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August 19, 2008

Carl Drega, Part I
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:30 AM * 62 comments

Today is the 11th anniversary of the Colebrook Massacre. The first two murders were a mile north of my house at the store where I shop. The next two were fifty yards south of my house. The people involved were (and are) my friends. Dennis Joos, the newspaper editor…his wife liked our books. Vickie, the judge, was also a Notary Public…she’d notarized some papers for me. Scott went to my church. Les…his son was in my EMT class.

There was a major effect on the town. Marriages broke up. You can still feel the ripples.

There’s more. I may talk about it in the comments. You can see the echoes in my own reactions to clear-eyed, freedom-loving libertarians, for example in Keep Your Head Down.

So far as I’m aware there were only a few printed reports on this event. One was in the local newspaper (The News & Sentinel). Life Magazine did a photo spread. The Boston Globe and the Union Leader ran some stories. WMUR covered it when it happened, but WMUR wasn’t available up here — folks who wanted to know what was being reported had to call friends and relatives down below who could watch TV.There was a TV special a few years later. Then there was Vin Suprynowicz’s mendacious book. Since it’s the only source that’s widely available on-line, the Wikipedia article on Drega is based entirely on it.

Part II (forthcoming) is a letter I wrote to myself five years later, on the first anniversary of 9/11. {art III is some photos taken around town to give you an idea of what things look like.

From the archives of sff.people.doyle-macdonald:


Article: 929
From: doyle1@moose.ncia.net (Debra Doyle)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 01:20:12 GMT
Subject: Life in the North Country
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Just a note to say that if anybody was watching the news tonight on CNN —we weren’t in Colebrook when the shootings went down, we were on the road bringing the kids back home from Bedford. But we were bracketed by the crime scenes — the IGA grocery store where it apparently started is just up the road from us, and the newspaper office where two more people got killed is about two-three blocks from us the other way.

This is serious not-good stuff. Two law enforcement officers, a judge, and the editor of the News&Sentinel. And now we have news vans all over, and any moment now some idiot reporter is going to start yammering about “violence comes to this sleepy New Hampshire town.”


Debra Doyle
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald


Article: 940
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 13:40:36 GMT
Subject: Re: Life in the North Country
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when m.johnson103@genie.com (Michael Chesley Johnson) uttered:


What possessed this madman? At age 67 and bungling a robbery, he
decided he had nothing left to lose?

No bungled robbery. He drove up to the IGA where he shot and killed a cop and took his car. He shot and killed a second cop at the scene. Speculation is that he was trying to create a diversion to draw the local cops (all four of them) away from the law office which is across the street from the police station/town hall.

He drove the police car down to the law office (in the same building as the newspaper office), and went in hunting a judge. He shot and killed her.

The editor of the paper tried to take his gun away. The editor was shot and killed.

Events after this are unclear. Sometime during the proceedings, the man’s house burned down—and word is that the local fire-fighters weren’t able to approach due to exploding ammo.

Five more people were shot and wounded. Several of them were law enforcement personnel. The perp himself was shot and killed. He was using a full-automatic rifle, and wearing a bullet resistant vest. Last night the cops were trying to contact everyone with whom the man had a grudge. He was out of sight and location unknown for about an hour between the beginning and end of the affair.

This is mostly rumor based, and details could change.


Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/groohead.htm


Article: 946
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 23:05:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

The latest is that the police/firefighters will be doing a controlled burn of the gunpowder/nitrate fertilizer/fuses found in the barn and in apparent tunnels on Drega’s property, sometime in the next couple of hours. Also found bomb-making books.

The story is that he was not part of any militia group.

The shot that took Drega down was apparently fired by law enforcement. We were there at the time, but didn’t know it—we passed by the back of the cordon around where the last gunfight was about to occur.

The whole town is in shock. Both of the pay phones in town have lines of people in suits with blow-dried hair. We’re out of cell-phone range from anywhere. The paper managed to come out on time, despite the editor being shot while doing final paste-up, and the newsroom being part of a crimescene.. New lead story, of course.

More on this story at http://www.wmur.com/


Article: 954
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 01:53:12 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when sherwood-smith@worldnet.att.net (Sherwood Smith) uttered:

Was this a mistake, or is there a
county called Columbia? (They did mention the Colebrook FIre Dept)
further on.
The town of Columbia, NH is directly south of Colebrook. Kids from Columbia go to school in Colebrook. The main industries are tourist cabins and hayfields. It’s tiny — but Drega (the shooter) lived there.

Or, more accurately, he kept his summer home there. He was one of the summer people; his main residence apparently was in Bow, NH (just south of Concord), and he was apparently originally from New Haven, Conn.

