Saturday, March 14, 2009

Absent Facts, Idological Babble Is Stupid Reagrdless Of Which Side Does It

In the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich said:
I want to say to the elite of this country - the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton…of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done, and instead foisting upon the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don’t have the courage to look at the world you have created.

Two years ago, after the Virginia Tech shootings, for some reason beyond my comprehension, George Stephanopoulos had Gingrich on and asked him if the same words would apply to the Blacksburg, VA massacre, to which Gingrich said, "Yes."

There is enough information in the record about both events, the perpetrators, and events leading up them that larger points on social factors - the nihilism and anomie of a certain segment of the suburban youth population; the role played by bullying and social castes in our high schools; the self-perpetuating loneliness of those who are sinking in to mental illness and how it can lead, in extreme cases, to violence - can certainly be explored with these events as touchstones for serious discussion.

I have a problem with this kind of speculative nonsense, based on nothing at all:
But I think of a man in Alabama, couldn't make it into the marines. Couldn't pass day one of the state police training camp.

Redneck from deep in redneck junctions.

He didn't take his guns and blow away his family, friends, and strangers because he was a redneck, because he had redneck values.

He did it because he (and the family and community who couldn't tell he'd been cooking toward crazy for at least a year or two) had nothing else to be and nothing else to value.

He was a nigger redneck, knew he was a nigger redneck. Knew the world (as much of it as he could conceive) thought of him as a nigger redneck and gave him only nigger redneck things to do.
(italics added)

Did Michael McLendon think of himself as a redneck? A "nigger redneck" who "had nothing else to be and nothing else to value"? We don't know. Even the information on the triggers - his confessed depression over failure to become a Marine of state police officer, a dispute over ownership of a family Bible - leave us no further ahead in attempting to really grasp what happened, what caused an otherwise quiet, polite young man to suddenly become the biggest mass-murderer in Alabama history. We knew this in the immediate aftermath of the event; lines have been drawn between and among various dots by officials that should leave us scratching our heads.

Whether it's Newt Gingrich calling out liberals for their responsibility for the Columbine HS massacre, or Maureen Down insisting she knows what goes on in the heads of various politicians, or a blog commenter figuring out the motives of a mass murderer based on very little information, this kind of thing does no one any favors, and muddies the water of further understanding with a whole lot of nonsense.

Virtual Tin Cup

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