Guns

Big News Events Make Blatherers of Us All

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The New Yorker, reputedly one of America's smartest magazines, exemplifies (and not always in a bad way) some of the incoherence created amongst the chattering (and, alas, governing) classes with big news events that seems to DEMAND REACTION!! and yet are at the same time either too impossibly overdetermined or too obvious–like the decision by one deluded ass to open fire on a crowd–for there to be much fresh, interesting, or relevant to say, or do.

First, George Packer takes one tack. Of course, gajillions both in media and at parties (and at a country/folk show I saw Saturday night, and in any bajillions of social networking posts) were quick to blame Palin-esque anti-Democratic Party politician rhetoric for directly inspiring Loughner's crime. We know for a certainty now that whatever "influenced" Loughner it wasn't that.

And stressing that b.s. point isn't harmless rhetoric either–because attempts to quell political speech are far more popular and far more frequent than attempts to shoot up crowds. So Packer starts off admitting that, sure, there really isn't any connection between Loughner and political rhetoric. But let's use Loughner as an attempt to condemn political rhetoric anyway, because, well, it's always time to condemn political rhetoric! Packer's conclusion: "The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America's political frequencies are full of violent static." He might as well have written, "The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, Americans consume too much high fructose corn syrup."

You can call this parasitic commentary. It doesn't say anything about the event or anything legitimately connected to the event. Rather, it illegitimately hijacks our interest and passion in the event to command our attention, and aim our emotions and anger about it where he wants to aim–while maintaining intellectual respectability of a minimal level by admitting up front there's no connection at all.

Another even zanier, and by implication more damaging, such attempt at parastic commentary in New Yorker is from Jill Lepore, promisingly headlined "Jared Lee Loughner and the Constitution." What erudite and unusual line of thought connects these two disparate topics? Read on!

You see, Ms. Lepore has an article about the current uses of the Constitution in political rhetoric in the new New Yorker that she'd apparently like you to read. And she heard that:

In September police had to remove him from a classroom at Pima Community College, after he called the syllabus "unconstitutional" and delivered what his professor called "a rant about the Constitution." In December he posted on YouTube a statement reading, "The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution."

So, there you go. I don't hold blog posts to the standard of fully thought out articles, but honestly, there is not only no thought here, there is absolutely nothing worth noting except in the most cynical parasitic bandwagon jumping: "I know everyone is thinking about Loughner this week and not the Constitution. But Loughner mentioned the Constitution once!" The article is either making an extremely shaky and sinister "connection" implicitly–that questioning our current leaders' or citizens' understanding of or fealty to the Constitution is a sign of violent insanity–or it was absolutely meaningless.

Elsewhere at The New Yorker, Ian Crouch takes on "The Language and Literature of Jared Lee Loughner," and realizes all you can rationally get out of it is a confused, conflicted, deranged jumble, nothing to hang any politicized blame on. As he sums up, quoting Laura Miller at Salon, trying to find meaning in it is the usual mental exercise of irrational types such as Loughner himself:

Laura Miller has an incisive piece at Salon about what we can and cannot learn from what Loughner listed on his YouTube profile page as his favorite books, titles that range from "Peter Pan" to "Mein Kampf." Most of the list looks like that of any American schoolkid in his early twenties: "Nineteen Eighty-Four," "Fahrenheit 451," "To Kill A Mockingbird." (Absent, as Miller notes, is "The Catcher in the Rye.") As to political content, the presence of "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto" has been fodder for folks on both the left and the right, evidence that Loughner is a Nazi, white-supremacist, a liberal, or a socialist—namely, a member of some other fringe group. Miller rightly insists that this list is less important to consider than Loughner's manifest mental instability, and diagnoses members of the press with a similar kind of madness: "By studying Loughner's book list for clues to the political leanings that somehow "drove" him to commit murder, commentators are behaving a lot like crazy people themselves."

Crazy people, yes, but also people with a felt professional and political obligation to speak when there is not much to be said.

NEXT: Reason on TV: Matt Welch on Judge Nap's Freedom Watch and FNC's Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld Tonight

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  1. blather, blather. There.I said it.

