Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Psycho Killer, Qu'est Que C'est

Why would anyone attempt to score cheap political points off of a senseless mass killing?

This sicko, Cho Seung-Hui, he did something that is by its very nature inexplicable. If we could thoroughly comprehend the random killing of 32 strangers, if this guy's nonsensical ramblings and bloodlust were perfectly understandable to us sane people, then we would be a very different species. And we probably wouldn't have survived together for more than a couple of weeks. Instead of building a civilization together, our ancestors would have been locked in an endless carnage loop, like a Robert Rodriguez movie starring an all Cro-Magnon cast.

Some of us, very few when you get right down to it, are just deeply fucked up. Sideways. Empty. And there's no way to know whether you have a garden-variety harmless lunatic or a real raving psycho on your hands until they start discharging handguns on campus. This is a scary truth, and though it's the only rational conclusion you can make when these sorts of things (or Columbine...or that Amish school thing...) happen, for some, it's all too much uncertainty to handle. They have to retreat into comfortable frameworks and easy answers.

Dr. Phil, for example, wants to blame video games. (Thanks to Oliver Willis for this link.)

“The problem is we are programming these people as a society. You cannot tell me - common sense tells you - that if these people are playing video games where they’re on a mass killing spree in a video game, it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath, or someone suffering from mental illness, add in a dose of rage, the suggestability is just too high. And we’re going to have to start dealing with that. We’re going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murderers of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.”

Curse you, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. First, I can't manage to unlock the playable Silver Surfer or Nick Fury characters, and now it turns out that you caused The Virginia Tech Massacre! I am totally sending Joe Quesada an angry e-mail.

Anyway, you see my point. We don't even know if Cho Seung-Hui even liked video games. Maybe he preferred Magic: The Gathering. Or ripping the heads off small animals, like another well-known sociopath. Dr. Phil just has a prior agenda, selling bullshit to suburban moms by playing to their prejudices against video games, rap music and Hollywood movies, and he's now trying to incorporate 32 deaths into his overall message.

Think about that...He's using the Virginia Tech shooting as branding. For him, it's a marketing strategy. What a charming, folksy guy he is!

But that's not the dumbest thing I've read today on the blogosphere. Not by a long-shot.

It's a three-way run-off for Stupidest Reaction to the Virginia Tech Massacre story and McGraw ain't even in the running.

Just a quick proviso before we get to the loopiness...All three of the individuals to whom I'm about to link are certifiably insane. Again, I'd stress that we're talking about degrees of insanity here. Pam Oshrey of Atlas Shrugs is crazy, but crazy in a "make nonsensical rants on your video blog" kind of way. She's hurting our national discourse, but probably not actual human beings (I hope.) Anyway, I'm just saying...I know these people are crazy and not worth engaging. I'm just shocked at how low our national dialogue sinks on occasion and felt that I'd share.

On to the Nutsanity!

In a series of URGENT BREAKING NEWS-style posts at her blog, Pam alerts us that Cho Seung-Hui had the phrase "Ismail Ax" written on his arm in red ink when his body was found.

What could this cryptic phrase mean?

THE KILLER'S NOTE WAS SIGNED ISMAIL AX (FOX news). It would certainly explain the delay in releasing is name. In the note he was railing against "debauchery" and "rich kids."

The Father of the Prophets

He said to the statues, joking; then with his ax he destroyed all the statues except one, ... Ibrahim and Ismail kept on calling people to worship Allah.

Notice how Pam immediately jumps to the conclusion that Ismail Ax must have something to do with Allah, even though this guy was Korean and there is no previous indication that he had any Muslim ties or sympathies? That's called "having a bullshit agenda and hoping that news of some horrible tragedy will fit in with your previously-formed beliefs." This makes you an "opportunist" or, in slightly more blunt terms, "a scumbag."

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, this is precisely the charge Pam and her fellow shrill Right-wing weirdos are always lobbing at us anti-war types. We secretly hate the troops and desperately hope for the United States to fail so that we can gloat about how right we are.

Of course, when tragedies befall American troops in the field or Iraqi civilians, there is rarely if ever actual gloating and excited enthusiasm on the homefront. But when a random asshole kills a bunch of people in a big, public place? HEY, WAIT, MAYBE IT'S A MOOSLIM AND OUR ANXIETY AND WARMONGERING WILL FINALLY BE REDEEMED! And then, even when it doesn't pan out, they still cling to the ever-diminishing hope that maybe...just maybe...the bad guy will turn out to be a Muslim terrorist after all.

But if you think Pam's reaction was gross and uncalled-for, you obviously haven't met Debbie Schlussel, or as the Sadly No crew have taken to calling her, the CostCo Coulter. (Totally awesome, guys...Totally awesome.) This lady is straight-up depraved.

Here's her reaction to the Pam "Ismail Ax" revelation:

Hmmm . . . Ismail--the Arabic name for Ishmael--considered the father of all Arabs and a very important figure in Islam.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, right? Doesn't mean anything. Right.

Maybe "Ismail Ax" is the name of a friend of his. Or maybe he wanted to remind himself to buy an Ax for his friend Ismail for next Ramadan. Or I'm sure we'll hear some other similarly absurd "explanation." We'll see.

