, specifically men, who act with unusual skill or determination, to solve problems without violence? Bonus points for men who enter an already violent situation and create peace, without committing or ordering violence themselves.

#167 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Heresiarch @ 160: Mr. Rogers is perfectly nice, but then he is never given any reason not to be

I don't think that's accurate, either of the man himself or of his TV persona. Bear in mind that he was one of the first, if not the first, people on TV to not only acknowledge to children that we all get angry, but to recommend activities other than violent ones one can do when angry.

(PBS used in an ad of theirs the footage of Fred Rogers, with a shaking voice, reading the lyrics of that song to the Congressmen who would decide whether PBS would be funded or not.)

#168 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:54 AM:

First, I hope that everyone calms down before they act. It's too easy to turn any national tragedy into a bloody Rohrschach test. When politicians identify and attack the wrong problems (or the politically-expedient or ideologically-driven ones, which are usually synonymous with wrong*), they turn isolated atrocities into chronic societal tragedies.

*Generally, any issue prefixed by the words "The War on . . ."

#169 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:17 PM:

#160 Heresiarch:

Suicidal violence is not a survival trait. But in a world where there weren't police to be called when someone did something nasty to you, an aversion to violence probably wasn't pro-survival. And indeed, I'd say that the broad tendency among people all over the world to be warlike is probably a reflection of that fact.

Ursula #166:

How about Nelson Mandela? Took power from a bunch of people who had done horrible things to him, his party, and his racial group. Did not allow payback against their racial group, or even against most of the individuals involved. I always thought that with 99.9% of possible leaders, there would have been a bloodbath or a mass exodus of whites, with an associated meltdown of the S African economy.

MLK is another pretty obvious choice.

In both cases, they didn't deal from a completely nonviolent standpoint. MLK was probably much more effective because there were other blacks calling for violence.

Along the same lines, Wilberforce, who helped bring about enormous change for the better (ending slavery) without civil war.

I guess I wish we could glorify the (common in reality) image of the cop who shows up in a bad situation, and calms things down so that nobody gets hurt and nobody goes to jail. It's more dramatic, and thus much more common on TV and in movies, to have the cop shoot or beat up someone, chase the bad guys down, etc. Drama mostly is about conflict, and fist and guns make the conflict still more dramatic.

#170 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Various
Suicidal violence is not a survival trait.
"A rational army would run away" but there are countless examples of suicidal violence including presumably instinctive responses in defense of the gene pool. - depends on what the meaning of survival trait is. Arguably fighting with reckless abandon is a survival trait - see e.g. Territorial Imperative.

Notice the suggestion that Ghandi used Nehru for the violent side just as MLK jr. et.al. used Deacons for Defense and Justice
In some cases, the Deacons had a symbiotic relationship with other civil rights groups that advocated and practiced non-violence: the willingness of the Deacons to provide low-key armed guards facilitated the ability of groups such as the NAACP and CORE to stay, at least formally, within their own parameters of non-violence.[2] Nonetheless, their willingness to respond to violence with violence, led to tension between the Deacons and the nonviolent civil rights workers whom they sought to protect. Wikipedia as of current date

Nelson Mandela was certainly at least as much a terrorist (and so advocated violence as well as practiced it) as e.g. Irgun and Stern Gang - and so far as I know pretty proudly so - see the court findings that led to Mandela's long imprisonment. See also actions by his one-time wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

#171 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Right. Remember, I'm not morally opposed to violence.

But when the ANC took power in South Africa, it would have been very easy for that to go badly, either turning into ethnic cleansing or civil war, or at least into a mass exodus that would have led to an economic meltdown. That didn't happen, and my sense is that a huge part of the reason why is Mandela. That makes him a pretty heroic man in my eyes.

#172 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 03:33 PM:

The following does relate to the thread:

A kid at one of my old schools just completed his Eagle Scout project, an information pamphlet on Draft Registration and Conscientious Objection. His community organization sponsor? Homer Friends Meeting.

To further tie it into the thread, this is the same school that had a gun club when I was a student. I love the pictures in our year book with the members trying to look serious, posing with their guns.

#173 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:27 PM:

albatross @ 159

I think this is happening in US popular culture. It's behind this kind of antihero character we get all the time, who has discarded all rules binding him, and thus has become strong enough to fight evil.

