Rhetorical violence

by Henry on October 25, 2010

Megan McArdle 2010 vintage

I thought it was pretty creepy when Jon Chait described another liberal journalist, Michael Kinsley, another journalist, as “curb stomping” economist Greg Mankiw for, yes, daring to suggest that higher marginal tax rates might have incentive effects. Woo-hoo! But why stop with curb-stomping? Wouldn’t it be fun to pile ten-thousand gleaming skulls of supply-siders outside the Heritage Offices? We could mount Art Laffer’s head on a rotating musical pike that plays The Stars and Stripes Forever! Then, in the most hilarious surprise ending of all, the mob could turn on Jon Chait, douse him with gasoline and set him on fire, and then sack the offices of the New Republic!

Megan McArdle 2003 vintage

So I was chatting about this with a friend of mine, a propos of the fact that everyone I know in New York is a) more frightened than they’ve been since mid-September 2001 and b) madly working on keeping up the who-the-hell-caresif -Iget-hit-by-a-truck? insouciance that New Yorkers feel is their sole civic obligation. Said friend was, two short years ago, an avowed pacifist and also a little bit to the left of Ho Chi Minh. And do you know what he said? “Bring it on.”
I can’t be mad at these little dweebs. I’m too busy laughing. And I think some in New York are going to laugh even harder when they try to unleash some civil disobedience, Lenin style, and some New Yorker who understands the horrors of war all too well picks up a two-by-four and teaches them how very effective violence can be when it’s applied in a firm, pre-emptive manner.

I’m afraid I’m not quite bright enough to understand why kerb-stomping-as-a-metaphor for-argumentative-victory is creepy and unfunny, while actually beating up war-protesters with bits of lumber is hee-LAIRIUS. Perhaps someone can tease out the nuances for me in comments.

Update: a commenter points to this apology by McArdle a couple of years ago. Fair enough, although it is worth noting that the apology makes much of the claim that she was only suggesting that the two-by-fours should be visited upon “violent protesters.” At the time, her definition of “violent protester” appears to have been a rather expansive one, as suggested by the disagreement between her and our own Daniel Davies in the comment section to her original post. DD noted:

d^2 – The “mayhem” referred to appears to refer to such actions as “walking down the street” when told not to by the police, by the way.

To which he received the reply:

D^2—have you ever been to a rally? Do you know what happens when you try to push past the police barriers? You get into a brawl with the cops, is what. Announcing that you’re going to walk on the street where the police tell you not to is announcing that you’re going to start a melee. There have always been jerks who went to these things spoiling for a fight, and I imagine these ones are going to get a little more than they bargained for. New York is not Seattle.

Or (and I believe I paraphrase fairly here) ‘if you want to walk where you are told not to walk by the police, you’re asking for it.’

{ 117 comments }

1

MQ 10.25.10 at 6:15 pm

I’m afraid I’m not quite bright enough to understand why kerb-stomping-as-a-metaphor for-argumentative-victory is creepy and unfunny, while actually beating up war-protesters with bits of lumber is hee-LAIRIUS.

They are both creepy and unfunny. But thumbs up to noting Ms. McArdle’s infatuation with two-by-fours for the record.

2

Steve LaBonne 10.25.10 at 6:20 pm

Imagine a stupid wingnut columnist whacking a human face with a two-by-four- forever.

3

mw 10.25.10 at 6:26 pm

Looks like McArdle used her time machine to respond to this post a couple of years ago:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2008/07/let-apos-s-get-this-out-of-the-way/3756/

4

politicalfootball 10.25.10 at 6:46 pm

Yay for McMegan! That actually reads like she’s sorry she said it. Still, given her history, she ought to be more sympathetic to people who get a little carried away with the rhetoric.

Chait’s error was a writer’s error – he picked a vivid metaphor in an instance where more boring language would have been more appropriate. If he had suggested that Kinsley eviscerated or annihilated Mankiw’s argument, that would have been a more trite use of language, but also a phrasing that would have been less unpleasantly graphic.

It cracks me up that McMegan professes to not know which sort of blogs are nastier in their language, not being a reader of conservative blogs, but she is somehow nonetheless sure that conservative blogs are about the same as liberal ones.

So we have the convenient ignorance and the self-contradiction that are McMegan’s trademarks. However, I think reasonable people have to admit, given mw@3, that her trademark hypocrisy is not highlighted here.

5

ben w 10.25.10 at 6:47 pm

Tragedy is when a conservative stubs his toe; comedy is when a liberal walks into an open sewer and dies.

6

christian h. 10.25.10 at 6:49 pm

Who says that stringing bankers up on lamp posts is funny? It’s not supposed to be. Although I have to admit the thought of, to randomly choose someone, Sarkozy being publicly guillotined makes me smile.

Also: apparently NY prep schools or Harvard don’t teach what a metaphor is. Next up for McArdle: outrage that anyone would call bringing additional pass rushers a “Blitz”.

7

Evan Harper 10.25.10 at 6:53 pm

Someone should ask McArdle what she thinks of this quote, by a Republican 501c4 operative, from an NYT story you blogged earlier today: “We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time … You’re looking at the battle field and saying, ‘Where can we marginally push — where can we close a few places out?’”

Surely she is outraged by such crazy, violent, eliminationist rhetoric.

8

Henry 10.25.10 at 6:56 pm

I hadn’t seen the apology – I actually don’t read her blog any more except when someone who I read links to it. Fair enough up to a point – but only up to a point. She makes a big deal in the apology of how she was only talking about violent protesters. But back in the day, when our very own d-squared pointed out in the comment section appended to that post that

bq. The “mayhem” referred to appears to refer to such actions as “walking down the street” when told not to by the police, by the way.

McArdle retorted:

bq. D^2 — have you ever been to a rally? Do you know what happens when you try to push past the police barriers? You get into a brawl with the cops, is what. Announcing that you’re going to walk on the street where the police tell you not to is announcing that you’re going to start a melee. There have always been jerks who went to these things spoiling for a fight, and I imagine these ones are going to get a little more than they bargained for. New York is not Seattle.

If you want to stretch the definition of mob violence to ‘if you want to walk where you are told not to walk by the police, you’re asking for it,’ then at the least your definition of ‘violent protester’ does not agree with my definition.

9

Steve LaBonne 10.25.10 at 6:59 pm

If you want to stretch the definition of mob violence to ‘if you want to walk where you are told not to walk by the police, you’re asking for it,’ then at the least your definition of ‘violent protester’ does not agree with my definition.

Well, scratch a schimbertarian, find an authoritarian. What else is new.

10

kth 10.25.10 at 7:01 pm

Also in that apology she says she was in her mid-twenties. Which she was, if one’s mid-20s extend from the day after one’s 20th birthday to the day before one’s 30th (she was 29 when she committed that “youthful indiscretion”).

11

Steve LaBonne 10.25.10 at 7:04 pm

Which she was, if one’s mid-20s extend from the day after one’s 20th birthday to the day before one’s 30th (she was 29 when she committed that “youthful indiscretion”).

That’s well up to her usual standards of both honesty and mathematical competence.

12

yabonn_fr 10.25.10 at 7:04 pm

I find the curb stomping expression is bad taste, but on the other hand, I quite like the pyramids of supply sider skulls outside the Heritage Office.

Don’t know what to make of it, either.

13

norbizness 10.25.10 at 7:06 pm

Notice anybody familiar in that original thread, about 2.3rds of the way down?

P.S. It’s been 7.5 years, please stop fucking paying attention to her now.

14

ejh 10.25.10 at 7:13 pm

Indeed. What’s the point?

15

Jurgen Stizmuller 10.25.10 at 7:26 pm

The point is that this is what continues to pass for highly paid professional punditry. If it’s gauche and passé to keep pointing this out, we should just get off the Internets altogether and take up snake breeding.

16

ejh 10.25.10 at 7:29 pm

It may indeed be passé to keep pointing out that a manifest idiot continues to be a manifest idiot. Again, what’s the point?

17

ejh 10.25.10 at 7:34 pm

18

Lemuel Pitkin 10.25.10 at 7:38 pm

I thought it had been long established that McArdle simply didn’t realize 2x4s were made of wood, and was imagining protesters being comically whacked with baguettes.

19

Lemuel Pitkin 10.25.10 at 7:45 pm

Oh hey, my words of wisdom live on. But I think ejh and norbizness are more to the point here. The problem with this post isn’t the vacuity of arguments that take the form of saying person A is a hypocrite on question X, while not taking a substantive position on X itself. The problem with this post is that it begins with the words “Megan McArdle.”

20

P O'Neill 10.25.10 at 7:46 pm

Ian Tomlinson meets her revised and extended definition of what she meant.

21

Uncle Kvetch 10.25.10 at 7:59 pm

Well, scratch a schimbertarian, find an authoritarian. What else is new.

No one’s ever unpacked this apparent contradiction quite as deliciously as a commenter at Roy Edroso’s place by the name of Susan of Texas:

“Conservatives are authoritarian followers. Libertarians are authoritarian followers who think they are authoritarian leaders.”

22

Phil Perspective 10.25.10 at 8:23 pm

Uncle Kvetch:
Susan of Texas is right. Especially for those Glibertarians that work for the know think tanks. Is it any wonder they always write about economic issues and not law and order issues(except for Radley Balko)?

23

Bloix 10.25.10 at 8:29 pm

What McArdle is doing, of course, is engaging in the conservative’s favorite pastime: projection. The thing is, it gives her pleasure to imagine protesters being hit in the face with a 2×4. Note that in protest against the curb-stomping metaphor, she works herself up into a lather that culminates in necklacing Jon Chait and trashing the New Republic. She loves this stuff. It gets her excited.

24

The Raven 10.25.10 at 8:32 pm

“Do you know what happens when you” don’t “try to push past the police barriers? You get into a brawl with the cops, is what.”

Just don’t protest, except quietly in your house, and you never know who is watching you there.

