Boston

In 2004, John Kerry responded to a question about terrorism by noting, “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

Bush made hay out of this quote, but Kerry was absolutely right.

The Boston bombing was a human tragedy, but in the grand scheme of things… A nuisance. More people died in the Texas fertilizer plant fire.

That said, a lot of people are going to look at the case and somehow see this as something more, something bigger. We’re going to hear a lot about immigration and even more about radicalization.

Unfortunately, most of what we’re going to hear is just dead wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the issue of “radicalization.” I can’t claim my views are widely accepted, but I’d argue the empirics support my view.

Anyway, my view is this: Radicalization is epiphenomenal and opportunistic, and hence not a useful focus of policy response.

In terms of being epiphenomenal, you will find that almost all case of radicalization follow rather than cause personal crisis. Individuals who are “radicalized” and turn to terrorism often already have money woes, job loss, the collapse of relationships, or the onset of psychological symptoms, at the very least depression and anxiety disorders, but often paranoid schizophrenia.

In terms of opportunism… Radicalized individuals are usually people who have, essentially, been emptied out by personal crisis. For some, radical Islamist ideology fills the gaps. For others it is booze or sex or drugs or suicide. Anyway, we’re not talking about master criminals, working at the behest of brilliant external puppet masters. We’re talking about broken individuals who are not just manipulated, but eager to be manipulated to give their lives meaning.

It is a sad and tragic situation. It is particularly tragic for the victims. But from a societal perspective it is a nuisance.






86 replies
  1. 1
    prankster says:

    I know it’s hard to say, “nuisance,” in the face of lives lost and people injured, but bravo. The real impact of terrorism is when we distort ourselves responding to these acts.

  2. 2
    dollared says:

    well said, Bernard. This will never be the media consensus, but if the older brother had a nice job and was mainly pissed off at the price of real estate, we wouldn’t have had this attack.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    Could someone link to a place that lists terrorist attacks in this country (or acts) since, say, 1880? The talking heads act like terrorism was invented in 2001. It has a long history (anarchists, et al.). There have been major incidents, hijackings, and all kinds of things. All one has to do is watch the film “Carlos” for example to see the rash of these events across Europe and the Middle East.

    These things are always going to happen. They are serious, of course, but we can’t let the media use this to drive ratings as they incite hysteria.

  4. 4
    Waldo says:

    “Nuisance” was a poor word choice then, and it’s not much better now.

  5. 5
    Kurzleg says:

    Well said, Bernard.

  6. 6
    NCSteve says:

    True dat. And it’s no coincidence, I think, that both of these guys are at that age of maximum self-absorption when every shitty thing that happens to you is everyone else’s fault and excess testosterone catalyzes all of that self-pity into aggression.

  7. 7
    gene108 says:

    One of the older threads had the older brother’s boxing photos up.

    He had cute blond girlfriend in those pictures.

    Apparently there was a domestic violence arrest in 2009.

    I’m thinking the break-up with the hot chick sent him down this path.

    In terms of out-of-your-ass speculation, I think this maybe as plausible as anything else.

  8. 8
    Kurzleg says:

    @Waldo: What’s a better choice?

  9. 9
    dollared says:

    OK, I give up: what happened to the naked guy that got put into the FBI car last night? Who was that?

  10. 10
    PeorgieTirebiter says:

    Absolutely. The firefighters killed in West were volunteers, and the town pharmacist got the first aide supplies off the shelves of his shop. Andrea Mitchell and Tom Ridge are currently fretting over these “suicide bombers” in Boston. Ridge gives a shout out to bin laden’s knack for spotting young, committed players. Just shoot me.

  11. 11
    Scott S. says:

    For some, radical Islamist ideology fills the gaps.

    I think my lone stipulation with this post would be that radical anything can fill the gaps. Radical Christianity, radical politics, you name it. Some people get radically obsessed with movie and sports stars and become stalkers.

