San Bernardino Shooting

Don't Blame the San Bernardino Shooting on Political Correctness

'See something, say something' vs. 'mind your own business'



Should we be blaming deference to political correctness and excessive sensitivity for allowing—or at least, failing to stop—the San Bernardino shooting? Many pundits are saying so, but their reasoning takes us to a place where everyone's lives would be worse.

The signs were there: ISIS-pledged Islamic radicals Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik appeared to be plotting something, but at least one person says he was afraid to speak up for fear of being labelled an anti-Muslim bigot. National Review's David French opined that this shows us the high cost of political correctness:

As my wife points out over at Patheos, this is "Clock Boy" thinking. "If you see something, say something" has been transformed into "if you see something — especially suspicious Middle Easterners — say nothing." Otherwise you might be the focus of a social-media shame-storm and a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. In this case, saying nothing meant the authorities didn't discover Syed Farook's home-based "IED factory" until after 14 Americans were dead and 17 were injured

Let's be clear: "If you see something, say something" doesn't violate any person's rights, and there is nothing wrong with acting on a hunch that something feels a bit off. Political correctness has nothing to do with reality, and often the best eyes and ears for law enforcement are the people who know a neighborhood and are able to recognize unusual events. If ISIS or al-Qaeda established a program designed to decrease American vigilance, they couldn't do any better than the Left's hashtagging and public shaming. Responsible citizens should ignore the scolds and have the courage to do the right thing.

In a Fox News segment, French's colleague Katherine Timpf made a similar point (albeit in reference to a separate incident, in Britain):

If you see something, you should say something to keep people safe. It should be more important to keep people safe than to be politically correct.

Obviously, it's unfortunate that no one reported Farook and Malik to the authorities, thus preventing their attack. We are now enjoying all the benefits of hindsight, so it's easy to say that whatever obstacles got in the way of stopping the murderous couple should never have existed in the first place. I don't want the possibility of public shaming to stop people from doing the right thing, in the event that calling the cops is the right thing to do. Nobody wants that.

But let's be honest: most Muslims who go to the gun range, or have lots of Muslim visitors, are not planning terrorist attacks. Suspicion would be ill-founded. Nancy French says that we've succumbed to "Clock Boy thinking," but clock boy was innocent—the cops were wrong to detain him.

Sometimes, knee-jerk suspicions are valid. But a lot of other times, they are not. Consider child services investigations. Are children occasionally in actual danger at home, necessitating police intervention? Certainly. But well-meaning strangers (and less-than-well-meaning ex-husbands/wives/relatives) call the cops all the time in situations where the kids are perfectly healthy and safe. These interventions have a cost of their own: kids get taken away from responsible, loving parents; mothers and fathers go to jail and pay huge fines; families are split up. "If you see something, say something" has a certain allure in the wake of a mass shooting, but "mind your own business" still seems like an appreciably wiser rule of thumb.

I don't mean to defend political correctness—in fact, I write constantly about how ideologically-motivated PC concerns are shutting down the presumption of free expression at college campuses. But in a sense, this phenomenon is the exact opposite of the thing French et al are complaining about. On campuses, political correctness means that everyone who says something problematic is presumed to have malicious intentions. Political correctness assumes the worst in people: everyone is racist, or sexist, or bigoted, or homophobic, even when their transgressions are trivial.

Political correctness in the San Bernardino context appears to mean assuming the best in people—taking for granted that most people aren't planning a terrorist attack. And I don't really think we want to live in a country where that kind of political correctness is destroyed—even if it seems to have been a bad thing, in this specific case.

NEXT: Which Watchlist Would They Use to Deny Gun Rights? And Are They Even Confined to a List?

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  1. If you see something, fuck off.

    1. I like it. Are there hats or t-shirts available?

      1. Stuck in customs. I got a good deal from Pakistan.

  2. I’m really starting to dislike this David French character.

    1. David French has never met an authoritarian overreach that he couldn’t excuse.

      1. His defense of that resource cop that flung a student half way across the class room was appalling.

        1. He defended the bombing of the MSF hospital.

    2. I’m still laughing my ass off about his Quentin Tarantino hissy fit.

      1. Haha I just read that. What a whiny little jerk that guy is. He’s a pusillanimous lawr-n-odor chickenhawk. He’s like Jeannie Bueller only not near as hot as Jennifer Grey and even Charlie Sheen wouldn’t make out with him.

