More Asininity (This Time from Malkin)

While James travels, I agreed to do some posting at OTB. The following is cross-posted from PoliBlog:

Writes Michelle Malkin at RCP: Wanted: A Culture of Self-Defense

There’s no polite way or time to say it: American colleges and universities have become coddle industries. Big Nanny administrators oversee speech codes, segregated dorms, politically correct academic departments and designated “safe spaces” to protect students selectively from hurtful (conservative) opinions — while allowing mob rule for approved leftist positions (textbook case: Columbia University’s anti-Minuteman Project protesters).

Instead of teaching students to defend their beliefs, American educators shield them from vigorous intellectual debate. Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance.

And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense.

What in the world is going on? First we have Derbyshire and Blake and now this. First, why do we have to find blame in places other than the fact that a truly disturbed individual simply did an unthinkable act and cracked. There is only so much that can be done in a free society to prevent such situations. This attempt to blame a general “liberal” attitude at universities and that this somehow has led to a culture of “conflict avoidance” that somehow, by inference, led to people not defending themselves on Monday–that is utterly ridiculous.

And I’m sorry, but this idea that we need to arm students is simply not a good one. How is that supposed to increase the level of intellectual debate that Malkin is allegedly so concerned about? That’s what we need: armed semi-adults failing exams–that’s a lovely image.

Yes, it is possible (though hardly a guarantee) that if there had been armed persons in the classrooms that Cho could have been stopped. However, given the degree to which Cho planned this attack, had he known that some students had been armed, one guesses he would have planned accordingly.

Need I remind Malkin and her ilk that Timothy McVeigh killed three times as many people as did Cho and he did it with fertilizer. So it isn’t as if arming students would guarantee that no mass murders would ever take place on a college campus ever again.

And the notion that good policy can be made based on one historical anomaly is not smart.

I am truly disgusted by this ongoing narrative by some that someone we have to blame those slaughtered for not exhibiting enough self-defense. And the notion that campuses would be improved by having guns in classrooms is simply off the wall.

And really, there is a segment of US conservatism that needs to get over its irrational phobia of college professors and their eeevil ways. Are there some off the wall ideologues out there? Yes, there are. However, Malkin, David Horowitz and crew have got to get over this notion that universities in America are some kind of bizarre radical brainwashing camps.

h/t: Michael J.W. Stickings

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    Excellent points Steven.

    My only quibble is with the fact that you seem to take them seriously.
    I dont think these type of people think very clearly or deeply about the postions that they take – their positions on these issues are very simple deductions from a cartoonish world view.

    They are entertainers and attention-whores, not people who are committed to making real contributions to our society.

  2. cian says:

    They’re part of the 38% who still cling to the idea that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and Bush is doing a great job.

    They are not to be taken seriously and the more they opine the more Americans see just how dark and dismal the America they would have us live in would be.

    Their self-delusion is on a scale seldom seen outside of institutes for the mentally impaired. Derbyshire fantasises about taking on gunmen while in reality he cowers from Pat Buckley at a dinner party.

  3. Bithead says:

    So, you really think that you’re going to be able to keep firearms of the hands of madman, by simply passing a law?

    Virginia Tech, the deaths on that campus, are te direct result of gun control.

  4. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Seems that Malkin must have struck a raw nerve. I didn’t see anything about a “guarantee” in her writing. Perhaps Cho would have planned differently if he knew everyone was armed. Then again, he might not have done it at all given the high probability that he would have been popped early in his adventure.

    But her point goes beyond V-Tech. It speaks to the general culture on campus where the administration and profs control the actions of the students to the point that the students can no longer do anything for themselves. When a problem occurs, they look to someone in authority to handle it.

    The future leaders of this world will be the ones who are taught to think for themselves and be self reliant when it comes to their own safety and future.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    And the notion that good policy can be made based on one historical anomaly is not smart.

    Especially since it’s not completely clear what problem should be solved. Some think the problem is too many guns; some not enough guns; some a cult of victimization.

    The soundest suggestion I’ve heard lately is that we may need to re-visit commitment procedures.

    But it’s far, far too early to be having detailed, sensible policy discussion so all we’re left with is posturing.

  6. So, you really think that you’re going to be able to keep firearms of the hands of madman, by simply passing a law?

    Did I say that? In fact, I did not.

    Indeed, apart from rejecting the notion that we need to have armed students, I said precious little about gun policy.

    Virginia Tech, the deaths on that campus, are te direct result of gun control.

    No, those deaths on campus were the direct result of a truly disturbed individual.