Today was cold and rainy. The suits and their cameras and microphones have gone home. Everyone still bummed out.


Article: 955
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 18:08:37 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Local people are putting up the 3,000+ police expected to come to the officers’ funerals tomorrow.

During the hour Drega was missing, it looks like he paid a visit to another of the selectmen’s houses — the gent got home from a dentist’s appointment to find that his front door had been kicked in, and neighbors saying that a police car had stopped there. Drega was driving a police car, and wearing the hat of one of the officers he’d killed.

It turns out that Drega had 86 pipebombs, ammonium nitrate, nitro methane, gunpowder, fuses, another AR-15, a .30-.30 rifle, two shotguns, one fitted with a night-vision sight, and another rifle on his property. He also had armor-piercing ammo. The tunnels under his house still haven’t been searched.

People are speculating on what he had in mind to do with all that stuff.


Support the Jayne Hitchcock HELP Fund
http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/6172/helpjane.htm


Article: 970
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 12:20:21 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when Scott Rosenthal <Scott79@ix.netcom.com> uttered:

Another police officer was shot and killed yesterday, routine traffic
stop and two guys shot him.

Bummer. Hadn’t heard.


Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/groohead.htm


Article: 972
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 14:59:44 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when TechSupport@SFF.Net (Jeffry Dwight) uttered:

Not cool. That’s pretty much it for your police department, then? Only the
switchboard operator left.
No, this fellow was from down below, in Epsom. He’d been at our guys’ funeral the day before he was shot. He was wearing his bullet-resistant vest, but it didn’t help. Found still holding the license and registration of a gent now in custody.


Support the Jayne Hitchcock HELP Fund
http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/6172/helpjane.htm


Article: 977
From: Yog@sff.net (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 23:33:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when Paula Lieberman <Paula.Lieberman@virtual2.thevirtual.com uttered:

Radio news in the morning said there’s a call for the perpetrator’s
death.
Yeah, they’re talking Capital Murder.

In other news, the bill that would have provided support for the families of police killed in the line of duty was tabled last spring, on the grounds that it wouldn’t be needed since such deaths are so rare.


Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/groohead.htm


Article: 999
From: ddoyle1@moose.ncia.net (Debra Doyle)
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 14:18:21 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

rogoff@sff.net (Robert Rogoff) wrote:

I seem to recall they took the motto “Live Free or Die” off the license plates. Did they put it back on again?
Periodically somebody complains about it, but the complain never gets much of anywhere. I kind of like the motto, actually … it’s a lot more memorable than the bland alternatives the folks who are agin it come up with, like “Vacationland.”

Some people will complain about anything. Somebody in Maine complained once, or so I’m told, because the lobster on that state’s license plate was red, rather than green, and was therefore a cooked lobster and endorsing cruelty to animals.


Debra Doyle
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald


Article 14434
From: Debra Doyle
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 08:11:31 -0500
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 02:38:55 -0500, Lawrence Watt-Evans <lwe@sff.net> wrote:

killing two state troopers, then two or three other assorted people, before he finally got taken out by a cop’s bullet.
Two others — local selectman/judge Vickie Bunnell and Dennis Joos, editor of the local newspaper. Vickie Bunnell delayed her own exit from the building where she shared offices with the News and Sentinel in order to warn the others inside, and Dennis Joos — a man who’d at once point been a Franciscan novice before he decided his vocation lay elsewhere, a man who would carry spiders outside rather than stomp on them — died trying to wrestle the rifle away from Drega out in the parking lot.

This all went down in a town of about 2500 people. Nobody was unaffected by it, and the aftershocks lasted for a year or more.

—-
Debra Doyle
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/
newsgroup sff.people.doyle-macdonald


Article 14438
From: yog@sff.net (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 18:11:50 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

The Ballad of Carl Drega was an article by Vin Suprynowicz, a jerk from Nevada. It’s collected in a book of his columns, under the same title, and it’s published on websites all over the place.

This September 11th, I was moved to fully comment his article. Shall I post my commentary here?

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 11:38:09 -0500, steve miller <steve.miller@sff.net> wrote:

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 02:38:55 -0500, Lawrence Watt-Evans <lwe@sff.net>
wrote:


Incidentally, he burned down his own house to hide the evidence of
whatever he was planning. This succeeded. No one really knows what
he’d intended to do.

This is part of the core of the conspiracy theorists — the ones who
say Drega’s home was torched by the state cops to hide evidence/proof
of his innocence. There’s even a “Ballad of Drega” out among the
fringes.

Steve


Local Custom and Scout’s Progress
Prism Finalists, 2002


Member
O.P.E.


