Yesterday as I was watching Fox News, I heard a small but sharp explosion and the clatter of plastic shrapnel. The batteries in my VCR remote, which I last remember replacing sometime in college, decided that they’d had enough. A cursory examination of the debris showed the batteries were supposed to expire in 2012, with the Mayan calendar. But no, these AA’s wanted to suicide-bomb their way into battery heaven, where presumably they are recharged by seventy virgin AAA’s every night.
It brought home the point that terrorists (if we choose to define them as such) are everywhere, and they’re not just Arabs, to the chagrin of racists everywhere. Part of the problem here is that we’re supposedly waging, in the words of Terry Jones, “a war on an abstract noun,” i.e., “terror.” Well, if that’s what we’re doing, it can’t just be a war on one particular group of loosely-knit terrorists, but on terrorism and intimidation-by-violence everywhere, no?
Let us turn, briefly, to that racist for all seasons, Debbie Schlussel:
An unnamed 23-year-old man from Canton, Michigan—a Detroit suburb near Dearbornistan with a large Muslim population composed primarily of Pakis, er . . . Pakistanis—should be among this year’s candidates for the Darwin awards. He and his friends created homemade bombs using gunpowder and tennis and ping-pong balls. The unnamed man almost lost one of his hands from an explosion from one of the bombs, Sunday. He and his friends were throwing the bombs onto the road from the side of a truck.
More from the Canton Eagle:
A night of hurling improvised cherry bombs from a pickup truck ended poorly for one Canton resident on Sunday night. According to Canton Police, a 23-year-old man sought treatment at Oakwood Healthcare Center on Canton Center Road after a Ping-Pong ball filled with a chemical compound exploded in his hand.
Sgt. Rick Pomorski said the man and two friends learned how to make the devices, which were also made using tennis balls, on the Internet.
“Playing with explosives is a very risky behavior,” he said. “It only takes one mistake and you could lose life or limb.”
The injury to the man’s right hand was extensive, said Pomorski, who has encountered this type of incident before.
… Since Muslim terrorists are generally more clandestine—and occasionally more clever—than that, looking for the best way to hurt the most infidels and not get caught, the man and his buddies might not be Muslims. But who knows? We know how the media generally tries to shield the “Religion of Peace,” from any and all crimes—like the Trolley Square terrorist in Utah, the UNC jeep jihadist in Raleigh, NC, the Seattle Jewish Community Center terrorist, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Maybe calling Debbie a racist is a little extreme. Is it really “racist” to hear about a crime in the news and immediately assume that it was committed by a particular minority? Oh… right, it is. Anyway, I submit to Ms. Schlussel: are you prepared to accept that this incident is significant no matter which way the matter of the perp’s ethnicity turns out? Because if he turns out to be a redneck Baptist, I’m going to officially stop calling Christianity the Religion of Peace. Same deal if he’s a Jain or Buddhist. Clearly, Debbie is betting that her powers of prognostication will bear out and this guy will be Muslim, but what has she bet against, exactly?
I’m prepared to accept that this incident is significant in the war on terror, by the way, no matter if he’s from Lahore or Laramie. This person clearly has problems, no matter his background. Being effective in any sort of war on terror, if we’re to take this phrase seriously, means preventing terrorist or pseudo-terrorist attacks on civilians regardless of the political affiliation of the assailants.
It’s strange to think that only a decade ago, it was the Democrats who had the Republicans over a barrel on this issue. After the Oklahoma City bombing, Clinton cracked down on domestic terrorism from right-wing militias and many GOP members were raising concerns about civil liberties and profiling and so forth. You couldn’t buy fertilizer in sufficient quantities for a family farm without getting a visit from the FBI in those days.
If we’re REALLY going to start profiling, we could talk about the history of domestic terrorism, which is not great for white people, from the Ku Klux Klan, the militias, Operation Rescue and the anti-abortion killers, organized crime and so forth.
And then there’s the elephant in the room, the spree killing. Traditionally, terrorism is defined as having a political component, to distinguish it from aimless psychopathy. But that isn’t really a practical distinction when it comes to securing a campus or a workplace—no matter what their manifestos say, the goals of a random psychopath and a politically motivated psychopath are practically the same.
I’ve been wanting to write about the Virginia Tech shootings for a while. I wanted to wait for an appropriate amount of time Many people have pointed out that Iraq, for example, experiences the equivalent of a VT shooting every day.
That’s why I want to talk about VT’s associate vice president for university relations, Larry Hincker. Did anyone else catch the press conference he gave a few days after the shootings? His remarks were basically to the effect of, “get off my lands, you media vultures!” It was a terrible, yet beautiful moment.
I just spell-checked Hincker’s name on Google and it brought me to a blog post at Uncommon Sense and, coincidentally, my next point. This is some of what Uncommon Sense has to say about Hincker:
Well, it seems like the moron himself feels qualified to write on these matters. The only real difference between his screed and the thousands of imbecilic screeds like it is that he bet against the odds of being proved stupid, and lost. Guns don’t belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same. Well, mutherfucker, your “sound policy” and $3.50 will get you a latte at Starbucks, you brainless and dangerous shithead.
I suppose if you take the pro-firearm argument to a logical extreme, restricting the Second Amendment rights of the mentally ill is unconstitutional and unconscionable. After all, the more paranoid you are, the greater your self-defense needs, right?
Gun advocates say we’d be safer if everyone was armed. Fair enough—why don’t we test that assertion before we go off half cocked there, buddy? It’s a fairly simple social experiment, which I will offer to any sociology student as long as I get credited for the idea.
All you need to do is set up a classroom or workplace-themed first-person shooter game. Then invite college students (or high school kids, if you’re a real gun nut) to play for a few hours, arming them with as many virtual weapons as they can carry. The students will be told there may be a spree killer and/or suicide bomber on the loose somewhere on campus. Not every character will be controlled by a player or be armed.
In test A, there will be one player at random will be assigned to play the serial killer. In test B, one student will play a suicide bomber. Test C will function as the control scenario, where no player will be assigned a malicious role.
So, how many people will ultimately end up getting shot? This blogger already wants to launch another Wilmington Insurrection because a “bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus” didn’t pass the Virginia legislature over the objections of police officers and school officials:
I can think of about 64 parents, 108 grandparents, and who knows how many siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles that ought to be righteously securing many pounds of flesh among the pond scum, douche bags, and ass wipes peopling the Virginia “House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety.”
Yeah, nice job of helping your fellow gun owners prove you’re uniformly well-adjusted.* How long before someone gets bored or annoyed or misfires their weapon (in real life)?
Unlike Schlussel and her ilk, I’m prepared to accept any outcome, even though I hypothesize a bad one. As I’ve said previously, you’re not going to get rid of guns in America. But you can at least educate people about them. Because if you’re going to argue that arming everyone is more effective than metal detectors, you’ve got to prove it to me.
the solution to the war in Iraq may be political, but it’s on the home front that conservatives are more right than they think. When it comes to domestic terrorism, there will always be some people who ‘hate America’ no matter what we do, in the sense that there are always some maladjusted citizens who want to go out and kill a bunch of Americans and terrorize the populace.
What’s effective against terrorists is an evolving defensive strategy, not the prosecution of illegal wars abroad. There was all this talk about there being a danger Al-Qaeda would get ideas from the VT shooter. How about the reverse? How about the home-grown terrorist groups of the future (or even the present)?
*Hey, does this qualify as a legitimate threat assuming this guy is actually armed? I don’t really think so, but it’s something we’re supposedly all going to have to consider in this post Virginia Tech atmosphere, isn’t it? Only joking!