    Even if we assume an alternate reality wherein Va Tech students could have concealed weapons, there are no guarantees that one would have been present in the right classroom or that if they had a weapon that they would have been able to stop Cho, Further, as I noted, if Cho knew that a gun could have been present, he might had chosen a different method to measure out death.

    Enough with counter-factuals wherein armed students would have stopped this nightmare are as foolish as the idea that some gun-free utopia would have stopped it.

  7. whatever says:

    I’m sorry, where does it say anything about students being armed?

    If someone lines up a dozen of you, and you’re number 12, and then the person starts systematically shooting up the line, do you stand there and wait for your bullet? Or do you attack, or at least go down fighting?

    I’m sorry, but even unarmed I will not go down facing a wall waiting for a bullet to go into the back of my head. An armed assailant can be taken down by a dozen people, but that didn’t happen here. They went down like sheep to slaughter. You seem to blind yourself to “armed students”, but that isn’t the point here. You don’t have to be “armed” to fight, and no one here fought. It was pathetic, and you support it.

  8. carpeicthus says:

    These people are sick, utterly without decency. My biggest problem with this site has always been that it treats Malkin like a legitimate commentator.

  9. carpeicthus says:

    Whatever: Die.

  10. Bithead says:

    So, you really think that you’re going to be able to keep firearms of the hands of madman, by simply passing a law?

    Did I say that? In fact, I did not.

    So, what, then are the benefits of gun control, other than disarming the people who need to be armed?

    If someone lines up a dozen of you, and you’re number 12, and then the person starts systematically shooting up the line, do you stand there and wait for your bullet? Or do you attack, or at least go down fighting?

    Well, this goes to what I said yesterday… that the move to gun control is symptomatic of something larger… our unwillingness to defend ourselves. On an individual level and a group level we saw that lack of willingness at VT, and other palces where such events ahve taken place…. an example would be in Quebec last September.

    Since some time has passed since the event, I will add:

    On a national scale, I submit that such attitudes are reflected in the abhorence to the very concept of defending ourselves in the world at large, via-a-vie, muslim terrorists.

  11. Bithead says:

    No, those deaths on campus were the direct result of a truly disturbed individual.

    Which could have… and should have, been taken out by someone able to defend themselves. All it would have taken was ONE such individual.

  12. Bandit says:

    They’re part of the 38% who still cling to the idea that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and Bush is doing a great job.

    Other than in your whacked out delusions what does this have to do with anything?

    What did people do when he was lining them up 2 B shot? Wait their turn? Wait 4 the police? Pretend it wasn’t happening? I can’t figure out how a guy with no apparent training was able 2 do this.

  13. Hal says:

    I think it’s pretty clear, Steven, that Michelle, Derby, et al. are not aberrations. This is the way much of the right has looked through the POV of people like me for the past 6 years.

    Welcome to the party. Line to the left, one charge of treason each.

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    Carpeicthus,

    “Whatever. Die.” I thought we were talking about a killer and staying alive. If you have a response to Whatever articulate it better and people might read it and care.

    Like I posted on Dr. Taylor’s site, this is all fantasy. Pretending to imagine what we would do when we were not there and don’t even know how it went down. It’s a waste of time to even speculate. Malkin, Derb, and the others should hush.

  15. another matt says:

    What would be going through my mind in such a situation I can’t say, as I have never been in such a situation. I can tell you that from sitting back in the comfort of my chair I consider the following scenarios and weigh them against the chances of survival and how much guilt I might feel for having survived the incident when others did not:

    1. The gunman is going to shoot everybody; therefore it only makes sense to try to disarm him before he kills me.

    2. The gunman is going shoot everybody; but my best chance of survival is to try to run for it.

    3. The gunman is going to stop shooting for some reason (death, no bullets, guilt, etc.); therefore it makes sense from a survival point to try to hide in the back and wait it out.

    I am fairly certain that my gut instinct would NOT be to try to take the gunman down unless I felt I had a better chance of surviving by doing so.

    Without knowing more about the situation, I certainly cannot judge the behavior of any of the victims, and even if they chose option 2 or 3 I would have a hard time faulting them for making such a decision under life threatening circumstances.

  16. Mark says:

    Bithead:
    Virginia Tech, the deaths on that campus, are te direct result of gun control.

    This line of logic leads doesn’t make sense to me since there are too many options for a madman intent on killing.

    How would you defend against a psycho ramming a car into a crowd? Or locking the doors of a building and burning it down? A Molotov cocktail thrown into a crowd? Etc. etc.