    Granted, people who get obsessed with baseball stats, comic books, and trivia contests are probably less inclined to blow stuff up, though…

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    Thanks for the post and for keeping it in perspective. It’s terrible, but it’s a nuisance.

  13. 13
    c u n d gulag says:

    Yes.
    Thank you
    YES!

  14. 14
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @gene108:

    Hasn’t there been enough out-the-ass speculation as it is?

    At this point I’m just hoping they take the guy alive and get him to talk. Won’t completely quell the media stupidity, but if neither had a chance to talk the conspiracy theories about who they really were will be unending.

  15. 15
    Evinfuilt says:

    The Boston bombing was a human tragedy, but in the grand scheme of things… A nuisance. More people died in the Texas fertilizer plant fire.

    Just think of the lives that could be saved if we spent a fraction of our anti-terrorism on monitoring of chemical plants and other corporate malfeasance.

  16. 16
    j says:

    I’m getting a little tired of wingnuts’ glee over this. They just can’t keep from saying “HAHA Obama had a terrorist attack just like Bush, so there”.

    Of course they fail to realize that this makes Bush’s multi billion dollar “GWOT” a spectacular failure.

    Kerry was right. Terrorism should be handled like a police matter, not a military one.

  17. 17
    Kurzleg says:

    @NCSteve: I suspect that it was the older brother who roped the younger into participating. I heard a Russian neighbor interviewed on WHDH earlier, and he noted that until a year ago both brothers dressed like westerners. Then, the older brother began wearing robes and growing out his hair. But about a month ago he saw him again, and he was clean shaven and wearing western clothes again. Meanwhile, I believe his brother was living in the UMass-Dartmouth dorms. At any rate, it seems like the older one was radicalized first.

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I remember reading that in the eighties it was standard policy for the FBI and the government to regard terrorism as a crime and ignore the political implications – partly because you didn’t want to give the terrorists any impression of legitimacy by acknowledging the political content of what they’d done, partly because you didn’t want to give the impression that their politics (as opposed to the crimes they committed) were the reasons we were cracking down on them.

    We could do worse than to learn from that. Terrorists are a nasty subspecies of serial killers, or, at worst (for the most powerful ones) organized crime. Treat them as such, no more.

  19. 19
    👽 Martin says:

    @dollared: Just a random guy that probably didn’t follow instructions in just the manner the police wanted. He was released.

  20. 20
    Alex S. says:

    I could imagine that the reaction of American society after 9/11 (directed by the Bush government) has sort of fetishized the character of the ‘terrorist’. It might be an alluring role model to a frustrated muslim.

  21. 21
    Kurzleg says:

    @j: Well, they’ll be correct about this as soon as there’s reporting showing that Obama had been warned for months ahead of time of an impending attack. Based on what we’ve heard so far, there was no warning from the intelligence community.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    Empathy extended to people such as pet store owners in the locked-down areas, who must get to their shop.

  23. 23
    Punchy says:

    But from a societal perspective it is a nuisance.

    Yes, but for the next few weeks, it’s going to be a huge travel nuisance. One misplaced bag now clears whole airports. Lord knows what it will do to sports arenas or rock concerts. Every single bag must now be inspected by police. This seems like more than a nuisance.

  24. 24
    Napoleon says:

    @dollared:

    A friend of mine speculated that that person was the driver that had his car high jacked and he ended up driving around with the brothers for ½ hour until he got loose, and that the police, out of an overabundance of caution, treated him as if he was in on it all (which would include the possibility he was wearing a bomb). That sounded like a pretty good theory.

  25. 25
    scav says:

    @BGinCHI: Only goes 1970-2011 but here’s a start. This link is to the article, I linked to the map yesterday. Dataset can be downloaded.

  26. 26
    MikeBoyScout says:

    The bombers in Boston are terrorists
    The bombers in West are business people

  27. 27
    NotMax says:

    For those who may not have seen it, as the threads are coming so fast and furious:

    Talk about being in denial: Tsarnaev aunt, in Canada.