25

Emma in Sydney 10.25.10 at 9:06 pm

Uncle K, Susan of Texas has an All-McArdle Smackdown All the Time blog called Hunting of the Snark which is often amusing in a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel kind of way. Norbizness and Lemuel, do not click that link!

26

PhilaJester 10.25.10 at 9:18 pm

I’ll agree there seems to be no difference in manner between bludgeoning by 2×4 and curb-stomping, but the difference in degree saves Megan from hypocrisy. As egregious as inflicting head injuries with blunt objects obviously is, curb-stomping is an horrific act of particular barbarity that, once witnessed, will haunt the you for a lifetime. I suspect Megan’s response was in reaction to some image of curb-stomping, either remembered or imagined, that thoroughly nauseated her.

27

Freshly Squeezed Cynic 10.25.10 at 9:58 pm

but I thought it was pretty creepy when Jon Chait described another liberal journalist, Michael Kinsley, another journalist, as “curb stomping” economist Greg Mankiw

Y Kant McMegan Rite?

28

politicalfootball 10.25.10 at 10:28 pm

Whoops. McArdle only apologized in 2008 for her 2003 rhetoric, and only then after having apparently been given a lot of crap about it. So I have to retract the benefit of the doubt I gave McArdle in comment #4.

(It is an iron rule of the Internets that any time you give McArdle the benefit of the doubt, you end up regretting it. I really thought I had found the exceptional case here.)

29

David 10.25.10 at 11:00 pm

Curb-stomping is misused here- it’s what Jamie Galbraith did to michael kinsley in the Atlantic decently.

30

Henry 10.25.10 at 11:00 pm

lemuel etc – I disagree with you all quite strongly on this. In fact I feel a little guilty that I don’t read McArdle consistently, and don’t go after her more. I don’t think that she is a deliberately malign or evil person, and she has been perfectly pleasant on the occasions when I have met her. However, she practices a kind of writing and journalism which is the closest unconscious approximation to Harry Frankfurt’s version of bullshit that I have ever seen (I don’t think she _cares_ whether she is right on the facts or not, because she deeply and truly believes that she is correct in some Platonic sense). This results in some genuinely pernicious writing, that is nonetheless quite influential – and while I’m not especially influential myself, I think that I have to do my bit, and probably should be doing it more than I do do it.

31

nick s 10.25.10 at 11:05 pm

I thought it had been long established that McArdle simply didn’t realize 2×4s were made of wood

Possibly so, though I thought it was established pretty early on that McArdle wasn’t aware of the dimensions of a 2×4, and admitted that she was imagining slightly smaller off-the-shelf cudgels for the administering of pre-emptive discipline.

32

y81 10.25.10 at 11:37 pm

@30: Though I am inclined to agree that Megan McArdle frequently seems completely unconcerned with the facts, because she believes that they simply must conform to her a priori beliefs, I don’t see (i) where that separates her from many, many other bloggers or (ii) what that has to do with the original post here at Crooked Timer (McArdle isn’t factually wrong in her statement about rather horrific blogosphere rhetoric).

33

The Raven 10.25.10 at 11:41 pm

“I don’t think that she is a deliberately malign or evil person, and she has been perfectly pleasant on the occasions when I have met her.”

Come on man! She’s advocating violence against peaceful political opposition. That is malign. She has been good mannered when you met her. That’s nice. But she’s still an advocate of violence.

Hominds. Just don’t get ‘em. k-k-k-k.

34

Dan S. 10.26.10 at 12:07 am

a propos of the fact that everyone I know in New York is a) more frightened than they’ve been since mid-September 2001

This bit’s always puzzled me. Granted, while I grew up in the Bronx, I was living in Poughkeepise in ’01 and Philadelphia in ’03, so I don’t have an especially firm basis for comparison either way … but were there actually a lot of New Yorkers terrified by … what? a new, pre-emptive terrorist attack before/when the war began? surely not the peace march? She does specify that she’s talking about “everyone [she] knows”, but is even that credible, or were they all early versions of the gentleman she met on the DC bus recently who provided such a helpful quote?

(I’m assuming “no”, “probably not”, and “all signs point to yes”, but am willing to be corrected …)

35

Jaybird 10.26.10 at 12:07 am

I never trust people who change over time.

You can’t rely on them.

36

LassLisa 10.26.10 at 12:22 am

PhilaJester said: “As egregious as inflicting head injuries with blunt objects obviously is, curb-stomping is an horrific act of particular barbarity that, once witnessed, will haunt the you for a lifetime.”

I agree completely. I’m usually pretty happy with metaphoric violence (and ‘smack with a two-by-four’ to me is totally mundane language, although her exact wording strikes me as somewhat more threatening by calling on the reader to actually imagine the violence). But ever since I learned what curb-stomping refers to I can’t stand the way people of my acquaintance (college-age males) will use it casually. “Oh man we totally got curb-stomped at Halo the other night!” etc. Just thinking of the concept, having never even seen the movie, damn near gives me nightmares.

37

Henry 10.26.10 at 12:34 am

@32 – this was not a further development of the post, but instead a specific response to norbizness, Lemuel and others in comments who are asking why I bother ever responding to Megan McArdle, and suggesting that they would really prefer if I didn’t do it again. Or that is how I understood what they were saying – hence my reply.

38

kth 10.26.10 at 12:44 am

LassLisa, McArdle’s 2×4 was only metaphorical in the sense that it stood for some other unambiguously literal act of violence (or to be precise, was a metonym for a more general category of violent acts) that she imagined, clearly with relish, would happen to the renegade protester.

Whereas I can only guess that not everyone is aware that Michael Kinsley, the protagonist of Chait’s ostensibly-violent ostensible tableau, is battling Parkinson’s disease, and was terminally mild-mannered even beforehand? Because, if you know that, it’s pretty obvious that Chait was stretching for a less-commonly used expression than, say ‘smacks down’ or ‘slices and dices’, and not attempting to create a mental image of Kinsley, American History X-style, literally curb-stomping a conservative economics professor.

39

roy edroso 10.26.10 at 1:59 am

I just want to add that Susan of Texas is not only a commenter at alicublog, but also proprietor of her own very fine blog: http://agonyin8fits.blogspot.com/

40

ben w 10.26.10 at 2:13 am

I don’t think that she is a deliberately malign or evil person, and she has been perfectly pleasant on the occasions when I have met her.

Have these conjuncts anything to do with one another? I’m sure she’s quite pleasant in person—I’ve even been within mere feet of her person and my soul is intact. I agree that she probably doesn’t act under the title of malignity or evil, but if that’s all it takes not to be deliberately evil, the only villains are supervillains.

41

Jonathan H. Adler 10.26.10 at 2:34 am

I don’t think any nuances need to be teased out here. Curb stomping is a fairly blood curdling act. Here’s a clip for the uninitiated. (You’ll have to verify your age to watch it. )

You may think McArdle’s a good target, but you sure didn’t demonstrate it with this post, or your update.

42

politicalfootball 10.26.10 at 3:10 am

Jonathan, evisceration is pretty blood curdling, too, but everybody understands that when you eviscerate somebody’s argument, when you slice it to ribbons, when you stomp it to death, you’ve done no actual violence, nor have you advocated violence. I agree that Chait chose an unnecessarily unpleasant image to make his point, but McMegan’s critique – that Chait debases the debate through his violent imagery – is absurd. It was – arguably – an ill-chosen phrase, but nothing more.

Meanwhile, Henry cited a situation where McArdle openly advocated violence against actual human beings. Even McArdle has acknowledged that her language was inappropriate. So, in the context that Henry presents, her taking offense at violence being done to an argument is rank hypocrisy.

43

Henry 10.26.10 at 3:31 am

Jonathan – entirely apart from what politicalfootball says, I think that kerb-stomping is less objectionable than the following, entirely sincere and whole hearted expression of satisfaction in the suffering of a human being.

though for many instances I would prefer less painful forms of execution, I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging. … some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness.

Which quote was followed by a partial withdrawal – but on the grounds of legal practicability than any sense of regret or shame. I imagine you’re familiar with this quote. I know you’re familiar with its author. Do you think that explicit calls for the actual “slow throttling” to death of real human beings (albeit vile ones), for the sole purpose of inflicting pain, are more or less horrible than purely rhetorical uses of the term kerb-stomping? Especially when that argument is in cold blood? (I can surely understand the desire for vengeance on the part of someone whose family had been hurt in this way, even if I can’t agree with it – but someone who explicitly would like to have cruelty institutionalized as part of the penal system without being so affected is a different matter). Perhaps you do, but I personally found this post to be one of the creepiest pieces of writing that I have ever read on the Internet, and have never been able to think of the author in the same way since reading it.

44

ScentOfViolets 10.26.10 at 3:58 am

However, she practices a kind of writing and journalism which is the closest unconscious approximation to Harry Frankfurt’s version of bullshit that I have ever seen (I don’t think she cares whether she is right on the facts or not, because she deeply and truly believes that she is correct in some Platonic sense). This results in some genuinely pernicious writing

BINGO!!! Got it in one. I try not to get sucked in, but every so often like her “my calculator doesn’t go up another 10″ post I have to linger and comment on the carnage.

Megan’s problem is two-fold: first, she is – I firmly believe – functionally innumerate. Literally, not figuratively. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, and a lot of perfectly fine and pleasant and capable people suffer the same lack. Where she really falls down is that, like a lot of innumerates, she doesn’t realize the numbers are important. That’s where the Platonism comes in, because for her, the numbers merely support the argument. That they actually are the argument is, for her, inconceivable.

Of course, the very scary thing here is that a lot of our so-called elites seem to be innumerate in just this way as well . . .

45

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 5:32 am

“Come on man! She’s advocating violence against peaceful political opposition. “

While we’re being punctilious about facts and Megan’s alleged disinterest in them, you should note that she definitely does not advocate violence against peaceful opposition. Even in the original, pre-apology from she is talking about violent protests.