You've got to love complete, ignorant conjecture followed by absolute certainty. "Hey, Ismail...Kind of sounds like Ishmael...Wonder if they're related. Oh, and anyone who says they're not must be, by definition, full of donkey shit!"

In this post, she compares a heroic Jew who gave his life at VTU protecting his students with a Palestinian student who videotaped the tragedy. What do they have in common? Well, the Jew was clearly behaving with bravery and the Palestinian was more of a bystander. Therefore, Jews are better than Palestinians, obviously!

Debbie's actually cleared up some posts she made early on, after reports had surfaced that only an "Asian male" was responsible for the killings. At the time, Debbie went on and on about how he was probably a "Paki," and therefore a Muslim, and therefore the killings were a form of jihad, and therefore all the dumb shit she's said for the past five years that's totally wrong would magically be changed to totally correct. But, of course, the guy was South Korean, so she's taken out some of the more obviously racist implications. There's still enough there to provide her with potentially years of embarassment.

(By the by, I've always understood actually going back and deleting old inaccuracies as a big-time blogger no-no. Aren't we supposed to, in the interest of intellectual honesty, strike through corrected mistakes, or at least print clear Updates that explain the changes and why they were needed? Not sure how long this will last, but you can still see both versions of her post thanks to the magic of Printer-Friendly Versions. Here's the offensive original headline and the modified second draft.)

In this post, she takes offense to the Washington Post's photo depicting female mourners in headscarves. Because it humanizes possible Muslims, I guess...

Anyway, I would say that Debbie's incredibly crass hate-speech is the easy winner...were it not for a staggering, jaw-dropping bit of buffoonery from John Derbyshire at the National Review Online. I know I say this all the time...but this is one of the most asinine things I have read on the Internet...EVER! Here's The Derb's post in its entirety:

As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.

Take a run at the guy? The kill-crazy maniac who's running around campus shooting people? First of all, on what basis in Derbyshire guessing the killer's aim matches his own? The guy had to have at least reasonable aim...He killed 32 people with two handguns.

But beyond that, is it even remotely reasonable to expect people, in the midst of that kind of chaotic horror, to morph into John fucking McClane and take the guy out? That's how movies work, not life. Maybe Derbyshire thinks himself capable of making those kind of split-second grim calculations.

"Let's see. There's a 67% chance that I'll die if I do nothing, but only a 74% chance that I'll die if I lunge for the gun, but that would give me a 13% chance of earning the key to the city from the Mayor...So if I leap into a strong head-wind going at a 35-degree angle coming from the Southeast, I should be able to..."

I mean, it's happening fast and you don't know exactly what's going on and there's a guy shooting and people yelling and blood...You just want to get the hell out of there. No one's getting ready to go all Chuck Norris on the guy. If fucking Chuck Norris had been lecturing at Virginia Tech that day ("Greasy Ignorant Fuckstains 214B: Case Studies and Field Work"), he would have hid behind a shrub and wet his pants. Movie violence is fun, but real world violence is scary.

Maybe I'd take Derbyshire's protestations of bravery under fire if he didn't look like such a weenie.

It's like if Brian Posehn were a Holocaust survivor or something. Gross...

Anyway, indulging in a masturbatory, self-aggrandizing comic book vigilante fantasy is clearly the dumbest possible reaction to the Virginia Tech shooting case. So I guess John Derbyshire wins the prize...

THE 2007 BRAFFY AWARD! You bastards thought I'd forgotten, didn't you! Ha ha ha!


Sharkbait said...

Awesome. Will I ever stop being a fan? No, I think not. Not when you just tell it like it is.

Great post.

drummer510 said...

Did you his videos that he sent to NBC? fuckin crazy, it's seems like too much though. It's like an "orgy of evidence", which are a con according to Minority Report, right?

It's terrible that this country has already started the blame game. Fucked up dude.

Peter L. Winkler said...

This shooter had what I call a bad brain. There was something inherent in his psychology that led to this and no amount of teention, sympathy and therapy would have prevented him from doing something malicious. He was unfixable.

"Why would anyone attempt to score cheap political points off of a senseless mass killing?"

Rhetorical question, is it not? Those you refer to are shameless parasites who address every subject by pulling the same talking points from a playbook designed to hit certain buttons in their audience.

Lons said...

In a way, PLW, all questions posed within my blog posts are rhetorical.

But in another way, I'm genuinely perplexed by why this Schlussel idiot or anyone else would attempt to spin a tragedy like this into a talking point, for the simple reason that it never works, ever. All remotely rational people recoil in horror at the use of the VT massacre as a "teaching moment."

So I guess my answer is that Schlussel and Oshrey are targeting an inherently irrational audience, one so simple-minded that they won't have that reaction. But then it seems like you could just argue ANYTHING, regardless of what's happening in the world, once you've agreed that it's solely designed to persuade fools and rubes.

Konrad said...

Why do you Americans still not ban weapons for the people like most other civilized country?
Or forget your fear and do lock yourself into your houses in the suburbs?