  17. brainy435 says:

    The really sick thing is the knee-jerk anti-gun attitude of the author. No one has suggested arming people who are not already armed, they have suggested letting these people stay armed at school. I don’t know what kind of psychosis leads Mr. Taylor to believe that somehow failing an exam would drive people with concealed weapon permits to lose it and start killing teachers/students. Somehow these people are perfectly responsible adults until they walk into a classroom? Poor thought process, sir.

  18. Michael says:

    Ok, there were 31 victims here right? Everyone (specifically Bithead) says that “It’s gun control’s fault, if just one person had a gun, it could have been stopped”. This would require a few assumptions I don’t think are justified:

    1.) If guns were allowed on campus, for one the victims to have been likely to have a gun, about 3% (1/31, if you want to count the shooter+1,that 2/32, or about 6%) of the students would need to carry a gun on any given day. I don’t think 3% of non-students in Virginia carry a gun every day, even though it’s legal.

    2.) The person with the gun would need to be willing and capable of using it to stop the attacker. I’m sure the willing part would be helped by the threat of death, but I’m still not sold that the average citizen would be capable of properly using a gun in a panic situation.

    3.) Even if there is one person among the intended victims carrying a gun, they have to be able to shoot the attacker before being shot. Since the attacker decides the place and time of the attack, and for some time holds the element of surprise, and will usually carry more than one weapon, they automatically have an advantage here.

    Finally, and I know I’ve said this before, if 3% of V Tech college students regularly carried a firearm, there would have been more than 31 deaths caused by accidents, heat-of-the-moment attacks, or someone “defending” themselves from another person who was not a threat to their person.

  19. brainy435 says:

    Michael, you care to back that up with reports of concealed weapons carriers killing people outside the campus? We’re talking about the same people having weapons, so if they are that much of a threat IN school, they must be that much of a threat OUT of school.

  20. Michael says:

    brainy435, why specifically concealed weapons?

  21. brainy435 says:

    That’s what the crux of this whole conversation is about. Malkin, while lamenting the fact that society as a whole has moved towards devaluing self-defense, stated that if some of the people who were liscensed to carry concealed weapons in VA had been allowed to have their guns on campus they could have cut the shooting spree short. This was also mentioned in an editorial the other day by a VT student who has a concealed weapon permit and was noted by Glenn Renolds regarding his students.

    The point is still valid if people were walking around openly brandishing their weapons I suppose, but the discussions I have seen the last few days have all been in the context of concealed weapon permits.

  22. Bill W says:

    Michael:
    Concealed weapons because of the CCW permits. Otherwise, (at least in FL), you can’t carry around a loaded firearm in public for the most part (very specific exceptions). Also, your %s are way off. Why does it have to be a % of the actual victims killed as opposed to a % of the actual student body? 3% of Virginians owning guns? I find that # far, far too low.

  23. Boyd says:

    Point of information: in Virginia, it’s entirely legal to put a holster on your belt and carry a handgun on your person, and you can go almost anywhere someone with a Concealed Handgun Permit can carry concealed.

    In fact, if you’re armed and go into a restaurant that serves alcohol, you must carry your handgun openly, regardless of whether or not you have a CHP.

    And another important point: anyone who can legally possess a firearm can walk onto the Virginia Tech campus with a gun on his hip. State law prohibits state colleges (excepting Virginia Commonwealth University, oddly enough) from banning firearms from their property. Teachers are banned from having them as a condition of their employment, and students are banned from having them or risk being expelled. Undoubtedly, though, you’d get a lot of attention from the college police if you showed up armed.

  24. ken says:

    The solution is enforcement of the second admendments directive to well regulate the militia.

    If the Commonwealth of Virginia was in compliance the second admendment this tradegy would not have occured. At the least his fellow militia members would have recognized what a freaking nutcase he was and his guns would have been taken away from him.

  25. glasnost says:

    The “culture of self-defense” criticism is a joke.

    a) the fact that one madman was able to successfully massacre 35 students says nothing about self-defense as a culture. It’s clear from the stories that students tried to protect themselves. But no one person tried to run directly at a man shooting into a crowd. The vast majority of unarmed people caught by surprise would fail that test in any sane era.

    The “concealed weapons would have solved this” is also a shoddy argument. Revenge violence evolves to overcome likely obstacles. If you have pistols, the gunman would have brought an assualt rifle, or worn a suicide vest. Where guns are genuinely hard to get for ordinary citizens, like in Europe, madmen often go on stabbing “rampages” that, nevertheless rarely manage to kill as many people as shooting rampages.