  28. 28
    dollared says:

    @👽 Martin: Thanks. I’m sure he’s gonna need a quiet day or two….

  29. 29
    debg says:

    well stated, Bernard

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    @BGinCHI

    Of course, bombing is not the only method, but a fairly complete rundown of those is here (2 pages).

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @👽 Martin: Yeah. And unfortunately for him he was stripped near the perimeter where the cameras could broadcast his nakedness for hours because they had no other visuals except photos of the suspects, while all of his neighbors were probably glued to the TV trying to figure out what was going on.

  32. 32
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Kurzleg:

    What’s a better choice?

    Call it a criminal act best handled by law enforcement. A wasp nest is a nuisance. Bombs that blow up children and take people’s legs off are criminal, and calling them a nuisance diminishes the harm that has horribly changed dozens of lives forever. We don’t make criminals out to be more then they are, nor should we act like they are beneath our notice when they kill and maim. They are simply criminals to be apprehended or killed as circumstance dictates, and they are something we have dealt with as long as civilization has existed. Nothing more, and nothing less.

  33. 33
    Waldo says:

    @Kurzleg: I’m open to suggestions, but “nuisance” ain’t gettin’ it done. From dictionary.com:

    1. an obnoxious or annoying person, thing, condition, practice, etc.: a monthly meeting that was more nuisance than pleasure.
    2. Law. something offensive or annoying to individuals or to the community, especially in violation of their legal rights.

    I don’t disagree with Bernard’s overall premise, but the nuisance statement was a misstep by Kerry.

  34. 34
    Trollhattan says:

    @ Bernard Finel
    Darn good points, all. In the years since 9/11 we’ve had scores of deaths resulting from lax or worse, disregard for safety protocols, and yet where is the nationwide campaign to eliminate those needless deaths? Sadly, there’s far more effort put into protecting shareholders from paying for these “accidents.” Some examples:

    –BP Texas City refinery explosion.
    –Crandall Canyon Mine cave-in.
    –Upper Big Branch Mine explosion.
    –Deepwater Horizion explosion.
    –San Bruno PG&E pipeline explosion.

    I’m probably forgetting quite a few, but that’s a hell of a death toll, each completely avoidable if companies had simply followed established industry safety protocols.

  35. 35
    cyntax says:

    @Kurzleg:

    Infrequent but tragic. Pretty much anything other than nuisance.

    It’s not terribly empathetic to describe people dying as a nuisance. And that disconnect gets in the way of the message that giving in to fear and hysteria is what the terrorists want us to do.

  36. 36
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Chris:

    We could do worse than to learn from that. Terrorists are a nasty subspecies of serial killers, or, at worst (for the most powerful ones) organized crime. Treat them as such, no more.

    Exactly. Killers are not a mere nuisance. They are criminals to be stopped. However, you do not upend all of society because of a killer.

  37. 37
    James E Powell says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time working on the issue of “radicalization.” I can’t claim my views are widely accepted, but I’d argue the empirics support my view.

    I’d like to read some of that. Can you provide some cites or links or direct me where you would recommend that I start?

  38. 38

    We definitely are not going to hear about the lax oversight of the TX fertilizer plant by intentionally crippled government agencies nor anything about how deregulation fosters negligence in the name of profits. Apparently that plant was an accident waiting to happen and reminds me of the coal mine disasters that could have been prevented with proper oversight. How many more of these ticking time bombs are out there and are we ever going to do anything about it? I say, fat chance and that the punishment for negligent behavior must outweigh the reward several times over. A executive perp walk and jail time would be icing on the cake.

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    In terms of opportunism… Radicalized individuals are usually people who have, essentially, been emptied out by personal crisis.

    But only a DFH would suggest that it would be a good idea for the government to provide social services to people facing personal crises. No, private charity is the answer.

  40. 40
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Theodore Wirth:

    A executive perp walk and jail time would be icing on the cake.

