Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

There, now that I've gotten the search traffic . . .

Am I the only sane person in the universe? It turns out that of the three categories I originally proposed, the Boston Marathon bombing was most like option A, the perpetrators were acting on instructions beamed directly into their brains from Alpha Centauri. While it is apparently true that they are/were Muslims and in their own minds thought that what they were doing has something to do with some form of radical Islamism, it did not in any coherent or meaningful way. They could just as easily have attached their folie a deux to Rosicrucianism or the Reptiloids for all the sense it makes. They were unconnected to any movement, conspirators or ideology outside of whatever the hell was going on inside their heads.

So why is this particular bizarre evildoing supposed to change the U.S. relationship with Russia, derail immigration reform, break out the waterboards, repeal the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, or put a surveillance camera on every corner? Because we are plainly incapable of rational thought.

It is indeed extremely disconcerting that two room temperature IQ nobodies, spending a couple of hundred dollars, can create such havoc. Every deranged doofus with a TV set now knows exactly how to replicate the feat. Channel 4 in Boston sent a reporter to the New Hampshire fireworks store where Tamerlan got the explosives. The helpful clerk explained exactly what products he bought and displayed them for the cameras. You get the pressure cooker at Walmart and the battery at Hobby Lobby. A quick Googling and you've got the complete instructions. Now you can go to the throng outside the ballpark, the free outdoor concert, or the Amtrak station and be the most famous person on earth for 4 1/2 days. That's just wonderful.

So what should we do about it? First, get a grip. This has been true, more or less, since the invention of gunpowder. Right now, mass murders, defined as 4 or more people killed in one incident in addition to the perpetrator, happen about twice a month in the U.S. It's certainly unusual for so many people to be injured at once, but here's a list of rampage killings in the Americas since 1900 which includes plenty with injuries in the two dozen range. 

Second, as far as I can see, since we're committed to continuing to allow the essentially unregulated sale of firearms and explosives, the only meaningful public policy responses have to do with making life better for people. What do I mean by that? People -- mostly young men -- get alienated and angry because they don't have opportunities for meaningful and remunerative employment, because they fail in school, because they have social difficulties and nobody offers any help. I don't know whether anybody could have detected the BoomBoom Brothers or Adam Lanza ahead of time, but but in both cases one can imagine that a better educational, social and mental health safety net could conceivably have prevented disaster.

Trashing our constitution and our liberal traditions, however, would not.


Anonymous said...

I was in some remote canyons trying to understand several hundred million years of rocks when this all happened. When I came out after several days and phoned my wife I learned all I needed to know about this in about 2 minutes, maybe 90 seconds.

I'm not downplaying the tragedy to the victims, but the incessant rehashing of this by the media from every conceivable angle is what warps our national psyche.

Cervantes said...

Thou speakest truth.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cervantes! Well said. And well-agreed with, at least in my case.