Being an Opinion Professional – pundit, columnist, bobblehead, what have you – is a lot like being a Federal judge or a left-handed starting pitcher with all of his elbow ligaments intact: it's essentially a lifetime appointment. Short of extreme circumstances (the journalistic equivalent of impeachment, a torn labrum, or pitching for Dusty Baker) there appears to be no way to actually lose the job. You can be wrong about absolutely everything, constantly move the goalposts, make things up out of whole cloth, and propose ideas that make no sense, are insane, or both.

Part of this stems from the dynamics of the industry. There is not much of an audience for incremental suggestions and the blandly reasonable. No one wants to be the New David Gergen (David Brooks aside). There is an incentive to Go Big, to be attention-getting without sounding like a complete lunatic. And even if you fail at the latter, there is still plenty of work to be had in the minor leagues (explicitly partisan blogs and magazines, etc.) Few people remember him, but the career of Westbrook Pegler is a great example of the career arc of the insane. From his perch on top of the world as the big gun in the Hearst empire in the 1930s, he wasn't fired until 1960 when he turned on Hearst himself. Then he kicked around the low-end newspaper syndicates, and then to a job writing the John Birch Society newsletter until he grew too insane even for that outlet (explicit antisemitism and encouraging readers to murder RFK will do that). Despite being demonstrably batshit, it took four decades for someone to stop giving the guy an outlet for his dyspeptic ranting.

Perhaps not the freshest example. However, it helps us understand why it is nearly 2013 and Megan McArdle is still being paid by highly visible media outlets for her writing. This is the woman who once responded to a reader pointing out that her statistics are bunk with "It wasn't a statistic – it was a hypothetical," and somehow the entire media did not collectively laugh her into oblivion. So here we stand in the shadow of another tragedy and Megan – Newsweek's most recent hire, by the way – has vomited a 4000 word jumble of boilerplate quasi-libertarian nonsense on the none too prestigious pages of The Daily Beast. After concluding, shockingly, that there is nothing that government can do about mass shootings, she offers:

My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity. I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

This does not even rise to the intellectual level of a decent Facebook post, and here we find the author being paid for the right to expose a global audience to this sewage. This is what she came up with. This is her idea. This is the best she can do. I guess that fancy University of Chicago education didn't cover things that cheap public schools give students in first-year social science classes: collective action problems, free riding, or, I don't know, watching Tombstone long enough to get to the Kurt Russell-as-Wyatt Earp "Your friends might get me in a rush but not before I turn your head into a canoe" scene that explains for anyone old enough to form sentences why people neither take initiative nor act simultaneously in such situations.

So all we really need to do is overcome millions of years of evolution and man's basic instinct to survive, adopt the basic tactics of North Korean infantry during the Korean War, and assume that a gunman can't shoot people faster than they can (in unison) give him the bum rush. If that holds, everything should be fine.

This is the person they pay to comment on finance, economics, politics, and social issues. I'm not sure if Newsweek counts as a top-tier media outlet anymore, but if so, I can't imagine McMegan getting another job in the big leagues after this. She needs to accept her fate and take a job at National Review Online. She can share an office and psych meds with Charles Krauthammer. It's for the best.


  • There are so many things wrong about McArdle's article, but my favorite is the way that her "solution" is a complete repudiation of her libertardianism. The response to a madman shooter is to gang-swarm him, probably sacrificing your life so that the overall body count is lower than it would have been? People are supposed to put aside their narrow self-interest and spontaneously give of themselves for the greater good of all and to save the lives of total strangers? Really, Jane Galt?

  • Wow. So Liza Long *didn't* end up writing the most offensive piece of Newtownian exegesis. Impressive, Megan. Gold claps to you.

    I'm imagining, now, the sight of a classroom of six-year-olds, collectively rushing a deranged monster with an automatic weapon, who has already shot and killed several of them right before their eyes, and subduing him by sheer numbers. Yeah, that's feasible on any number of levels. Again, Megan, I can't slow-clap you enough on this one–good taste married to good sense, through and through. Masterful–I hope this week's check came with a bonus.

