by Barrett Brown, Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 08:24:10 AM EST
Conservative columnist Dennis Prager has five questions about the most recent college shooting incident. Most of these appear to be trick questions.
Question 1: Why are murderers always counted in the victims tally? The day after the mass murder of students at Northern Illinois University (NIU), the headline in the closest major newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, was: "6 Dead in NIU Shooting.""6 dead" included the murderer.
1. Murderers are not "always" counted in the victims tally. This is a single headline, not every headline about a murder that's ever been written. Prager might as well point to an orange cat and ask, "Why are all cats orange?"
2. The headline "6 dead in NIU Shooting" does not qualify as a "victims tally." It is a short, accurate summary of a thing that happened, to be followed up by more specific information below. Prager might as well point to an orange cat and ask, "Why are all cats blue?"
3. The sub-headline of the article in question reads, "Ex-graduate student slays 5 before killing himself." This is the actual victims tally. Notice how it does not include the murderer with the victims. Nonetheless, this is the example that Prager has pointed to as evidence that newspapers are in the habit of lumping murderers in with victims.
Why wasn't the headline "5 killed at NIU"? It is nothing less than moronic that the media routinely lump murderers and their victims in the same tally.
1. Notice how Prager has gone from asserting that murderers are "always" being "counted in the victims tally" to only "routinely" being included in the victims tally within the space of five seconds. Perhaps Prager came across other instances of Chicago papers not lumping the murderers into the victims tally in their headlines and decided to hedge his bets a little, and perhaps his delete key is broken, thus preventing him from going back and correcting his demonstrably incorrect assertion that murderers are "always counted in the victims tally." I am "always" willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.
2. Just kidding. Prager is a liar.
One can only assume that this mode of reporting murders is part of the larger movement toward non-judgmentalism and egalitarianism.
1. This is not technically true. One can, and will, assume all sorts of things, particularly if one is going on the basis of demonstrably untrue information.
2. I think that the fact that the "mode of reporting murders" described above does not actually appear to exist takes away somewhat from Prager's point that such a "mode of reporting" bears great implications about society.
At the San Francisco Zoo, after a young man was mauled to death by a tiger that had escaped its confines, the administrators of the zoo even lumped a killed animal with its human victim: the Zoo set up a memorial to both the man and the tiger. And, unsurprisingly, given the egalitarianism that now also lumps human beings with animals, the tiger received more condolence messages than the human it killed.
1. Oh my fucking God.
2. The guy in question is lucky he even got a memorial. What's it supposed to say? "On such-and-such a date, this guy got drunk and threw stuff at a tiger, and then the tiger killed him for being an asshole. Then someone else shot the tiger. Kudos, dude."
Question 2: Which of these three options is more likely to prevent further murderous rampages: a) making universities closed campuses and increasing the police presence on campus (as the president of NIU has promised to do); b) making guns much harder to obtain; or c) enabling specially trained students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus?
1. I'm going to go ahead and rule out "c," since every school shooter of which we are aware has obviously known perfectly well that he's going to be shot to death eventually, and in many cases ends up shooting himself, thus leading me to conclude that there's probably not much deterrence value in announcing that random people will have guns on campuses.
Question 3: Why are "shooter" and "gunman" used instead of "killer" or "murderer"?
1. I don't know, but I'm sure that Prager does.
2. I'm being sarcastic.
If a murderer used a knife to murder five students, no news headlines would read, "Knifeman Kills Five."
1. Maybe they would. As soon as such a thing happens, we'll find out. In the meantime, people tend to use guns to kill people over knives, because it's easier to kill lots of people with guns than it is with knives.
2. Are we to believe that the media has an anti-rope agenda because they insist on referring to people who strangle people as "stranglers?" Or, maybe not rope; whatever people use to strangle people with. Strangling wire, I guess. Come to think of it, is Prager in favor of strangling wire?
"So why always 'shooter' and 'gunman'?", Prager asks. "The most obvious explanation is that by focusing on the weapon used by the murderer, the media can further their anti-gun agenda."
1. Prager's evidence for this appears to be that the media has yet to write a certain headline regarding an event that has yet to occur.
2. I'm not sure that the Chicago Tribune has an anti-gun agenda. It endorsed Bush in 2004, for instance. I don't have any anti-gun agenda myself, and in fact own two of them for purposes relating to the shooting of wild boars and whatnot, but if I was writing headlines for stories about people shooting other people, I would probably refer to them as "shooters." For one thing, "shooter" describes the person better than "killer" or "murderer," because not every person who is shot dies. Apparently this is some sort of secret they teach you in journalism school.
Question 4: Why is "murder" never used to describe homicides involved in these university massacres? And why is "murderer" never used to describe these murderers? Why has "kill" become the only word allowed for deliberate homicide?
1. If, unlike Prager, you have a good memory, you may recall that Prager previously asked us, "Why are `shooter' and `gunman' used instead of `killer' or `murderer'?" Now he suddenly acknowledges that the term "kill" is, in fact, a term that newspapers do indeed use in these cases, and now he's complaining about that, too.
Question 5: Would the press note killers' religiosity if they were all Christian?
1. Yes, because the media is trying to pave the way for the government's secret plan to put all the Christians in concentration camps ahead of the arrival of U.N. Secretary General Gog Magog, who will take control of the planet and usher in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius before being thrown into the lake of fire by Jesus Christ, who will then reign over the Earth for a thousand years before the final battle of Armageddon.
2. Just kidding.
3. Or am I?
4. I am.