    When the Justice Dept decided not to prosecute HSBC, we pretty much wrote off any executive prosecution for anything, ever.

  41. 41
    Scotius says:

    @BGinCHI:

    BGinCHI Says:

    Could someone link to a place that lists terrorist attacks in this country (or acts) since, say, 1880?

    I don’t know about since 1880, but this Guardian article has links to a database going back to 1970.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news.....NTCMP=SRCH

  42. 42
    Elizabelle says:

    Good post, Bernard.

  43. 43
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Roger Moore:

    When you look at some of the Sept 11 terrorists, you see people with means and education. Whatever the crisis was, it was not material. I’ve read lots of stuff in the dead tree media (Newsweek et al) on intense radicalization among younger Muslims in Europe (people born in England etc) that has left their parents mystified. The crisis is not poverty. It is something else entirely. Rejection of materialism, feeling of alienation and lack of acceptance, older generation too deferential to Western values and racism, whatever.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    When the Justice Dept decided not to prosecute HSBC, we pretty much wrote off any executive prosecution for anything, ever.

    This.

    More even than Citizens United or Bush v. Gore, that to me embodies the fact that we live in a bought-and-paid-for society in which the concept of equal treatment under the law is a complete farce. Let’s face it; if the 1% can’t be prosecuted for something as blatant as financing terrorism, of all crimes, and in post-9/11 America, they can’t be prosecuted for anything.

  45. 45
    gelfling545 says:

    @NotMax: Suppose someone were to call you right now & tell you that a young family member was guilty of a horrible act of violence. Would you automatically leap to the conclusion that they must be correct or would you feel like that’s impossible & something must be wrong here? I suspect that most family members, especially if there had been on prior criminal involvement, would lean toward the second reaction. You just can’t get your head around it, sometimes.

  46. 46
    Morzer says:

    Speaking of crackpot radicals and all-round losers:

    http://www.nashuatelegraph.com.....1;for.html

    …we learned last week that three disgruntled Republican lawmakers – including two from Greater Nashua – actually thought it was a good idea to file a formal petition of removal and criminal complaints against 189 of their fellow representatives.
    Specifically, Londonderry Rep. Al Baldasaro, Goffstown Rep. John Hikel and Merrimack Rep. Lenette Peterson filed an “emergency petition for redress,” calling for removing the 189 from office for “breaching their oath” and for their criminal prosecution for “violating federal law.”
    The offense?
    Voting for legislation that would reset the standard for self-defense to what had existed with little fanfare for more than three decades. They claim any change would violate their right to bear arms to protect themselves and their property.
    On March 27, a divided House of Representatives voted, 189-184, to pass HB 135, a bill that would repeal the state’s “stand your ground” law, which was enacted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature.
    The repeal bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, D-Penacook, would strike the 2011 provision that allows individuals to use deadly force “anywhere he or she has a right to be.” Instead, if in public, they would be required to first try to retreat from the confrontation, if it were possible to do so “with complete safety.”
    ….
    Based on the emergency petition of redress, the misguided lawmakers demand:

    • The immediate removal from office of the 189 “disqualified” members of the House – 186 Democrats and three Republicans.

    • The nullification of all votes taken by these lawmakers during this session.

    • And the scheduling of a special election to replace the 189 legislators with individuals “qualified” to fill those seats.

    And if that weren’t kooky enough, former Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball and several similarly offended lawmakers filed criminal complaints last week in the Hillsborough and Strafford county sheriffs’ offices against Shurtleff, the sponsor of the bill, and the 188 lawmakers who supported it.

  47. 47
    HinTN says:

    It is criminal activity. It is not a nuisance. I get the frame of reference from which this sort of terroristic criminal behavior could present as vanishingly insignificant, but it will never be a nuisance to those affected by it.

  48. 48
    Roy G. says:

    I think Jon Stewart made a key point last night by showing terrorist deaths in the US vs. gun deaths since 1970: approximately 3,000 vs. 100,000.

