Saturday, April 28, 2007

News Flash: Ann Coulter writes a column that makes sense, doesn't inadvertently disparage an entire group of people, and is actually funny

How crazy Ann pulled off this hat trick is not readily apparent, but her Townhall column on the Democrat response to the Virginia Tech murders is a good read:

For cranky right-wingers who think politicians don't listen to them, this week I give you elected Democrats running like scared schoolgirls from the media's demand that they enact new gun control laws in response to the Virginia Tech shooting.

Instead, Democrats are promoting a mental health exception to the right to bear arms. We've banned mass murder and that hasn't seemed to work. So now we're going to ban mass murderers. Yes, that will do the trick!

This is a feel-good measure that is both wildly under-inclusive (the vast majority of nutcases receive no formal court adjudication of their nuttiness) and wildly over-inclusive (the vast majority of nuts don't kill people). The worst thing most nuts do is irritate everybody else by driving their electric cars on the highway.

As lovely as it would be, we cannot identify mass murderers before they have broken any law, and mass murder is often the first serious crime they commit. No one can be locked up permanently for being potentially dangerous.

Even stalking laws can put away a person known to be dangerous for only a few years -- at best -- which is generally not worth spending a day sitting in court, facing your stalker, and then waiting a month for the court order.

So on one hand, the mental health exception is a feel-good measure that would be largely pointless. But on the other hand, it's no skin off my back. Liberals go to therapy. Conservatives go to church. And I think we'd all sleep better knowing that David Brock could not buy a gun.

In fact, I think we should expand the mental illness exception to cover First Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.

I note that before mass murder, the only harassment the Virginia Tech killer was guilty of involved speech: creepy e-mails, creepy short stories, creepy phone calls. Stalkers, too, engage in frightening speech -- but that is protected. Revealing a stalking victim's address is "speech" but is little different from being the one to pull the trigger.

This small measure would have taken Dan "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" Rather off the airwaves years ago, preventing him from presenting doctored National Guard documents to the American people to try to throw a presidential election. A mental illness bar would deal a quick blow to Air America and both its remaining listeners. It would also free up about 90 percent of the Internet.

And it would end the public lunacy of Jim Wallis, the Democrats' Christian. Wallis' first remark on the massacre at Virginia Tech last week was to hail the remarkable "diversity" of the victims. True, Cho murdered 32 people in cold blood. But at least he achieved diversity!

Anyone who thinks a single-minded fixation on diversity must be the ultimate goal of every human endeavor, including mass murder, is not the sort of person who should be able to buy a gun or to publish his daft ruminations in public forums.

But just to get this straight: Democrats are saying we should be able to jail "strange" or "angry" people, but we can't deplane imams who demand extra-length seatbelts after boarding?

Ann's targeting skills are much improved. Normally one of her columns or speeches has the quality of a carpet-bombing run, taking out whole swaths of the public in collateral damage in order to achieve a single hit on her intended target. Maybe just by a process of elimination she has finally run out of acceptable slurs. One can imagine her, after her last public fiasco of an attempt at political humor, taking out her notepad, crossing off faggot, and remarking "gee, I've run out of fun colloquialisms. I'll have to think a lot harder about what I write!"

Or maybe she just had an off day.


Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Didn't inadvertently disparage an entire group of people?

Democrats running like scared schoolgirls

To me, that looks like a two-fer.

April 28, 2007 6:33 PM  
Blogger Mark Frank said...

Trouble is - some of her key statements are just not true.

As lovely as it would be, we cannot identify mass murderers before they have broken any law, and mass murder is often the first serious crime they commit. No one can be locked up permanently for being potentially dangerous.

Actually we can and do identify potentially violent people before they have broken any law. In the UK it is called sectioning, in the USA involuntary committment. It is most often done for potential suicides but can also be done potential homicides. So the precedent is there for removing some basic rights on the basis of a medical diagnosis.

Detaining someone who has not actually broken the law requires a very strong proof of dangerousness or you end up effectively imprisoning people who have done nothing wrong and never will. On the other hand suspending their right to bear arms seems like a less severe measure which might be applied on less strong grounds. Whether Cho would have met those grounds I don't know.

Is it so very different from forbidding you from driving because are prone to epilepsy or suffering from dementia?

April 28, 2007 11:45 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Political affiliation isn't an ethnic or religious group or a sexual identity. It is acceptable to disparage people of the opposite political persuasion, that's the whole point of political speech. Calling them all Nazis is beyond the pale, but I think that referring to them as nuts is acceptable.

I agree that comparing scared schoolgirls to Democrats is unfair to scared schoolgirls, but you have to admit that she is making progress.

April 29, 2007 6:46 AM  
Blogger Duck said...


Even then, the likelihood that you will identify and deny weapons to all mass murderers is practically nil. Most of these killers lead ordinary lives up until the moment they snap. Their illness may be slowly progressing, but if they never seek psychological help or if they never bother anyone to the extent that they end up in the courts, they aren't going to have a paper trail that can be used to deny them a gun. Like Ann said, this is a feel-good measure.

April 29, 2007 6:56 AM  
Blogger Mark Frank said...

Even then, the likelihood that you will identify and deny weapons to all mass murderers is practically nil

All mass murderers - yes. But it would be handy to deny weapons to even a few mass murderers and perhaps a few other loonies who are into small scale murder.

I am not a psychologist of mass murder so I don't know how many would come to the attention of the law/social services/health authorities before they did the deed. You appear to know - how did you find out? Remember what we are proposing does not require them to commit a crime - just have a severe personality or mental disorder.

One thing to bear in mind is laws create their own culture and social processes. e.g. the introduction strict drink driving laws in the UK in the 80s led to a culture where it was no longer acceptable to drink and drive - which was actually a much more powerful deterrent than the laws themselves.

If it was known that it was not "OK" for people with certain extreme mental conditions to own weapons then it opens up the question to anyone who comes across someone who behaves in a worrying fashion to ask "should you own a gun?". The question might be directed at the subject, the subject's family, or the institution where he/she lives or works. The answer might be yes - but at least it becomes an acceptable question to ask.

In particular almost every mass murderer obtains a gun at some stage, often by buying one, and a change in the law encourages everyone involved at this point (including, perhaps, the subject) to think about whether the subject is mentally fit.

It is not so different from asking if someone with severe dementia should be allowed to drive.

April 29, 2007 11:42 PM  

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