Thursday, April 19, 2007

Grow up.

The (false) face of madness

IRA.25.35-52. Now conservatives are upset with NBC, notably Rush Limbaugh, who says the showing of the VT Killer tapes and photos contributes to the coarsening of the culture. He says he wouldn't have aired them if he'd received them and would have handed them directly to the authorities for their use. Excuse me?

Isn't it conservatives who have protested the MSM ban on showing the worst of the 9/11 images and the videos of the beheadings in Iraq? Did they ever make the argument that such images would educate future terrorists about how to deal death to the Great Satan? No. But they were extremely vocal in condemning the publication of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo pictures that might cast the U.S. in a bad light around the world. Phooey.

Either you believe in the American people or you don't. Decide. Yes, Rush, I'm talking to you.

Conservatives and libertarians want ordinary citizens to have power over their own lives. That means giving them the best available information about what kinds of threats they might be facing. If you trust them, you can't be placing side bets that future Klebolds and Seung-Huis are going to learn more from video evidence about how to kill innocents than American citizens are going to learn about how to recognize lunatics planning to slaughter them like cattle.

All you precious paranoids -- consider this. Almost all of what Americans know about psychopathic, paranoid, and schizophrenic personalities, they've learned from the movies. But guess what? Not all stone killers do Katherine Hepburn impressions, smack their lips in the presence of potential victims, or exude the charisma of Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver. Very few of them are genius misanthropes who have read every book ever written and know more about escape science than Houdini. Most of them are, in fact, as dreary, uninteresting, forgettable, and tediously monomaniacal as Dylan Klebold, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Kaszinski, and Cho Seung-Hui. The degree of danger tracks with their degree of nonentity. How are we supposed to recognize madness in the vacuous and boring? There's only one way.

By looking at it. Up close. In detail. Again and again. Until we truly appreciate and internalize the appalling contradiction of Adolf Eichmann -- that deep evil is frequently grey, dull, undifferentiated, faceless, and downright mundane until it takes monstrous action against unsuspecting innocents.

This site has backed Limbaugh through a lot of missteps and controversies. This time we're blowing the whistle. NBC was right to show its audience what it did. (But not right to back down, as Brian Williams did last night on MSNBC.) Where NBC is wrong is in withholding what it did, namely, most of the content it received in that envelope. Americans deserve to see EVERYTHING Seung-Hui sent NBC. It doesn't matter at all that he will be remembered. It doesn't matter if he actually wanted to be remembered as an insane killer. What does matter is that potential victims of these ordinary-looking mass-murderers might learn something that could save a lot of lives in future. And if you're not willing to place more faith in what good people might learn from seeing evil than what evil people might learn about the mere mechanics of murder, the Hell with you.

Tell me this. Have you ever seen a crazy person? Someone you knew for a fact was crazy? Wouldn't it be good information? Unless, of course, you'd rather the government made all the decisions...

POSTSCRIPT. Today's an important anniversary at InstaPunk, and not an irrelevant or insignificant one. Stay tuned. The past does impact the present.

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