    And the rhetorical flourish of "Would it work…I have no idea"–now, that's some good arguing, right there. Allow me to suggest that we arrange to have every child in America bitten by a radioactive spider, and thus develop the superpowers necessary to defend themselves should the need arise. Would it work? I have no idea. All I can say is it would be more effective than giving credence to this woman's know-nothing-ism.

    See what I did there, Megan? That's called hitting a soft ball pitched slow and steady right across the plate, and thank you for that. Fortunately for all of us, feeding the nation's appetite for bigoted confirmation bias will give your career a reliable longevity that will mean years–*years*–of easy mockery by those of us who sit in the cheap seats.

  • I am definitely missing something. I do not see how this column contains more stupid than countless other "Guns don't… / Can't legislate… / Pop a cap in…" variations. Sure, there is stupid here. In appreciable quantities. But is really any more stupid than the curve?

    Upon reflection, I will also offer this:

    Rush him? You first, Megan. We're right behind you.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    Most "things" in our world are run by mediocre to incompetent people. Most of the columnists of the NYT are morons. Our two last presidents are inept. The economy is run, according to Kruman, by VSP, very serous people, who don't have a clue about the economy. Yes, even academic department are full of lousy academicians.

  • What comes to mind with McCardle's suggestion is this old joke:

    Guy in a bar says, ""I used to own this
    place. I built it up from nothing.
    ""But do they call me
    John the Bar Owner? No.

    ""I owned the biggest farm
    in the county for 30 years.
    ""I looked after animals, crops.
    But do they call me John the Farmer?

    ""I ran for Congress. Sat in
    Washington representing the people.
    ""They call me John the Congressman?
    No, sir.

    ""You f*!$ one sheep…"

    With that suggestion, Megan McCardle is a sheepF%@$er

  • c u n d gulag says:

    This might be acceptable if McArdle was writing an audition piece for The Onion.

    But, for a once venerable news organization, the soon to be deceased, Newsweek, to publish this, the absolutely most stupid piece in a long series of insipid and idiotic tripe, should show everyone why it's closing the doors of its printed edition.

    However, this was published in what is to be the sad, severely mentally damaged remaining online child of Newsweek – The Daily Beast. And it doesn't bode well that this last offspring is already apparently suffering from what I'll call "Intelligence Hemophilia" – quite literally, a "Brain Drain." But one so severe, that everyone has to hope that The Daily Beast's passing will be quick, easy, and merciful.
    If McArdle's piece is an example of it's death throes, then the last gasps of the online remains of Newsweek will be horrible to watch! Sure, entertaining – but none-the-less, horrible!!!

    Does this piece by McArdle mean that all of the Editors at the Daily Beast have already received their walking papers? Or, did they already leave of their own volition?
    Well, any self-respecting Editor, weighing their options, the worst of which is sticking around and editing Megan's word turds, would either leave the industry and go tend bar (this is what I've done before when I've quit hated corporate gigs), or go to the Hallmark company to edit their insipid sorta-rhyming patterns. Or, asking graffiti artists if they'd like to be spell-checked, for a small fee?
    Imagine spending your last few months or years as an Editor, having to edit McArdles sh*t? There, lies madness…
    If someone doesn't come the conclusion themselves, that suggesting that unarmed tykes bum-rush a heavily armed madman and overpower him, like the Lilliputions did to a shipwrecked AND ALREADY UNCONSCIOUS GULLIVER, and self-edit, then what is it that anyone can say to the person that can make them understand that what they just wrote sets the bar for human stupidity and callousness so high, that it'll take travel faster than the speed of light to exceed it?

    Maybe Tina Brown is so despondent over the demise of Newsweek that she needs her friends to stage an intervention?
    To let this be published, she must be on some really powerful sh*t. She must have found the hidden stash that the late, great, Hunter S. Thompson hid in some secret lair of his Aspen home, labelled, "Crazy, Brain-damaging Sh*t That Even I Won't Take Again! AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!!!" Hunter would have destroyed that stash, but, well, you never destroy great sh*t like that. You just warn others.

