Thursday, April 19

It Stands For Shut The Fuck Up

I'M not even bother asking about the wingnuts: the Sadly, No! Institute observes the raging lunacy that is Debbie Schlussel; Roy spots both the Your Problem is Obvious Ace O. and the Your Obvious Problem Has Been Compounded by Years as a Carnival Charlatan John Derbyshire; T.Bogg lands us D'nesh D'Souza, possible winner by acclamation, who manages somehow to recast the Virginia Tech massacre as an excuse for 19th Century British Colonialism and 16th Century theology (of a sort). We simply note--we're reaching for plaintive here--that the damage is obviously irreversible and whether it has as its root cause the "conservative" self-commitment to that isolation ward in the clouds these past twenty-five years, or that has merely somehow bumped the blender setting from "Aerate" to "Frappé". We leave the question to more skilled minds, possibly in the Future, assuming people in the Future would care to revisit, which, on the whole, I don't.

This looks like a good place to note that the various and sundry calls for some sort of Mental Health Industry solution, frequently but not exclusively envisioned as including a 21st Century synthesis of the Soviet system and the biography of Frances Farmer, fall a bit short when one considers that Cho was actually in these people's hands, and a fat lot of good it did anyone.

No, rather, if the Media refuses to share a neck, let's ask now, 72 hours later, "What have we learned?" And let's save time by answering, "Nothing."

Which is precisely what we were going to learn. Okay, there's some possibility he could have been "involved" with some political cause or other, which fact is 1) going to be uncovered by police work, not Tucker Carlson (I mean "Tucker Carlson" as a synecdoche there, but let's add, "especially not" by Tucker Carlson): and 2) if some sort of connection is uncovered it is almost certain to be disputable. And yet the teevee keeps shoveling oats without noticing the horse choked to death some time ago. The wingnuts had their shining moment with the video-game, Shred Metal, and anti-Christian motives of Klebold and Harris, most of it made up on the spot or High-Pass filtered like the smoke from a Baghdad firefight; they'd missed out when Bob Dole's instant Encyclopedia Brown solution to the Murrah Building ("Looks like the work of A-rabs to me,") proved overly optimistic.

If there's anything more unseemly and less indicative of reasonable intellect that the Wall-to-Wall blathering it's the constant leaping at whatever gets spewed out as a result in support of someone's pet Unified Societal Breakdown Theory. If we were to find Cho's writings expressed an admiration for bin Laden, Hitler, or Borat this would mean, precisely, what? And to save time, we'll answer: the same thing as a fourteen-year-old girl scribbling "Mrs. John Krasinski" all over the front of her notebook. When you catch the accomplices, or when you get the wedding invitation, you have confirmation. Before that all you have is a problem managing your hysteria.

He hated rich people! So fookin' what? Half the rich people I know hate rich people. If you hate rich people, debauchery, and indolent Youth, maybe, just maybe, a major college campus is not your ideal spot, and if you choose instead to seethe until one day your head explodes, well, what the fuck does it matter what you were seething about? If Cho had turned out to be gay, would that be an argument against civil unions? (Note I'm not asking here if it would be advanced as one; that's a given.) If he was a registered Republican is that an argument against tax cuts? It's bad enough looking for an elephant in a matchbox. We find a matchbox and shout, "Hey, now we know the elephants have been here!"

Still, NBC broadcasting that Manifesto crap could, conceivably, be in the running for New Low if such a thing were still possible. I'm not arguing that it shouldn't be shown. I'm arguing that in a just world it wouldn't be Steve Capus' decision to make, as he would be a regional talent coordinator for Girls Gone Wild or somesuch. It's not a question of its newsworthiness, and I reject the idea this somehow "rewards" the killer or "encourages other budding nutjobs". It's that no decent person or organization would have broadcast this stuff, if at all, before people had the chance to bury their dead. NBC did so because it had had to turn the materials over to the police, and it suspected it would lose its Exclusive in short order. We are not merely ill-served by this sort of thing in an information sense or by its lack of human decency; we are choking the life out of the ability to respond rationally and with due deliberation. I realize that the combination of cupidity, stupidity, and the Cult of Perpetual Grievance once looked promising, but it's past time to move on.