  3. It depends on what your definition of “something” is.

  4. Just throwing out my personal count: I’ve heard more stories this week on anti-muslim rhetoric and violence than I have about the San Bernardino shootings.

    1. It’s grating isn’t it?

    2. Yeah, and it is all from CAIR and the attorney for Farook’s family.
      The fact is that there is that there may be alot of anti-Muslim rhetoric on derpbook. But this supposed wave of anti-Muslim violence hasn’t happened. Shit every time we hear about anti-Muslim violence, it turns out it was one of the Muslims doing it as an honor killing or it is an outright fraud.

      1. I’m willing to bet there’s more anti-semitic rhetoric and violent acts against Jews.

        1. I will have to check but I believe the last time I saw the FBI statistics, that was true.

        2. According to official statistics (for what that’s worth), 57% of religious hate crimes are directed at Jews, only 16% at Muslims.

    3. Based on prior historical events (generally under Democratic administrations), the media is worried about mistreatment against innocent minorities who are scapegoated for the actions of the guilty.

      But it’s got to the point that whenever there’s a terrorist atrocity, it seems the headline is Muslim Community Fears Backlash.

      When this stuff gets to the point where they call jihadist attacks “workplace violence,” the American people know they’re being snowed. And insulted – “you are too bigoted to handle the truth, so we’ll just try to soothe you with misdirection and denial.”

      This is the stuff Trump feeds off of.

      If *everything* short of fellatio is anti-Muslim bigotry, then *nothing* is. May as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, etc. To vary the metaphor, it’s the boy who cried wolf.

      When we finally get a politician who talks about closing mosques, what will the progs say? “This time it’s real backlash, not like those other times when we were just talking out of our asses”?

      1. This is the stuff Trump feeds off of.

        This really can’t be stressed enough. Want to know where Trump is getting all of his visibility from? It’s his understanding of how the media works, something he’s intimately familiar with from being such a high-profile figure the last 30 years.

        He knows they traffic in sensationalism and ratings. He also knows they don’t traffic in anything resembling substance, especially today’s media which is almost chronically addicted to spreading progressive shibboleths as conventional wisdom. So he’s tapping into that frustration that the Republican rank-and-file are feeling and saying “See?! These people hate your guts and everything they’re doing is designed to make you a second-class citizen in your own country!” And the media never even realizes that they’re playing right into his hands by 1) continuing to push progressive shibboleths as conventional wisdom and 2) giving him gobs of attention when he pisses all over them and the things they hold dear, because they just can’t help themselves.

        Trump is being an exploitative asshole, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s being unwittingly enabled by a lot of the very people that despise him. He’s rapidly becoming the most effective troll in history, and who’s his main counterpart? A thoroughly corrupt, felonious, mendacious power-mongering bitch with just as few scruples as him.

        What a fucking time to be alive.

    4. I try to keep away from Trumpy articles (or generally telling Americans how to run their country), but I’ll say this.

      My experience with fascism is this guy. He was not like Trump. He was ‘young’, ‘dynamic’, ‘refreshingly different’. He was what Obama and Trudeau are presented as. He never spread hate, or promised wars, or threatened to expropriate the enemies, or to kill his political opponents. He just did it as needed.
      Trump reminds me of this guy. He had his own party, trafficked in worst possible demagoguery, threatened war, wanted to expel people, trumpeted his paramilitaries fighting in Croatia and Bosnia. He never got anywhere near real power, but he sure as shit made the first guy sound reasonable.
      In a reasonably famous interview for the state broadcaster, when asked who is his favorite opposition politician, the first guy said “Second guy. Because he is principled.”

      So yeah, when I see Trumpy go off about banning Muslims, I just shrug and think “yup, theory that Clintons sent him in to run interference is reasonable.”
      Note: Links go to Wikipedia, and, beyond checking they work and are in English, I refuse to vet them, because fuck both of those bastards.

      1. nah, like all conspiracy theories it’s not reasonable at all. if people cant keep a lid on using the irs to investigate political opponents or using an email account you’re not supposed to there is no. fucking. way. something like that would fly

  5. Society is going to change because of terrorism. Either we’re going to move away from the megalopolis urban/suburban model, or we’re going to move away from the last few illusions of liberty we still have.