Article 14439
From: Debra Doyle
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 13:18:44 -0500
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 11:38:09 -0500, steve miller <steve.miller@sff.net> wrote:

This is part of the core of the conspiracy theorists — the ones who
say Drega’s home was torched by the state cops to hide evidence/proof
of his innocence.
Yeah, right. Half of Coos County was listening to that incident on police scanners. It’s real hard to pull off a cover-up in a small town.

—-
Debra Doyle
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/
newsgroup sff.people.doyle-macdonald


Article 14442
From: yog@sff.net (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 00:01:39 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 15:05:17 -0600, Elizabeth Moon Please do.

Elizabeth

In a bit. Be advised that it’s quite long.


Member
O.P.E.


Article 14445
From: yog@sff.net (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 01:40:06 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On 26 Nov 2002 00:26:13 GMT, Mitch Wagner <mwagner@TheWorld.com wrote:

Everyone is entitled to competent and engaged legal defense. But I suspect
that may not be what you are talking about.
The “defense” in this case is that Drega was right to have shot down four people.


Member
O.P.E.


Article 14447
From: yog@sff.net (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 02:37:21 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Wait’ll you get to the Pornography of Violence segment. Coming up in just a moment…..

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 20:18:06 -0600, Elizabeth Moon <emoon@n-link.com> wrote:

Oh my. What is the “defense” of the defender? Or can we call down some
quality karma on his/her head?

Elizabeth


Member
O.P.E.

To be continued….


Comments on Carl Drega, Part I:
#1 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 09:31 AM:

I'd missed the history. People defend this monster? Oy.

#2 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:03 AM:

Josh Jasper - I hadn't heard of him until this post, but I put Carl Drega into Google got several hits on the first page defending his actions.

#3 ::: Mr. Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:24 AM:

I had the same results when I Googled for "Carl Drega"; even creepier, there was a link to the Amazon page for Suprynowicz's book (and let me tell you, "jerk" is about the nicest name you can call him) with about 15 reviews, all of them giving it five stars. Horrifying.

Interestingly enough, I find that you can weed out most of laudatory crap from your Google search by using the terms "Carl Drega" and "murder". There's still one pro-Drega site that refers to the "murders" of David Koresh and Randy Weaver, which is something of a trigger for me. I actually went to high school with members of the Michigan Militia in the 90's, and they all talked like the dopes who have the pro-Drega websites. There's something uniquely unpleasant about living in close proximity to people who are just waiting for a reason to take up arms against you, and sometimes I wonder if I've ever really gotten over that.

Then I see people supporting what this psychopath did, and I realize that no, I'm really not over it.

#4 ::: Mr. Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Inevitable correction:

While Randy Weaver's wife and son were killed at Ruby Ridge, Randy Weaver was not. My apologies for the error.

#5 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Belatedly and after coffee, my sympathy for you having gone through this, Jim.

#6 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Jim, my sympathies.

On a related note, Orcinus has a post about right wing violence and mental illness that may be worth taking a look at.

#7 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:33 AM:

This is horrible, horrible stuff. I'm sorry for you and everyone who went through it. "It" read to include not only the massacre itself but encounters with online jerks defending the murderer. I suppose one way we will know when we have reached utopia is by the lack of people advocating causes as more important than other people's lives.

And I'm amazed I somehow missed hearing about the killings at the time.

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:48 AM:

The murders that day represented about 0.16% of the local population. Multiply that by the population of your own town or city to get a rough equivalent for the emotional impact where you live.

For example, for New York City, that's the equivalent of 1.3 million dead in a single afternoon. For Boston, 90 thousand.

But no one notices: who cares about a tiny town in the north woods?

#9 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:57 AM:

I don't recall hearing about this at the time, which kind of amazes me. I'm further amazed, and disgusted, that people defend this lunatic—unless they're defending him on the grounds that he was legally insane, which might make sense depending on the circumstances. But defending his actions as in any way right...bad, crazy, and bad-crazy people.

Why don't we call this kind of person a terrorist? That's what he was. If he'd been a Moslem the stuff in his house alone would have led to that conclusion, even if he never actually killed anyone.

#10 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:57 AM:

You know when a political movement -- particular subgroup movements -- have gone over the top when they start having to spin fables to deny that members are insane.

I'm not just talking wing-nut crazies, but animal rights activists, anti-abortion groups, bomb-throwing anarchists, and so on -- this is not merely a right-wing phenomenon by far. Organizations on both sides need to self-police more.

My heart goes out to all the locals who were affected by Drega, not only at the time, but having to see what happened being distorted and used so evilly.

