TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022
Why would they publish such work?: Man [sic] is the rational animal, Aristotle is said to have said.
That said, he'd never been to Texas! In Texas, someone who is 18 years old can't legally buy a handgun (or a glass of beer). But he can buy an AR-15, a vastly more lethal weapon.
Briefly, let's stop messing with Texas! Aristotle had never been to the United States, where, according to federal law, a background check must be conducted if you buy a gun in a gun store, but no such background check is required if you walk across the street and buy the same weapon at a gun show.
According to the leading authority, "Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition...
"It was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry."
It all leads back to Aristotle, or so the leading authority says. That doesn't mean that any of our ridiculous conduct is Aristotle's fault.
He'd never been to the United States, and he'd never been to Texas! Also, he'd never read the Washington Post, where a recent opinion column started off like this:
ABERNATHY (5/28/22): “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” President Biden asked on Tuesday in the wake of the horrific mass murder of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Tex.
Former president Barack Obama tweeted, “Our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted, “It’s heartbreaking and sickening how routine mass shootings have become in America. … The Senate must pass gun safety legislation and protect our children.”
Editorial pages and columnists almost uniformly echoed that line of thinking. And those increasingly viewed as the moral leaders of our nation...chimed in to rip Republicans and insist on more gun legislation. In fact, the entire Miami Heat organization had its stadium announcer urge fans gathered for a playoff game to call lawmakers and “leave a message demanding their support for common-sense gun laws.”
So far, a person could imagine that this presentation was going to make basic sense. But did that actually happen?
The writer here was Gary Abernathy, a good and decent person who hails from the "center right."
Abernathy is a regular columnist at the Washington Post. Beyond that, he's often featured on the PBS Newshour during the high-profile "Week in Review" segment.
Abernathy writes from the very top of our nation's upper-end press corps. But as he continued his recent column, did his presentation rise to the level of making elementary sense?
We cut and paste. You decide:
ABERNATHY: [C]old, hard political calculations are at play in focusing on gun control. But also evident is an unspoken sense of helplessness that is at odds with a natural desire to convince ourselves that we are in control of our surroundings and our fate. Believing that there’s an obvious solution to something so horrific helps us cope.
The latest calls are to pass a law barring 18-year-olds from buying guns. But the El Paso Walmart shooter was 21. The Orlando nightclub mass murderer was 29. The perpetrator of the Las Vegas Strip massacre was 64. Still, maybe Republicans should give in and support banning 18-year-olds from buying guns, and support tougher background checks, so everyone can claim they did something.
For our money, the columnist's basic reasoning here makes no basic sense. That said, it was good enough for the Washington Post, good enough for PBS.
Alas, poor Uvalde! Abernathy focused on one possible proposal—a proposal which would bar teenagers from buying guns. He then noted that there have been mass shootings which would not have been deterred by this specific proposal.
The proposal might have stopped some mass shootings, but it wouldn't have stopped them all! In Abernathy's logical calculus, this seems to mean that the proposal doesn't qualify as "a solution" to our current problem. He seems to see it as a senseless act, a proposal which would simply let "everyone claim they did something."
Can that possibly be what Abernathy meant? If a proposal wouldn't stop every horrific crime, the proposal is just a dodge—an act of "misdirection?"
Can that possibly be what this high-ranking "thought leader" meant? Because that's what he most directly seems to be saying, and let it be said that such an analysis seems to make no earthly sense.
If we can't stop every mass shooting, we shouldn't try to stop some? So said the star of PBS, and his reasoning was good enough to appear in the Washington Post.
Needless to say, Abernathy's peculiar reasoning wasn't done at this point. As he continued, he kept attempting to refute that statement by President Biden:
ABERNATHY (continuing directly): Biden pondered why massacres are more prevalent in the United States than in other countries that also have “people who are lost” and suffer from mental illness. In fact, the notion that gun violence happens disproportionately here is misleading. The United States has only the 32nd-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world, according to the latest statistics from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to Abernathy, the rate of gun violence in the U.S. isn't "disproportionate" after all! According to the latest statistics, there are 31 other countries with higher rates of deaths from gun violence!
Sadly enough, if you click Abernathy's link, you can see who he's talking about. As it turns out, we have a lower rate of "violent gun deaths" than is found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia—in tragically war-torn "failed states."
In his very next paragraph, Abernathy semi-acknowledges the fact that he's been comparing apples to buckshot—that he's been comparing a wealthy developed nation to a bunch of impoverished failed states. As he does, he offers another puzzling bit of logic to explain his odd comparison.
(You can go ahead and check it out. We aren't going to bother.)
For our money, Abernathy's presentation in this column made virtually no sense. But it was good enough for the Washington Post—"close enough [to rational analysis] for upper-end press corps work."
In today's example, we're discussing drivel in the Washington Post which came from the center right. But the Washington Post routinely publishes ridiculous work from people of the left and the center left—from people in our own blue tribe.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans aren't "the rational animal" and we never were. This unfortunate fact is true in their tribe, and it's true Over Here in ours.
The willingness to tolerate world-class howlers suffuses the work of our upper-end press corps. That explains why we started building this site, way back in 1997.
More than 24 years have passed! As our discourse disintegrates, the state of play in 1997 looks like a paradise now.
Tomorrow: A quick look at our nation's "gun culture," and it isn't just found Over There