    1. seems like this is true, which is mind bogglingly stupid. despite recent attacks it’s still very very very unlikely that you’ll be killed by a terrorist. in fact it would be a more nuanced mistake to think that you’re less likely, but they’re both wrong. the chances remain, for all practical purposes, zero out of infinity

  6. If it saves 14 lives, your loss of liberty is worth it.

    1. Look Paul, do you want to feel slightly safer even though the government couldn’t protect you even if you gave up every liberty for illusory safety, or would you like to retain that oh-so-dangerous semi-freedom?

      Hold on, I have to shit my pants now. There we go.

      1. I elect to retain my oh-so-dangerous semi.

        1. The terrorists are going to kill you!!!

      2. Look Paul, do you want to feel slightly safer even though the government couldn’t protect you even if you gave up every liberty for illusory safety, or would you like to retain that oh-so-dangerous semi-freedom?

        With enough government intervention, we can all be as safe as prison inmates!

        1. With enough government intervention, we can all be as safe as prison inmates!


  7. I agree with whatever Timpf says.

    1. Rico is just as pretty and blond.

      1. ouch.

      2. But does he have smart librarian glasses?

        1. He does not.

  8. I applaud any effort that helps deflect blame from a government who spends a bajillion dollars on law enforcement and intelligence

  9. If only Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had let their kid walk to the park by himself, they would have been ratted out in a second by nosy neighbors.

    1. Unless they subscribe to Free Range Kids.

  10. “but clock boy was innocent?the cops were wrong to detain him.”

    Hold on. He is definitely innocent of building a bomb. He is most likely innocent of intentionally building a device that looked like a bomb to scare people. But please don’t give me this shit that the kid actually was just trying to build a clock. He is either a complete moron because he thought dismantling a store bought alarm clock and putting the guts together in a half assed way in a briefcase was actually building something. More likely he was put up to it by his father to make something that some teachers might freak out about. And then use it as an example of “anti-Muslim” discrimination.

    Now did the cops go overboard. Very likely. Were the teachers involved dipshits? Absolutely. But don’t think for a minute this was some honest kid trying to get an A in science.

    1. Only a “complete moron” thinks it is cool to take something apart, put it together another way, and call that “building something”?

      Man, I’d never really thought of Legos as “toys for idiot children”, but you learn something new every day.

      1. It’s nice to see how welcoming reason is to Egyptians.

      2. Could you be any more obtuse?

        Using your analogy:
        Lets say I build the $299 Lego Millenium Falcon. Then a 14 yo kid came by, tore it apart into 10 pieces, then put it back together looking like some sort of half-assed Escher drawing. Then brought it to school and told his science teacher that he built the Millenium Falcon.

        Yes that would be a moron.

        1. Yeah, except in the case of that kid, what he put together was actually a clock. Maybe not very interesting, but still a clock.

          I’m not saying that hos father definitely didn’t have some scheme going, but the clock thing seems like exactly the sort of thing that someone interested in taking things apart to see how they work starts out. Not exceptional at all, but not something a moron does either. He’s just a fucking kid.

          1. No, he is 14! Not “just a kid”. He knew he didn’t build dick, and after showing the teacher that he was supposedly trying to impress, he had the thing go off in class. The idea that this was simply an accident, or that he really was impressed with his actions, is absurd. It was a stunt intended to provoke.

            not something a moron does either.

            Yes, if you are 14 and not 6, and you think this was somehow special then you would clearly be retarded. Either he is a moron or a prevaricator, it has to be one or the other. Believing the story that his father made up for him is purposefully being obtuse.

          2. Yeah, except in the case of that kid, what he put together was actually a clock. Maybe not very interesting, but still a clock.

            He didn’t “put together” a clock, he removed the plastic case from an old clock and stuck the parts into an oversized pencil case. This required no technological understanding or creativity. In fact, the resulting device looked dangerous since it looked like it had 110V wires exposed to the touch.

            Furthermore, it’s pretty clear that his motivations weren’t technological but political: he wanted to cause trouble. And at 14yo (and with a politically active father), he knew exactly what he was doing.

        2. How unfortunate that almost every American child is a moron, then, because that pretty well describes most of what kids show teachers — completely inferior-to-adult work based on explicit instructions.