    Or maybe she hates having hired that imbecile McArdle so much, that she's letting her publish this, the most epic feckin' stupid thing ever written in the history of humanity – let alone the internet – unedited.

    If there was a God, He/She/It would have smote McArdle repeatedly, until there was nothing but a single glowing Higgs Boson partical left of her, for people with functioning brains to find and study.

    If this feckin’ punTWIT doesn’t lose her job for this, then you're right Ed, I don’t know that ANY pundit can ever lose theirs.

  • Argle McBargle is a national treasure. Sure, it makes your soul weep bitter tears that this innumerate, empathically crippled and intellectually bankrupt gasbag continues to have gainful employment opining on matters she has no understanding of (as she proves everytime her fingers touch keyboard), but once you let go of the idea of a fair universe or karmic justice, you can just sit back and enjoy the comedy goldmine. She is a walking, talking coalescence of human failure. An over-privileged, vacuous glibertarian twit with no sense of shame, spending every day being laughably, mockably wrong about everything. EVERY, THING. And she gives it away for free.

  • Expanding upon Eau's comment and updating South Park:

    From now on when a shooter shows up we shall: Initiate Operation Humansheild.

    Followed immediately by Initiating Operation Get Behind MEGAN McARDLE or whichever available pro-gun nutter is available, and rush them.

    Not to be interpreted as supporting MM's profound F-wittery, you would be surprised at the amount of damage a well trained child could do to you. Crash tackle you, probably not. But 60lbs of concentrated kid behind a kick to your knee and then to your face…

    Seen some kids trained in poekoelan kun dao throw adults pretty easily. These were 7-8yos, and about the standard size for them.

    There's also something to the idea that even larger predators have no idea what to do when their dinner does what's not to the script i.e. *RUN!* and turn and stand their ground, or even charge. It's the thing they tell kids to do if they encounter a cougar (the mountain lion variety not the Courtney Cox type). They're used to things running and exposing their haunches to them, standing their ground and even going on the attack, not so much.

    Again, I'm *not* condoning her f-tardery, and would never suggest this in place of the necessary institutional changes that we *must* make to gun availability.

  • I tried to read what she wrote. Meh. She is a boring writer and has nothing to offer beyond what you can get out of the standard badly written college news op-ed.
    She did start to present an idea, but then backed off it immediately, that did have some merit. not publicizing the gunman's name. It would not be a stretch to ask the media not to mention this, just like the media does not show idiot running onto the field during sporting events. She concluded that it would not work, so why bother, unlike her lame idea to rush the gunman which she wants people to actually try.

    Oh God! Her writing initially just seems lame, but it has a god-awful aftertaste that lingers and lingers and lingers…………

  • Ah, Megan McArdle admits the error of her ways.
    Maybe someone was finally able to explain to her that she had exposed the world to weapons-grade levels of 'stupid' and 'callous.'

    Here’s what Meg, the punTWIT wrote in response to criticism:
    “I completely agree that small children rushing a shooter would be a terrible idea. I can see how taken out of context, if you maybe hadn’t read the whole article, “young people” could be read to refer to the Newtown school children. But I was talking about teenagers, not first graders.”

    She was “taken out of context.”
    And what she meant, was TEENAGERS!!!
    Well, ok then.
    Now THAT make sense! Because there are no people on Earth more altuistic, and less self-involved, than American teenagers.

    Meg, stop digging, put down that shovel, and pick up that uber-blender you’ve got, whip up some honey-bechemel sauce, and lie down near a hill of fire ants.
    Trust me, that should be less painful than the abuse you’re going to receive, for the rest of your life, with every post The Daily Beast may still allow you to write – or any Conservative internet rag who may hire you when Tina Brown finally comes out of her drug and alcohol induced coma, and fires your stupid sorry assclown ass.

    The only sad thing is, I’m not sure that’s punishment enough – the bites of the fire ants won’t come close to the burn of the 100 Trillions suns of stupid you exposed us to the other day.