46

The Raven 10.26.10 at 5:43 am

Sebastian, since when does “civil disobedience”–McArdle’s own words–involve violence?

Hominds. k. Hominids.

47

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 5:50 am

you should note that she definitely does not advocate violence against peaceful opposition.

“Pre-emptive” means she has a time machine I guess.

48

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 6:58 am

I’m pretty sure that when she talks about “civil disobedience, Lenin style” that is difficult to read as equivalent to “peaceful opposition”.

Her sentiment is plenty attackable enough without creating a straw man worse than what she actually said.

49

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 7:01 am

See also her, in that very thread: “Y’all are confusing the peace protesters, who I support, with the adolescent thugs planning to start a riot and break things, who I do not. Sympathetic as I am with people who want to get their message out, if you attack the police, their job is not to stand there and take it. This is a big city, libertarians. There are a lot of people here, and you can’t march because it’s highly disruptive and you didn’t allow enough time to set up security. That’s the reality of living with, y’know, other people on the planet. No one’s trying to silence you, just keep you from disrupting the city. I thought respecting other peoples’ rights was part of the libertarian ethos.”

She is very specifically NOT advocating that peaceful political opposition be attacked.

50

x. trapnel 10.26.10 at 8:09 am

In the very quote you use, Sebastian, you can see that she’s explicitly including not only violent protesters, and not just those who destroy property, but also those who simply march without permission. This would include, among others, the annual NYC Dyke March, or the Critical Mass rides. Legitimate targets for beatings?

Non-violent protest is not always polite or convenient. That’s sort of the point, sometimes. But that doesn’t make it violent, nor does it make violence against it ok.

51

dsquared 10.26.10 at 9:14 am

As egregious as inflicting head injuries with blunt objects obviously is, curb-stomping is an horrific act of particular barbarity that, once witnessed, will haunt the you for a lifetime

I agree with this, as long as for the words “horrific act of particular barbarity that, once witnessed, will haunt the you for a lifetime”, you substitute the words “urban myth”. Note that Jonathan’s link above is of a stunt from a film and did not really happen. The beating of protestors with sticks by vigilantes has, on the other hand, happened a lot, and despite what Jonathan (implicitly) and PhilaJester (explicitly) say, the injuries inflicted by smashing the bones in someone’s head with a stick are really not different at all from those that can be inflicted with a boot.

52

Tim Worstall 10.26.10 at 10:12 am

“and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling,”

While Volokh’s approval of the method is, at least to me, disgusting, (as is, to me, any form of capital punishment) that “slow throttling” is not some Iranian specially invented form of hanging. It’s been the standard form of it throughout the ages.

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hanging2.html

Pierrepoint makes the point in his memoirs that those hung by himself (ie, the Brits) at Nuremburg got the calculated long drop and the broken neck. Those by the Americans, the standard short drop and, dependent upon their height/weight, either that broken neck or that “slow throttling”.

53

Henry 10.26.10 at 10:36 am

Tim – I understood that, but no harm in spelling it out.

Sebastian – as I discussed in the update to the post, McArdle’s definition of “violent protesters” is, shall we say, an unusually expansive one. As dsquared noted back then:

bq. What a fine old time you would have had with Mahatma Gandhi, let alone the founding fathers of your country. A curious kind of libertarianism, that disobeying the order of a cop counts as “initiating force”. The people want to march. The city, for whatever reason, doesn’t want them to. It is the cops’ job to deal with this conflict in a sensible, sensitive way. If they decide instead that they want to enforce a local ordnance in a draconian manner and break the head of anyone who crosses a line, then that’s their fault.

54

Jonathan H. Adler 10.26.10 at 12:37 pm

Henry –

I can understand why you keep trying to change the subject given your original post, but it doesn’t help your cause. You attempted to play “gotcha” by selectively editing McArdle’s post (excluding the setup in which the protestors initiate violence), failed to note she had apologized and withdrawn the sentiment years ago (“I shouldn’t have written it, full stop. No excuses,”), and then after your omission was noticed, continued to quote selectively from her seven-year-old comment thread. (No, you didn’t “paraphrase fairly” — as reading the rest of that comment thread would have made clear.) This is not behavior that suggests you’re trying to make a point in good faith. That other people, whether friends of mine or yours, may have said objectionable things in other contexts is beside the point.

JHA

55

The Raven 10.26.10 at 12:40 pm

As a footnote to this, it is reported that a Rand Paul supporter actually curb-stomped a MoveOn activist in Kentucky. It was caught on video. She was conscious afterwards, but has been hospitalized. No reports yet on the severity of her injuries.

No cynical remarks this morning. Head and neck trauma often lead to lasting, painful disabilities, and I hope the criminal is found, jailed for aggravated assault, and made to pay for all of Lauren Valle’s care expenses, even if they last a lifetime. As for McArdle and Paul, the word is brother to the deed. Verbal abuse and physical abuse are very close behaviorally, as anyone who has studied domestic violence, even a little, knows. It is as David Neiwert has been telling us all along: an eliminationist rhetorical environment will eventually turn violent.

56

Barry 10.26.10 at 12:48 pm

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 6:58 am

“I’m pretty sure that when she talks about “civil disobedience, Lenin style” that is difficult to read as equivalent to “peaceful opposition”.”

Tell me – WTF is “civil disobedience, Lenin style”?

57

Steve LaBonne 10.26.10 at 12:54 pm

Meanwhile, to inject some reality back into this conversation, here’s some actual libertarian head-stomping. I’m sure Sebastian will find it particularly edifying.

58

Steve LaBonne 10.26.10 at 12:54 pm

Raven beat me to it.

59

Henry 10.26.10 at 2:00 pm

Jonathan – please stop playing games. The quote from McArdle was not taken out of context. Do you deny that she appears to include ‘protesters who try to go places where the police don’t want them to go’ under the rubric of violent protesters? As I read it, she very explicitly makes that claim – and she has not, to the best of my knowledge, withdrawn it. If you have evidence to the contrary, produce it please. If you don’t, then you don’t have an argument.

60

Jonathan H. Adler 10.26.10 at 2:31 pm

Henry –

Yes, I do deny it. That is not a fair characterization of her position as she explained it throughout the comment thread. Not only did you edit out the set-up in her original post — the allegedly peaceful protester “opening a can of whup-ass on some Korean vegetable stand” — but you also ignore her other statements making clear she was talking about more than simply disobeying the police. As she wrote later in the thread: “The police will be forming a wall around the protesters. Breaching the barrier will require knocking over police, at which time, said knockers will get hit. Their friends will jump in, and it’s “Pound the Police for Peace!” The police will win. The events are entirely predictable, and no, I don’t approve.” Physically pushing past a police barrier is not the same as “simply trying to go where the police don’t want you to go — legally or otherwise — and McArdle made clear that she was drawing this distinction several times in the thread.

61

kidneystones 10.26.10 at 2:33 pm

Henry,

I’m frankly astonished at the moral vacuity of your own position. You’ve somehow managed to cede the moral high ground to Megan, at least in this instance. It was bad enough reading of your emotional attachment to a man who has killed more Pakistanis and Afghans through drone attacks and expanded war in Afghanistan than Bush.

Megan supported the war and wrote intemperately about protesters. I loathed the Jane Galt online persona, but suggesting she “gets off” on punishing the defenseless degrades those who level the accusation far more than the target.

As for you, Henry, I have just two words:

Grow up.

62

matth 10.26.10 at 2:34 pm

I can’t believe I’m participating in the Most Tedious Argument Ever (which blogger has more rhetorical blood on their hands?), but McArdle thought ignoring police orders implied violence, not that ignoring police orders justified treating protestors as though they were violent. In other words, if you and McArdle were walking down the street and saw a bunch of protestors ignoring police orders in a non-violent manner, you would disagree about whether the sight was surprising, but agree that the police shouldn’t beat them up.

But honestly, you think McArdle wants to see cops whaling on nonviolent protestors? Allow me to join the chorus of shocked delicate sensibilities in this discussion by saying that seems a bit uncharitable.

63

dsquared 10.26.10 at 2:57 pm

Jonathan, I think your more charitable interpretation has a big problem with the sentence “Announcing that you’re going to walk on the street where the police tell you not to is announcing that you’re going to start a melee”.

64

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 2:59 pm

Her sentiment is plenty attackable enough without creating a straw man worse than what she actually said.

Sebastian, “pre-emptive” is not a straw man. It doesn’t matter how she describes the opposition: she thinks you should march up to them, assume their intent, and brain them before they enact their nefarious plans.

65

Henry 10.26.10 at 3:39 pm

Jonathan. Through the wonders of archive.org, it’s actually possible to see the “mayhem post”:http://web.archive.org/web/20030224001817/http://letterfromgotham.blogspot.com/2003_02_01_letterfromgotham_archive.html that Megan McArdle was linking to for purported evidence of violence in the offing. The actual essay to which the blogger is linking is “here”:http://web.archive.org/web/20030222142127/prorev.com/nycmarch.htm. She does not link to this in her apology, instead noting that the blog in question is defunct; perhaps she is unaware of the existence and usefulness of the Wayback Machine. I quote from the mayhem post _in extenso_ for fear that you’ll think again that I am deliberately taking things out of context (NB though that I have reformatted slightly for easier reading).

———————————

I WAS AFRAID OF THIS. Someone named Daniel Forbes, in an online Marxist rag called Progressive Review, informs us of the planned mayhem in the upcoming protest parade. Of course, he blames it all on Judge Jones’ decision, but I know leftists better than to swallow that rancid baloney. Excerpts:

bq. With Monday’s ruling against an orderly, nonviolent protest march anywhere on the streets of Manhattan this Saturday,

Lie

bq. S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones has steered the City of New York towards chaos.

Lie. How? This is simply an admission that they were planning to use violence all along. They don’t get what they want, they threaten. How typical of the radical left.

bq. Though event organizer United for Peace and Justice states its willingness to follow any route the New York Police Department designates, the only legal option at hand is for anti-war demonstrators to be massed in tightly controlled police pens stretching far up First Avenue north of the United Nations.