  49. 49
    Calouste says:

    @Punchy:

    I have lived in London for a number of years, and yes, everything gets cleared when there is an unaccounted bag somewhere. Stiff upper lip chap, keep calm and carry on.

    The Luftwaffe didn’t get London down, the IRA didn’t get London down. Don’t be the overreacting neurotic pansies we realized you were in 2001.

  50. 50
    OGLiberal says:

    How long does Boston stay on lockdown? Until the kid is caught/killed? What if that takes 3-days, 5-days, a week? I can understand the lockdown today but if this goes in to tomorrow they’re going to have to scale it back a bit. Employers should be understanding of employees who don’t want to take a risk and let them work from home – if possible – or take some time off. But I think a government mandated lockdown can’t go on much longer – because that’s kind of what people who blow up bombs that kill people want.

    Personally, I’d be keeping my kids inside 24/7 until this kids is caught. But have to let things get back to normal and let people decide whether or not they want to take any risks.

  51. 51
    NotMax says:

    @gelfling545

    Would you automatically leap to the conclusion that they must be correct or would you feel like that’s impossible & something must be wrong here?

    The former. But that’s me & my family. YMMV.

    C’mon, it is highly, highly unlikely that she was unaware of the reportage until the paper called her.

  52. 52
    Jane2 says:

    Mosquitoes are a nuisance. Quack grass is a nuisance. Terrorism is a criminal act.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    Individuals who are “radicalized” and turn to terrorism often already have money woes, job loss, the collapse of relationships, or the onset of psychological symptoms, at the very least depression and anxiety disorders, but often paranoid schizophrenia.

    I always think of the guy who shot up the Al-El counter at LAX back in (I think) 2002. His wife had just left him and taken the kids back to Egypt, he was unemployed, and he staged the attack on his birthday at a place where he knew the security guards had guns and would be willing to kill him.

    But TERRORIST!

  54. 54
    Chris says:

    @Calouste:

    The Luftwaffe didn’t get London down, the IRA didn’t get London down. Don’t be the overreacting neurotic pansies we realized you were in 2001.

    I stumbled across a Miami Vice episode recently where they’re going after an IRA terrorist and Castillo is saddled with a huge douchebag of a British MI5 man, the “kill ’em all and let God sort them out” type that Castillo keeps needing to remind that, you know, there’s this thing called the law and upholding it is kind of the whole point of our job. At one point the Brit does point out “if you don’t like my methods, wait until the day your people are targeted by terrorism” or something like that.

    Watching it twelve years after 9/11, there’s something amusingly quaint about the whole episode.

  55. 55
    Kay says:

    @dollared: My son, who is on lock-down in Brighton, says he’s just some poor schmuck who was breaking in to the wrong place at exactly the wrong time.

  56. 56

    “Nuisance” is the way gun nuts describe mass murders with AR-15s.

    No thanks.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @celticdragonchick:
    I’m not suggesting that the problem is a material one; it’s clear that these people have some kind of hole in their lives that they need to fill. The problem is that people in that position are incredibly vulnerable to recruitment by all kinds of groups who don’t have their best interests in mind. It’s not just religious fanatics, but also drug dealers, grifters, and charlatans of all stripes. It would be a great idea for society as a whole if people in need of help had a place to turn that was guaranteed to have their best interests at heart, not just recruiting for organizations that want to feed on the spiritually vulnerable.

  58. 58
    Unsympathetic says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Once, we had that place to turn – and it was named public mental health services. But in the name of Reagan, those silly free therapy sessions were deemed to not have enough ROI.

  59. 59
    Soonergrunt says:

    Just think of the lives that could be saved if we spent a fraction of our anti-terrorism on monitoring of chemical plants and other corporate malfeasance.

    To say nothing of the fact that monitoring chemical plants and other industrial facilities has a dual purpose of anti-terrorism, as well.

  60. 60
    Trollhattan says:

    @Morzer:

    The hell? For such a tiny state the NH lege provides far more entertainment than you’d think possible.