  • Why do all these pseudo-libertarian "thought leaders" sound like they've never met real people? Are they grown in vats at the Heritage Foundation? Have they been observing the strange customs and rituals of the hu-man from their home on planet Randulon?

    Also, even though this was a blog post, an editor at Newsweek must have seen it at some point, right? I can't imagine they let even their high-profile contributors spout off under their banner without someone looking it over first. Which leads to the question: which would be worse?

    a) The editor read Megan's piece and didn't see any problem with it.
    b) The editor knew the piece would be widely mocked, but figured they'd get shitloads of pageviews out of it, so who cares?

    Option b) is perfectly plausible. Newsweek has been relying on shock tactics and worse-than-Slate contrarianism for a long time now. I remember a column they featured last year by Niall Ferguson, arguing that America should pay down its debt by selling off assets wholesale – public lands, public utilities, highways, the works. That was nowhere near as monstrous as Megan's post, but very nearly as stupid.

  • I feel sad, now. Sure, Our Megan has basically stopped trying any more, and is just writing stream-of-half-consciousness stuff to hand in for her 'Gentleman's C', but really – share a cell with Charles "Frothin' Mad" Krauthammer? That's the very definition of Cruel and Unusual, Ed. I thought better of you. Stick her in with David Brooks. A match made in Very Serious Heaven.

  • So, I've got to ask….

    Why does the Russian text at the bottom of the blog say "Gin and Dumplings"?
    Do you just like the appearance of "vareniki" in cyrillic characters, or is there more to it than that?

  • To the above, my guess is that Russians, not having much in the way of tacos, refer to them as a sort of Mexican dumpling (this theory is extrapolated from making the mistake of going into a "Mexican" restaurant in England, which referred to a quesadilla as a "Mexican pancake stuffed with cheese").

    Regarding Megan McArdle…god DAMMIT Megan. There are good arguments to be made against gun control. "Tell kids to bum rush the motherfucker" is not one of them. Stop being stupid.

  • This is really irresponsible writing. What a slippery slope? One day we're all bum rushing wild gunman; the next we're bum rushing people with a bad cough. Where does it end? When does it stop?

  • Lacking Moral Fiber aka Useless Muthfucka frmly Nemesis says:

    Look at the McBrightside. The Kamakazie Kommando Kiddies get to wear super kewl cammo uni's to school. Unfortunately, since their projected useful life cycle tops out at around 10 years old, the little buggers are going to be rather difficult to marshall, seeing that they themselves know of their destiny, that being sacrificial baby lambs to slaughter. At least the chosen few get to skip math class in favor of daily bum rush practice, choreographed by McMegan herself. She fits right in at an elementary school. Remember McMegan: take the SHORT yellow bus home.

  • Look, "bum rush the shooter" was the backup option left after the editor nixed "suck off the shooter in reverence to his manly Galtian prowess and individualism" as inappropriate.

  • "… not publicizing the gunman's name. "

    I have heard other conservatives such as David Brooks suggest this "idea". Because it is out of the question to restrict access to automatic weapons, we should restrict press freedom.

    Does it occur to anyone that compromising a rather basic interpretation of the first amendment in order to protect an extreme interpretation of the second amendment is just totally stupid?

  • Pincher, obviously you can't bar people from publishing the name. But it would be nice if media outlets just came to a gentleman's agreement to refer to any mass shooter/spree killer as Some Fucking Asshole instead of by name, i.e. "Some Fucking Asshole walked into a school and shot a bunch of kids;" "Police are searching Some Fucking Asshole's computer for clues to the motive in Friday's shooting;" "Former teacher: 'Some Fucking Asshole was always a real fucking asshole.'"

  • I think that even the French high command had second thoughts about their Élan strategy in the after action reports of the assault in the Alsace in August 1914. Now, admittedly, those were actual automatic weapons, machine guns to us lesser beings, not the semi-automatics like the .223 used in Connecticut but if the French figured out that the human wave strategy was a bad idea against German machine guns, maybe the Megan didn't really think this through.
    It was only 100 years ago.