Lie. Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is a reasonably large, open-air space. “Tightly-controlled police pens” sounds like “cattle cars.” What he should say is that rally-participants will be restrained by police barriers — standard operating procedure in a large public gathering.

bq. Of the perhaps 100,000 people corralled

Lie. Nobody will be corralled.

bq. there – stationary, cold, unable to hear or see the program directly, unable to duck out without difficulty for coffee or the Port-o-John

Ah, gee. No coffee and no visit to the Port-o-Potty! To a latter-day leftist from an indulgent Western country not being able to do exactly what you want when you want is Naziism. Seriously folks, the only coffee available nowadays in NYC is Starbucks, so Judge Jones is doing them a favor by preventing them from patronizing the Evil Zionist Capitalist Howard Schultz!

bq. Then there are those who will seek a more creative outlet, avoiding the pens and hoping to sow chaos all over Manhattan.

Here we get to the point.

bq. The Net features discussion of such tactics, honed at past free-form protests, as using cell phones to coordinate splinter actions.

Honed at past free-form protests? Then why should I believe you ever intended to march peacefully?

bq. Of the currently 29 UFPJ-sanctioned “feeder” marches – by such groups as the “Queer Anti-War Contingent,” the “Interfaith Ministers for Peace,” not to mention the “Anarchist Red & Black Contingent” and the “Anti-Capitalist Bloc” – how many might break up like mercury in a dish, blobs going off on their own rather than being shunted into the pens?

As I have already said, no one is going to be penned up. But to answer the question, can anybody possibly believe that the “Queer Anti-War Contingent” and the “Anarchist Red & Black Contingent” was planning to come to NY to protest peacefully? Hell, no! No way in the world they didn’t want to turn this into a violent, Davos-like spectacle, surging through the streets in battle formation.

So much for the bullshit about comparing this radical leftist chaos “march” to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade! So much for comparing the “Anarchist Red & Black Contingent” to the Westchester County Hibernian Bagpipers!

bq. As former Brooklyn DA and Congresswoman Liz Holtzman told me, “It’s tough to distinguish [regular] walkers from marchers.”

I think it’s really easy to distinguish peaceful pedestrians from members of the Anarchist Red & Black Contingent heaving bricks through shop-windows.

bq. One contributor to the NYC Indymedia

Indymedia, I should have known…

bq. Center Web site called for “a tactical plan for widescale CD [civil disobedience] throughout Manhattan. This could include surprise ‘people’s inspections’ of various corporate and governmental sites, traffic lockdowns, a mass die-in, street theatre, prayer vigils, snowball fights, you name it. It’s time to be both bold and creative. Let’s transform Feb. 15 into a carnival of peace and resistance throughout Manhattan all afternoon. Save the protest pit for last call.”

Jim Henley, I’m calling you out. This is peaceful protest?

This is among the more temperate postings. Another stated mildly, “We can’t settle for tired megaphone speakers inside a protest pen encircled by police – we gotta bust out into the streets.”

Again, I ask, is this peaceful protest?

bq. Writing in ZNet online,

Znet, I should have known…

bq. Brian Dominick, an emergency medical technician from Syracuse, NY, noted his phone message to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that, “permit or no permit, we will march.”

Then he’ll be breaking the law, and he’ll be arrested.

bq. He added, “This latest clash between the streets and the elites is at this phase neither cataclysmic nor revolutionary, but it is certainly momentous.”

Actually, it’s none of the above. Petty street thuggery is petty thuggery; it’s been around since the year one, and accomplishes nothing.

bq. One rally participant disagrees with threatening violence (which proves that those who are bent on it have a choice in the matter, as always):

bq. Ted Glick represents such groups as the National Lawyers Guild and the Green Party. An organizer of Saturday’s demonstration, he disagreed about taking it to the streets, saying in an interview, “I doubt there will be a breach of police barricades – it will be absolutely peaceful and nonviolent. We’re not looking for a confrontation, but to manifest the views of millions of people.”

bq. But he says: “But to the extent they don’t cooperate with those of us with a history of organizing peaceful demonstrations, then they put a lot of stress on what can happen.”

He issues a few soothing bromides and then disclaims responsibility for what he might bring about by his own actions.

bq. By phone, Brian Dominick, a veteran of many demonstrations,

Er, you’ve already described him

bq. wondered about an exit strategy – both citizens’ and the cops’.

The NYPD has a lot of experience in these matters, and if you just listen to them and work with them, all will go fine.

bq. While he’s helped organize medical facilities at prior demonstrations, he’s just coordinating buses for this one. Based on his experience, he speculated that, “With hundreds of thousands of people at what was planned and promoted as a march, they will have that expectation.

It’s your fault if you promised something you couldn’t deliver. Don’t expect me to believe (with your cell phones and laptops provided by your upper-middle-class parents) that every person attending this rally doesn’t know about the judge’s decision. This is poppycock, even by Marxist standards.

bq. What, are the police somehow going to manage to say we have to leave in very small groups and disperse us a few at a time?

Yes.

bq. That’s what they do when there’s hundreds or even a few thousand people. But unless the police want to keep us penned up

How many times do I have to say, there will be no pens?

bq. there for hours on end, it’s going to be chaos.

More threats.

bq. In reality, there’s going to be a march.

More threats.

bq. People will be at a rally pumped up for it, and that’s the natural inclination.”

Restrain yourselves. As Katherine Hepburn said to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, “Nature, Mr. Allnutt, is what we were put on earth to overcome.”

bq. As endorsed by Judge Jones on Monday, the city has seemingly transformed a largely self-policing, follow-your-nose chant-and-sing march along any route the city might choose – UFPJ having abandoned its goal of marching by the UN – into an unpredictable and potentially chaotic cat-and-mouse struggle. Any rampant hooliganism will besmirch the peace movement, true, but also black the eye of civil liberties in a country touting itself as a democratic example to the world.

No comment. The Marxist lies keep coming, like garbage out of Fibber McGee’s closet.

bq. And, to the degree that news cameras focus on cops tussling with some kids decked out in anarchist regalia or some shattered plate glass rather than on throngs tramping by under a Unitarian or Queer or Labor peace banner…

Blah blah blah blah. Where’s the shattered plate glass coming from? Peaceful marchers?

bq. With effective, massed dissent an intolerable visual spectacle as war approaches, the city now invites struggle on both ends of a nightstick….

Both ends of a nightstick….did he just make that up, or is it his most-used macro? Blah blah blah.

Just go read the rest.

Thanks to Bill Quick for the link to the article.

NOTE: The NYCLU appealed Jones’s ruling Wednesday morning before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In an oral decision Wednesday afternoon, Judge Jose A. Cabranes upheld the city’s ban, saying his ruling applied to Saturday’s demonstration only.

Yes!

UPDATE: “On Friday, we made contact with NYPD’s Intelligence Division and confirmed that the New York City Area has been at the “ORANGE” alert level since September 11, 2001.” This is quoted directly from an e-mail from my building’s security/logistics manager.
posted by Diane at 12:30 PM

————————————————————-

Here are the key sentences as I read them.

bq. Then there are those who will seek a more creative outlet, avoiding the pens and hoping to sow chaos all over Manhattan. The Net features discussion of such tactics, honed at past free-form protests, as using cell phones to coordinate splinter actions. Of the currently 29 UFPJ-sanctioned “feeder” marches – by such groups as the “Queer Anti-War Contingent,” the “Interfaith Ministers for Peace,” not to mention the “Anarchist Red & Black Contingent” and the “Anti-Capitalist Bloc” – how many might break up like mercury in a dish, blobs going off on their own rather than being shunted into the pens? As former Brooklyn DA and Congresswoman Liz Holtzman told me, “It’s tough to distinguish [regular] walkers from marchers.” One contributor to the NYC Indymedia Center Web site called for “a tactical plan for widescale CD [civil disobedience] throughout Manhattan. This could include surprise ‘people’s inspections’ of various corporate and governmental sites, traffic lockdowns, a mass die-in, street theatre, prayer vigils, snowball fights, you name it. It’s time to be both bold and creative. Let’s transform Feb. 15 into a carnival of peace and resistance throughout Manhattan all afternoon. Save the protest pit for last call.” This is among the more temperate postings. Another stated mildly, “We can’t settle for tired megaphone speakers inside a protest pen encircled by police – we gotta bust out into the streets.”

I don’t think I’m omitting anything important here – feel free to point out anything that I am missing. As I read this, the _only_ proposed action that can be interpreted as ‘violence’ is snowball fights. If you really wanted to, you could read ‘bust out into the streets’ as proposing violence. But this would be a stretch.

There is the later bit about:

bq. As endorsed by Judge Jones on Monday, the city has seemingly transformed a largely self-policing, follow-your-nose chant-and-sing march along any route the city might choose – UFPJ having abandoned its goal of marching by the UN – into an unpredictable and potentially chaotic cat-and-mouse struggle. Any rampant hooliganism will besmirch the peace movement, true, but also black the eye of civil liberties in a country touting itself as a democratic example to the world. And, to the degree that news cameras focus on cops tussling with some kids decked out in anarchist regalia or some shattered plate glass rather than on throngs tramping by under a Unitarian or Queer or Labor peace banner, that apparently suits the authorities just fine. … With effective, massed dissent an intolerable visual spectacle as war approaches, the city now invites struggle on both ends of a nightstick.

but this cannot credibly be viewed as a threat, even an implied one – the writer is quite explicit in arguing that any hooliganism will “besmirch the peace movement.”

