These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls

Maybe I’m a seeing a full-on assault against enlightenment values where there is none. And, as the Tom Paine quote that forms the title of this post suggests, crisis brings out both the best and the worst in people. First, there were the college demands for “safe zones”, i.e. non-free speech zones. Following the killings in San Bernardino the New York Times devoted a rare front page editorial to a call for gun control in the United States that was so filled with logical fallacies and errors of fact that it should alarm supporters and opponents of gun control alike. The only way the Times editors’ argument holds water is if you take a strictly instrumental view of law. What is the limit on such arguments? That presidents who don’t like articles that the Times runs about them are empowered to shut the paper down?

Then I read Linda Stasi’s column in the New York Daily News which draws an express equivalence between one of the victims of the couple in San Bernardino and the terrorist couple:

Make no mistake, as disgusting and deservedly dead as the hate-filled fanatical Muslim killers were, Thalasinos was also a hate-filled bigot. Death can’t change that. But in the U.S., we don’t die for speaking our minds. Or we’re not supposed to anyway.

Thalasinos was an anti-government, anti-Islam, pro-NRA, rabidly anti-Planned Parenthood kinda guy, who posted that it would be “Freaking Awesome” if hateful Ann Coulter was named head of Homeland Security. He asked, “IS 1. EVERY POLITICIAN IS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR? 2. EVERY POLITICIAN IS A MORON? 3. EVERY POLITICIAN IS RACIST AGAINST JEWS?” He also posted screeds like, “You can stick your Muslim Million Man march up your asses,” and how “Hashem” should blow up Iran.

all of those utterances are protected speech (particularly opposition to governments and politicians). You may not like it but it’s protected. There are no “buts” here. There is no equivalence between Thalasinos on the one hand and Syed Farook and his wife on the other. Seeing one is a rejection of Enlightenment values.

This morning on one of the talking heads programs I just heard Jeb Bush articulating an argument in support of abridging the rights of some people in the United States depending on their political views.

A week or so ago I posted on polling results that found that a majority of Americans feel like strangers in their own country. Is it any wonder?

23 comments… add one
  • Gustopher

    The “safe-zones” at campuses are a reaction to people abusing free speech, and being annoying schmucks about it. When a 19 year old kid reads Ayn Rand, and gets the notion in their head that they have a right to spout off at any moment, no matter what is going on, and whether it is appropriate for them to dominate discussion… Well, you really just want to shut them up.

    It’s like the idiots who have their open carry rallies in Starbucks, or a park somewhere. Normal people cannot enjoy their surroundings because it has been taken over by armed idiots proving a point.

    They might have the right, but if they are a-holes about it, people will do everything they can to curtail that right.

  • TastyBits


    Boo hoo. Grow a pair.

  • Jimbino

    We should put “Allahu Akbar” on half our coins and currency and after a Muslim Terrorist attack simply prohibit the circulation of those coins and bills that don’t have “In God We Trust.” That would show those Muslims! And let’s see what Allah does about it.

  • michael reynolds

    If you’re imagining things then so am I, Dave. Lately I’m stuck between my idiot “allies” on the Left and the creeps on the Right. Neither side seems capable of constructing a coherent thought. Did someone outlaw logic when I wasn’t paying attention?

    I am against guns, all guns in private hands with some few exceptions. But I believe that is a hearts and minds campaign to be pursued creatively over the course of many years. Most of the proposed laws are irrelevant. Well-meaning, but irrelevant.

    But so are arguments to the effect that terrorists won’t kill you, stairs will, or cars will, or something will. People will never equate accidents with being hunted down and murdered by fanatics. For one thing stairs do not become encouraged to kill still more people, terrorists do. Stairs do not escalate. And stair deaths are not going to fuel a fascist like Trump, terrorist deaths will.

    I keep being told that I must be a scaredy-cat afraid of Syrian jihadists. No, I’m afraid of Americans, of what we will do in reaction. We aren’t that nice, we aren’t that tame, we will not allow this to become the new normal. We’ll do something, and I’d rather not have Trump as the guy deciding what that something will be. If that’s to be forestalled, the Left, Mr. Obama in particular, need to show that they take terrorism as seriously as the people do.

    There is something so flaccid, so limp and ineffectual about the Left right now. Its concerns are too often trivial, too often wildly at odds with the American people. Micro-aggressions and cultural appropriation and toilets for trans people and campus speech codes are just the most obnoxious and visible aspects of an intellectual breakdown on the Left. I’ve been saying, since the SSM win, that the Left was running out of people to liberate, and that once we were out of actual minorities in need of saving, we’d have very little left in our mental larder.

    Normally this is where a rational conservative party would step in and offer a correction. Sadly the other party is in the latter stages of Alzheimers.

    Both sides are out of ideas. Both sides are obsessed with trivia. One side is suffocatingly smug, the other is about ready to start painting Credere! Obbedire! Combattere! on the sides of buildings, the Congress is trolling for vetoes and the POTUS seems to be contemplating the beaches of Hawaii.

    We’re writing the prequel to the Hunger Games. We’re France 1939, physically powerful but divided and with no ideas but stupid ones. And who do we have to save us? An uninspiring 68 year-old woman. Jesus.

  • Here’s my prediction, Michael. The president will continue to ride his gun control hobby for a while yet—given past history maybe through the end of his presidency. It won’t have much effect.

    Ultimately, the Democratic leadership will abandon the president on this. It won’t be an overt rebellion, just ignoring it and wishing it would all go away. Coincidentally, that will be just about the time it becomes clear that it’s threatening Democratic electoral chances, whether hurting Hillary Clinton or the party’s chances for taking the Senate.

