April 21, 2007

From Kausfiles:

Alert emailer S.F. asks if NBC, when it broadcast baseball games, refused to show video of fans running onto the field. Most broadcasters don't, on the grounds that it would only encourage more attention-seeking disruptions. ... If that's NBC's practice, why is it OK in order to prevent the disruption of a baseball game but not to prevent mass murder? Just asking.
It's hard to say what NBC's policy is to fans disrupting sporting events, since the only team sports they cover now are ice hockey (where the fans are walled off from the rink) and Sunday night football, a sport that for obvious reasons (ie., Mike Curtis, 1971) doesn't have a lot of fans running onto the field during games. I think the policy of not covering renegade fans is one that Vin Scully and the Dodgers have tried to follow, but I don't watch enough baseball nowadays to know about the networks.

In any event, is that analogy apt? People who run on the field are drunks who are trying to get attention, so denying them attention is the whole point. Obviously, if a fan were to run out on the field and attack a player, that would be covered, as it was several years ago when two White Sox fans attacked a Kansas City Royal first base coach, or when fans ran out on the court in Auburn Hills two years ago to go after assorted Indiana Pacers. Cho was a crazy person trying to rationalize mass murder; it's not like he was trying to get on the evening news by walking across campus naked. Murdering thirty-two people was his attention-grabbing act; the tapes he sent to NBC merely capitalized on that notoriety. And I dare anyone to watch his "manifesto" and think that he's anything other than pathetic.

Besides which, I always thought Kaus was in the forefront of the critique of modern journalism as being too staid and bland. Isn't this exactly the sort of media coverage that attracts an audience, in that it treats the audience as adults, and is not worried about whether what it's doing is "responsible" or "Pulitzer-worthy." Does he want NBC News to start acting like the LA Times?

April 20, 2007

Grooooooovy, man:

But who is the middle-aged white guy behind him?

April 18, 2007

32 Martyrs:
The massacre at Virginia Tech is a logical consequence of that reality. Are we sorry that 32 people, most of them no older than 22, were killed? Of course. But we aren't so sorry that we intend to do anything to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. We value the lives of Mary Read, Ryan Clark, Leslie Sherman, and all the rest, but we value more their killer's untrammeled right to purchase not only a Glock 19 and a Walther P22, but also the ammunition clips that, according to the April 18 Washington Post, would have been impossible to obtain legally had Congress not allowed President Clinton's assault-weapon ban to expire three years ago. "If Democratic leaders cannot muster the votes to reinstate the full assault weapons ban," report Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Birnbaum in the April 18 Washington Post, "some suggested that at least the clip-capacity portion could be passed." That would do roughly as much good as banning all gun sales to guys named "Cho." Washington's lack of interest in gun control is so pronounced that the city scarcely took notice when a United States senator (coincidentally, from Virginia) hinted publicly that he does not obey the District's handgun ban when he drives in from Virginia.

There are people in this country today who, one day in the future, will be gunned down by psychopaths like Cho Seung Hui. Future presidents will be assassinated, if the past is any guide, and probably the odd
pop star, too. We could spare these lives—some of them, at least—by making it difficult or impossible to acquire a handgun in the United States. But we choose not to. Tough luck, whoever you are.
--Timothy Noah, Slate (4/18/2007)

I'm not quite that pessimistic. Although I don't think an outright ban would survive judicial scrutiny under the Second Amendment, certainly reasonable restrictions on the sale and possession of weapons can, just as reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on speech survive muster under the First. And as long as we're fighting a War on Terrorism, a winning political rationale is available, if gun control advocates wish to use it. There isn't much difference between the delusional loner responsible for this atrocity and the type of person who straps on a bomb in a subway or flies an airplane into a skyscraper. You may not be able to completely stop them, but you can contain their damage, if you have the will to do so.
How a NaziPundit "joke" gets mainstreamed.

April 17, 2007

Aftermath: Patterico's right about this. Of course, 30 students would still be alive if the campus had been shut down, just as 9/11 would not have been so devastating if the FAA had immediately grounded air traffic as soon as the first flight disappeared from their radar. That's not the point, of course. The real issue is whether shutting down an entire campus (and a college campus is really akin to a mid-size city) is the necessary move when a murder has taken place.

April 16, 2007

Old standards never go out of style:

33 Dead at V.P.I.: This story just staggers the mind. If you want some deeper understanding of this tragedy, it's a good idea to stay away from the comments sections of blogs. All you'll get are paranoid fantasies ("it's a distraction from Gonzalez testifying," or "the media are covering up the fact that the shooter is an Arab") and political score-settling.
What he said:
Let me submit to you the problem we have today is not that we didn’t listen enough to people like the Washington Post. It’s that we listened too much. They endorsed going to war in the first place. They helped drive the drumbeat that drove almost 2/3 of the people in this chamber to vote for that misguided, ill-advised war. So I make no apology if the moral sensibilities of some people on this floor, or the editorial writers of The Washington Post are offended because they don’t like the specific language contained in our benchmarks or in our timelines. What matters in the end is not what the specific language is. What matters is whether or not we produce a product today that puts pressure on this Administration and sends a message to Iraq, to the Iraqi politicians that we’re going to end the permanent long-term dead end babysitting service.
--Rep. David Obey (D-WI), 3/16/2007, in response to this op-ed in this morning's Post.