This trend represents two fascinating? intriguing? repellent? popular attitudes I've been seeing in this country more and more over the last couple of decades. The first is what I sometimes call the Ollie North Attitude, which I suspect is the fundamental reason for the existence of the CIA and other covert operation agencies. North's mantra was "Someone has to make the hard decisions." The subtext always seemed to me to be "And boy am I glad I get to do it. How cool is this?". The hard decisions always seemed to be made such that the outcome involved the most violence against and / or humiliation for some other party.

The other trend is in plots for popular books, TV shows and movies. There is a hero or heroes and a villain. The villain is supremely evil, omniscient, and effectively omnipotent. The villain gets to ignore any measures the hero takes against him or her; even if they are effective the hero will never follow up the advantage to end the villain's reign of terror. At the end, the villain is overcome by some act of God, not by any act of the hero, or even by a mistake or miscalculation.

I can see where Ollie was coming from, even if I think that's one of the sickest attitudes towards one's place in the world I've ever seen. But I'm at a loss to understand where this Wimp Hero thing comes from.

#174 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:09 PM:
There are a few too many wanna-be George Washingtons running around just begging to be convinced that (while violence is regrettable and ought to be used only as the last resort) it really is necessary to, say, invade Iran.
OK, possibly off-topic, BUT. Downtown Denver, 17th Street, right by Union Station, there's a gallery. The Sloane Gallery Contemporary Russian Art. Lots of wonderful things in there, BUT one of the paintings on window display absolutely causes nausea and eye-roll every time I see it.

It's a picture of George Washington standing there looking heraldic and heroic--and holding in each hand the heads of (left hand) Hitler and (right hand) Saddam Hussein.

Just... ick. Right up there with what the folks at Slacktivist like to call "the Most Horrible Painting Ever." Like, people, stop trying to shoehorn the nation's heroes into your narrow little political grindstone. You ain't on their level and their greatness does not fit on your agenda. Hands off.

#175 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:13 PM:

I'm sorry--just in case the segue from the original quote to my Horrible Painting anecdote didn't make it out of my head and onto the screen--I read the bit starting "wanna-be George Washingtons running around just begging to be convinced that ... it really is necessary to invade Iran" as implying that such people would posit that G. Wash. would approve of invading Iran. Which made me think of that painting at the Sloan Gallery which seems clearly to communicate a belief that G. Wash. would have approved of invading Iraq.

#176 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Nicole @174
Oooh - never saw that painting. Reminds me of a joke.

- o0o -

GWB is asleep in the White House when the ghost of Thomas Jefferson appears to him. Bush is speechless for a moment, but then asks, "What can I do to be a better president, and be remembered forever?"

"You should read the Declaration of Independence," answers Jefferson.

Bush does so, but not much changes. So, a little while later, the ghost of George Washington appears to him in a dream. Bush asks again, "What can I do to be remembered as a great president?"

"Try reading the Constitution," says Washington.

Bush does so, but again, it appears to have very little effect. A while longer, the spirit of Abraham Lincoln appears to him in a dream. Again, GWB asks, "How can I go down in history as one of America's great presidents?"

Abe looks at him for a moment, and replies, "You should go to the theater more."

#177 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 08:21 PM:

#173: There is a hero or heroes and a villain. The villain is supremely evil, omniscient, and effectively omnipotent. The villain gets to ignore any measures the hero takes against him or her; even if they are effective the hero will never follow up the advantage to end the villain's reign of terror. At the end, the villain is overcome by some act of God, not by any act of the hero, or even by a mistake or miscalculation.

Can you give an example, Bruce? I'm having trouble thinking of one (end of week brain freeze). Lots of examples of villains being their own downfall (aha! he regrets insulting that henchman when the henchman turns on him at the last minute!), but that's not quite what you're talking about...

#178 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:02 PM:

The "Mister Rogers" show either never made it here to Oz, or wasn't very big. (Play School - based on a UK show, Mr Squiggle - "the longest running pre-school children's television program in the world", and the syndicated Romper Room are/were our classics) I think it was back in 2003 when he died and there was a fair fuss, with people remembering their experiences, that I first heard of him. It does sound like a worthwhile show. I wonder if there are recordings around?

Aconite (#167) I found a clip of his 1969 testimony supporting PBS on video.google.com It's called "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" A bit about 4:30 in is about settling arguments, he recites song lyrics starting around 5:30 "What do you do with the mad you feel?"

#179 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Lizzy L 157: As there are few things I enjoy more than talking about the Divine, sounds good to me!

Kathryn 158: These people are sick, sick fucks.