#11 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Wow Jim. Going through situations like these must be incredibly difficult, and I guess I'll just wish everyone my condolences and sympathy.

While I was living in Israel, a #2 bus was bombed, and a driver I used to see all of the time was killed. I didn't really know him, but it was still a hell of a shock. I can only imagine what it must be like for you all.

Trey;
After reading Orcinius's post, I am conflicted. We say that free speech is a value which has immense, uncalculable value. Clearly the protection of life also has this value, and in a contest between the two, I think all would agree that preservation of life would trump free speech.

The issue is that by saying that the comments of right wing demagogues prompt action by the mentally unstable, we are implicitly claiming that this is a juxtaposition of free speech against the life of others. This in fact is a gross oversimplification.

I'm not sure what to make of the fact that there is a clear casual connection between extremist views and the metally ill, except to point out that the comparable case on the left is probably less tracked, becuase the extremist positions that one would take are more likley to manifest in less spectacular fashions, and of course the access to guns that the right "enjoys" is an important factor.

#12 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:12 PM:

I'm surprised I didn't think of this myself, but a commenter at Orcinus gave me the chills. To paraphrase: We've been talking about the "Obama is the Antichrist" dogwhistles in terms of their potential to motivate the stay-homers to get to the ballot box and vote McCain. It doesn't seem farfetched to think that certain of the right-wing are also hoping they have the potential to motivate a lone nut with a gun.

#13 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:14 PM:

But no one notices: who cares about a tiny town in the north woods?

That's heartbreaking.

#14 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Jim @8:

for New York City, that's the equivalent of 1.3 million dead in a single afternoon.

You're off by 2 orders of magnitude -- 1.3M is 16% of NYC, not 0.16%. Not that 13,000 people is trivial, mind you -- "only" 3000 people were killed on 9/11, but everyone in a 30-50 mile radius experienced a first- or second-order loss.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:15 PM:

The ability of health care to deal with mental problems is ... limited. Even when the individual is seeking help. That's an area that needs a lot of exploration. And the ability of the community to deal with the mentally unwell within it, when the individual isn't seeking help, is more limited still.

#16 ::: Mr. Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:20 PM:

That's terrible. I can't even wrap my head around what it would mean for 90 thousand people to be killed like that, or what the effects would be. I can, however, start to imagine what it would be like if half the police officers in my hometown were killed, along with (for example) one out of ten judges and journalists. Then it's no longer an arbitrary number of people, but real individuals I can recognize and name, and maybe I can start to get an inkling of what's it like for a community to go through that.

Like Nicole, I'm surprised I didn't hear about this at the time. Now, eleven years later, all I can do is give my sympathy to Jim, Debra, and everyone else who was affected by this tragedy.

#17 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:22 PM:

#11-David Manheim

I'm not sure what to make of the fact that there is a clear casual connection between extremist views and the me[n]tally ill, except to point out that the comparable case on the left is probably less tracked, bec[au]se the extremist positions that one would take are more lik[el]y to manifest in less spectacular fashions, and of course the access to guns that the right "enjoys" is an important factor.
Leon Czolgosz would be a fairly clear example. If he had in fact acted alone, Lee Harvey Oswald might (might, I say) be another. "Left" extremism seems mostly to have burnt itself out with the possible exception of Sendero Luminoso, though.

#18 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 12:26 PM:

12: this sounds rather like the automated enemies list in Bruce Sterling's "Distraction", which identifies political enemies of its patron and then spams a mailing list of the known mentally-ill with hateful email about them, until one snaps and takes a shot...

#19 ::: Nina Katarina ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 01:22 PM:

I think violent mental illness in the Left tends to sidetrack. The far left is more friendly to recreational pharmaceuticals, so some of the extreme types self-medicate into harmlessness. The left is also much more receptive to odd artistic expressions.

And the tendency to talk about things rather than do them, while deplorable in a Congresscritter, is a good thing in someone who has violent fantasies of what they want to do to, say, Congresscritters.

#20 ::: suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Oh gods, I remember hearing about this on the news when it first happened (and being totally horrified), but there was never any followup. I remember being vaguely puzzled by at the time. Eleven minutes or eleven years later, these kind of things don't really ever feel any better, maybe in small part because we can never quite make rational sense of how such a thing could ever happen. A lot like 9-11 that way. )-:

And the idea that people out there somehow think this guy was justified in what he did just completely blows my mind. I have no words.

I'm so sorry, Jim.

#21 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 01:56 PM:

D Potter:

Wouldn't the Unabomber be an example of left-wing sort of dangerous lunatic?