      3. Yeah. I did things like take clocks apart and put the parts into other containers as a kid. Now I make robots for a living. You don’t just start out designing circuits, you tinker and try to figure out how things work And most new inventions are just things that already exist put together in different ways? I was probably a bit younger than the clock kid when I was doing things like that, but that doesn’t make him a moron. He’s probably not a genius either, but so what?

        And even if his father did have some plan, the kid was innocent and the cops were wrong to detain him.

        1. Amen. When I was taking clocks apart they had brass gears.

          1. Those are my favorite. I have a couple that I mean to reassemble some day. Electronic clocks these days are really boring. The digital clocks with the mechanical numbers that flipped over were pretty cool though.

        2. You keep claiming that the kid was innocent. You have any actual, you know, facts to back that up? The fact that he claimed his innocence isn’t evidence that it was true.

          Your belief that you know his heart is absurd, but then most of what you post is.

          1. People have to prove their innocence now?

            1. that’s exactly what i was gonna say. most people don’t have to, but muslims? how many people have to die before you get onboard?

        3. Yeah. I did things like take clocks apart and put the parts into other containers as a kid.

          Yes, as a six year old. For a 14 year old, that is retarded.

          And even if his father did have some plan, the kid was innocent and the cops were wrong to detain him.

          The kid was disruptive. They shouldn’t have called the cops on him, but school detention or other disciplinary measures were justified.

        4. Except that his school, and my kid’s school were part of the VEX robotics competition, and he was a member of the sponsored robotics club at his school. You and I are older, and we did not have something like that available to us when we got the bug. So we took stuff apart, built weird and often stupid things. I could certainly see a kid building a clock that looks like a bomb. They sell many versions of exactly that. Even one where you have to disconnect the red or green wire to stop the alarm. It is funny and cool, but not “bring to the airport” sort of cool. Anyway, the robotics clubs are able to participate in competitions against other clubs of kids the same age. By the time they get to high school, they are designing and machining or 3d printing components and doing all their own programming.
          The reason for all that background is that I have a kid who was and is the same age as the clock boy, and who is in pretty much the same clubs. When the clock thing happened, I had my own impressions of the clock, but I wanted to know what peers of clock boy would think. At the time, I had several of them over visiting my son. All in the robotics club, but average kids. They had not yet heard about the clock incident.
          —- more on next post——-

          1. —–continued—-
            I showed them just the picture of the clock, and said that a kid their age brought it to school, and asked them what they thought of it. They all said it was “lame”, and that they would never bring something like that to school. They all thought it looked like a bomb, without my prompting. They did not think it was a bomb, but designed to look like one. In the same sort of funny way as the prop bomb alarm clocks.
            I understand that a survey of four kids is not a double blind study. But it was enough for me to at least satisfy myself about what is at least a reasonable explanation of what happened in Texas. That is that the kid made something that even he knew was more funny than creative. It was not dangerous in any way ( except the bare wires ) , so it probably never occurred to him that he could get in any real trouble. So he showed it to the engineering teacher, who told him to put it away until he got home. He fooled with it in other classes, and finally plugged it in in English class and set off the alarm. The teacher and administrator overreacted, which happens to a lot of kids these days. His sister was on hand, and elevated the event to a famous case of Islamophobia.
            I could be wrong. But that was most likely explanation I could come up with, with the information I had. If anyone has any actual facts that would change that explanation, I would be glad to hear them.

      4. Right, because dismantling a fully assembled clock like that is EXACTLY the same as playing with Legos.

      5. As a 13 or 14 year old in middle school, I demonstrated the very well understood inverse square law using a flashlight and a solar panel for a science fair experiment. And won first place in my grade.

        So I think your expectations for what impresses middle school teachers might be a bit out-of-scope.

    2. Spot on, Bear.

  11. David French is railing against his fantasies. And telling people to SWAT their neighbors based on their “gut.”

    1. Promoting violence against people he doesn’t like, and using a third party to execute it. He’s a very brave guy.

      1. Have you seen his picture? He ratted to every teacher he could find every single time he got shoved in his locker. Which was a lot.

  12. If you see something, say something implicitly assumes that (1) terror prevention is for the state and the state alone to handle; (2) the state will be able to prevent terror if you have seen something and said something and (3) failure to prevent terror is not the state’s fault, but that of the mundanes who fail to say something after having seen something.