  • @Nick – I agree that would be nice. I have always thought it would be nice if all Fucking Assholes got the total obscurity they deserve. But just as there is a wikipedia page for absolutely everything there is demand for this information and so obscurity is not going to happen. (Unless we dump the first amendment of course.)

    I just don't see it as any kind of intelligent policy suggestion. It's just another smokescreen, a red herring. Just like 'we need better mental health screening' – yeah right.

  • @Tom M – I don't think you even need to know history to realize that McArdle's idea is horrible. All you have to do as a rational, empathic human being (outside of not coming up with this horrible idea) is to engage in a thought experiment: as in, what would it be like if I rushed a gunman with a semi-automatic weapon? Obviously, McArdle would never think to put herself in that position because she believes she's better than everyone else, which is why she can easily throw away the lives of other humans; they have little to no value unless serving her or her masters.

  • Charlotte Allen (writing for the NRO) tops McArdle:

    But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

    Mass-rushing, PLUS a double-helping of self-hating misogyny!

  • You know, I usually agree with your posts entirely, and even link to it many many times to friends (especially lately), but I have to disagree with your hatred of this person/article. I don't know anything about her history, but on the whole the article was a pretty damned good summation of most of the possible outcomes that are considered. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do to legislate situations like this from happening again if someone REALLY wants to. We just managed to not get too many of people that REALLY want to do something as mind-bendingly boggling as shooting unarmed kids.

    I do, though, really start to shake my head at the end as she blanket blames "liberals" as wanting the totally unthinkable total gun ban, and in an effort to propose ANY kind of solution, then goes on to suggest we just train our young to embrace violence and madly rush to stop any shooter, using superior numbers to prevent more casualties at the cost of self, which is an oddly unselfish suggestion, but idiotic one at best.

  • Regarding Pegler: I thought he got canned after a speech claiming that the Holocaust victims were all Communists.

    As for McArdle, shockingly, she has some competition for Most Idiotic Sandy Hook Response. That would be some NRO fool whose name I can't remember and don't feel like looking up, who claimed the problem was that there were too many women in the school and a male janitor would have thrown his bucket at the shooter. As we all know, dirty mop water is the most lethal combat weapon there is.

  • Nick-B: "…if someone REALLY wants to." That's just it. For some reason pro-gunners keep thinking that answer must be 0! (zero) or less deaths related to violence.

    If we cannot achieve a 0 level of violence then "Moahrgunzz!!!!"

    What planet and parallel universe do people with this mentality exist?

    You used a critical adverb there. "Really". Well duh. Recently a kid died in Sydney after someone punched him in the head. It's sad, tragic, awful, yes. But for the number of drunken punch ups on any given Saturday night, he's an extreme fluke of an outlier. Not so if a firearm is involved.

    Shouldn't we lift it to REALLY, REALLY, REALLY!!! more than, whatever they hold dearest, itself want to? You could still pull a Timothy Mcveigh if you really, really, really, really, really wanted to. The materials are still available, but its going to be a bit of a slog to get the kit together to that size though.

    Instead of letting someone easily get a firearm through Craig's List or a gun show, let alone para-military gear, we tighten up the standards.

  • @Matt; McArdle seems to have forgotten that there were no 12-year-old boys at the school; this was a school composed of early grades. As for not having a lot of men around; elementary school has always had predominantly female teachers; Sandy Hook is no exception.

  • Lacking Moral Fiber aka Useless Muthfucka frmly Nemesis says:

    Nick B: you fail reading comprehension, but thats okay. You are McMegans target demographic.

  • @Matt:

    The right-wing media offers a terrific affirmative action program for minorities who are willing to shit on other minorities.

    Just don't pay too much attention to what your colleagues really think of you.

  • I'm not at all saying that unless you can reduce deaths to zero it shouldn't be done. What was said here a few days ago about what we can do to soften this was great.

