December 11, 2004
Is there a rat in the cat?
Is it time to "call the whole thing off" because Theo Van Gogh filmed kittens being mangled to death in a washing machine, and further because he thought that was funny?
I'm having a bit of trouble with this logic, which derives from the following assertion by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph:
A shrill provocateur, Mr van Gogh was not to everybody's taste. He once filmed kittens being mangled to death in a washing machine, which he thought was hilarious.OK, I Googled and Googled, and I still haven't been able to locate the mangled cat link. And, much as I am appalled by cruelty to animals of any sort, I don't think two wrongs (mangled cats plus Islamic assassination) make a right. Nor do I see how three wrongs ("calling the whole thing off") improves the situation.
I have to say that I wasn't especially reassured by some of the comments at the credited link to the Telegraph piece either. Like these:
Smugness is hardly what I felt. I'm just trying to figure out whether Van Gogh mangled cats, and the logical connections of stuff like "an army of unionized homosexuals", America's aliens and the ACLU.
Islamofascism is hardly a friend to homosexuals, regardless of whether "unionized" in an "army" or not. The ACLU, in my opinion, needs to be infiltrated and taken over by Second Amendment supporters, but whether it is "destroying this country" is at least debatable. As to our aliens, well, they're mostly Catholic, and Western. (Not much different than the immigrants who upset so many people in the 19th Century.)
But I want to return to the assertion about the mangled cats. A cat would probably drown in a washing machine, but it would not be mangled. That bit of hyperbole makes me wonder whether there might be a bit more hyperbole. Hyperbole is not helpful in assessing very serious matters like this.
Normally, this wouldn't have bothered me, but I've been reading too many reports about "homeless Iraq War veterans."
Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.Is history being repeated? Are we really being inundated with homeless Iraq War vets? Or are the stories as phony as the innumerable tearjerkers about homeless Vietnam war vets? I'm reminded of the crack baby/child molesting crazes of the 1980s. . . The Pulitzer Prize winning story about Jimmy the child heroin addict. . .
Who checks these things, and why are statements of reporters treated as facts?
Here's a typical story of the sort I tend to distrust:
Veteran Glenn Hubbard lives in a culvert behind the trailer. Frank’s girlfriend, Mary, lives in the trailer.....Army, Navy, AND Marine Corps? Might be possible, but it doesn't pass my smell test. Yet there's no way to verify it; we just have to take at his word the reporter who took this "Glenn Hubbard" at his word. (Just like we have to take the word of this one too.)
Yet the largely unreported stories of fake Vietnam War veterans are so legion as to not require serious discussion. There are web sites devoted to debunking them. But nevertheless, every large city has a bureaucracy of dupes waiting to take them at their word, pander to their lies, and and make the rest of us feel guilty.
None of this is to suggest that the story of cats mangled in the washer is not true. It's just that I wonder how many poorly documented stories are planted and thrive in the hungry minds of readers who want to read stories confirming what they want to believe. Not that there's anything wrong with finding confirmation of what you want to believe. But isn't it a good idea to confirm the "confirming" story?
MORE: A commenter at sisu has more on the cat story:
I found two articles on the kittens thing. One said the scene was faked, the other said it was real. For whatever it's worth, the scene was not "because Van Gogh thought it was hilarious" but involved a woman who was kidnapped and the kidnappers killed her cats. It doesn't sound like the kind of scene that would "require" real kittens.No, it wouldn't require real kittens. The mangling is what strikes me as odd. Kittens have supposedly been accidentally thrown in washing machines and survived. (And yes, that is what I want to believe, so I can't vouch for its accuracy any more than the accuracy of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard!)
More on Milo the kitty from the BBC.
I'm more curious than I am critical. I know, I know, curiosity can kill. I'd rather avoid, er, critical condition.
UPDATE: Link to Jimmy story added; grammatical and spelling errors fixed per my usual twenty minute editing deadline. (God, how my tired eyes would love true WYSIWYG editing capability.)
MORE: A group connected with Van Gogh's assassin has been implicated in a plot to attack Amsterdam's red light district:
Muslim extremists, the paper said, were allegedly furious at the lack of morals in the prostitution zone.Kitties aside, I'm glad Dutch authorities aren't pussyfooting around with these people.
And what's with the targeting of sex? I just wish there weren't a lingering aroma of divide and conquer in all of this . . .
MORE: My concern is that the Islamofascists are smart enough to exploit the tendency of people to commit logical errors like this:
By attacking red light districts and other sinful places, Islamists are deliberately encouraging moral conservatives (who naturally do not want to be in a position of defending red light districts or legal drugs) to acknowledge their moral authority, in classic divide-and-conquer fashion.
I am not arguing that moral conservatives should suddenly favor red light districts or drugs; only that it be kept in mind that they are part of the strategy and not the reason for the attacks. To grant the attackers moral high ground when these things happen is almost like saying a woman deserved rape for wearing a miniskirt. (In fact, the attackers do not distinguish between promiscuous sex and the wearing of miniskirts. Similarly, licensing women to sell their bodies is as acceptable to Islamists as allowing them to enter male professions.)
I may sound paranoid, but I have a long memory about September 11, and some of the things I'm reading now about the Netherlands remind me of statements like this:
I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."As I've said before, the Blame America crowd is not limited to one side of what passes for a political spectrum.
AND MORE: Is what we call the "Culture War" a modern vestige of ancient, poorly understood (but long-simmering) war between spirituality and sex? Might it never have been necessary in the first place? Newer readers who are interested might enjoy a long essay I wrote over a year ago, titled "Before the Fall."
UPDATE (Sunday, December 12): Another inaccuracy in the Evans-Pritchard piece was noted by "Kozinski" in a comment to sisu's post:
Pim Fortuyn was the Netherland's first political assassination since 1584? Tell that to the De Witt brothers, who ruled Holland in the 17th century. John and Corneilius were literally torn apart by a frenzied mob in 1672 when their policy of appeasment towards France resulted in an uprovoked invasian by Louis XIV.Excellent point, and excellent research. (And, er, not to quibble, but I thought it was politically incorrect to say "dykes.") William of Orange. Now there's a guy who's historically and politically complicated.
MORE: Out of idle curiosity, I did a little more research on Mr. Evans-Pritchard's statement that Pim Fortuyn's killing was "the country's first political assassination since 1584." As Kozinski already proved, Evans-Pritchard either ignored older history or failed to do any research. I might be able to forgive a reporter for not being well-versed in the William of Orange period, but what about a political assassination carried out by terrorists in 1979?
1979: British ambassador assassinated in Holland1979 was not all that long ago. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is, I believe, British.
What's up with this guy? Is he a reporter or some sort of hatchet man? I don't think it's necessary to spend any more time refuting his assertions to prove my point, which is simply that assertions by reporters should be viewed no differently than assertions by anyone else, anywhere else. The mere fact of publication does nothing to render an assertion true, nor does it matter how many people are gullible enough to believe it.
Ditto for Eric Boehlert at Salon.com.
Once again, thank God for the blogosphere.
posted by Eric on 12.11.04 at 10:55 AM
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