So what do we have here? It is perhaps valuable to note what we _don’t_ have. There is nothing there that _even hints_ at “opening whup-ass on a Korean vegetable stand.” That appears to be entirely an invention of McArdle’s own making. It may seem reasonable to you to make imaginary accusations regarding people’s plans, and then to argue that those people deserve to be beaten up for these plans. It does not appear reasonable to me. Instead, we have a description of proposed ‘mayhem’ which appears in fact to be completely limited to the _standard repertoire of peaceful disruptive protest._ Die-ins and public snowball fights may be a pain in the arse – but they are no excuse for beating the shit out of people with handy pieces of lumber. There is the suggestion that there may be some hooliganism (which the person advocating the protest deplores, and suggests will ‘besmirch’ the marchers, even as he suggests that it is the city’s fault too) – but the worst that this seems to involve is _broken windows._ There is nothing in there, _nothing_ in there, about “Pound the Police for Peace.” Again – this is McArdle’s own, very personal invention. This was not only an offensive post – it was a remarkably dishonest one. Or perhaps, given her track record, better to say an unremarkably dishonest one.

66

Tim McD 10.26.10 at 3:43 pm

Looks to me like what she is saying is that if rioters come to my place of business and try to wreck it, I am going to defend my business and myself rom them with a 2×4. Seems foolish to me, if rioters come to my home and attempt to harm me, I am going to use a .45, much more effective.

You do understand the difference between meeting words with violence, and meeting violence with violence don’t you? One is justifiable, and one is not.

67

Henry 10.26.10 at 3:43 pm

Also: what dsquared said.

68

JM 10.26.10 at 3:48 pm

In fairness to McArdle, she was so overwhelmed with conservative snuff-porn in Iraq and Afghanistan back then that she renamed her shower nozzle ‘MOAB.’

Whether conservatives get off on political violence because of their distaste for democracy, or vice versa, remains a ‘chicken and egg’ kind of question.

69

Uncle Kvetch 10.26.10 at 3:50 pm

So what do we have here? It is perhaps valuable to note what we don’t have. There is nothing there that even hints at “opening whup-ass on a Korean vegetable stand.” That appears to be entirely an invention of McArdle’s own making.

Yeah, but that’s McArdle in a nutshell. Interfaith ministers with cellphones organizing spontaneous prayer vigils, anarchists smashing up a business…potayto, potahto. You’re just being a typical nitpicky liberal, getting bogged down in unimportant details. Her “broader point” still stands, and it always will: hippies suck.

She’s Jonah Goldberg with a different set of naughty bits. And nothing more.

70

Jonathan H. Adler 10.26.10 at 3:52 pm

dsquared –

My “more charitable interpretation” would only have a problem with that sentence were it not qualified, elaborated upon and explained in numerous other statements throughout the thread. All sorts of statements create problems for “charitable interpretations” when read out of context.

Henry –

You may have a point about the post that Megan used as her starting point, but that was not the point of your original post, nor your subsequent defenses. You went after her for what she said, not the original post. If you’re going to keep moving the goalposts like that, I don’t think you should accuse others of “playing games.”

JHA

71

JM 10.26.10 at 3:56 pm

You may have a point about the post that Megan used as her starting point, but that was not the point of your original post …

Except for the title, you mean. It’s important to note that you can’t subtract from his meaning with your ignorance. He understood the context, you had to have it explained to you.

72

kidneystones 10.26.10 at 3:56 pm

Henry,

If you’re going to add context, then you’ll need to mention the examples of other “peaceful protests” that turned ugly because some of those participating wanted violent confrontations with the police. I can’t frankly believe anyone as intelligent and well-informed as you is not aware that the last thing the authoritarian right and the radical left want to see is civil disobedience.

You support a president who refuses to declare even a temporary moratorium on home foreclosures and yet confess guilt for not attacking Megan often enough?

I used to take you seriously.

Please. Think of change, think of acting in good faith and setting an example. If an exemplary individual such as yourself can’t practice these virtues, what hope is there for the rest of us?

73

Henry 10.26.10 at 4:02 pm

Jonathan – I really don’t think that I’m moving the goalposts here. As I noted in the update to the original post, McArdle did indeed apologize. However, as I also noted in the same update, she qualified her apology by saying that she had been talking only about ‘violent protesters.’ I pointed out at that time that her definition of ‘violent protesters’ seemed to be quite an expansive one. My most recent comment makes it clear quite how expansive this definition was – i.e. that she seems to have been completely making up the ‘violent’ bit about the protesters that she wanted to see beaten up. Hence I think it is pretty clearly germane, not goalpost-shifting etc etc.

74

Uncle Kvetch 10.26.10 at 4:14 pm

It may seem reasonable to you to make imaginary accusations regarding people’s plans, and then to argue that those people deserve to be beaten up for these plans. It does not appear reasonable to me.

It may not be reasonable, but it’s increasingly popular

75

JM 10.26.10 at 4:16 pm

Thinking back to 2003, that really was a heady year for voyeuristic jackboot polishers, wasn’t it? Sullivan saying that the left would turn out to be a fifth column, then covering it up. Coulter saying it was important for liberals to know they would be killed. Internment camps rehabilitated. McCarthyism rehabilitated. Democrats’ faces morphed into Osama bin Laden. Rumsfeld claiming administration critics were the hope of terrorism. It really puts the calls for violence, coming from Republican candidates themselves over the last few months, in perspective. In power or out of power, physical intimidation is their SOP.

76

Salient 10.26.10 at 4:20 pm

People who want to commit violence are usually eager to interpret nonviolent actions, like walking through a police barricade [whose legitimacy is subject to dispute!] with one’s hands behind one’s back. Pushing past someone is generally not considered ‘violence’ — unless one is looking for an excuse to legally commit an act of violence against the pusher.

Let’s take everything as generously as possible for a moment, taking it as given that: McArdle apologized for her blood lust, and retracted the statements in which she exhibited her blood lust, and acknowledged her blood lust to be categorically inappropriate. Even conceding all that, it doesn’t erase the fact that she exhibited palpable blood lust. Which is really scary.

Conversely, as much as I may emphatically protest the choice of words in saying person A “curb stomped” person B’s argument — along with everyone else, mind you; I haven’t noticed anyone defending that choice of words as appropriate or even as acceptable discourse, here, which is heartening — that does not exhibit blood lust.

Physically pushing past a police barrier is not the same as “simply trying to go where the police don’t want you to go

Really? I’ve “pushed” past police barriers before, in the sense that I’ve walked through them with my hands clasped behind my back. I did this because I was simply trying to go where the police didn’t want me to go. The barrier was illegitimate and there was no law authorizing the use of the barrier. (Oh, and I wasn’t reacted to with violence, either. The police questioned me respectfully but tersely, and I answered their questions civilly but tersely, and that was that. No violence necessary, though perhaps they had a bit of excuse to pound me as McArdle would have wanted.)

Their friends will jump in, and it’s “Pound the Police for Peace!”

This prediction is insane, completely disassociated from what actually happens in these situations, and it worries me that you’re endorsing it.

77

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 4:24 pm

“There is nothing in there, nothing in there, about “Pound the Police for Peace.” Again – this is McArdle’s own, very personal invention. “

That’s kind of weird thing to say. So now you are suggesting that the “Pound the Police for Peace” thing is McArdle’s own personal invention and an important part of her piece?

But if that is true than she is definitely NOT talking about violence against peaceful protesters, right? Look you can attack her for wanting to attack peaceful protesters OR you can attack her for extrapolating likely violence from protesters when you don’t think it was likely. But you really have to start counting angel wings to do both at the same time.

And it isn’t as if there wasn’t a very recent history of protester-initiated violence (some of which turned into the perfectly predictable police escalated violence that McCardle also decried) at recent-at-the-time anti-globalisation protests–especially Davos, Prague, Quebec City and Gothenberg all within the previous two years. So while you may not put much credence in McCardle’s suggestion that there would be protester-initiated violence, I can certainly see where the idea came from.

In any case, the violence is either essential to her post or not. If essential to her post, feel free to attack her on the basis that you believe protester-initiated violence was unlikely. You can have a debate about that. Or you can feel free to attack her on the basis that you believe her words *really* meant that she was all for attacking peaceful protesters.

But you can’t have it both ways. From here, it looks like the protester-initiated violence issue was important to the post and all subsequent follow-ups. This includes such issues as forcing your way past police barricades.

So it sounds like the issue is important to her. So you can argue with her over whether the likelihood of protester-initiated violence is A) likely or B) implicit in the report she linked.

As for B) you seem to heavily discount a bit of evidence that doesn’t seem it should be dismissed. “Of the currently 29 UFPJ-sanctioned “feeder” marches – by such groups as the “Queer Anti-War Contingent,” the “Interfaith Ministers for Peace,” not to mention the “Anarchist Red & Black Contingent” and the “Anti-Capitalist Bloc” – how many might break up like mercury in a dish, blobs going off on their own rather than being shunted into the pens?”

The two bolded groups sound like they belong much more in the anti-free-trade (violent) protests than in a peaceful dissent protest about the war.

78

kidneystones 10.26.10 at 4:29 pm

Henry,

Stating explicitly that you’re being misquoted or that your words are being taken out of context isn’t a qualification, it’s a claim. Megan asks us to read her post and yours and judge who’s being mean-spirited and leading readers astray. The evidence is unequivocal. You’re preaching to a particular choir, rather than engaging in fair-minded debate.

You’re welcome to assert that Megan’s past record justifies venality, but if that’s the approach you’re going to take, then shouldn’t you at least state clearly that you don’t believe she deserves the benefit of the doubt? I mean, that is your real position, isn’t it?

The left is about to twist itself into knots as the enormity of your collective blunders takes shape. I’ve always found you eloquent, opinionated, passionate, and intelligent. I’d hate to think you’ve joined the only way we can win is to take the low-road Dems like Grayson and Conway. And, yes, I think the politics of the moment very much informs your attack on Megan.

Anyway, you’ll have plenty of substance to criticize when the Republicans replace your party in week or so. Voters expected good governance. What they got was sneers and smears.

You can offer far more.

79

JM 10.26.10 at 4:36 pm

In any case, the violence is either essential to her post or not. If essential to her post, feel free to attack her on the basis that you believe protester-initiated violence was unlikely.

