Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another Entry In The Scapegoat Sweepstakes

The blame parade continues. Now that we have a name to connect to the act, along with some background info, the rest of the idiots are coming out of the woodwork.

This guy, much like Tom DeLay post-Columbine, blames science for the VT shootings.

Wow. I'm not even sure I have words for that. How does one connect those dots? Was it even mentioned that the shooter was an atheist? Seems like this is the type of person who will blame every single wretched event on the same thing, so, again, consider thy source.

On the flip side, when someone does something awesome and good, who gets the credit, using this logic?

There is still time to delve into the man's musical tastes. I'm thinking by Tuesday we find out he was into Korn or something, and work that angle. What happens if they find Clay Aiken CD's in his backpack though? Just wondering.

And hey - breaking news - the guy was a bit of a loner. Go figure.

The Inevitable attack on science (Crooks & Liars)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Well THAT Didn't Take Long..

Shortly after posting the article below, I stumbled across this gem on Fark.

Dr. Phil Blames Video Games For Virginia Tech Massacre

Can't wait to hear from Focus On The Family, et al.

As with Imus....I say consider the source, and move on.

No Sense To Be Made...

The terrible events in Virginia yesterday will undoubtedly result in the search for some kind of rationale, which can eventually lead to finger pointing, which will result in "closure". The usual scapegoats (video games, music, the culture in general, etc.) will be paraded about and held up to intense scrutiny. People need to find a reason why something like this happened. It's simply our nature.

I'm done looking. After seeing events like this for most of my life (Jonestown, Oklahoma City, Columbine, 9/11, the list is endless), I've come to the conclusion that "reason" simply cannot be part of the equation. There is no sense which can be made here. A terribly disturbed individual or individuals did something which defies all rational thought. There is, and always has been, a proportionate number of people who feel the need to carry out heinous acts. This is an unfortunate fact of living on this planet. It doesn't mean we should lose hope, but I no longer see the value in trying to find out "why?"

Who or what will we be hearing about in the days ahead as a scapegoat is sought?

Video Games
A common choice. Have the games gotten more realistically violent in recent years? Certainly. But anyone who doesn't see the difference between blowing away a zombie on your PlayStation and killing a classmate isn't paying attention. I myself have killed more Nazi's on my computer than perhaps the entire Allied forces in WWII, yet I still recoil when killing a spider in my garage.

I'm sorry, but I will not have this argument. Music and art doesn't shape culture, it reflects it, and again, because an unstable person thinks that a musician is talking to them, and carries out a crime, doesn't make the artist responsible. Next.

Yes, the culture has become coarsened, but are we as a society more or less likely to have someone snap and do things like this? I tend to think there is a proportional number, but with the instant media we are more likely to hear about them. There are more of us today than there were fifty years ago, hence more psychos.

Too many guns? Too easy to acquire them? Perhaps, but it is always noted (correctly, in my view) that the law abiding citizen who wants a gun is the only one inconvenienced by the plethora of laws and restrictions imposed. Plus, they are willing to play by the rules when required, since gun ownership is a tremendous responsibility. Enforce the laws we have before adding more. Besides, the gun lobby in this country is immensely powerful, and has weathered storms like this in the past. You are simply not going to get rid of them. Besides, there are other countries which have very similar laws, but a fraction of the violence. Why is that? Is it the Cowboy mentality still permeating our American culture?

There are too many things which don't make sense in our lives. This is one of them. There are too many questions, but no adequate answers.

Thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this senseless tragedy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Consider The Source, People

The Don Imus flap has now reached the media saturation point, as it manges to dip it's toes into both the Sports and News arenas, based on the "victims", the Rutgers women's basketball team coupled with the inside-the-beltway theme of his nationally syndicated morning radio show.

Imus has been working this shtick for 30-plus years, and at times his comments can seem to have emanated from some kind of 70's time warp. As you have know doubt heard, the aging radio icon referred to the Rutgers lady hoopsters as "nappy headed hos". The comment was pretty much off the cuff, as is the nature of radio, and was completely inappropriate. A few days later, here we are, the circus now in town.

Was the comment insensitive? Sure. Insulting? Yep. Racially ignorant? Definitely.

But, let's consider the source for a moment. Imus has not really been culturally relevant for quite some time. He has a national audience, but his ratings aren't exactly setting the industry on fire. He does generate decent billing numbers, which makes his show more attractive for bigger named advertisers looking to reach a more affluent demographic. Still, he is hardly the controversial shock jock he once was, and now spends as much time raising money for charity as he does snapping at his staff.

Again, it's Imus. Imus. It's like when your grandfather says something stupid - you shake your head, chalk it up to age, and move on, since you've undoubtedly tried to enlighten him in the past. If someone whose opinion I didn't give much credence to - let's use Ann Coulter as an example - said that Irish-Americans were a bunch of "whiskey infested morons", how offended would I be? Not very, since I place little to no value on her rants. Similarly, Imus' random racially insensitive comments should be seen through that type of lens.

In his defense, Imus has not hid behind anything when pressed to explain his actions. He has taken his lumps, publicly, perhaps to the point of overkill. He will be meeting face-to-face with the Rutgers team to see the faces of those he offended. He has provided numerous mea culpas on his radio show, from which he will begin serving a two week suspension starting next Monday. He even went on Al Sharpton's radio show to discuss the matter, even though the rambunctious Reverend publicly called for Imus' firing.