    Most of your debate partners will follow the Democratic leadership like the good, obedient little boys and girls they are. They will convince themselves they’ve been completely consistent in the positions they’ve held.

    The worst case scenario is that the president does something on gun control by executive action and has his ears pasted back by the Supreme Court. “Worst case” because it will mobilize the Republican base.

  • Andy

    The center cannot hold…

    I’ve long complained about the incoherence and internal contradictions in our two main parties – seems it’s only getting worse.

  • jan

    I look at this last year of Obama’s presidency as one where he is “unleashed,” and prepared to do what it takes to install his agenda. He doesn’t need anyone anymore — the congress, his own party, nor the U.S. electorate. It’s what is in his own head that’s of utmost importance to him — the rest be damned!

    And, it’s this lone ranger attitude which is causing the right to go ballistic and lean into other bombastic candidates such as Trump and a rising Cruz to stem the tide of Obama’s unpopular stances and policies. Basically, the dynamics of this election is discouraging as I look at the numskulls who are in the lead — HRC on the left and The Donald and Cruz on the right.

    Geez…. Such a motley crew creates perspiration, not inspiration.

  • Gustopher

    Michael, you’ve gone sort of crazy after the Paris attacks, and in so doing have rather sadly proved your point that Americans have no stomach for this, and will go sort of crazy.

    So, congratulations?

  • Gustopher

    Do you really think the Republicans would be offering someone less insane at this point? If Trump and Cruz aren’t to your liking who is?

    I would say that Michael Reynolds is reacting to the Paris attacks the way that Republicans reacted to 9/11. They’ve gone off the deep end for about 15 years, and the crazies are finally in charge of the party.

  • TastyBits


    I would say that @michael reynolds is the type of leftist/progressive that has a pair of balls and is not afraid to use them. The only use he has for a “safe space” is to get his opponent to beg for one. If he had to listen to an asshole in Starbucks, he would give back more than he was getting. My instincts tell me that he is the type that would bring a knife to a gunfight, for fun.

    For the record, I do not really like him or his point-of-view, but his point-of-view is valuable even if I disagree with it.

  • CStanley

    Gustopher, from my vantage point you are being an obnoxious schmuck on this blog, and yet I do not want to shut you up. It’s really not that difficult.

  • Cstanley

    The worst case scenario is that the president does something on gun control by executive action and has his ears pasted back by the Supreme Court. “Worst case” because it will mobilize the Republican base.

    As opposed to the other worst case where Republicans stay home and Hillary wins?
    And I have to take issue with michael’s position of frustration because I have long felt that he was part of the problem of increasing polarity. For seven years, no criticism of Obama could be raised without cries of racism, and every buffoon on the right is held up as an example of what the GOP has become. Given that kind of rhetorical climate, the current situation was easily predicted.

  • jan

    And I have to take issue with michael’s position of frustration because I have long felt that he was part of the problem of increasing polarity.

    I think an intense association with any ideology (politically right/left, religious etc) creates a close-minded condition, where one is just too close to the trees to scope in the entire forest — so to speak. People like Michael have railed against those who didn’t see it his way, replacing open discussion with open ridicule, which does increase the temperature between those differing in opinion. But, the fact that he’s at least tossing around uncomfortable concerns, sharing them with the “glued heads” at OTB, and even here, is encouraging, and I give him credit for doing so.

  • steve

    1) I read the Stasi article yesterday, the whole thing. Don’t see the moral equivalence. She says the shooters were monsters who deserved to die. She said the other guy had every right to say what he did w/o being killed. She said they were both bigots, which based upon what has been posted, is probably true. So one guy(couple) was a bigot and a monster who deserved to die. The other was a bigot who deserved to live. What exactly is the moral equivalence here? I mean, it is probably a bit insensitive and not politically correct to point out that one of the guy who got shot was an as*hole, but I thought we were opposed to PC talk?

    As to gun control, aint happening as we have too many. Lots of murders and suicides is just the price we pay for having so many guns.

    As to safe zones at SOME colleges, the MSM really likes to cover that stuff. Heck, the right wing media likes to cover it even more. However, being old enough to remember the demands of the kids from the 60s and 70s, I still can’t get all that worked up over this. If I remember all the demands correctly, they included stuff like free school for everyone, and all minorities would be admitted regardless of test scores. Drugs would be legal and free on every campus, as well as contraceptives. My favorite is that they demanded that College administrations be held accountable for their decision and actions. LOL. Students were actively trying to precipitate riots back then, and succeeding. They demanded that schools let them decide how university land be used. I am sure I could come up with a lot more if I asked my wife what the SDA at her school demanded. (She is a staunch Republican, but a couple of her roommates were SDS.)

    So, how much of this persisted? Not much. Students in the 80s and 90s were about as tame as could be. No free love or free drugs. Communes went away. No riots. Schools decide, alas, how to use their property, mostly to build ever more expensive dorms and rock walls. I guess we got affirmative action, and a small percentage of minority students actually got to go to college, but that’s about it. I think you should pull your bloomers up and stop fretting.


  • Andy


    There were twelve victims, each with their own backgrounds and lives – like everyone, each probably had angels and skeletons in the closets. This article singles out one and focuses on his bigotry and implicitly puts that bigotry next to the “radical” ISIS attackers. Why chose to focus on the bigot and not one of the other victims? The choice of headline for the article makes a the equivalence argument hard to avoid or dismiss.

  • steve

    Andy- I suspect because elsewhere the guy was being eulogized as a model Christian and maybe that kind of pissed her off, but you would have to ask the author. Maybe she was warning us against angry bigotry and trying to make the point we are lucky only one of these guys went out and shot people. The fact remains that she made a very clear distinction between what each deserved for their behaviors. One deserved to live and the others deserved to die. Not very equivalent.


Leave a Comment