A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: newtown shooting

Gun Nuts Are Now For Affirmative Action, Apparently

by evanmcmurry

Charlotte Allen continues her lonely quest to make us realize the Newtown shooting would never have happened if there had been more men at the school, because penises stop bullets men are stronger and thus better able to take down a shooter except in every other mass shooting when there were plenty of men around and they stopped nothing. In the new post, Allen reprises her essentialist riffs (“Women are less aggressive by instinct, and they are typically trained to be nice”), but her improv solo toward the end is truly out there:

I am also responding to David Weigel, who told me I gotten my facts wrong: that there are actually two men, a custodian and a fourth-grade teacher, on Sandy Hook’s 52-person staff. He’s right, and I stand corrected. This does help prove my point, though: just two adult men in a building containing 500 people — and it’s not clear that both of them were at work that day.

So it’s not even enough that more men need to be employed by the school, but a certain percentage of the male staff must be present every single day. I would love to hear Charlotte Allen detail the implementation of this policy without using the word “quota,” or without contradicting any of the countless pieces the National Review has published on the supposedly odious idea of gender diversity in schools or the workplace being mandated from above. Also, it’s amazing the things gun rights advocates think should be controlled by the government, given that their precious Second Amendment is ostensibly rooted in an anti-government framework. Wayne LaPierre thinks Congress should nitpick elementary school hiring policy and censor video games. But a limit on magazine size is tyranny?

This, meanwhile, is just sad:

Another depressing page on the Sandy Hook website is the “Safe Schools Climate” page. It’s a page of links to “anti-bullying” resources. Yes, the Sandy Hook staff’s idea of a “safe school” was a school where kids didn’t say mean things about each other on Facebook! 

Given the role bullying has played in previous mass shootings—the Columbine shooters didn’t kill thirteen of their classmates for being nice to them—that Allen doesn’t see the connection between tamping down on bullying and safety in the school is inexplicable.

You Can’t Take Away My Guns (But By All Means, Lock People Up In Psych Wards)

by evanmcmurry

I’ve been making a lot of hay over the fact that all the gun rights advocates suddenly enamored with mental health reform would never in a million Kenyan sun-revolutions fund such reforms. But this is a pretty good point, too:

So you believe that the government can’t stop you from owning an AR-15, but it can somehow FORCE people to undergo psychological evaluation and then force them to accept treatment, including medication? That’s a curious interpretation of state power.

Whatever keeps the subject off guns, I guess.

Obama Either Did Or Did Not Give Gettysburg-Level Speech

by evanmcmurry

Guh?:

But none went so far as David Maraniss, author of this year’s biography Barack Obama: The Story, who declared, “People will long remember what Barack Obama said in Newtown … his Gettysburg address … ” And Maraniss meant it.

[…] Asked this afternoon if he stood by the grand pronouncement with some distance in the light of day, Maraniss told Intelligencer, “Of course I stand by it!”

“It does not mean that Obama is Lincoln, nor that the Newtown address will become ingrained in American history in the way Gettysburg was,” he cautioned.

Bwuh? That’s exactly what it means! That’s like saying, “This is Obama’s Waterloo, except he’s not Napoleon and he didn’t lose.”

Which is all a way of saying, man, isn’t it depressing that Obama’s given so many post-shooting spree speeches that we can compare and contrast them? (I prefer this one.)

Please Stop Posting That Morgan Freeman Meme

by evanmcmurry

By now you’ve seen the Morgan Freeman meme all over your FB news feed, and you’ve probably also heard it’s fake, if you didn’t already look at it and think, “That’s the fakest thing on the fakerwebs.” Yet still it gets posted, so it’s worth taking at least as long as it took to be written to refute it. In ascending order of importance, why this meme is dumb and counterproductive:

1. Morgan Freeman didn’t say it. Avoid posting things you know or even suspect to be untrue; it lowers the trustworthiness of everything else.

2. Morgan Freeman didn’t say it. This matters, because the main point of the little diatribe is that there exists a reality that the media is harming through its distortions. But that’s exactly what this meme is doing by falsely attributing its quote to a celebrity. I almost want to say it’s enacting its own criticism—but come on. Accusing the media of abusing reality and then attaching that claim to someone who never voiced it is self-refuting.

3.  The most pernicious part of this meme’s logic is hidden at the end, and I suspect smuggling this argument was actually the entire point: that mental health treatment and gun control are mutually exclusive. This is one of the most widely cited arguments since Friday (as it is after every mass shooting): that we shouldn’t be focusing on gun control to stop these events, we should be focusing on mental health treatments. This is ridiculous for two reasons. 1) As already stated, the two are not mutually exclusive, and those who argue for gun control usually do so in tandem with pushing for better mental health treatment. Nobody actually wants to ban guns; we want to stop incidents like Friday from happening, and the best way to do that is through better mental health treatment that identifies troubled people before they act and good gun control policy (waiting periods, assault bans etc.) that limits their likelihood to act. In no way do these two reforms exclude each other; if anything, they’re mutually reinforcing. 2) If you walked up to a gun rights advocate last Thursday and asked how they felt about increased funding for mental health facilities, you probably would have gotten a lecture on Kenyan Socialism and the culture of dependency. Now mental health reform is the most pressing issue facing America today? This is a dodge to avoid talking about the blaring, blaring, blaring need for better, more restrictive gun laws. I actually think the screed on the media was a dodge, too, which brings me to:

4. Blaming the media is a copout. It always is. Take the fake-Freeman rant and replace “sensationalist media” with “lamestream media” and “shooting” with any pet conservative cause like global warming or the war on women, and you have the average Sarah Palin Facebook post or Breitbart.com screed; replace it with “corporate media” and “East Timor” and you have a Noam Chomsky interview. This is because there is no coordinated entity that is “the media”—it’s an abstraction of a huge variety of mediums, each with different incentives and practices and standards and biases. Because “the media” doesn’t actually refer to one existing thing, it can refer to anything; “the media” can be blamed for whatever you want, and this phenomenological promiscuity should be a sign that causal logic has left the building.

Does the method of reporting these shootings amplify the shock value in a way that might encourage more? Maybe. But its effects are tertiary at worst. Impugning “the media” is not an argument; it’s a way to avoid having an argument by accusing an abstraction that can’t refute you.

Now, please, someone cut and paste this over Ian McKellan’s face so I can go viral.