Here is where things get weird, to me. It's one thing for the targets of the racially insensitive comments to feel outraged, and demand either a retraction or a public apology from the perpatrator. But when media magnets like Sharpton and Jackson thrust themselves into the mix, it becomes a circus. I don't want to throw religion in the face of the two reverends, but didn't Jesus mention something about turning the other cheek? In fact, he said:
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

In other words, let it go, for you are not capable of judging. Forgiveness, remember?

How these two still have even a scintilla of credibility in a case like this is beyond me. Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson? Doesn't anyone remember the entire Tawanna Brawley fiasco, which turned out to be a complete hoax? Sharpton played the lead role in trying to destroy a person's life, yet today sees no repercussions. He has never apologized to Steven Pagones, even now, yet this is the man folks are forced to have represent them when searching for "justice"? The Reverend needs to be reminded what that really means.

I come not to defend what Imus said, nor to explain away his actions as simply part of who he is. It just seems like this guy has fallen on his sword so many times, and will pay a price for what was done. We've had the outrage from all corners of the media, and it is now time to move on. The market will dictate what happens to Imus from here on out - my hunch is that there will be a short term hit to his ad revenue and ratings before things return to normal.

Time for the next big story, folks. Let's move past this one.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Coming Up Rosie

Rosie O'Donnell is at it again. Having remade herself as a lightning rod for controversy, the former comedienne and current panelist on The View has reached new levels of pissing people off with her latest comments regarding the U.S. Government and, more specifically, 9/11.

Rosie, whose presence has energized (and not insignificantly) increased the ratings for The View, has never been afraid to speak her opinion. For that, she should be applauded. Whether or not one agrees with her is not the point - in a free society she has the right to say anything. Free speech is a privilege, and while there are some boundaries (yelling "fire!" in a crowded theatre comes to mind), saying things which might be considered as daffy by some should not be one of them.

Her latest "incendiary" rants concern 9/11. It seems as if she has been reading the plethora of blogs/sites which question the official version of what took pace on that fateful day. Specifically, she questioned the demise of WTC 7, a building near the towers which was not hit by any aircraft but nevertheless collapsed at free fall speed. She is certainly not the first famous person to question this (Charlie Sheen was widely mocked last year for like minded comments), but she is the most prominent. While not directly implicating the US, she continued on a "I do not trust nor believe anything this administration tells me" rant. Again, nothing that hasn't already been stated by others.

The question is not whether or not she has her facts straight - again, the constitution guarantees one the right to speak whether the facts are correct or not. She is simply asking some tough questions about what happened. Many people are determined to accept what occurred and move on. Google "9/11 conspiracy" and see how many others are equally determined to prove or find evidence that what took place was not as it seemed. Is there any validity to the questions? I don't know - I've done some poking around the net myself and found folks on both sides of the fence equally passionate about and confident of their view on the topic. Any event, when looked upon with intense scrutiny, will begin to reveal some anomalies.

I love a good conspiracy, believe me, but this one is tough to swallow. I'm not 100% convinced that everything is as it seemed, but I'm hesitant to explain it all away as a massive conspiracy.

Why, then, the angry response by some? I can understand that many people do not agree with Rosie O'Donnell, a dyed in the wool liberal if ever there was one. That's fine, we live in an allegedly free society where disagreement and dissent should not only be tolerated, but encouraged. The response of those commentators with personal attacks is simply way off base to me. I can disagree all day with folks like Bill O'Reilly (and often do), but I would disagree with the merits of his commentary, and try like hell not to resort to name calling ("Loofah Boy" comes to mind). The common complaint is that questioning 9/11 somehow is insensitive to the feelings of the families of the victims. On the contrary, if someone is of the mindset they are searching for the truth, how can that do any disservice to the victims? If anything, it is coming from a place of profound reverence and respect for said victims. Additionally, there are many families who have publicly expressed their displeasure with the 9/11 Commission report in particular and the Bush administration in general for their actions regarding 9/11, so the blowhards contention holds little water. Where was this outrage when Conservative commentator Ann Coulter publicly called out a group of 9/11 widows to "shut up and get over it"? Didn't hear a peep from Hannity, O'Reilly, et al then, did we?

Then the angry response is directed towards Barbara Walters, executive producer of The View. She has lost all of her journalistic credibility now, they wail. I point out that she has always been more focused on the entertainment end all along, what with her soft focus personal interviews with stars and inane "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" questions. She is no dummy, and knew that installing Rosie in the seat vacated by Meredith Viera would be just the kick in the pants the show needed to regain its relevance. Fire Rosie for her comments? Hell no, this should result in a raise! Is allowing O'Donnell to pontificate on this topic "irresponsible"? I don't think so, not when there are others at the same table who question her comments on the spot.

Democracy and free speech are not subjected to double standards. People will say things every day with which we do not agree. That doesn't mean we need to silence them. America gives one the right to make a fool of oneself. When the responses are angry, as opposed to simply dismissive, they look foolish by comparison.

An important lesson to learn, liberals, the next time Coulter says something completely off the rails, which should happen any day now.