Saturday, January 15, 2011

American Witch

Jared Loughner is an atheist, truther, and doper. He liked movies, philosophy, and English class. So what was the influence on him that pushed him to murder? Was it his atheism, a trait almost all nihilistic killers share in common? Was it his paranoia, a trait many truthers share in common? Was it the violent movies he watched with his friends?

To listen to Chris Matthews and a host of other media talkers, it was evidently none of these. Rather, it was a graphic that Sarah Palin used that showed crosshairs superimposed on congressional districts targeted for Republican victory. Or it was Michelle Bachman's call for opponents of certain legislative proposals to be "armed and dangerous", i.e. armed with information and dangerous adversaries in the arena of ideas.

This is a wonderful example of what logicians call the fallacy of False Cause: Because A precedes B therefore A must be the cause of B. Every time you breath someone in China dies, therefore your breathing must be the cause of their deaths. It's a pretty dumb argument, but it's what we've heard from liberals over and over again since the shootings a week ago.

There's no evidence that Loughner had ever even heard of Sarah Palin, no evidence that our political discourse was even on his radar screen, but no matter. Palin's "violent" imagery must have played a role in Loughner's demented crime, because, well, we hate Sarah Palin, we need to stop Sarah Palin, so like Orwell's character Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984, everything bad that happens must be blamed on Sarah Palin.

If Loughner had killed his victims two years ago the media talkers and scribblers would be scrambling to outdo each other in coming up with reasons why it was George Bush's fault, but Bush is no longer a threat and Palin is so she can expect to excoriated for anything bad that happens in the nation and perhaps even in the world. It's doubtless just a matter of time before some left-wing website comes up with a way to blame her for the devastating floods they're having in Australia.

I suggested in a post yesterday that Palin is demonized because ideologues bereft of compelling ideas need a devil to hold up to their minions like a pinata for them to take their frustrations out upon. But there's another possibility. Perhaps, buried in our collective psyche is an atavistic fear of powerful women that impels the mob to impute devilish powers to certain of them.

After all, our media is doing to Palin something very similar to what people in the Middle Ages did with women they despised - they accused them of being witches and burned them at the stake. If a woman had cross words with a man and misfortune subsequently befell the man he might allege that she had cast a curse upon him, and if the poor woman couldn't prove that she did no such thing, off to the stake she would go. The contemporary secular left is still living in the Middle Ages. Their logic is much the same as that of those who once accused women of witchcraft. Palin is guilty until proven innocent.

Some on the left have even admitted that there's no evidence that Loughner was aware of anything Palin did or said, but she's held responsible nonetheless for his deed because she has created a climate of "hatred and violence". No one can offer a plausible account of how she has done this, exactly, nor can they show that Loughner was somehow influenced by the alleged climate, but everyone just knows it must be so. In other words, Palin's a modern day witch and needs to be punished.

About the only difference between the treatment this woman receives from the folks at MSNBC and the treatment many women suffered from the mobs of the Middle Ages is that today the law prohibits them from burning her alive.