She described someone getting clubbed for engaging in “civil disobedience,” not violence, and emphasizes that said violence should be preemptive. It’s right there at the top of the page. The italics might have given you a clue.

No angels necessary, just simple honesty. Now you try.

80

Scott Lemieux 10.26.10 at 4:41 pm

@43–for added context, note that when the arbitrary torture policies of a Republican administration were involved, the mystery author claimed to find the whole subject too unpleasant to even discuss.

81

Barry 10.26.10 at 4:42 pm

matth:

“But honestly, you think McArdle wants to see cops whaling on nonviolent protestors? “
Yes, I do.

“Allow me to join the chorus of shocked delicate sensibilities in this discussion by saying that seems a bit uncharitable.”

BS. She was drooling for the protesters to get beaten by the police.

Years later, when Iraq had turned sour for right-wingers, she sorta kinda backed down, in her usual dishonest fashion.

82

JM 10.26.10 at 4:42 pm

Anyway, you’ll have plenty of substance to criticize when the Republicans replace your party in week or so.

Actually, the party in the White House nearly always loses seats in the legislature in mid-term elections. The impending losses are hardly a turning point in history (demographics and a failure to adapt are grinding conservatives to death in the long term) or a referendum on the Democrats. Obama and his party still poll higher nationally than the party that’s about to maybe take the House.

And, judging from what Republicans have been saying about their plans for the future, it would be foolish to expect “substance” from them.

Voters expected good governance. What they got was sneers and smears.

Death panels. Birth certificates. ACORN. Teleprompters. “Czars.” Waterloo.

I’m sorry, you were saying?

83

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 4:45 pm

But if that is true than she is definitely NOT talking about violence against peaceful protesters, right?

Sebastian, you assume that Megan McArdle, who is reliably stupid and wrong, can figure out who to swing her pre-emptive lumber at.

At the Gathering of the Sebastians, we have word that some Sebastians are going to be mean to Tila Tequila. Do we find a Sebastian and beat him silly? Do we figure Megan McArdle can identify the proper Sebastian?

84

politicalfootball 10.26.10 at 4:48 pm

So Jonathan, you figure it’s pretty much a coincidence that McArdle was linking approvingly to, and elaborating on, that repugnant post? Just a lucky guess by Henry that there was something like this behind her words?

I can sympathize. In this very thread, because I read quickly and carelessly, I got sucked into the momentary illusion that McArdle was apologizing in good faith. I forgot the Iron Rule of Reading McArdle: It’s always bullshit.

I’d still be curious to understand what you think McArdle meant by “pre-emptively” whacking folks with a 2-by-4.(Emphasis hers in the original, curiously omitted in the “apology”).

And gosh, what about this, where she explains in her “apology” why she got carried away:

because I’m a lifelong New Yorker who lost a lot of people in the towers, including the first boy I dated in college, and I’d just finished up working at Ground Zero, aka The Pit. I was more than a tad overemotional at the thought of my city getting another dose of random ideological violence.

I mean, that’s repugnant on its face, right? Suggesting that anti-war protesters are capable of “another dose of random violence” like the 9-11 attacks. Even in 2003 that would be loathsome, but remember, she’s writing this in 2008 and casting it as an apology.

85

politicalfootball 10.26.10 at 4:58 pm

It may not be reasonable, but it’s increasingly popular…

Popular in the sense that it’s been taken over by amateurs. Back when the pros were doing this stuff, we did it on a much larger scale, invading the country of the Muslim-dressed people before the smoking gun could become a mushroom cloud.

We invaded “pre-emptively” to use McArdle’s carefully italicized word. There was absolutely no confusion in 2003 what that word meant, and no confusion about why she was proud enough of that word to put it in italics.

86

JJ 10.26.10 at 4:59 pm

The Valentine’s Day March on Manhattan in 2003? That’s what this debate is all about? I went to that demonstration. Our bus left Cleveland State University late Friday evening and arrived in New York City early Saturday morning. The protest was an entirely boring event, aside from the Salvadoran butcher who held out a recently slaughtered chicken for our curious inspection as the bus circled the neighborhood in Queens prior to parking at Shea Stadium. We took the subway from Queens to Grand Central Station and milled around Manhattan for several hours. The police were out in force, but the sheer number of people who descended upon the city that day precluded any possibility of provocation, if any had been anticipated. Entire families, from grandparents to grandchildren, attended the event. The coffee shops and fast food outlets racked up land sale profits and quickly exhausted their inventory. By midafternoon, I returned to Queens and slept on the bus for the rest of the day. As usual, the media lowballed the number of people who went there to protest the Bush administration’s impending invasion of Iraq.

McArdle’s fervent desire to witness our poetic punishment never quite occurred, although the Bush administration did indeed decide to invade Iraq which, I must assume, did provide her with some minimal modicum of consolation.

87

kidneystones 10.26.10 at 5:01 pm

JM writes…

Yes, indeed. It would be very foolish to expect substance from Republicans. That said, I can’t name one sensible person I know who wants two, four, or six more years of this. And that’s really the issue. Dems now look worse than Republicans to the public and Republicans look very bad indeed.

As for the smears and sneers. The issue isn’t the smearing and sneering, which are perfectly fine for the out of power party. The party in power is supposed to govern. Dems didn’t. Dems are utterly in thrall to special interest groups like the public service unions who are preventing the WH from instituting any FDR style public works projects. Dems are borrowing money at record rates to pay people to stay home and become less employable and increasingly less able to compete for the few jobs that exist.

I never in my life imagined I’d favor Republicans over Democrats. I have ever since I and everyone I know who questioned the intelligence, judgment, and honesty of the current President was labeled a racist. Even then, I thought, Volker would ensure Dems would exercise a modicum of oversight. Instead, we have the Gulf, banksters running wild, and Mark Schmidt confirming that even a temporary moratorium on home foreclosures would be a bad political move. There’s simply no end to Dem cynicism. I’m being only slightly facetious when I ask Henry to up his game.

The opportunity to do something has come and gone. I hope jamming a spoke in the wheels of government and repealing HCR restore some measure of consumer confidence. Expecting more is really expecting too much.

Cheers.

88

JM 10.26.10 at 5:01 pm

I mean, that’s repugnant on its face, right? Suggesting that anti-war protesters are capable of “another dose of random violence” like the 9-11 attacks.

Repugnant, I guess, but also cliché. Conservative denunciations of the opposition ranged from claiming they were the moral equivalent of the terrorists to saying they were operationally cooperative. McArdle is stuck in her 2003 mode even now.

89

Susan of Texas 10.26.10 at 5:05 pm

The context of McArdle’s remark is, was, and always will be Megan McArdle. She doesn’t care about the protesters or the administration or the war or even liberals or conservatives. She cares about being right. She wants to be respected for her intellect and treated like the elite she believes herself to be. The Iraq war, the health care fight, the elections–all are merely the stage on which McArdle can solidify and luxuriate in her membership in her tribe.

A Platinum membership, of course.

90

Steve LaBonne 10.26.10 at 5:06 pm

McArdle is stuck in her 2003 mode even now.

After all, it’s what led to the cushy gig she has now. Why change your shtick if it’s still working? I don’t blame her as much as I blame a once great magazine for giving its pages over to a bunch of dishonest hacks.

91

JM 10.26.10 at 5:07 pm

That said, I can’t name one sensible person I know who wants two, four, or six more years of this.

That would explain the bizarro world that appears in the rest of your post. Repealing HCR would restore consumer confidence? Jesus wept.

92

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 5:09 pm

“She described someone getting clubbed for engaging in “civil disobedience,” not violence”

No. She described someone getting clubbed for engaging in “civil disobedience, Lenin style”. That would be the Lenin who led the October Revolution. The metaphor may not be brilliant or original, but it isn’t opaque enough to be translated as “peaceful”.

93

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 5:13 pm

No. She described someone getting clubbed for engaging in “civil disobedience, Lenin style”.

No, she described someone getting clubbed for possibly doing that in the future.

94

JM 10.26.10 at 5:22 pm

The metaphor may not be brilliant or original, but it isn’t opaque enough to be translated as “peaceful”.

Actually, conservative comparisons of anyone to the left of themselves with the Soviet Union (which apparently had “Czars,” according to FOX News) had already become so common and inapt, to the point of absurdity, that I had long since ceased to try and interpret them as having anything approaching meaning. Near as I can tell, “Lenin-style” in this context is a very lazy McArdle painting a picture of a scruffy and misled radical, as in an organization with the suffix “Marxist/Leninist,” which connotes a rigid, top-down hierarchy, not running into the winter palace, standing on tables, and waving little bits of paper at each other.

Are you saying McArdle expected peace protesters to engage in the violent overthrow of the US government? That’s almost weird enough to be true.

But, the polemical abuse of words to the point of meaninglessness, not to mention McArdle’s sense of entitlement to not need to know much of anything, suggests that an exact translation into sentient speech will elude us forever.

95

JM 10.26.10 at 5:25 pm

No, she described someone getting clubbed for possibly doing that in the future.

In Sebastian’s defense, McArdle is unclear on both the timing and moral standing of said violence, because she’s a fucking moron.

But yes, she does lump on “pre-emptive” at the end in what seems like convulsive frottage.

96

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 5:28 pm

But yes, she does lump on “pre-emptive” at the end in what seems like convulsive frottage.

I’m with you that she probably didn’t understand what she was writing, but I’ll take what she wrote and curb stomp it.

97

politicalfootball 10.26.10 at 5:29 pm

To 92 and 93: McArdle is able to hide behind her poor writing and illogic. She is endlessly self-contradictory in her actual words, but the dog whistles are all quite consistent.