    -Lower magazine sizes. My friend has an AR-15, and it is cool and fun to shoot, but we do not need 30 shot mags. Heck, even 5 shots would be good (if a bit odd to hold a magazine that small) and would be a goot counter-measure.

    -Offer a buy-back program to get rid of the guns that are in households most likely to be abused. Households without dedicated gun safes are probably also the households that are most likely to have abuses (such as theft and a resulting shooting spree), and might be interested in getting rid of them.

    -Offer buy-backs of high-cap magazines to reduce the amount out there.

    -Get rid of the gun show loophole. I own a pistol (bought at a store with a background check) and that loophole is one of the dumbest inventions this country ever came up with.

    What I was commenting on was how she broke down the possible outcomes (some of which we discussed here which she had similar approval of) and pointed out how some of them just flat out aren't going to happen. Gun bans? Impossible. Media suppression? They can't even voluntarily shut up, let alone the first amendment legality of that. Mental health? I don't see how this person could have been prevented from doing this act. With the thousands of similar cases (some likely more severe than his own) not resulting in murders, I can't imagine there is any one fail-safe trigger we can spot and stop ahead of time. Either we end up locking up EVERY single potential (boy, will THAT work out well), or some slip through the cracks.

    Again, her past unknown to me, I found this particular one to be surprisingly candid about the solutions, even if she was totally moronic in her presentation of any actual solution.

  • mel in oregon says:

    good to see you looking at some old history, westbrook pegler. it helps to bring the present more clearly into focus. also i loved at how evil, stupid & cowardly ike clanton was portrayed in tombstone, one of my favorite movies. the atlantic used to be a very good magazine, but that's decades ago. the daily beast & newsweek are basically dinosaurs much like the insipid, time magazine. as middle seaman said, most of the people that are leaders, whether in the executive branch, congress or writers or talking heads on tv are not intelligent, poorly informed & are corporate whores. when you watch sports opinion on tv, or read it on the internet, you realize what is important to many americans is very banal, very juvenile & far removed from reality. what needs to be said is this, it isn't the 99% vs the 1%. it is the very comfortable upper middle class compared to the people in this country that are suffering. namely, homeowners who are underwater or have lost huge equity, credit card holders deeply in debt because of medical problems & usurious interest rates, college grads deeply in debt & unable to find employment in their field & the under/unemployed. the real problem is the upper middle class (republicans by a vast majority) couldn't give two shits about anyone except themselves & their fellow shitheads (other gangster conservatives).

  • Rushing anyone would tend to be a lonely pursuit…

    "Research published in USA Today stemming from FBI data, reveals that over a five year period ranging from 2006 to 2010, mass killings accounted for only a tiny fraction of homicides, less than 1% to be precise.

    The research found that during that time, there were 156 incidents in which four or more people were killed – the classification of a mass killing.

    The study notes that guns were not even involved in a third of those incidents, and that lone gunmen were to blame less than half of the time. The data also reveals that where guns were involved in mass killings, handguns were the far more likely weapon of choice.

    Means of death in many of the incidents ranged from fire, to knives or blunt objects. In many incidents, the victims were known to the killers and were targeted, rather than being strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In total, the attacks killed 774 people, including at least 161 young children. These numbers are still tragic, and while any deaths, particularly homicides, and particularly mass homicides, are abhorrent – the figures clearly do not represent an epidemic of violent killing using firearms.

    To put the figures into context, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records show that more people died from migraines, falling out of chairs and sunstroke than were murdered by mass killers during this time."


  • if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly,

    Now, how am I ever going to scrub from my brain the image of leggo toting kindergartners rushing head-long into Adam Lanza's hail of .223 caliber AR-15 launched ordnance?

    In honor of Prof. Eric Loomis, I want Megan's head on a stick.

    And now I must go hug TWO squid.


  • @Pincher: "Does it occur to anyone that [SNIP] is just totally stupid?" Well now, that's the wrong question. I think that might occur to a lot of people who aren't total idiots. I think the right question might be: "Do we have to invent a Kelvin scale to measure the almost incomprehensible stupidity of these Feckwits*?"