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @Unsympathetic:

    Well, if such places existed, how would fundiegelical groups ever find recruits? (This is the cause for the fundies’ objection to the entire concept of a welfare state, incidentally).

  62. 62
    greenergood says:

    The photos of the police lockdown – tanks, rambo-type swat teams, wearing thousands of dollars worth of uniforms, helicopters, etc., etc.: imagine if this had happened before 9/11. There would’ve been cop cars and National Guard, maybe even to the level of the final scenes of The Blues Brothers, but that would be it. This level of ‘security’ is part of the million-dollar ‘bounty’ that was bestowed upon state police forces after 9/11 as part of the money-making ‘Homeland Security’ project. Many countries have dealt with terrorist bombings and not closed down a city of a million-plus people. The fact that such a huge security crackdown cannot find a 19-yr-old angry young man with homemade bombs doesn’t inspire much confidence in the multi-million dollar security services. A bit like why have a gawd-knows-how-many-billion-dollar nuclear weapons program when a guy can shut down Boston with a bulk order of pressure cookers?

  63. 63
    Roy G. says:

    @Roger Moore: Don’t forget the MIC, the CIA, the FBI, and Homeland Security. Plenty of True Believers operating in these institutions as well, with the added bonus of government sanction.

  64. 64
    Hoodie says:

    Agree completely. What I hate about these things is that they turn into a massive wankfest and overcompensation. Dancin’ Dave is now opining on the pyschology of the brothers as we watch a bunch of cops driving through suburbia in a tank, looking like they’re getting ready for a firefight with the Taliban instead of a whacked out 19 year old who’s probably wounded or may even be dead. The uncle was right; the kids were losers, they failed to find a place.

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    @greenergood:

    Yeah, I’m only watching out of the corner of my eye, but I find the whole thing surreal. Lockdown of an entire city to catch one criminal? Has this ever been done to catch a murderer before?

  66. 66
    cvstoner says:

    Of course, we will never know what was/is going on in their heads when they planned to do this. But you can’t rule out the fact that they are probably just plain old sociopaths.

    I think one of the questions we have to wrestle with, as a society, is how someone who is only 19 or 20 can become afflicted to the point where blowing up a crowd of people seems like a viable thing to do. It’s one thing for a middle-aged person to do it. But someone who still has the vast majority of their lives ahead of them?

    What did they think was going to happen, that they would blow up Boston, then just move to California for the rest of their lives?

  67. 67
    BGinCHI says:

    Thanks to all for the links to the other terrorist events.

    Goes to show how are reaction to the act is the terror.

  68. 68
    aimai says:

    I like this post but the word nuisance is wrong–as others have pointed out. A better way of thinking about it is “endemic” and “epidemic”–there is a certain level of violence and anger and despair in every society, its endemic to the society and it bursts out among fragile or broken people (as you and others have said) people who don’t have a robust resistance or a safety net or a strong family/community to hold them up and strengthen them in the face of loss or grief or suffering.

    It would be nice if we could treat these issues symptomatically, palliatively, rather than as signs of a larger pathology–they aren’t. These guys could have chosen any one of a jillion reasons to do what they did. They wanted to do it and they found a reason.

  69. 69
    aimai says:

    @Kay:

    Hey, Kay, if you come out to visit your son look me up, I’d love to take you out for coffee.

    aimai

  70. 70
    Susan K of the tech support says:

    @Scott S.:

    I think my lone stipulation with this post would be that radical anything can fill the gaps. Radical Christianity, radical politics, you name it.

    True dat. There’s a continuum on which “radicalized” fits. Here are other markers along it:
    devout, fanatical, radicalized.

    Oh, and youth. With the absence of life experience that comes with it.
    Just thinking of my own teenage years, the crisis of being a child of an alcoholic that, yes, existed before my conversion to Christianity (I’d say that I was, post-conversion, somewhere between devout and fanatical (soft-fanatical). It felt good to belong. (Was I converted to Christianity, or to a new Tribe of some sort?)