98

Natilo Paennim 10.26.10 at 6:43 pm

I really don’t understand what the argument is supposed to be here. It’s well established that McArdle is a strong supporter of war, torture and the curtailment of civil liberties. That’s not at issue. Are we really supposed to believe that, in this particular interest, she set aside all of her other despicable beliefs in order to pen a passionate cri de coeur because of her legitimate fear of violent left-wing protesters whom she believed would attack the police and Korean shopkeepers and take over the government in order to impose a Bolshevik regime? Because that’s what it seems like the rightists here are arguing. And that’s absurd. McArdle was clearly, unequivocally advocating mob violence and police brutality against anti-war protesters. Why? Because it earns her money and notoriety. Simple as that.

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Henry 10.26.10 at 7:04 pm

kidneystones – that is quite enough, thank you. This is not a thread on the Obama administration and the upcoming elections. There are plenty of places around the Internet that you can discuss these topics on. Any further comments on this post that are not on topic will be deleted.

Sebastian – I take no responsibilities whatsoever for the inconsistencies and incoherence of McArdle’s argument. Let me summarize again for your benefit. She starts with a claim, based on another blogger’s post, that that the “scruffier element” is going to “wreak mayhem” during the demonstration, including “opening a can of whup-ass on some Korean vegetable stand!” or similar. She suggests that a little bit of “preemptive” (her italicized term) violence against these protesters is in order. However, there is no such evidence in the blogpost she links to (although there is considerable evidence that the blogger she is linking to is unable to read, is batshit crazy, or is both of the above). When it is pointed out to her – by d-squared – that in fact the proposed actions include such crazed and savage behavior as walking places where the police don’t want you to walk, she claims that walking where the police don’t want you to walk is (and I quote verbatim “announcing that you’re going to start a melee.”

When this pronouncement is met with stunned disbelief, she pulls the full “I am aware of all protest march traditions,” and claims on the basis of her vast previous experience of demos that any attempt to walk where the police don’t want you to walk necessarily involves knocking down a few rozzers, getting biffed in return, and ramping up the full donnybrook. This is her explicit argument. She hence claims that people who in fact are saying that they want a “carnival of peace and resistance” involving “surprise ‘people’s inspections’ of various corporate and governmental sites, traffic lockdowns, a mass die-in, street theatre, prayer vigils, snowball fights, you name it” are violent protesters, because they want to go places where the police don’t want them to go, and they can only go there by getting some good police pounding going. Hence, they’re going to get some good honest pre-emptive violence from right-thinking patriotic New Yorkers.

As salient notes above, the general claim about walking-where-you-want to leading to violence flatly untrue. From long and painful experience of her argumentative tactics, I strongly suspect that it is purely an opportunistic claim. She had just been called on the fact that her purported wreakers of ‘mayhem’ were not, as far as could be seen from the evidence she had presented, actually out to wreak mayhem. Hence, the search for some superficially plausible rationale by which she can argue that they _were_ in fact out to wreak mayhem, and the fixation on the claim that they _must_ be looking to hit policemen. I can’t remember who first noticed this back in the mists of the dawn age of the blogosphere – it wasn’t me – but her ‘tell’ for when she is bluffing, is the resort to unverifiable personal anecdotes, and extremely strong claims made on the basis of those anecdotes. That’s what is showing here.

100

JM 10.26.10 at 7:21 pm

So, I’ve been banned from the Zero Dimensional Chess thread for talking about political capital and the press, but people are still up there yammering on about a coming monarchy?

WTF happened to this blog?

101

geo 10.26.10 at 7:23 pm

Sebastian: No. She described someone getting clubbed for engaging in “civil disobedience, Lenin style”. That would be the Lenin who led the October Revolution. The metaphor may not be brilliant or original, but it isn’t opaque enough to be translated as “peaceful”.

The metaphor seems a lot more discreditable to me than merely “not brilliant or original.” In fact, it makes no sense. Lenin is not known for practicing civil disobedience, which is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, nonviolent, but rather for violently overthrowing the state and then very violently suppressing opposition. Obviously McArdle intended a smear, though her execution was, even for her, puzzlingly inept.

102

Bloix 10.26.10 at 7:41 pm

McArdle is a cog in the Republican noise machine (a term we don’t use nearly enough any more). That machine produces a wide range of sounds, from virtually inaudible dog whistles to the deep crescendo roar of overt race hatred.

McArdle’s own sound is a genteel, self-satisfied burble. She’s nice but no nonsense, friendly but firm, no intellectual but full of common sense. Her target audience is young adults like herself– upper middle class college grads who are anxious about making their way in the world and don’t quite acknowledge all the help they get from mom and dad. These are people who like to be told that everything they have is the result of their own hard work and that the world is just about as fair as any world could possibly be. Logic and reason have nothing to do with her appeal – it’s all about the sound. Although the range of her instrument is limited, she plays it well and with plenty of energy.

So yes, of course she’s amiable in social situations. Her place in the machine requires a person who’s amiable. She’s not an overt asshole like Andrew Breitbart or Ann Coulter, because her sliver of the target audience isn’t resentful and angry.

So please, Henry, don’t tell us again what a pleasant person McArdle was when you met her at a party.

PS – the difference between a liberal and a conservative is like the difference between a a rhetorical curb stomp and a genuine one – http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/new-footage-emerges-of-moveon-activist-stomped-by-rand-paul-supporter-video.php?ref=fpblg

103

Lemuel Pitkin 10.26.10 at 7:44 pm

Henry @30-

Your time is your own, of course, and I’m not in a position to criticize, seeing as commenting on a post about Megan McArdle is even less productive than writing one. But it seems to me that debunking specific false factual claims she makes (there’s hardly a shortage) would be a lot more effective than this sort of thing.Do you think there’s even one person who was inclined to take her seriously, but won’t after being reminded of this post from seven years ago?

104

Substance McGravitas 10.26.10 at 8:04 pm

Do you think there’s even one person who was inclined to take her seriously, but won’t after being reminded of this post from seven years ago?

A positive result is that she gave this space over at The Atlantic where her editors once again get another shot at deciding whether or not she’s a fool (if that matters to them).

105

Sebastian 10.26.10 at 8:37 pm

“Lenin is not known for practicing civil disobedience, which is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, nonviolent, but rather for violently overthrowing the state and then very violently suppressing opposition.”

Yeah, I think that is the point of the metaphor, that groups like the Anarchist Red & Black Contingent and the Anti-Capitalist Bloc will be up to their violent tactics, as in the anti-free-trade protests. This may be example #5,392 (yes that is hyperbole and no I didn’t count them individually) of the fact that you shouldn’t use sarcasm on the internets.

But at the risk of over-explaining: “civil disobedience, Lenin style” is a suggestion of violence and that the ‘civil disobedience’ label is at best an irony and potentially a misrepresentation.

Try on: “critical thinking, George W. Bush style” or “moderate interrogation, Gitmo style” or “nation-building, Gulf War II style” for comparison.

Yes she is suggesting that these protesters are likely to try out violence. Yes, feel free to criticize her for believing/saying that. No, she can’t be read as saying that she is justifying attacking non-violent political opponents unless you willfully ignore obvious metaphors or have no idea who Lenin was and that he was kinda known for being more than a bit violent.

If she really is such an easy target, I’m mystified why you would attack her on such weak grounds. Just attack her with clear cases, instead of taking an obvious misreading of things like “civil disobedience, Lenin style” and pretending that it means “non-violent”.

You’d at least have a case on the “you’re misreading what the organizers are saying” ground.

106

JM 10.26.10 at 8:44 pm

No, she can’t be read as saying that she is justifying attacking non-violent political opponents

If you pre-emptively attack someone, how can we know they were violent? These are Schrödinger’s Leninists?

As for “weak grounds,” suggesting that folks should beat up protesters (so Megan can laugh), and that said protesters are the equivalent of the 9/11 terrorists strike me as a pretty target-rich environment of sadistic and anti-democratic puling.

107

Salient 10.26.10 at 9:04 pm

Yes she is suggesting that these protesters are likely to try out violence. Yes, feel free to criticize her for believing/saying that.

Okay. She’s morally reprehensible for saying it, and insane for believing it. She has demonstrated that she doesn’t have a place in acceptable discourse. She should resign from her position at the Atlantic, acknowledging that her blood lust projection fantasies inhibit her from fulfilling her duties in a responsible way.

No, she can’t be read as saying that she is justifying attacking non-violent political opponents

Yes she can. Here is how. McMegan has an operative definition of ‘violence’ which allows her to say the things she does. This operative definition is, I would say, insane. My definition of ‘violence’ differs from hers. I, for one, distinguish between “Lenin-style violence” and “walking through a police barricade without their permission.” McMegan confuses one with the other, equivocating these examples.

Whatever. We know what she’s doing. You’re dissembling, too. She’s intentionally equivocating between violence and civil disobedience, because she enjoys the thought of enacting violence against a particular subgroup of people she finds distasteful, namely civil disobedients. So she confuses their behavior with the behavior of violent thugs until someone explicitly calls her out on it, at which time she pretends she knew all along, and dissembles until the equivocation is buried under murk. Oh, she was really just talking about . She buries her comments about pushing past police equaling violence under a mound of further blather, including things that contradict any conceivably reasonable interpretation of what she said earlier.

She can very plausibly be read as having a definition of violence that is either insane,^1^ or is deliberately chosen so that she can cheer on horrific acts of violence against victims on the grounds that, in some weird technical sense, those victims were ‘violent.’

I prefer to assume the latter. Thank you for your permission to interpret that fact in ways that are coherent to me.

Megan McArdle has equivocated an act that I have done — walking through a police barricade, bumping shoulders with police — with Lenin-style violence. She has equivocated civil disobedience — which I have practiced — with violent rioting — which I have acted against, while an undergraduate at UW-Madison (they had these crazy Halloween riots enacted by tourists, which I won’t recount here). McMegan has advocated, with palpable relish, that police act violently against people who do things that I have done. She has, by implication, expressed the opinion that I was [a] acting violently and [b] deserving of violent retribution from the police.