April 15, 2007

Jimmy Durante...and Creed from "The Office," together again:

Warts and All:
I do not know Imus off the air and have no idea whether he is a good person, any more than I know whether Jerry Lewis, another entertainer who raises millions for sick children, is a good person. But as a listener and sometime guest, I didn’t judge Imus to be a bigot. Perhaps I felt this way in part because Imus vehemently inveighed against racism in real life, most recently in decrying the political ads in last year’s Senate campaign linking a black Tennessee congressman, Harold Ford, to white women. Perhaps I gave Imus a pass because the insults were almost always aimed at people in the public eye, whether politicians, celebrities or journalists — targets with the forums to defend themselves.

And perhaps I was kidding myself. What Imus said about the Rutgers team landed differently, not least because his slur was aimed at young women who had no standing in the world of celebrity, and who had done nothing in public except behave as exemplary student athletes. The spectacle of a media star verbally assaulting them, and with a creepy, dismissive laugh, as if the whole thing were merely a disposable joke, was ugly. You couldn’t watch it without feeling that some kind of crime had been committed. That was true even before the world met his victims. So while I still don’t know whether Imus is a bigot, there was an inhuman contempt in the moment that sounded like hate to me. You can see it and hear it in the video clip in a way that isn’t conveyed by his words alone.

Does that mean he should be silenced? The Rutgers team pointedly never asked for that, and I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. First, as a longtime Imus listener rather than someone who tuned in for the first time last week, I heard not only hate in his wisecrack but also honesty in his repeated vows to learn from it. Second, as a free-speech near-absolutist, I don’t believe that even Mel Gibson, to me an unambiguous anti-Semite, should be deprived of his right to say whatever the hell he wants to say. The answer to his free speech is more free speech — mine and yours. Let Bill O’Reilly talk about “wetbacks” or Rush Limbaugh accuse Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s symptoms, and let the rest of us answer back.

Liberals are kidding themselves if they think the Imus firing won’t have a potentially chilling effect on comics who push the line. Let’s not forget that Bill Maher, an Imus defender last week, was dropped by FedEx, Sears, ABC affiliates and eventually ABC itself after he broke the P.C. code of 9/11. Conservatives are kidding themselves if they think the Imus execution won’t impede Ann Coulter’s nasty invective on the public airwaves. As Al Franken pointed out to Larry King on Wednesday night, CNN harbors Glenn Beck, who has insinuated that the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is a terrorist (and who has also declared that “faggot” is nothing more than “a naughty name”). Will Time Warner and its advertisers be called to account? Already in the Imus aftermath, the born-again blogger Tom DeLay has called for the firing of Rosie O’Donnell because of her “hateful” views on Chinese-Americans, conservative Christians and President Bush.
--Frank Rich, 4/15/2007, N.Y. Times

Read the whole thing; it's an honest examination of why pundits like him found the Imus Show to be so appealing, as well as a critical look at the potential long-term ramifications of its cancellation. Atrios thought it worthy of his coveted "Wanker of the Day" award, which is ironic, since lefty bloggers have not exactly been averse to using (or ignoring the use of) racist and sexist invective to attack their targets, whether they be Condaleeza Rice, Michelle Malkin, "Wonkette," or Roman Catholics.

But Rich misses the important point about what happened last week. If it was only Al Sharpton who publicly expressed outrage, the story would have died a quick death, since no one takes Sharpton seriously. It was when Imus' advertisers began pulling out that his fate was sealed. These periodic bloodlettings all occur in a specific context, which makes the ritualistic purging of the bad influence inevitable. Al Campanis wasn't just fired because he made some stupid remarks about black quarterbacking skills and swimming ability; he was canned because over the preceding five years, he had made a series of boneheaded trades (getting almost nothing for Lopes, Cey and Baker, and swapping Sid Fernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, John Franco, Sid Bream and Candy Maldonado for nothing) that had put the team in the second division by the 1987 season. Jimmy the Greek was axed after a series of embarassing incidents, his racial comments only being the last straw.

And in Imus' case, it wasn't the bigotry, which is pretty much par for the course over much of talk radio, that got him in trouble. Imus has underachieved for years in his timeslot, and it was only his ability to attract well-to-do, high end listeners with his political guests that has kept his show on the air. Once it became clear that no viable Democrat could appear on his show, the attractiveness of his show to advertisers disappeared. Cancelling his show became a no-brainer, and it's why Rush Limbaugh doesn't have to worry about being exiled to satellite radio anytime soon.
Next on Imus: Ho dies.