I keep thinking there are a couple different things going on here. At the same time, strong beliefs/worldviews/mass movements can:

a. Give violently crazy people some extra push toward violent crazy behavior--perhaps by justifying it, perhaps by getting them some help by non-crazy people who would otherwise have stayed the hell away from such obvious nutcases, perhaps simply by changing the target.

b. Convince apparently sane, normal people to support or take part in horrible, violent, apparently crazy behavior.

Are these part of the same phenomenon, or are they different? I'm kind of inclined to think they're part of the same sliding scale, but I'm not sure. But in particular, I have a sense that both pro-life terrorists[1] and animal-rights terrorists get aid and comfort from folks who would never blow things up or burn things down themselves, but who are willing to at least look the other way when people on their side are doing those things. (And this doesn't mean that most pro-lifers or animal rights folks would have anything to do with those guys, just that some small fraction of the sane, non-criminal types will.)

[1] I admit that I love the irony of this term.

#22 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Jim, I can't apologize for the actions of others. I am saddened that you and your wife as well as the town of Colebrook has had to endure something this tragic.

#23 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:14 PM:

This kind of thing is something I hope I never have to deal with. And I can't imagine dealing with it as an EMT. (course, there are reasons I'm *not* an EMT... I have a regrettable tendency to faint at the sight of other people's blood)

I'm also really glad Jim *talks* about these kinds of horrors, and doesn't pretend that heroic action will magically save someone. It's a good reminder that paranoia and caution are a better way to save yourself and other people. I learned those lessons young, but a reminder never hurts.

#24 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Jim & Debra - I'm so sorry for your loss, to you and everyone in your community.

#25 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:57 PM:

re: Unabomber - Not so much, albatross, at least according to a comment on the Orcinus post.

Quoted in full - there's no permalink to offer that I can find:

Oriscus, the Unabomber was not leftwing. As I understand it, he was a sort-of libertarian who actually hated leftists, but most of all he disapproved of technology and science.
In his opening and closing sections, Kaczynski addresses leftism as a movement and analyzes the psychology of leftists, arguing that they are "True Believers in Eric Hoffer's sense" who participate in a powerful social movement to compensate for their lack of personal power. He further claims that leftism as a movement is led by a particular minority of leftists whom he calls "oversocialized":
The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. [...] Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term "oversocialized" to describe such people.[29]

Theodore Kaczynski
The right wing would like to make out that Kaczynski was some sort of radical environmentalist but this just isn't so. He had more in common with survivalists than with ELF members. I wasn't sure if you yourself were thinking that but you're certainly correct in pointing out that right wingers like to throw the "Unabomber was a leftist!" meme into the discussion.

Also, I think Kaczynski doesn't really fit the profile for being influenced by rhetoric. He seems to be a sort of crazed genius who came up with his own deranged philosophy.

Candy | 08.18.08 - 8:33 am

I am, of course, only quoting what I read there.

#26 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:57 PM:

#21-albatross:

Wouldn't the Unabomber be an example of left-wing sort of dangerous lunatic?
Well, yes, although I was thinking along the lines of persons with guns. For that matter, the Symbionese Liberation Army might qualify, and I would belatedly include Charles Manson and his bunch, although political belief seems to have been orthogonal to those killings.

I try to distinguish between sympathizers, who are usually quiet, and active defenders.

#27 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 03:10 PM:

#25-Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: Try thisnext time--in Haloscan, the # after the timestamp takes one to that specific comment.

And thanks, because all I remembered about ol' Ted was that somebody at my old job had been injured by one of the bombs and that he had a manifesto, and I associate manifestos with the "left." Lazy thinking.

#28 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Trey, #6: Is anyone else here now thinking about Agatha Christie's novel Curtain?

Like the bad guy in the book, the hate-filled wingnuts who want people like us dead seem to have come up with a foolproof way to accomplish their goal. It's slow, because you don't know how much hate-rhetoric it's going to take to make any given mentally-unstable person go off the rails; and it's not something you can aim at specific targets, because each lunatic has his own filter, and you don't know just how that's going to express. But it also has two HUGE advantages: (1) you, the ultimate instigator, will never be blamed for the incidents, each of which will be treated as an independent fluke; and (2) it fulfills one of the primary objectives of terrorism, which is to make people in the targeted group fear for their lives on a regular basis (the "living in a war zone" effect).

Nicole, #12: Ack. You're right; in some cases, it can be aimed at specific targets. If any lunatic takes a potshot at Obama -- whether he's killed or not -- then anyone who's been actively promulgating the "Obama is the Antichrist" meme needs to be held responsible for incitement to murder or attempted murder.