  2. I oppose the wars also, but this is another example of his non-right-wing-conservative thought:

    Jared Loughner’s Anti-War Views

    1. Not so fast. From that, all we know is that he opposed the wars in 2010, when Barack Obama was commander-in-chief. So he probably opposed the wars because he’s a racist teabagger.

      I don’t have any evidence for that, but, well, you know it’s true.

  3. Wait a minute.. Loughner is kinda like Lochner (v New York), where that evil Supreme Court overturned progress!!

    1. “I know everyone is thinking about Loughner this week and not the Constitution. But Loughner mentioned the Constitution once!

      And you know who else mentioned the Constitution once? Hitler!

      At least, I’m pretty sure he did…

  4. “We have absolutely no evidence of a connection between Loughlin’s shooting and Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or conservatism generally, but please allow us to bamboozle you into making that inference.”

  5. Packer’s conclusion: “The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America’s political frequencies are full of violent static.”

    “Ok, who cares about what drove that guy? Tea partiers are evil! There!”

    “In September police had to remove him from a classroom at Pima Community College, after he called the syllabus ‘unconstitutional’ and delivered what his professor called ‘a rant about the Constitution.’ In December he posted on YouTube a statement reading, ‘The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of Americas Constitution.’

    “You said ‘bomb’!”
    “No, I said ‘it is not like I have a bomb’!”
    “There! You said ‘bomb’! Can’t do that!”
    “But it is just a word! Bomb, bomb, bo-bo-bo-bomb!”

    Meet The Parents

    1. If we feel the need to have a debate about the tone of political debate, fine I guess, but not now.

      I don’t have a problem with telling both sides to cool it with the violent imagery, but without some distance, the narrative will emerge (or remain) that imagery/rhetoric from *conservatives* was a contributing cause for this shooting when, again, there’s no evidence to support that. If the argument is that Palin or Angle are partially and indirectly at fault for contributing to a poisonous political climate, well, then everyone is more or less equally at fault. Our president is the Asskicker-in-Chief who talks about pulling out a gun when engaging with political opponents, and describes those political opponents as “enemies.” That’s part of the political climate. Andrew Sullivan’s relentless amateur obstetrics practice is part of the political climate. A DailyKos diary stating that Giffords “is dead to me” is part of the political climate. Keith Olbermann calling average Republicans “the worst person in the world” is part of the political climate. *Any* of these things could trip the psychotic mind to do *anything*.

      1. It’s okay when WE do it.

          1. Now, you boys play nice!

            1. the empty pales do make the most noise…

  6. “By studying Loughner’s book list for clues to the political leanings that somehow ‘drove’ him to commit murder, commentators are behaving a lot like crazy people themselves.

    Not crazy… no.

    Unhinged, I would say. More accurate.

    1. Hmm. Now why would the New Yorker be so concerned with telling us not to scour Loughner’s book list for clues to his political leanings?

      1. I’d bet $3.50 the New Yorker was against the Patriot Act being used to snoop on library-checkout records…

        1. Long as you don’t go givin’ no t’ree-fiddy to no Loch Ness Monster!

    2. “By studying Loughner’s book list for clues to the political leanings that somehow ‘drove’ him to commit murder, commentators are behaving a lot like crazy people themselves.”

      So the meme is in concrete now. Certain political leanings will drive you to commit murder.

  7. (Absent, as Miller notes, is “The Catcher in the Rye.”)

    So Loughner had somerestrained taste in literature.

  8. And stressing that b.s. point isn’t harmless rhetoric either

    Indeed. If anything explains the heated, instantaneous and baseless blame-Palin rants, its a wish to incite violence against her. That much seems pretty obvious at this point.

    1. Hey, if something happens to Palin, we’ll be *snicker* just as upset as we are *chuckle* over this shooting.

  9. “Palin-esque anti-Democratic Party politician rhetoric for directly inspiring Loughner’s crime. We know for a certainty now that whatever ‘influenced’ Loughner it wasn’t that.”

    Not so fast there, right-wingers!

    1. TRUCKNUTZ!

      1. ARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!

        1. If Loughner had even heard one tiny snippet of Rush Limbaugh, even in passing, it might have had an effect on his behavior. So, we can’t discount it entirely.

          1. anyone who isn’t on the left, is a Reich-wing Christ-fag, so approximately half of American voters should be on FBI shit-lists.