So no thank you for refusing to acknowledge my right to reject her interpretation of the word ‘violent’ as unacceptable discourse. She equivocates violent and nonviolent acts, and calls them violent. This is unacceptable discourse, and she is engaging in it in order to call for violence against plainly nonviolent civil disobedients. I reject that. So should you.

108

Jaybird 10.26.10 at 9:27 pm

Truly, she will not be satisfied until all of us are dead.

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Sebastian 10.26.10 at 11:45 pm

“She’s intentionally equivocating between violence and civil disobedience, because she enjoys the thought of enacting violence against a particular subgroup of people she finds distasteful, namely civil disobedients. “

You sure you aren’t the one projecting? She wasn’t super clear, and then clarified. She doesn’t say that WALKING through a police barricade is violence. She says that forcing through it is. You choose to interpret the things she says as if they include non-violent acts when she specifically claims them. That is your projection, not hers.

She said plenty of things that were objectionable there. You don’t have to make up additional things just to make your argument seem stronger.

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Salient 10.27.10 at 12:25 am

Sebastian, I’ll respond thusly and then let you have the last word–

She doesn’t say that WALKING through a police barricade is violence. She says that forcing through it is.

Okay, then let’s be clear. I assert that I have “forced” my way through a police barricade before, at least twice in my life.^1^ You can’t just “walk” through a barricade. This is because it is a barricade. It prevents human beings, as well as other creatures, from walking through.

In order to make one’s way through a barricade, you need to move it, or some piece of it, which, in McMegan’s strained language, constitutes “forcing” your way through. “Forcing” your way through a crowd or barricade (which I’ve done) or even through the row of gallant shielded SWAT team cops standing shoulder to shoulder in McMegan’s fantasy scenario (something I have not done) is not inherently violent. Period.^2^ If you say this act is inherently violent, then there’s really nothing we can do to communicate with one another.

There is the side issue that McMegan seems to think cops at rallies, and barricades and etc, look and act the same way that an anti-prison-break SWAT task force looks and operates. She seems to envision a scene from a movie: rows of cops standing shoulder to shoulder, advancing with riot shields, bottles and rocks thrown from the crowd at their heads, etc.

When that sort of thing happens in real life at a rally as opposed to general rioting, it’s usually the police who are taking the offensive, illegitimately and immorally, with protesters engaging in self-defense (insofar as they engage at all: Dr. Martin Luther King, for one, advocated for protesters to not engage in self-defense, to highlight the injustice of police brutality).

Probably McMegan is thinking of riots. Probably she finds this satisfying. Hell yes, she shot the burglar! Hell yes, she curb stomped the rioter! She broke all his teeth out! And she’d do it again! With glee and thrill! This is what McMegan envisions as the “small-town mentality”:

This is “violence against vandals”, and I’m afraid I have a small-town, hell-yes-I-shot-the-burglar attitude about things like that.

Hell yes, she’d cheer the police on in acts of brutality. Arrest them and try them in a court of law for breaking property? Eff that, just “shoot” them instead. The (alleged) vandals apparently have it all coming to them, right?

^1^In both cases, I suppose I was engaging in civil disobedience. Sadly, neither time was it for some glorious cause. Note that in one of the two cases, the police didn’t much care; the barricade existed mostly to direct the flow of traffic [a legitimate goal], not to categorically prevent access. In the other incident, the police seemed to be a little bit conflicted about what their goal was, and there was a bit more verbal altercation — nothing hostile, just terse words back and forth (some questions about what the group I was traveling with was planning to do). In both cases I feel the police response to my/our malfeasance was appropriate, proportional, morally just, and mildly irritating.

In this context “forced” means “moved one or more objects and/or people with my body as I passed it, in order to pass” — but had I been beaten up by unreasonable cops instead of mildly talked-to by reasonable cops, I might easily have been reported as having “forced” my way through their barricade.

^2^Of course, if someone forced their way through a crowd or barricade or whatever by swinging punches at anyone within swinging distance, that would be violent. That’s also not what happens, not in these contexts. Granted, that’s invariably what the police say happened whenever they pummeled someone to the Earth, because [a] it makes them look better, and [b] it gives people like McMegan the chance to applaud, and enjoy applauding, and rerun the videotape through their mind when they, smiling, lie down for the night.^3^ But it’s truthiness, not truth. It’s interpreting things like “he bumped shoulders with me as he tried to slip past” as “he bull rushed me.” It’s crazy.

^3^Call this poetic license, if you like. Sometimes it’s necessary to highlight just how sick some people are, and a world where Saw 3D is a blockbuster is a world which requires a bit of poetic extension to make the damn point clear.

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Salient 10.27.10 at 12:42 am

I was going to post slightly off-topic commentary on the curb stomping executed by Tim Profitt (why the heck were people saying he was unidentified? He just stood around the scene) but it seems talking-points memo has it covered. Maybe some comments for folks who don’t want to click over.

Note that local media is still reporting that Lauren “tripped and fell” despite copious evidence (like, ahem, every single effing eyewitness account the police collected) that four individuals man-handled her up toward the curb, where one of those four individuals held her down and another planned to repeatedly stomp her. This was threatened before the incident occurred. Local media is also currently reporting that it is “unclear” whether the man stepped on her “intentionally” which is bullocks; they’re running the one video (out of the four currently available online) in which it’s not crystal clear that Tim came forward with the intent of attacking Lauren.

This is relevant for the following reason: Lauren was — very literally — “forcing” her way through a crowd. That’s the only thing she did ‘wrong’ other than plainly stating her right to walk through the crowd in a somewhat annoying tone of voice, in the altercation before the incident. This is exactly the kind of scenario for which McMegan has advocated violence, without retraction or apology. In one way, McMegan is right: it’s a long way from Ghandi. I claim the incident illustrates just how sick it is to take a “hell yes I shot the burglar” mentality seriously instead of rejecting it as sick.

The attackers involved (AFAIK all four are ‘persons of interest’ now) are basically saying they did what they did to protect Rand Paul. To some extent, they were protecting Rand Paul — from embarrassment. They knew exactly what Lauren was planning to do; she does this stunt all the time. At the beginning of some of the incident video footage, you can hear the Rand Paul spokespersons identifying her. “There she is,” “that’s the lady,” stuff like that. They’d sent a few people a bit earlier, including Tim Profitt, to find her and “isolate” her so she couldn’t “make a scene.”

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Sebastian 10.27.10 at 3:36 pm

Sorry, away from the internet for a bit. That video is chilling and very bad. If we want to allow the democratic traditions, even such as they are, to continue, we can’t let violence against non-violence become a norm. This is one of those few moments where a politician can choose to make strong statements and take strong action, or not, and it appears that Rand Paul has failed his only real test. (Or at least we can hope it will be his only real test).

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Bloix 10.27.10 at 4:03 pm

What you’re saying, Salient, is that a group of Rand Paul campaign operatives decided to use force to prevent a protester from making a statement in a public place. That makes what they did a federal offense:

18 USC Sec. 241, Conspiracy against Rights:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or
intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth,
Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any
right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; …
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
ten years, or both …

It’s time for the FBI to get involved.

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Salient 10.27.10 at 5:13 pm

For the record, one minor quibble with how Bloix summarized what I said: I have no specific knowledge of who might or might not have been an official Rand Paul campaign operative, much less any knowledge of who was acting in their official capacity. Therefore, change the phrase Rand Paul campaign operative to person, in the above, and IMO it sums up the situation pretty well. There was clearly coordination, in the sense of people agreeing to act responsively, before they acted — hell, the tail end of that coordination should be caught on one of the videos, if someone can find one with the audio not news-over’d — I guess it’s debatable whether the individuals genuinely believed Lauren was threatening the physical safety of Rand Paul, or knew she was just protesting. I’m not aware of any silver bullet evidence that proves the specific beliefs of the folks involved, though it seems obvious enough to me that they knew Lauren was not a physical-safety threat. Furthermore, she was clearly subdued before Tim stomped on her, so the stomping has no relevance to whether Lauren was a physical-safety threat.

I have no knowledge of how things have developed in terms of ongoing police work (other than what I obtained via TPM) but I would be very surprised to learn the FBI has taken no interest in the incident. Still, hopefully Lauren and/or someone at moveon.org is aware of this 18 USC Sec. 241, because I agree that they should have a reasonable case for FBI involvement.

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brad 10.28.10 at 2:34 am

Late to the party, but still….
Sebastian, until you acknowledge Megan’s use of “pre-emptive” and explain how violently attacking someone before they have engaged in anything but, at most, peaceful civil disobedience in the act of protesting is a defensible act, you are being flat out disingenuous in your argument. Like Megan in her ‘apology’, your willful efforts to ignore that word invalidate your claims, and your unwillingness to even respond to those directly mentioning this objection to you says far more than the words you spend dancing around it.
If I say “I hate all those (insert random ethnic slur) kids over there”, then apologize for saying “I hate all those kids over there”, I have not actually apologized.

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idlemind 10.28.10 at 9:55 am

The concept of “preemptive” is of course at the core of the (near-) universally reviled idea of eugenics as well as the (not-so-universally-reviled) idea of preemptive warfare. Bashing the head in of someone who might (but in all probability won’t) do something permanently destructive to life and property is certainly “preemptive,” but only to the extent that executing those with presumably bad genes is a “good idea.” (Apologies to Godwin.)

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Barry 10.30.10 at 8:48 pm

Sebastian 10.27.10 at 3:36 pm

” Sorry, away from the internet for a bit. That video is chilling and very bad. If we want to allow the democratic traditions, even such as they are, to continue, we can’t let violence against non-violence become a norm. This is one of those few moments where a politician can choose to make strong statements and take strong action, or not, and it appears that Rand Paul has failed his only real test. (Or at least we can hope it will be his only real test).”

Last I heard, Rand had been sucking up to the usual right-wing and evangelical right crowd for several weeks now. IOW, the minute he had an actual shot at power, he immediately dumped any libertarianism which wasn’t pleasing to the right and the economic elites.

Since this is a guy who set up a credentialing organization to credential himself, it’s not surprising.

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