#29 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 03:42 PM:

The Red Army Faction and the Baader-Meinhof gang were *certainly* leftists. I think it's significant, though, that I can't think of an example of a violent leftist movement in Europe or North America since the 70s.

Something *changed*, starting no later than the early 70s, to make violence feel intrinsically "conservative", and peace/non-violence seem "liberal". I don't think this alignment is dictated by logic: to be conservative is to want to conserve something, to support some kind of status quo, and violence *should* be a particularly poor match for stability. There *should* be a conservative peace movement -- but we observe that there isn't one.

I have my suspicions about what's driving this dynamic, but I'm going to wait to see what other people think, first.

#30 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Dr. Science:

All you are doing is pointing out that modern "Liberalism" is conservative in nature, and modern american "Conservatism" is liberal, in that "Liberals" want to keep the status quo, an expand the welfare state in slight ways. "Conservatives" want to change things to the "ideal state" they were in in the 20's.

Given this, the juxtaposition of "conservative" and "peace" loses all force.

(Many thanks to PaulKrugman for the analysis.)

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 04:15 PM:

albatross 21: (And this doesn't mean that most pro-lifers or animal rights folks would have anything to do with those guys, just that some small fraction of the sane, non-criminal types will.)

Um, no, anyone who gives aid and comfort to those who blow things up and burn things down is a criminal too. Harboring a fugitive, obstruction of justice, you know. Whether they're sane depends on which definition you use, but those who knowingly aid terrorists are terrorists.

JKRichard 22: "I'm sorry for your loss" isn't an apology. It's an expression of sympathetic sorrow, not remorse. You didn't do anything to cause, contribute to, or excuse the Colebrook massacre; why would you apologize? Do you think any of us are apologizing for it?

Lee 28: Sometimes when I think of my ideal (or just better) society, I think that when someone uses someone else as an instrument in a crime, the actual triggerman (or whatever) should be treated as a weapon, and using a human being as a weapon should be a crime in itself and an exacerbating factor to the main crime. For example, if someone substitutes a placebo for a psychotic's meds, and then arranges for a victim to be present when the psychotic has a freakout, the principal (not the psychotic) would be charged with whatever violence is done to the victim, with the additional crime of "instrumentalizing" the psychotic. And if the police have to shoot down the psychotic to save the intended victim (or themselves) the principal should be charged with murder.

In our less-than-ideal, could-be-better society, I think that morally such people as Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, and then-Cardinal-now-Pope Rat bear some of the responsibility for e.g. Matthew Shepard's death. (Ratso wrote that encyclical or whatever it was that said that while of course violence is always to be deplored, when behavior "to which no one has any conceivable right" (he's talking about the private sexual behavior of consenting adults, folks) is publicly defended, violence against the people who engage in it (like me) is "understandable." Fucking scumbag, no matter what color his zucchetto is.)

#32 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 04:17 PM:

D. Potter - Thanks! I was looking for something like that, but every time I even moused over the bit at the end, the entire last paragraph of the comment -- maybe the whole comment? -- went into bold type. It was weird. It was probably some dynamic CSS specifying what to do when a link is moused over, trigged by the <A name=""> tag that makes the method you point out work. In any case, I gave up futzing with it when that happened.

#33 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Nicole--actually I think Candy forgot to close the tag.

Cheers!

#34 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:27 PM:

#31, Xopher -

The adoption of "I'm sorry" to mean "I accept blame" has always been a weird one to me, but it seems very common. I frequently encounter it in the (rather rude, now that I think of it) situation of someone saying "It isn't your fault," when I tell them I'm sorry that x bad thing happened to them. Did they really think I was taking blame for their car accident/headache/pet's death?

The net effect of that reaction is to make me stop expressing sympathy, which can't possibly be the intent,* but I can't figure out an intent for the behavior that is actually productive.

I'm sorry too, that this terrible thing happened. Those who suffered and are suffering have my sympathies.

*Heck, maybe it is. Maybe they don't want someone "feeling sorry for them." I dunno.

#35 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Xopher@#31: Unfortunately, proving such a chain of responsibility in a court of law would be, to put it mildly, difficult -- correlation not being the same as causation, and all that.

Also, I can without even trying too hard think of half a dozen different ways in which such a precedent could be applied to the undeserving. There was a time a while back when every instance of juvenile violent crime that came down the pike was being blamed on the Satanic influence of fantasy role-playing games -- and while this was, of course, arrant nonsense, I can well believe that the deluded idiots people who thought that they had found such a connection would have jumped with both feet at a chance to haul Gary Gygax into court as one of the parties ultimately responsible.