    I remember (some years later) having a conversation with someone in my church about how people who convert to Christianity because they need a heavenly father end up needing that heavenly father less once they go to therapy or whatever and learn to cultivate a better parent within themselves. It shocked me at the time, even as I recognized that it fit my experience and observations.

  71. 71
    gvg says:

    My memories of 70’s terrorists is they really seemed to want attention/fame/TV time so I didn’t want to give it to them. Not sure that is as true with current crop but it’s trending more that way (again)

  72. 72
    Chet says:

    Anyway, my view is this: Radicalization is epiphenomenal and opportunistic, and hence not a useful focus of policy response.

    Yes, this is exactly correct. Rare incidents like Boston or Sandy Hook are just that – rare – and we should not allow their particulars to drive policy response.

    But I’m astonished how many people who are agreeing with you are, in another thread, demanding that the particulars of a rare event drive a policy response. I can’t imagine how that kind of inconsistency can be maintained. It must be exhausting.

  73. 73
    Mike D. says:

    Where theee F has Finel been?

    AWOL, that’s where.

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chet:

    Yes, this is exactly correct. Rare incidents like Boston or Sandy Hook are just that – rare – and we should not allow their particulars to drive policy response.

    The “particulars” of the Sandy Hook shooter are not his easy access to guns. They were his social and mental health issues, which may or may not have included schizophrenia and/or autism.

    The “particulars” that we’re not supposed to leap to conclusions about are the “particulars” of if a specific person or personality type would do a mass shooting. The debate about whether people should be allowed to buy guns completely unregistered and unregulated is a separate debate that is much broader than the single case of Sandy Hook, no matter how desperately you try to claim otherwise.

  75. 75
    kc says:

    It is a sad and tragic situation. It is particularly tragic for the victims. But from a societal perspective it is a nuisance.

    Bravo. You sound like Wayne LaPierre talking about the Sandy Hook victims.

  76. 76

    @Mnemosyne: It only just occurred to me that this must be the Chet who used to haunt Pandagon’s comment section.

  77. 77
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Chet: At least 62 mass shootings in the US over the last 30 years. Over 1.3 million deaths from gunfire in the US in the past 45 years. Over 3,500 people killed since Newtown.

    Getting killed by gunfire in the United States is far from rare.

    What’s exhausting is your never-ending mealymouthed bullshit assertions, your disingenuous efforts to conflate one thing with another, and your refusal to link to anything to back up what you say (which you probably learned your lesson when you asserted the worst massacre in Autralia occurred after the Port Arthur gun regulations at Childers Palace, and it turned out you were bullshitting about everything — it was a fire, and the fire killed far fewer.)

    I’m beginning to think you’re a very clever species of concern troll. You often support gun control positions that are the most difficult to enact logistically or politically, culturally or legally, while opposing ones that are far easier to implement. Your MO is to create the most difficult and onerous way to implement them, then declare any suggested solutions to those difficulties are unreasonable.

    Ban all handguns but require women to carry them? You’re for it. And that has a snowball’s chance. So you’re safe, it’s never gonna happen.

    Background checks? Hell no, because what if you lose your records or you gave Billy Bob a rifle as a present or something? Well, why not keep transactions in a database? Nope, because some nefarious gub’mint bureaucrat will use that database to snoop on you and your precious bodily fluids. Well, how can they do that when the background check an FFL dealer does is with information comprising public court records of any felony convictions or restraining orders, which are, you know, public? Nope. Because shut up that’s why.

    It’s a game I think you are doing, purporting to support that which you know will never come to be, while trying to stink up that which very much can come to be.

  78. 78
    mclaren says:

    Once again, Bernard Finel speaks with the voice of reason. It’s easy to deduce that he’ll be showered with acid contempt by the denizens of this forum.

    It’s also worth noting that the second biggest terrorist attack over the last 20 years was perpetrated by three white American-born disaffected misfits, Terry Nichols, Michael Fortier and Timothy McVeigh.