#180 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 06:31 AM:

#160 Joel Polowin: When I was trying to come up with examples of what I wanted to see, I thought of Serenity, along with Sam Vimes from Pratchett's Discworld. But the problem is, these stories both pit violent people against insanely violent people, and then come down on the side of the less violent. That's hardly a ringing endorsement of non-violence. I don't know; violence is awfully shiny. Maybe this is the best we can get.

#165 Lizzy L.: "There is a difference between violence and force which is not always apparent to all actors. If you are standing in the path of an advancing car, and I knock you out of the path, I am exerting force but not committing violence. My intent is benevolent."

I find benevolence of intent to be a poor metric: "for your own good" isn't a phrase with a particularly stellar track record. People do horrible things with warm fuzzies in their heart all the time. Violence, or physical force, or whatever term you prefer, has consequences that are hard to predict and pretty fucking dire. It doesn't matter that you were saving them from a car; they still have a concussion from smacking their head against the cement. Benevolence of intent doesn't make the bleeding stop.

Violence done with the best of intentions and violence without have too much in common for me to be comfortable divvying them up like that.

#167 Aconite: It seems I spoke in ignorance--my knowledge of Mr. Rogers is awfully fuzzy. Sounds like he is a better role model than I thought.

#169 albatross: "Suicidal violence is not a survival trait. But in a world where there weren't police to be called when someone did something nasty to you, an aversion to violence probably wasn't pro-survival. And indeed, I'd say that the broad tendency among people all over the world to be warlike is probably a reflection of that fact."

The problem being, all violence is potentially suicidal. Did you read the Lethal Force Institute sidelight?

"There are no first-place winners in a shooting situation," [Massad Ayoob, instructor of the course] warns us. "When it's over, believe me, you haven't won. Deterrence is the only victory."

In many ways, LFI isn't a class in killing people. It's a class in not killing them. Ayoob finds himself in the curious position of believing the best way to prevent gun violence is to teach people how to commit it. His entire lethal-force philosophy hinges on a single principle: the more prepared you are to kill an assailant, the less likely you are to have to.

I take this to mean that it isn't actually engaging in violence that is a positive survival strategy, it's the willingness to engage in violence. Violence itself is, unsurprisingly, still an unrewarding long-term strategy. So to maximize survival, be completely willing and prepared to engage in violence, but never ever do so unless it's absolutely unavoidable.

#177 ajay: "Lots of examples of villains being their own downfall (aha! he regrets insulting that henchman when the henchman turns on him at the last minute!), but that's not quite what you're talking about..."

Oh! So you've seen 300, then?

#181 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 08:48 AM:

#180 Heresiarch:

Yes, this is a really good point. Being visibly strong and willing to use measured force when needed prevents a lot of violence. And the outcome where the police show up and talk everyone down and there's no fight and nobody arrested is much better than the outcome where the police come, break up the fight, mace someone, and drag him off to jail. But the first is possible because, if pressed, they will do the second.

There's a nice analogy with the animal world, where lots of species have dominance battles which usually end up with nobody badly hurt.

#182 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Ursula L. at 166: I was trying to write a similar response to Graydon, but yours is more complete.

I think, though, that there's another side to moral repugnance and its place in this conversation. Perhaps the use of violence should be morally repugnant -- not the person who resorts to it, but the choice to resort to it.

It's probably inevitable that this will result in people who reasonably resorted to violence being treated with repugnance, which would be unfortunate but not so different from the treatment of those who use "needed" violence now, at least with respect to those who loved the person on the receing end of the violent act.

For the individual taking action I think that this primarily moves the moral repugnance of the action to a point in time before the action. I think that the physical nausea and revulsion Old Jarhead mentioned are symptoms of moral self-repugnance and believe it would be better if people anticipated a negative long term outcome than a positive one in which they are lauded for, e.g., shooting a burglar.

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 01:32 PM:

ajay @ 173

A recent example, that's not a perfect fit to the pattern, is the Fantastic Four movie. It's not until the end of the movie, in the final battle scene, that any of the four can, or perhaps are willing to, attempt to stop von Doom from what's all along been clearly a concerted plan to take the three men out and have the girl to himself. In the final scene they finally take some responsibility for defending themselves, so von Doom's downfall doesn't depend on a bored Deity ringing the curtain down on him, but up to that point it's pretty typical.

I don't remember the comics from the '60s and '70s being like that. It seemed to me that there was awful lot of shouting and posturing, but after all, it's a comic book. The heroes always fought back; the tension came from the fact that they were almost outclassed, and it always took a while before they found the right tactic for defeating the villain.