#36 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Lee #28: If any lunatic takes a potshot at Obama -- whether he's killed or not -- then anyone who's been actively promulgating the "Obama is the Antichrist" meme needs to be held responsible for incitement to murder or attempted murder.

I can't find the words to express how awful the precedent that would set would be. In general, I think the whole "x public speech caused x violent action" argument is a pretty dangerous one, whose only possible consequences are censorship and repression. If someone's not homicidally insane, no amount of Rush Limbaugh is going to make them that way, and if someone is, no amount of taking Limbaugh off the air and locking him up is going to keep them from attacking someone. Might as well blame Black Sabbath or Marilyn Manson or video games.

#37 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:50 PM:

My deepest sympathies for living through these terrible experiences. Even if the others still need you I would imagine it is devilish difficult to stay in such a place and start a "normal life" again.

#38 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:58 PM:

(#35 and my #36 were cross-posted; I didn't intend to be part of a conceptual pile-on. Also, I agree with Debra Doyle.)

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Still, if Ann Coulter says that liberals should be beaten up with baseball bats, and a Coulter fan (by definition deranged) grabs his baseball bat and goes out beating liberals, would you (Debra, Ethan) say that she is not in any way responsible?

Making her responsible INSTEAD OF him is impractical at best, and possibly even unjust, but isn't she somewhat responsible too?

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 06:06 PM:

And btw I did say that for our society the responsibility is moral. I see no practical way to get from where we are now to a just application of a legal principle of ultimate responsibility.

#41 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Xopher @ 40
And while it is amusing to read when one hatefilled radio person offends the wrong demographics and public pressure on the ad-buying corporations causes him to be dumped, it remains unsatisfying. Basically, economical and monetary interests accomplish what ethics cannot.

I have no idea how to solve this and many alternatives would be worse, but still - it feels wrong.

#42 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Xopher@39:Still, if Ann Coulter says that liberals should be beaten up with baseball bats, and a Coulter fan (by definition deranged) grabs his baseball bat and goes out beating liberals, would you (Debra, Ethan) say that she is not in any way responsible?

Not in any way that could be demonstrated without opening up the head of the deranged Coulter fan and sorting out the motivations inside. What you or I as private citizens might think about the pernicious effects of a person's rhetoric is one thing; but the law should stick to what can be proved without resorting to mind-reading.

(Also, frankly, as a writer I am not real keen on the possibility of being held responsible for whatever acts one of my deranged and violent fans might choose to commit. Not, so far as I know, that I've actually got any deranged and violent fans; but nothing is impossible.)

#43 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 07:54 PM:

David Manheim @30:

Either I don't understand you or I don't agree with you, or both.

Modern political & economic conservatism are indeed conservative, because they want to keep the distribution of money & power the way it already is: with large corporations and wealthy individuals. Keeping the rich rich is *the* bedrock value of economic conservatives; keeping power in the hands of the powerful is *the* goal of political conservatives.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 07:59 PM:

Debra! Morally! I said not legally. Sheesh.

#45 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Jim and Debra--I'm so sorry to read this.

The news never made it to my neck of the woods. How horrific.

#46 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Xopher@#44: Assuming that a direct (emphasis on direct) causal connection between Person A's words and Person B's acts does exist . . . then yeah, Person A is morally culpable, though that does not, in my opinion, take away from the moral culpability of Person B. (Otherwise, what are we to make of all the readers of Person A who -- whatever acts of personal unpleasantness they may have committed -- have not crossed over the line between cranky unpleasantness and violent nutcasery?)

Legal culpability, though, requires a stricter standard. Evidence strong enough to convince me to hold someone in opprobrium is not necessarily strong enough to convince me that they should be imprisoned or, in some states and cases, executed.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Jim,after reading this post and the second, I'm sorry you and Debra had to experience this horror.

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Debra: I agree entirely. I think blame does not attenuate, and two people can both be to blame for the same crime. And legal culpability would require much more...like evidence of specific instructions, etc.

#49 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 09:34 PM:

Please, folks, do not feel sorry for me and Debra. We were only peripherally involved, in that we lived in town. Others were far more directly, and deeply, affected.

#50 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:37 PM:

Jim, this looks to be fairly accurate.

#51 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:39 PM:

Emily @ 23

It's a good reminder that paranoia and caution are a better way to save yourself and other people.

Caution, yes. Paranoia, no.

Caution and preparedness is what can help to give you at least a chance when horrors like this occurs.

Paranoia is frequently the thing that sets horrors like this in motion.