    1. The stupidity of the ‘see something, say something’… campaign (if we can call it that) is what’s the something? See what? Say what exactly?

    2. If you look at what has actually made airplanes safer, that seems like the way to look at it. It’s not the rules about liquids and nail clippers and the Rapey-scans that prevents another 911. It’s people knowing that when someone tries to attack a plane in flight, you damn well better do something about it. Regular people on the ground having the same attitude and shooting back is how you stop or mitigate attacks like Paris or San Berdino.

      1. Is airplane travel actually safer post 9/11?

        In considering the question, should we not include all airline travel and not just domestic US travel?

        How do you define “safer”? Does it include all of the innocent people who have been falsely arrested, beaten, caged and tazed, never mind all of the zillions in opportunity costs incurred because peeps wanting to feelz safe?

        1. I mean planes getting hijacked/blown up/flown into buildings. Particularly with hijackings, where people once might have kept quiet and hoped for the best, people now know that that might not be a good plan.

          1. I though so and do agree on your point that just keeping quiet and hoping for the best is not something most people would think is their best option.

            As for overall safety, my off the cuff hunch is that while there may be fewer hijackings and 9/11 missions, there have been more blown up planes in the 14 years since 9/11 compared to the 1987-2001 period.

            1. I really don’t know about how many blown up planes. Maybe if you count the ones shot down by Russia.

        2. Point is, except for requiring locked cockpits, the government rules and regs have done nothing. The change in individual attitudes and perceptions has.

          1. Even if the government didn’t require locked cockpits, the airlines would have adopted that universally and the manufacturers would have been all over it. They have reputations and customers to think of.

            1. Indeed. Not exactly a hard one to figure out.

            2. “customers to think of” – Would that it be true. The airlines, like the banks, have been effectively nationalized and the customer service reflects that.

        3. It would be a lot safer if we scrutinized Muslims more. We’re supposed to be blind to people like Richard Reid (shoe bomber) because profiling hurts feelingz? He even LOOKED like a movie bomber.

  13. I’m a big fan of minding your own damn business. Even if it means some people might more easily do bad things. Part of life in a free society is that sort of risk. “See something, say something” leads in very bad directions. Some FBI agents knocking on your door to follow up on a tip is not harmless.

  14. The things people “saw” seem to amount to not much of anything. They “saw” Muslims entering a house Muslims lived in. They “saw” Muslims at a gun range. Um… ok, what’s the suspicious part? Who were they supposed to “say something” *to*, exactly? The FBI Department of Innocuous Behavior?

    The one thing that would have been nice to see passed along was the wife pledging support for ISIS. But even then, I doubt anything would have come of it. There isn’t enough manpower in the entire US government to investigate everyone who talks shit on Facebook.

    1. There isn’t enough manpower in the entire US government to investigate everyone who talks shit on Facebook.

      Right, there’s only enough to investigate us blowhards and our woodchippers.

      1. Talking trash about named government officials is a good way to get on the short list of “trash-talkers the government DOES have time to investigate”. 🙂

    2. “There isn’t enough manpower in the entire US government to investigate everyone who talks shit on Facebook.”

      That and it was too late by that point as well…

  15. It seems that the truth is somewhere between:

    I just saw a brown man walking down the street. CALL SWAT!
    I just saw 3 muslims leaving their mosque with AR-15s, masks, pipe bombs and yelling “Death to America”, but who am I to judge. I just mind my own business.

    We all hate nosy neighbors. And legally from a libertarian standpoint, mind your own business is generally a good way to go about life. However, I don’t believe the NAP means that if you see someone swinging at your nose, that you have to wait until they actually connect before you can act. Or for that matter if you see someone swinging at your best friend’s nose.

    1. It all depends, is the someone swinging ‘brown’?

    2. Is that supposed to be deep? The truth lies somewhere between two straw man positions that have never actually happened in real life?

      1. You should be careful about flaming strawmen lest your own be burnt.

    3. I agree. The truth of the matter is almost certainly somewhere between that vast range you’ve laid out.

      So I did some research to see what the specific “see something” was in this instance. Using the links reason provided, the “see something” in this instance was:

      “A man who has been working in the area said he noticed a half-dozen Middle Eastern men in the area in recent weeks, but decided not to report anything since he did not wish to racially profile those people.”