And I sure don't remember the women being such wimps either. Sue Richards might have been a little angsty, but she knew when someone was trying to kill her and her friends, and she took steps to prevent it.

#184 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:34 PM:

Having been following this discussion, I saw Inside Man tonight. Being alert to questions of non-violent versus violent solutions to violent situations, I noted that the most violent scenes of the film are either hypotheticals of things the police don't really want to do, or aren't what they seem (for spoilistic reasons). The hero of the film, being the negotiator, is trying to resolve the situation without anyone being hurt.

This links into my other thought of Sam Vimes; another difference between him and the insanely violent people he is opposed to is that he is aware of the cost of violence; to him and to everyone else. See also: Miles Vorkosigan.

(Feel free to ignore this if I'm not making sense; I can't sleep and am catching up on things)

#185 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:37 PM:

Epacris @ 178: Yes, that's the clip I remembered. Thank you for looking it up; when very tired, I forget I can do things like that.

#186 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 11:38 PM:

Neil Wilcox @ 184

Re: Miles Vorkosigan

I am willing to bet a significant amount of money that Lois Bujold read Sun Tzu somewhere along the line. Miles seems to follows his precepts quite carefully.

#187 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 04:00 AM:

Lois Bujold quotes Sun Tzu in one of the stories...let's see -- yes, it's the one I thought, "Labyrinth". (Collected in Borders of Infinity.) So yeah, it's a pretty safe bet she's read him.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 183... You're right. The Fantastic Four comic-book wasn't and still isn't like the recent movie. Michael Chiklis, a fan of the comic-book, made it quite clear that he felt there were problems. That is an understatement.

#189 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Heresiarch, #180: Excellent point about the "speeding car" argument. I get that one a lot from people who are trying to force their religion on me; they perceive me as deliberately putting my Immortal Soul(TM) in the path of a speeding car, and will shrink from nothing in their quest to remove me from that imaginary danger.

#190 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:40 AM:

A relevent Wondermark cartoon

#191 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Heresiarch @180: It seems I spoke in ignorance--my knowledge of Mr. Rogers is awfully fuzzy. Sounds like he is a better role model than I thought.

My hope is that if we are visited by the Deity, it would be something like Mr. Rogers; someone who would speak in a calm voice so as not to frighten the children (i.e., all of us).

#192 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 10:40 AM:

WHAT does it require to get the most delusional, incompetent, corrupt, smug, vicious, selfish, self-gratifying, kleptocratic, and evil Executive Branch of the US Government in the entire history of the country, removed?

The latest sets of offenses to get revealed, complete massive security abuses/non-existent concern for protection of classified information (what, L'Affaire Valerie Plame/Wilson wasn't egregious enough?) up to and including sensitive compartmentalized information ... I can see Macdonald and others here frothing at the mouth...

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042407M.shtml

"....In one instance, a White House official reportedly left SCI material behind in a hotel room during a foreign trip with the president. The CIA did recover the highly classified material, but the security office did not investigate the incident or discipline the individual, according a security officer's account in the letter..."

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/security_breakd.html

"Security Breakdown at the White House?
"April 23, 2007 5:20 PM

"Maddy Sauer Reports:

"Security practices at the White House are dangerously inadequate say current and former employees of the security office there, according to a letter sent today from the House Oversight Committee to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, asking that he cooperate with the committee's investigation into the alleged security lapses...."


http://www.oversight.house.gov/documents/20070423111759.pdf

"On March 16,2007, the Oversight Committee held a hearing to examine the disclosure
by White House officials of the covert status of CIA offrcer Valerie Plame Wilson. At this
hearing, the current Chief Security Officer at the White House, James Knodell, testified that the
White House Security Off,rce (l) did not conduct any internal investigation to identifu the source
of the leak, (2) did not initiate corrective actions to prevent future security breaches, and (3) did not consider administrative sanctions or reprimands for the offrcials involved. The failure of the White House to take these actions appears to be a violation of Executive Order 12958, which establishes minimum requirements for safeguarding classified information and esponding to breaches.
"Following the hearing, my staff heard from multiple current and former security officials
who work or worked at the White House Security Office. These security offrcials described a
systemic breakdown in security procedures at the White House. The statements of these officials, if true, indicate that the security lapses that characterized the White House response to the leak of Ms. Wilson's identþ were not an isolated occuffence, but part of a pattern of disregard for the basic requirements for protecting our national security secrets...."