#52 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 12:03 AM:

David Manheim @ 30: "All you are doing is pointing out that modern "Liberalism" is conservative in nature, and modern american "Conservatism" is liberal, in that "Liberals" want to keep the status quo, an expand the welfare state in slight ways. "Conservatives" want to change things to the "ideal state" they were in in the 20's."

"Liberal" doesn't mean "wants to change things;" that's what "radical" means. "Liberal" (from "liberalism") means "a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties" (emphasis mine).

In many ways, the modern conservative movement is radical--they want to get rid of existing governmental infrastructure, they want increased freedom from regulation, etc. Another good word for them is "reactionary": they want to move social norms to the state they were in X years ago. But they are not liberal--they are not in favor of protecting civil liberties, they do not think people are essentially good, they have no respect for personal autonomy, and they do not believe in progress.

In recent decades, liberalism has been fighting a holding action in order to keep their gains. But that isn't the same thing as being conservative--they do not support the status quo because it's the status quo, but because the alternative is backsliding. The ultimate goal of liberalism is not to keep things the way they are, but to move forward. They are situationally conservative, not philosophically conservative.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Jim, we can feel sorry for you and Debra if we want to. Patrick and I took you guys out to lunch not long after, and you were both still shocked and subdued and angry. Even now, I can hear the ragged edge of memory in your written voice.

Other people had it worse, doesn't mean you had it good.

#54 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Nicloe @12: my father, the ultimate Republican, actually prays for Obama because he says the crazies are going to go for him with a rifle at some point. It terrifies him.

#55 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Xopher #31:

Right. My point is that there are people who are basically dangerous wingnuts, violent, crazy, whatever. I speculate that weird or violent ideologies, Ann Coulter's rants, etc., can't create such people, but that they can probably redirect such people. On the other hand, there are also millions of non-crazy people--folks who aren't going to kill strangers or blow stuff up, because it's just not who they are. And violent, evil ideologies, rabble-rousing, etc., broadly isn't going to turn those people into violent crazies, but may convince them to justify or support or turn a blind eye to the violent crazies on their own side. That's a source of damage of these ideologies--that they convince people who aren't violent crazies to give some level of support to the violent crazies, to say "Yeah, they're bastards, but they'r our bastards."

Those people would likely not have been involved in violent craziness without the ideologues.

#56 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Teresa: Hear! Hear!

I say that as I remind myself (with more than a few loving thwaps from people who care) that there are things I need to recall the same thing about for myself.

Thank you for, indirectly, delivering one such thwap.

#57 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Emma @54 - Your father is wise. It worries me, too. Prominent black man in a position no black man has held before? Easily comparable to MLK? You bet assassination is on a lot of people's minds. It doesn't take a tinfoil crazy hat to go from there to wondering whether his opponents have thought about encouraging it.

Something that also worries me is the meme that voting for Obama puts him in danger of assassination and therefore we should vote for McCain.

#58 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 11:27 PM:

...Sorry. To clarify: When I say "some of his opponents," I mean like the f*cker who designed the dogwhistle antichrist ads, not Joe Schmoe Republican Voter. I mean, I'm not surprised that someone can vote Republican and still care about Obama's safety--one would hope that would describe the majority of humanity regardless of how they vote or what nation they're citizens of.

#59 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:29 AM:

What an awful, awful thing. I'm so sorry.

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:34 AM:

Nicole, #57-58: Such as Karl Rove, for example? His philosophy is "by any means necessary" and he's never hesitated over any other kind of dirty deal; why should he quibble at murder, especially a murder-at-one-remove for which he can never be called to book?

#61 ::: Donald A. Lund ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2009, 03:32 PM:

I first encountered the Drega incident as a Professor (Criminal Justice at the Univerdity of New Hampshire.) It proved to be important as an example of an incident involving incompatible radio frequencies, incompatible radio types (digital vs analog) and with the significant probability of causing potential to result in friendly fire accidents. The incident took place close to the Vermont/New Hampshire border inviting chain of command issues, logistical issues and the integration of multiple personel on a comon mission but withou commonm training or even a common language. (The states used different 10 codes.) Havoc reigned as Police from New Hampshire, Vermont staged in Lancaster, NH, having arrived there at speeds of 110 mph scaring individuals and village populations areas half to death. I am in process of writing a book presenting the event and its precusors from a balanced perspective and revealing some previously little known information) describing the the events, the personalities of the principals and the communication and coordination difficulties arising from the cooperative efforts of the multiple juridictions (local, State and federal) directly involved. I would be delighted to consider anyone's suggestions or contributions to my efforts, and to share insights and theories on the subject via email or telephone. Don

#62 ::: Terry ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Don, I have thoughts to share on this but could only find your old UNH email address. Please provide me with contact info

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