            1. Sounds good to me, shrike.

              1. Way ahead of you, Big Sis.

                *snicker*

          2. So how does the fine editors at Media Matters, Huff Po etc. keep themselves from committing murder after listening to his show so they can misquote, um, I mean report on it?

    2. IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT!!!ONE!1!WON!!

      1. Pikers. You right-wingers at DU ought to be ashamed to call yourselves “progressives”. *snort*

        1. What about us?

    3. Externalities!

  10. reputedly one of America’s smartest magazines

    I guess that depends on who you ask about the magazines reputation.

    1. There’s another apostrophe that belongs in there somewhere.

      1. If you’re going to correct your grammar, you might wish to use “whom” instead of “who” as well. :-p

    2. Well, they did used to have a cover mascot wearing a top hat and a monocle…

  11. …or were they opera glasses? Shit, *I* need glasses.

  12. “did used”

    ACK! Where’s my Glock?

    1. No way you’re getting THAT back, right-wing assassin!

  13. “You can call it parasitic commentary.”
    but most people call it propaganda…

  14. (Absent, as Miller notes, is “The Catcher in the Rye.”)

    There were a lot of shitty books not in his list

  15. Guns don’t shoot people, libertarians and conservatives do.

    1. Guns don’t kill people… the government does.

      1. And certainly no progressive has ever killed a congresscritter.

        1. i had an argument on DU about this. people were actually claiming that jim jones couldn’t be a liberal or progressive, despite metric assloads of evidence because…

          well…

          no liberal would organize that mass suicide. loberials don’t do things like that.

          apparently, the no true scotsman fallacy is alive and well

      2. Guns don’t kill people, rappers do
        So do the police
        Woo woo woo!

  16. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t true. The fact is it’s been said enough times in the last two days, that he will always be known as “right-wing assassin Jared Loughner”.

      1. What part do you disagree with?

  17. “We have no further news. Stay tuned for our one-hour update!”

  18. Hey, wait a minute. Has anyone seen Sarah Palin and Jared Loughner together?

    1. No, but I have confirmed that Sarah Palin weighs as much as a duck.

  19. “And, as you can clearly see in Frame 38, there is a buffont and the glint of rimless eyeglasses peeking from behind the grassy knoll. Then, the merest wisp of gun smoke and (bam!)pandemonium ensues as multiple shots are heard on the film.

    I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, WHO was hiding behind the grassy knoll? WHO ELSE may have had a hand in this unspeakable crime? Was Jared Loughner a lone assassin, or was he one part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy?”

    1. Glint of rimless eyeglass more likely. Remembered to take off the top-hat but not the monocle.

  20. two type of habit , good or bad , we are decided which one we choose are life ways .here mention how to loss our life if we choose wrong decision .

  21. don’t have a problem with telling both sides to cool it with the violent imagery, but without some distance, the narrative will emerge (or remain) that imagery/rhetoric from *conservatives* was a contributing cause for this shooting when, again, there’s no evidence to support that. ???? ??? ???? ???? ?????? ???????? ??????? If the argument is that Palin or Angle are partially and indirectly at fault for contributing to a poisonous political climate, well, then everyone is more or less equally at fault. Our president is the Asskicker-in-Chief who talks about pulling out a gun when engaging with political opponents, and describes those political opponents as “enemies.” That’s part of the political climate. Andrew Sullivan’s relentless amateur obstetrics practice is part of the political climate. A DailyKos diary stating that Giffords “is dead to me” is part of the political climate. Keith Olbermann calling average Republicans “the worst person in the world” is part of the political climate. *Any* of these things could trip the psychotic mind to do

  22. age as his favorite books, titles that range from “Peter Pan” to “Mein Kampf.” Most of the list looks like that of any American schoolkid in his early twenties: “Nineteen Eighty-Fou

  23. ent than attempts to shoot up crowds. So Packer starts off admitting that, sure, there really isn’t any connection between Loughner and political rhetoric. But let’s use Loughner

  24. there really isn’t any connection between Loughner and political rhetoric. But let’s use Loughner as an

  25. ent than attempts to shoot up crowds. So Packer starts off admitting that, sure, there really isn’t any connection between Loughner and political rhetoric. But let’s use Loughner as

  26. because attempts to quell political speech are far more popular and far more frequent than

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