    Also, too, @Stonefoxx: "I can't get this fucking pickle jar open, either."
    What, you don't have a hammer? That's what I use. That way you get the jar open with a minimum of fuss and bother, you get to wash the floor and the walls, practice your first aid, and best of all, you can just throw the stinkin' pickles away without trying once again to see if they are even marginally edible. It's a win-win-win-let's-see-I think-one-more-win

    * taking after Josiah Feckwit, one of the most notoriously stupid and opinionated Nobbgobblers** of 16th Century London, of which there were many.

    ** reminiscent of Hempner Nobbgobbler, an impressively, almost subhumanly, unintelligent man from Cornwall, of whom numerous quips*** and japes**** were made by his fellow tin-miners. He was run over by the same donkey-cart 4 times on the same day once, and finally met his end when he was asked to get some ceiling supports for a new shaft, and just pulled out some supports already in use. The resulting collapse knocked half the houses in Penzance off their foundations and shot a plume of dust from the mouth of the mine so high it was visible from France. Luckily, Hempner was the only casualty because the shockwave from the collapse blew the end out of the existing shaft and shot half a dozen miners a quarter-mile out into the Cornish Bay, where they were picked up in the seine of a fishing boat. Being understandably somewhat nervous about going back underground, and being unusually sharp for Cornishmen, these men decided to turn their talents to better use and talked the crew of the boat into becoming the first pirates of Penzance. They were drowned the same day when they tried to expand the hold of the boat by tunneling a new shaft.

    ** ex: "That Hempner sure is dumb."
    *** ex: "How dumb is he?"

  • I can see how taken out of context, if you maybe hadn’t read the whole article, “young people” could be read to refer to the Newtown school children. But I was talking about teenagers, not first graders.”

    Among my gaggle of grandchildren I have a skinny 16 yr old boy, an even skinnier 15 year old girl, a not quite as skinny 15 year old boy and a pair of 12 year old girls – the latter two not quite teen-agers, but close enough.

    Blazingly obvious, isn't it, how much more likely this is to succeed. Suppose Amanda gets through. She should be hard to hit. What then? Does she bring him down with a sharp Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant to the groin?

    Holy suffering Jesus. I'm going to Sea World.

  • I don't see why asking the media to not publish the gunman's name voluntarily is such a godawful idea to some people. The media holds back tons of stuff….yahoos running on the field during sporting events, sports scores on delayed broadcast games, even paparazzi won't photograph celebrities' kids. Sure, some scumbag will publish the name, but that name does not need to be repeated everyday on every channel, and it would not be repeated.

    This is certainly not the be all and end all solution, but it is a small step in the right direction. Please file this idea under the 'least you could do' because it is the least the media could do. they do it all the time for less critical issues.

    If you want to shoot this argument down, first it costs nothing to try. Second your argument is same as 'if you can't get rid of ALL the guns, you shouldn't even try anything. Third, lots more needs to be done than this step alone.

  • @ bb

    'more people died from migraines, falling out of chairs and sunstroke than were murdered by mass killers'

    I would hope that someone is working on migraines, chairs and sunstroke as well, but the collateral damage of mass killing reaches so far and so wide and last for so long that it is really hard to comprehend.

    The only way that I can explain it is not just
    26 deaths, but 26 deaths raised to the 26th power. The horror of these events is profound.

  • @JohnR

    Thanks for solving my pickle jar problem! It was really starting to hurt my womanbrain. Also, you included an opportunity for housekeeping. Much obliged.

  • @Sluggo: "I don't see why asking the media to not publish the gunman's name voluntarily is such a godawful idea to some people"

    It is an awful idea because it says that we must sacrifice the first amendment to protect the second amendment. To me that is absurd. I'm sorry, but which country would you rather live in? One that protects the right to own assault rifles, or one that has a free press? Take your time on that one.

    In my opinion, an America without free speech is not worth protecting with guns. Now I realize that for gun nuts, an America without guns is not worth protecting with free speech.