      So it’s just slightly less extreme then someone seeing a brown person. They saw SIX brown people.

      I’m not seeing the justification for “saying something” here. On a personal level, I don’t want my Baha’i Worship Services constantly raided by SWAT teams just because neighbors see six of our middle eastern Baha’is in close proximity during our services.

      I agree that if you see someone throwing a punch at you, you have the right to defend yourself, but seeing Six Whole Brown People In The Same Area hardly constitutes an imminent attack.

      1. Listening to this kind of PC bullshit makes me wonder if I accidentally went to Salon this morning.

        1. You’re actually saying the guy who did no more than see six Middle Easterners in close proximity should have contacted the police??

          Fuck, I gotta go report the local Coptic Church, there was like way more then six Middle Eastern guys there last time I visited. They’re probably Islamic extremists!! /sarc

          Look if it was ACTUAL suspicious activity that’d be one thing. That’s not the case. The case is:

          “A man who has been working in the area said he noticed a half-dozen Middle Eastern men in the area in recent weeks, but decided not to report anything since he did not wish to racially profile those people.”

          If you really think he should’ve called the police because he saw six Middle Easterners in one area, you aren’t taking a stand against PC, you’re just an idiot. Actually, you’re in the same vein as PC, panicking over very small things that are probably inconsequential.

  16. I blame it on dar al Harb

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams reporting to John Jay, re upcoming Barbary Wars lead by Jefferson. Americas first “War on Terror”

    It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once. [2] [3] – Thomas Jefferson

    1. What does that mean? Someone else said it above and I’m not sure how to interpret it.

      1. Repeal gun-free zones for a start. Allow folks to arm up, concealed or open.

        See something – Do something!

        1. OK, that was sort of what I was thinking. Don’t create artificially soft targets and don’t count on the police to come save you if something bad happens.

          1. Precisely. I think that if a couple of these wannabe mass-murderers get smoked at the outset, they might reconsider the efficacy of this approach.

            Bombs, another matter, more difficult to counter. Still, if a brave defender sees one of these fuckjobs getting ready to detonate (perhaps heading for a more densely populated area), this person would have the option of ending it right there, albeit at the likely cost of hisor her own life.

          2. Yesterday and today I watched season 3 of the BBC’s “Luther”

            Shown were several home invasions, all of which could have been stopped by an armed homeowner, where the residents were either kidnapped, raped, murdered – or all of the above. The perp snuck in, or beat down the door with a baseball bat, then stood there glaring over the whimpering victim.

            Two detectives dragged out of their car and beaten unconscious by an attacker armed with a nail strip, tear gas and a baton.

            Later a detective, who was not armed, unsuccessfully pleaded for his life with the perp who had a sawed off shotgun.

            At the end, said perp held the title character, DCI Luther, and while pointing his shotgun at the unarmed detective said, “How does it feel to be impotent and degraded?” BTW, the perp had gone on vigilante justice after one day coming home to find his wife’s corpse.

            A British TV audience watching their fellow country men crawl up in a corner crying, waiting to be killed – and thinking this is how life is supposed to be.

      2. Targets should shoot back.

      3. It means Americans need to lose weight.

  17. “But well-meaning strangers (and less-than-well-meaning ex-husbands/wives/relatives) call the cops all the time in situations where the kids are perfectly healthy and safe.”

    Except that in many of these cases, the situation they report is quite obviously not anything the authorities should be worrying about. The authorities should be held responsible for taking these totally bogus on their face complaints seriously and actually harrassing citizens for things they know have no legitimate basis as a public concern. At the same time, I have a hard time conceding that these jerkoffs making bullshit complaints are so fucking well-meaning. If they are well-meaning, then they must be dangerously delusional. If anything merits scrutiny when these complaints come in, it’s the complainer for calling up the authorities for obviously crasy reasons. The responsibility of the authorities is highlighted by the fact that they exercise their “discretion” in following up on complaints all the fucking time and as a matter of custom regularly fail to take certain categories of serious complaints of crimes against property with any seriousness.

