Tragedy Generates Stupidity

Tragedy makes people say, and do, stupid things.

Let's note just a few of the stupid things said in the last 48 hours. This is by no means an exclusive list. Nor is it even-handed.

Item: David Frum thinks we should look to reefer madness as a cause of the Tucson shooting.

Item: Sarah Palin aide Rebecca Mansour says that bullseyes on a map — referred to by Palin as bullseyes, and used together with "don't retreat, RELOAD" rhetoric — were "surveyor's symbols." [I shouldn't have to say it, but these days it seems that I do: this is stupid, dishonest, cowardly, and embarrassing even though there is no indication that Palin's rhetoric had any connection whatsoever with this shooting.]

Item: Representative Bob Brady of Pennsylvania wants to offer a bill banning campaign symbols like the crosshairs on the map.

Item: As Patrick noted below, Rep. James Clyburn seems to think that the main lesson of the shooting should be that he ought not have to mingle with plebs at the airport.

Radley Balko offers a poll about which response is the most ridiculous.

Count on the shooting to keep delivering concentrated stupid for some time.

Edit: And BoingBoing reminds us of and old essay that still nails a disturbingly large percentage of the political reactions.

Edit: Okay, now that shit is funny.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Oh. I’m sorry. Was this the “Rail on Righties” thread? Sorry, my bad.

    Except for the fact that both of the Congressmen railed upon in the thread are Democrats, yes, totally.

  2. says

    With regard to the "surveyor's symbols", I'd ask you to take a look at the US Geological Survey's site ( about halfway down in the right column is the Control Data and Monuments section. The first item of which is the symbol to use on a map to mark a principal point — that being a circle with horizontal and vertical lines through it. Whether the Palin site new it at the start or not might be open for debate, but the symbol they used is appropriate to mark a point on a map and is a surveyor's symbol.

  3. says

    And yet she, herself, referred to it as a bullseye. And never offered this "surveyor's symbol" explanation until now, though it was criticized before.

    Don't get me wrong. There's not a hint that this had anything to do with what a lunatic did on Saturday. It's just an ignominious reaction.

  4. says

    Tim Blair says printers' crop marks.

    Its all pretty ridiculous. Americans have been using firearm terminology for rhetorical purposes for centuries. We say someone "goes off half-cocked" … etc.

    And Shakespeare gave us "hoist by his own petard" when a petard was a bomb used to attack siege works.