  • @ pincher

    Thanks for clarifying my attitude toward assault rifles. I never realized that I was pro-assault rifle. Here I went through the last half century thinking I was anti-gun and pro-first amendment.

    Since when is a agreement (not a law) not to broadcast sensitive information a breach of the First Amendment?

    Like I said, it is the least that the media can do.

  • Pincher, you did notice the word "voluntarily" in there, didn't you? Many papers voluntarily refrain from publishing the names of people who have been sexually assaulted, or children who have been the victims of crime, or sometimes the last names of parents whose children have been crime victims. It's not because these things are banned, it's out of a sense of decency–when the name contributes nothing of value to the story (e.g. if you know a 6-year-old has been molested, that's enough; you don't need to know her name) many organizations will refrain from printing it. I don't think anyone here is asking for a ban on publishing the name of a shooter, just asking media outlets not to give the psychos what they want.

  • @Sluggo – I don't think I said you are 'pro assault rifle'. But if someone says (e.g. David Brooks and others) that we just cannot restrict the right to own guns, but that names can be withheld from news reports, then to me that person has clearly ranked assault rifles above a free press.

    @Nick – Yes, I understand that this restriction is supposed to be voluntary, like withholding names of victims of sexual assaults. But I don't feel that comparison works, because any halfwit TV news anchor can recognize the vulnerability of sexual assault victims, and one's status as such a victim is rather cut and dried – either a complaint was filed or it wasn't. It's not hard to see how the victim suffers harm from the release of his/her name. So the shame pressure on one rogue news outlet is potentially quite strong.

    But in which murder cases should the name of the shooter be withheld 'voluntarily'? Those in which the suspect killed more than one person? More than four? Those in which the victims were totally innocent, or mostly innocent? Prof Amy Bishop at U-Alabama shot a bunch of her colleagues. Should the press have withheld her name? The victims didn't deserve what happened, but they weren't strangers to Bishop either. They were parties to her complaint, deranged as it was. She was not exactly like a shooter at a mall. And in what sense is any individual harmed by the release of the suspect's name? You can't name a person who is definitely harmed by the release of the CT shooter's name, or any other name. So it is all shades of grey – which to me says that the press's moral obligation here is unclear and voluntary withholding won't work.

  • "…[I]f we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work?"

    Only if they ran faster than speeding bullets.

    Seriously, how DID McArdle get through high school math?

  • bb –

    Jesus H. Christ, man – how can you not realize how spectacularly irrelevant that information is? Yes, Sandy Hook is a statistical blip, and mass murder isn't the problem. But it is a very small part of a much larger problem: that on average 34 people are murdered with firearms per day in this country, and a hell of a lot of them are kids. The number of gun suicides is even greater. And nobody has had the balls to even talk about it since the NRA scuttled Gore's presidential run in his own home state, because he was in favor of gun control.

    Also note, you almost never read about drive-by knifings, or innocents getting caught in the cross-stabbing. Yes, people kill people, as the NRA loves to tell us. Guns simply make it a whole lot quicker, easier, more efficient and indiscriminate.

    It's why we no longer go to war wielding swords.

    But, you know what? 20 families lost their little children in one tragic incident that could have been very easily preventable if we had gun regulations similar to those of every other first world country on this planet. So fuck the statistics and stop changing the subject. We're talking about human lives.

    As different as we are, I usually like you.

    Today, you have made me sick.


  • Jzb:

    34 gun deaths per day is over 12K per year which is the homicide total in the US. It's about 9000 murders per year where the murderer used a firearm usually in violation of numerous existing laws.

    About 12,000 children per year are killed in auto accidents or as pedestrians.

    What's your plan for the other ~500 mass murders per the five year period?

    Why do you start on the minority part (about 250 per five years) in an area where we have clear constitutional issues involved (for me, not the criminals), and fraught with the most tactical and strategic difficulty?


  • All good points, "gin and tacos," except

    1) rushing a shooter works, and saves lives
    2) it's not at all unnatural, in fact it happens spontaneously all the time
    3) people tend to do what they're trained to do

    So it looks like you're the stupid one.

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