    I don’t anyone talking about “profiling poor white people” and “requiring more identity checks and background checks on white supremacists from the midwest.”

    Finel is exactly right. You can’t predict who will become a terrorist. Radicalization and violent extremism is not confined to any specific ethnic group or political or religious background.

    Moreover, the number of casualties produced by violent extremist attacks in America has been tiny, aside from the Muraugh bombing in 1995 and 9/11 in 2001. Those two incidents are outliers. Terrorism in America is simply not anything anyone has to worry about. You are literally 1,000 times more likely to die from the flu than by a terrorist attack on Americans anywhere in the world.

  79. 79
    Chet says:

    @johnny aquitard:

    Getting killed by gunfire in the United States is far from rare.

    And yet being killed by an assault rifle, during a mass shooting, is incredibly rare. Why is it, then, that an incredibly rare lone-loser bombing makes people like you say “stay calm, we don’t want to unadvisedly give away rights in the heat of emotion”, but an incredibly rare lone-loser shooting makes you say “quick, we need to do something before all the heat of emotion is gone”? I suspect if you had a rational defense, you wouldn’t need to call me names.

    I’m beginning to think you’re a very clever species of concern troll.

    Oh, you really think I’m clever?

    You often support gun control positions that are the most difficult to enact logistically or politically, culturally or legally, while opposing ones that are far easier to implement.

    Really? How “easy” was it to implement Toomey-Manchin? Despite the fact that it was almost completely a giveaway to the gun lobby, your “common sense” gun control – which is already law of the land almost everywhere – couldn’t get the votes. How much good would it have done? Even its supporters conceded that it was entirely symbolic – its ban on “assault rifles” was only a ban on certain cosmetic features, its magazine limits didn’t apply to the millions of magazines already in circulation, its “Gun Owner Stalker Enabling Act” background check requirement already impossible to enforce in the states where it’s already the law. The fact that Sandy Hook happened in Connecticut – where every element of your gun control platform was already existing law – proves how bereft your “common sense” gun control really is. Oh, but blame Reid and the NRA and the filibuster, and never mind that there really is empirical evidence that these measures aren’t effective, if you care to look.

    We really need new ideas in the gun control arena, and I look around and nobody’s coming up with any but me. Are they great ideas? Probably not, but then again I’m not very good at it. But at least I’m not sitting here, lying about the current state of the law like Mnemosyne and patting myself on the back for supporting the same hopeless, useless gun “control” measures that everybody else is.

  80. 80
    Chet says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    They were his social and mental health issues, which may or may not have included schizophrenia and/or autism.

    So what did Toomey-Manchin do about schizophrenia or autism? Anything? Or was it too busy giving away the farm to the NRA all in exchange for measures even its defenders admitted were symbolic?

  81. 81
    mclaren says:

    @greenergood:

    The fact that such a huge security crackdown cannot find a 19-yr-old angry young man with homemade bombs doesn’t inspire much confidence in the multi-million dollar security services.

    Which leads us to the logical conclusion that we should scale back the absurdly authoritarian post-9/11 police state features of post-9/11 America. They are useless.

  82. 82
    Chet says:

    @Cris (without an H): “Used to”? No, I still post there. (Mnemosyne used to lie about me there, too.)

  83. 83
    mclaren says:

    @Chet:

    Mnemosyne lies about nearly everything, nearly everywhere. She’s nothing if not predictable.

  84. 84
    Chet says:

    @mclaren: You know, and I always keep forgetting it’s a woman. That level of unhinged and aggressive dishonesty is usually a male trait.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chet:

    So what did Toomey-Manchin do about schizophrenia or autism? Anything? Or was it too busy giving away the farm to the NRA all in exchange for measures even its defenders admitted were symbolic?

    It didn’t do anything about schizophrenia or autism, which is my point.

    @mclaren:

    You do realize you’re taking the side of an NRA troll, right?

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