January 10, 2011
Who are the lunatics who helped create this grammar-driven climate?
As I explained in earlier posts, the fact that so many people are trying to blame the Tea Party and Sarah Palin for the actions of a deranged gunman does not surprise me, because placing blame is what people do. When a horrible violent crime is committed against a loved one, the enemies of that person tend to become suspects in the minds of those who love the victim. When the loved one is a politician, obviously those with political motivations become "likely suspects."
While this might make sense when there are no suspects in the shooting of a politician, it becomes irrational when the culprit is known, as Jared Loughner is. And it becomes even more irrational once it becomes clear that he is as nutty as a fruitcake, and has no conceivable connections to the political enemies of his victim, much less any indication that the victim's political enemies were directing him.
But the fact that it is irrational does not stop anyone from having a field day with irrational speculations. While such irrationality might be understandable in the case of a victim's family, in an earlier comment, Frank quoted Andrew Sullivan as saying things which I thought were about as logical as the shooter's "thoughts" on grammar and currency.
If we are to entertain seriously the above argument, all sports and hunting discussions, talk about the American Revolution, even displays of the Gadsden Flag could all be seen as things which "someone somewhere" might "take seriously."
So what does that mean? That some "impressionable" mentally ill person somewhere might consider them a justification for going on a shooting spree? Are Sullivan and others (like Paul Krugman, who according to Frank had complained of a "climate") seriously suggesting that political discourse should be limited according to a new threshold set by what might be misinterpreted by most impressionable members of the mentally ill population?
I have heard of lowest common denominators before, but this one takes the cake.
However, in light of my admitted penchant for overanalyzing things, I am going to try to be patient here, and entertain an idea I consider completely loony.
In future, all subjects which might trigger impressionable minds.... No, I can't say that! I just said "trigger"! Who knows what that might trigger? And what if the word were heard the wrong way, because of another word it rhymes with? At the very least, there should be no more discussion of trigger, which means no mention of Roy Rogers' horse. And now that I think about it, wasn't Roy Rogers an armed man, prone to acts of violence? And wasn't "Trigger" an exploited and abused enslaved animal?
See what I mean? Scratch the Roy Rogers climate, and you'll find the Sarah Palin climate. Impressionable mentally ill people may be listening and reading everywhere and anywhere, and it doesn't take much to trigger them. No, not trigger; I should say "set them off"! No, but I can't say that either, because setting off implies bombs and acts of war, and an impressionable mentally ill person might read that and then "go off." (I guess I shouldn't say that either.)
Sorry, but if I had to hold myself to the impressionable mentally ill standard, I would be unable to blog.
Some ideas are too loony to be taken seriously.
Perhaps I should stick to issues of grammar.
I just said that, didn't I?
And you know, it almost just slipped out unconsciously, and but for the impressionable mind of Jared Loughner, it might have almost been funny in a reductio ad absurdum way.
But according to the news reports, if the man's loony crime had a motivation, it was grammar-driven:
Those Goths again! Just like Columbine! Why do these atheist punks want to kill us?
The shooter's purported cultural attributes (flag-burning, pot-smoking, etc.) have not been lost on the WorldNetDaily crowd, who have seized on that as evidence of his "liberalism." In some circles, tattoos or piercings are probably considered "leftist."
But these irrational notions persist, whether in the form of Andrew Sullivan's linking of metaphors, or the claim that cultural attributes are to blame.
Sorry to get sidetracked by the Goth issue, but I don't want it to appear that I am singling out Andrew Sullivan here, and I do think it is fair to point out -- again -- that the blame-anything-and-anyone for the actions of a mentally ill individual meme is not limited to the left.
That stuff is a very old issue here, so please let me beg my readers to try to return to the latest shooter's most conspicuous "motivation" (if it is fair to call it that) and keep the discussion within the realm of grammar. I used to think that grammar was a fairly dry subject, and one which could be discsussed in more or less rational terms, but after this shooting spree, all I can say is that I would hate to be a grammarian in America today.
Think I am making this up? They are actually exploring the shooter's grammar links! To so-called "grammar extremists."
So, like it or not, grammar has now become one of those touchy issues, like sports, hunting, firearms, and the American Revolution. Perhaps we should avoid grammar too, lest rise be given in some impressionable mind to feelings of being brainwashed!
And why not? According to the Sullivan-Krugman-WND schools of thinking, grammar is just as likely to create a climate as anything else, and it's hard to deny that this shooter was driven by -- dare I say it? --
A CLIMATE OF GRAMMAR! (Or maybe a grammar climate...)
In the most shocking irony of all, when the shooting occurred, I was writing a post about the McGuffey Reader which is not only a book about grammar, but was intended for use in grammar schools! My post (published at 2:20 p.m. EST) was started right after my earlier 11:22 a.m. post, and the shooting occurred at approximately 10:15 a.m. Arizona time -- (12:15 p.m. EST).
What this means is that that the grammar-driven shooting occurred right while I was in the middle of writing a grammar-driven post.
I now shudder in abject irony over the implications.
Do I share blame for helping to create the same sort of grammar climate that drove Jared Loughner to mass murder?
The thought strikes me as lunacy.
But if the goal is to hold us to a new standard dominated by impressionable lunatics, then we are all lunatics.
Should such ridiculous ideas be taken seriously?
I'd like to think they should not, but I cannot shake the creepy thought that ridiculous ideas have become serious questions.
AFTERTHOUGHT: To the extent that it is possible to put politics aside, I would like to politely suggest that the mentally ill mind is an absolutely terrible yardstick.
I hope it does not become a new national standard.
Ann Althouse has more on the word war.
I think the idea that we could ever hope to avoid cross-contamination of the word salad of nuts is nuts.
To avoid any further confusion, let the record note that while I used the phrase "word salad," the proper term should be schizophasia.
Because words matter, right?
MORE: In today's editorial, the Wall Street Journal characterized grammar Loughner's "main complaint":
I've spent a lot of time with Tea Party people, and I can't remember a single complaint about grammar control.
I guess that means my question about the identity of the lunatics who helped create this grammar-driven climate has been settled.
Oh what a relief it is!
posted by Eric on 01.10.11 at 11:12 AM
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