    1. I’m reminded of a couple cases I saw personally. In one, I ordered some wood from a guy. He delivered some wood. It was not cut to the agreed upon specifications (instead of being 16″, it ranged from 12 to 24″), and it measured out at half the total volume agreed upon. So I picked through it and returned everything not cut to size and paid him at the agreed upon rate for the rest, according to the measured volume, which came to about a quarter of the volume he was supposed to deliver and so he got paid about a quarter as much. He called the police over this, something that is obviously a civil dispute, and they actually came out to “investigate”. A few months later, a woman I know broke up with her boyfriend and moved to here from another town about two hundred miles off. He tracked her down and showed up about six weeks later and started seizing her possessions and loading them up in a truck. She called the police, and the same officers whose discretion taught them to come investigate the idiocy about my firewood declined to respond, telling her that it was clearly a civil matter and not criminal. Obviously, magistrates must be able to exercise discretion in these matters, but when there’s a clear policy of using it in a way that is clearly in contradiction to any rational bases, they ought to be held accountable.

    2. I say “magistrates” as I am unwilling to concede there is any legitimate need for the standing army of police patrolmen that answers that purpose in the current scheme.

      I’ve also personally observed many cases where officers responded to a legitimate criminal complaint, investigated, actually determined that the crime had occurred, and then decided to use their discretion to kill the complaint because the criminal already had enough trouble in his life, for some reason or other.

  18. What I don’t like, is that we have landed on the worst of both worlds:

    “See something, say something”, unless what you see is a member of a protected class doing something squinky, then shut yer gob. If its a white male, though, rat ’em out. Anonymously, even.

    1. We need to protect the US from all those privileged 1%-er white Anglo-Saxon protestant male terrorists that have been blowing things up left and right!

      1. Maybe if people stopped voting the fuckers into Congress in the first place we wouldn’t have to.

        1. I’m with that. But the Nixon campaign subsidies funnel tax money to looter parties eager to attack mohammedans, stir up terror, and collect brownie points with the Nixon military-industrial complex Ike warned us against. Between that, secret fraudulent vote counts off by 66% and collectivist jingoism in general, I am for taking the case to the voters again and again until it sinks in there is a nonaggression party.

  19. It’s the motivation of the tattle tale that is concerning. If the neighbor had said “I saw some things that I thought might be suspicious, but I didn’t want to disrupt the lives of my neighbors over something that wasn’t likely to be nefarious” then great. “I saw some things that I thought might be suspicious, but I didn’t want the cops to think I was a bigot” is absolute insanity and it’s indefensible. Even if the neighbor turned out to be completely and totally wrong, and nothing nefarious was going on, the fact that his silence was borne out of a fear of being publicly shamed or getting into some type of legal trouble because he complained about a minority is deplorable.

    If I hear the guy in the upstairs apartment beating the shit out of his wife, for example, I’m certainly not legally or morally obligated to turn him in (judging by the logic surrounding this issue in the commentariat, I gather the appropriate libertarian response would be to tell myself “bitch shoulda armed herself, it’s none of my bi’ness”). But if I were the altruistic type who ordinarily would call the police in that situation, and the only reason I decided not to do so is because the guy is a minority and I don’t want to look like a racist, it seems a bit “problematic” as the kids say these days.

    1. “The fact that his silence was borne out of a fear of being publicly shamed or getting into some type of legal trouble because he complained about a minority is deplorable”????????

      Yet if his silence was borne out of a fear of being publicly shamed or getting into some type of legal trouble because he complained about a member of the majority is not deplorable?

      The neighbor is a fucking idiot. And PM is a fucking idiot.

      1. Yet if his silence was borne out of a fear of being publicly shamed or getting into some type of legal trouble because he complained about a member of the majority is not deplorable?

        What? I mean, seriously, what? It’s hard to imagine how you could possibly craft such a stunning non-sequitur, but, uh, no, that’s not what I said, nor is it in any way implied by what I said. If that were actually happening, or were in any way relevant to the facts surrounding this particular case, then that would also be deplorable. Let’s see if we can get this down to your reading level:

        Not ratting on your neighbor out of principle = good. Not ratting on your neighbor out of fear = bad.

        Is that sufficiently mindless for you, you hopelessly retarded cunt?

  20. Other than hearsay, we have no evidence that anybody decided to not report them out of political correctness. Nobody saw pipe bombs being assembled (as Trump lied). And it’s simply not suspicious to be working in your garage every night.