===============

Meanwhile,


http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042407J.shtml

"Low-Key Office Launches High-Profile Inquiry
"By Tom Hamburger
"The Los Angeles Times
"Tuesday 24 April 2007

"The Office of Special Counsel will investigate US attorney firings and other political activities led by Karl Rove.
"Washington - Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

"But the Office of Special Counsel is ...launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

"The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House...

US Executive Branch--WHOLESALE REPLACEMENT NOW!!!!!!

#193 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Ohio reprise

Vote fraud in O-hi-o, Vote Fraud in O-hi-o...

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042407A.shtml

"The GOP's Cyber Election Hit Squad
" By Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis
" The Free Press

" Sunday 22 April 2007

" Did the most powerful Republicans in America have the computer capacity, software skills and electronic infrastructure in place on Election Night 2004 to tamper with the Ohio results to ensure George W. Bush's re-election?

" The answer appears to be yes. There is more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website - which gave the world the presidential election results - was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors...."

[note, Gonzales fired more than eight, Mr Black who was investigating the Marianas obscenities (near-slave labor conditions including forced abortion, force prostitution....) and their political ties (Abramoff and DeLay and the Governor of Guam, for example...) was fired before the firing of the eight went massively "above the radar [coverage]" for egregious apparently purely corrupt politics and politicians angling to throw election results and exterminate investigations into corruption and illegalities....

#194 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Bruce Cohen: I think you are confusing programmed Quakers (of which Nixon was one, his meeting is about 3 blocks from my dojo, but I digress) with unprogrammed Quakers.

My better half is one of the latter, and she (and her family, and the meetings to which they belong) are all what you would recognise as "Quakers."

Programmed Quakers (which exist all across the country) have preachers, and sermons and don't conduct Meeting for Worship in silence. They are more like Presbyterians.

Unprogrammed Quakers are adamantly non-violent, pacifists, testify to their faith by protesting, and getting arrested.

Orange Grove Monthly meeting belongs to Southern California Quarterly Meeting, which belongs to Pacific Yearly Meeting, which is part of Friends' General Conference.

They are active with the AFSC, FCNL, Alternatives to Violence (Maia's father spends a lot of weekends in prison, working on the last), as well as any host of issues (immigration rights, choice, Arlington West, helping the homeless, etc.).

They would be perfectly in place in Pennsylvania.

#195 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 10:46 PM:

This seems like the best place to put this in. I think I just got astroturfed!

I'd made a post on my LJ which consisted, in part, of links to all the neocon victim-bashing articles I could find on the VA Tech incident; there was some discussion, but it had died down.

Today, there was a new comment, from someone whose handle I didn't recognize. It was poorly spelled and punctuated (not typical of the folx in my LJ neighborhood), and consisted of an accusation that I had posted "misleading comments," defenses of the neocon pundits, and a reiteration of the "why didn't they defend themselves" victim-bashing thing all over again.

I looked at the person's userinfo (I don't allow anonymous commenting on my LJ), and found: a free account, created 2 days ago, no friends listed, no interests listed, no posts, no nothing. Aha, says I, a troll! and promptly deleted the comment and banned the commenter.

But then I got thinking about it, and now I will bet my betting nickel that this was a paid astroturfer, assigned to search LJ for discussions of the shooting that don't toe the neocon line and drop in neocon talking points. It even read like someone who's more used to commenting on Blogger accounts, if my rather nebulous sense of posting styles is to be trusted.

I don't know if I should be amused, annoyed, flattered, or all three.

#196 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 06:35 AM:

Doesn't have to be a paid shill- there are more than enough people who apparently feel the need to do this stuff for free. And I can't think of corporate interests that are directly affected by this particular issue. (That is, the victim blaming thing in this particular context. Guns in general are of course a different matter; but again, there's no shortage of volunteers there.)

#197 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Yeah. Who pays the bill for that blog-posting?

You can imagine a kind of think tank for losers being built, which pays conservative (or liberal, libertarian, green, etc.) shills $7/hour to go do blog comments. And this could certainly be done as piecework in the home. I wonder if this would pay off for a political campaign. (I expect we'll find out in 2008 or maybe 2010.)

It's going to be a very interesting few years for the net coming up. As the net became a place to do serious amounts of business, we've seen the rise, in almost no time, of a whole criminal class to prey on people using the net. This evolved out of a pretty small class of vandals and script kiddies, once money became available. Now, we're seeing the net have a similarly large impact on political discussion and election outcomes and lobbying efforts and legislation. You have to guess that over time, we're going to see as much time and money put into spinning the net as we currently see put into spinning TV and radio and print media.

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