Anonymous said...

well said, but now i'm curious. just who is John Karsinski?

Anonymous said...

My thoughts at seeing those video clips, delivered with breathless import, was to turn the stupid teevee off. Great, the psycho killer acted psycho. As if that weren't already obvious, and as if the teevee wasn't already offensive.

Anonymous said...

You write very well. I enjoy your blog very much, it is # 3 on my list. #2 is Muckraker, #1....World O'Crap. (#4 Firedoglake).
I cant decide if your new colorscheme is Mustard (UG!) or Gold, which I like. Fozzetti, formerly Kathy

D. Sidhe said...

As to the color sheme, I'm going with "Red Green's Den Walls" and giving it about a five. Don't hate it, wouldn't buy sheets this color.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a dinosaur when it comes to this stuff, which explains why I'm looking forward to sitting alone in the Maine woods with a shotgun on my lap. But the Cho video was NEWS. News isn't always pretty, it's often offensive, but it's news. Newspapers and television news are supposed to present the public with the news without fear or favor.

Waiting until the dead are buried misses the point. As an old editor of mine constantly reminded us, "This is a DAILY newspaper.'' You print the news when it occurs and you get it. When you get it, you run with it. Pretty simple really. That's what happened here. And racing after scoops is still the best way to make the news business competitive.

The same editor used to tell us that if you're afraid of offending people you're in the wrong business. Most media has forgotten about that and the hullabaloo over this tape will probably make it worse.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Well, I'd agree that's an accurate description.

Which means, among other things, that we can agree that this was an offensive act, which is not my chief criticism, but which suggests that Campus,, should STFU about their noble calling and the difficult decisions balancing the public's need to know, blah, blah, blah, and admit that they're smut peddlers (I understand that FAUX went all weepy about it the next morning, after having jumped in the moment NBC finished broadcasting it the previous night).

The second is the notion that we're better served (read: the ratings are better) by watching a two-minute video of a meaningless police chase in Bismark than by two minutes talking about Darfur. It's ratings, not the news quotient of the video which dictated that we'd all be watching Cho remind us that 32 people had just died because he was silly, unstable, clueless, and armed. It may even be that as such that's more powerful than a talking head parsing his crap. But...

This was not a "scoop". No one was objecting (except in terms of overkill, stupidity, and boorishness) about the journalistic search for causes. It was the decision to let a disturbed mass murderer rant--without adding anything--that set people off. And NBC did that, not because it had uncovered Startling New Evidence but because it got something in the mail, something no other organization could use until NBC did, unless, of course, someone else was sent a package that hadn't arrived, or the cops gave copies to a competitor. It's more than fair to bring that up, and I think it's more than fair to be offended by it.

Anonymous said...

Now that was a rant - and a damn good one.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

After reading the NYT today, I learned that Cho had an imaginary girlfriend.

I saw his roommates smirking about it on television but I didn't see a reporter asking them, "Y'all didn't think that was something you should tell a mental health professional on campus?"

I also learned that Cho called his roommates--who had reported that he didn't talk to them," at Thanksgiving to tell them he was with his childhood friend, Vladimir Putin.

Another incident about which they didn't tell someone who could help Cho.

He did talk to someone because he told a friend he was suicidal and the friend called for help. The mental health professionals didn't ask about the girlfriend with the spaceship or Putin because they might not have known. Did he go to the hospital alone? No one could be bothered to help?

The manifesto was news, but where is the context? We didn't learn anything from airing it. It scared the hell out of people, but what is so scary is that women could stop coming to class because of his behavior, but the college would rather those women quit class than kick Cho out of class?

The Giovanni could get him kicked out of her class because she threatened to quit and the university wouldn't have had the ability to brag that she was on faculty. Her performance was like open mike night and oddly disjointed from memorial services.

There are victims in this matter and the college had a duty to protect the students and a duty to get their student some help. Real help. Did they interview the students who said he was odd? Did those students report their concerns to the administration? Where was the follow up? But a television reporter asks them to tell weird tales and the spill it.

NBC could have waited until the dead were claimed. But by then, the punch was gone.