    1. That’s what you think. It didn’t use to be suspicious to be working with chemicals; these days, you get onto various watchlists merely for buying the wrong kind of labware or solvent smells coming from your garage.

      With the hysteria about guns and terrorism, you can bet that any kind of metalworking, CNC, 3D printing, or electronics work will be considered increasingly suspicious.

  21. Perhaps we should go back to some variant of the traditional legal codes, where if you falsely accuse someone, you suffer the punishment that the other person would have suffered if guilty?

  22. Suspicion of Clock Boy was justified (far more so than punishing while non-Muslim children for poptart guns, finger guns, etc., as so many schools have done in recent years), though the police took it too far in arresting him. But the purpose of such stunts is to get reactions such as those PC neighbors, or yours, or for that matter Obama Gang enforcer Lynch’s. Given that the percentage of Muslims who support jihadism, according to different surveys, is 15-33 percent, suspicion is always wise. And that doesn’t even count all the gang rapes, anti-Semitism, honor killings, death for apostates and blasphemers, etc. Islam is incompatible with the freedoms associated with Western civilization.

  23. Rotherham.

  24. Situation reminds me of the 1984 German movie “Die Weisse Rose”–where Jerries spell the ss with a Beta. Before the WTC attacks the movie was German… about college kids convinced the nationalsocialists “weren’t really” socialists, and who distribute anti-Hitler leaflets and are guillotined for their troubles. When I again watched the movie in 2002, it was about Amerika. The “watch for luggage” and “don’t make jokes” loudspeakers in airports seem straight out of the movie. But in the real world Daddy Bush invades and bombs the mohammedan ‘hood, jihadists attack the WTC, Bush Junior fools enough voters, the jihadists successfully attack… and here we are stuck between fanatical republican Left Behind mystics who Stand at Armageddon and equally insane moslem jihadists hell-bent on the same Tribulation.

  25. The key problem with “See something, say something” is that the question “say something to WHOM?” arises. If we take the instruction as it is, it is to the STATE who we are expected to report things, and we only have to look a few decades ago to the Stasi to see how well that goes when taken to extremes.

    However, we can also look at the terrible endemic crime rates in the inner city where “no snitching” is the rule, so it is pretty bad to live at the other extreme.

    1. In the end, it is a balance between individuals/families, communities, and the state to police and defend themselves. Think of it as a matter of scale. It takes an individual to defend himself/herself, not the gigantic slow-moving state who can only show up after most crimes have been committed and retroactively investigate. It takes a state to defend an entire country (against other states). And it takes communities to defend themselves against other communities (such as Christians vs. Muslims in the Middle East, though the Christians are clearly losing, mainly because they are approaching the problem as individuals).

      In the case of the San Bernardino terrorists, there probably was no way any of these groups of scale could have stopped the threat before it happened. Our best bet would have been for the Muslim community to stop the individuals (self-policing of individuals within a community), but the Muslim community has not shown much interest in doing so.

      Thus, it would end up being up to the individual targets of a terrorist attack to defend their own individual persons at the time of the attack. There is no proactive defense for an attack like this, no matter what the NSA, DHS, and FBI might say. It is not possible for a state to understand the nuances of an individual’s life well enough to tell when something is wrong. If Adam Lanza’s own mom couldn’t see the murderous intent in her son, how could the FBI?

  26. I’ve read this Stossel column and several days have passed … days which brought with it newer revelations since the column was written. We’ve learned that, indeed, national security assessments compiled on the group that Farouk was a member were discontinued and deleted a couple years ago out of a government sense of political correctness.

    Regarding the “see something, say something” thesis, I’m not sure if any suspicions have been expressed by neighbors other than “look … middle-easterners”. There has to be “something seen” before one can “say something”. There’s been ample reinforcement that “look … a blackman wearing a hoodie” can indeed put one in fairly hot water. If there was anything beyond a group of young male arabs seen by neighbors, I’d not heard.

  27. “but clock boy was innocent?the cops were wrong to detain him.”


    Or perhaps they were right for a change, and “Clock Boy” was really “Bomb Hoax Troll Boy”. Bomb hoaxes are in fact illegal, and I think the preponderance of the evidence is that this is what “Bomb Hoax Troll Boy” had in mind.

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