    Concealed weapons may (or may not) have helped a gunman kill less people in this incident. In the next one, said gunman would probably have come up with a better plan. Increasing the lethal potential of individuals in a society adds up to more lethal expression: not less.

    It’s funny that conservatives who scoff at the concept of detterence in the relatively controllable, predictable and small world of government agencies cheer for it so ruthlessly in civilian life.

  26. Bithead says:

    a) the fact that one madman was able to successfully massacre 35 students says nothing about self-defense as a culture.

    You are apparently ignoring the trend that James pointed to a few posts ago. Such attacks have been on the increase, and nearly in parallel with the amount of gun control legislation.

  27. Michael says:

    brainy435, ok, I see why you want to limit this to people with CCW permits, and they will likely have a much lower number of unjustified shootings. However, if the law only let those people carry, not just anybody who owned a gun, then the chances of one of them carrying on the right day (I’m assuming that just because you have a CCW permit doesn’t mean you treat your gun like your wallet, ie don’t leave home without it) and that they would have to be in a position to have close enough contact to the assailant. I still don’t think that would be a high probability.

  28. Michael says:

    Bill W: the only population who’s gun carrying ability could have effected the outcome of the V Tech shooting are the people he came in contact with during the course of the attack, that is far far less than the entire school population. A student 30 minutes away on the other side of the campus carrying a gun wouldn’t have done any good, now would he?

    Maybe the statistics are a bit low (as more people had contact with the shooter than just those that died), but I think the premise that even had students been allowed to carry, there was only a very small chance that one of them would be carrying at the right time and the right place to have made a difference.

  29. brainy435 says:

    So…the argument here is that these people are responsible adults trusted by the state to carry firearms at their disgression in everyday life, but they should still be be treated as irresposible, petty children the second they walk onto a college campus, because, really, these’s only a SLIGHT possibility they could have prevented the needless deaths of others?

    In other words, you agree that this policy has the ability to save innocent lives, you just don’t care because you don’t like guns.

  30. Michael says:

    So…the argument here is that these people are responsible adults trusted by the state to carry firearms at their disgression in everyday life, but they should still be be treated as irresposible, petty children the second they walk onto a college campus, because, really, these’s only a SLIGHT possibility they could have prevented the needless deaths of others?

    No, the argument here is that allowing these responsible adults to carry their guns to school would most likely done nothing to change the outcome of what happened. There are good reasons to allow them to carry on campus, but this incident is not one of them.

    In other words, you agree that this policy has the ability to save innocent lives, you just don’t care because you don’t like guns.

    Did I say I don’t like guns? I don’t remember that. I also don’t agree that this policy (lifting the carry ban on campus) has the ability to save innocent lives.

    The same argument you are making could be made this way: if just one person there was carrying a machete, a grenade, or a couple sticks of dynamite they could have stopped the attacker. You just use guns because it fits your agenda.

    The bottom line is that no amount of legislation or lack of legislation could have had a significant chance of changing the outcome for the better. To call for lifting the ban is every bit as knee-jerk of a reaction as calling for increased gun control.

  31. brainy435 says:

    “…but I think the premise that even had students been allowed to carry, there was only a very small chance that one of them would be carrying at the right time and the right place to have made a diffenence”
    Michael 4/19 21:49

    “I also don’t agree that this policy (lifting the carry ban on campus) has the ability to save innocent lives.”
    Michael 4/20 10:43

    So… you thought the chance was small yesterday but nonexistant today. Did something change in that time?

    “The same argument you are making could be made this way: if just one person there was carrying a machete, a grenade, or a couple sticks of dynamite they could have stopped the attacker. You just use guns because it fits your agenda.”

    First, I don’t have an agenda. I don’t own a gun because I have small children in the house who are very good at finding things they shouldn’t. I just don’t see why my personal decision not to have a gun should preclude other people from having one if they think they need one. Second, it’s LEGAL for these people to carry their guns around town… and even on campus, as Boyd stated. Your argument about the other items is illogical since those items are ILLEGAL to carry in public. I’m not tailoring my argument to an agenda I don’t have, I arguing that something that’s LEGAL to do should not be discouraged by school officials who do have an agenda.

    I’d also like to know how the gun-free zone is legal. Seems to me that if speech cannot be restrained by government schools since it would infringe on 1st ammendment right, then this zone should be unconstitutional since it infringes on the 2nd ammendment.

    “To call for lifting the ban is every bit as knee-jerk of a reaction as calling for increased gun control. ”

    Possibly. But that still doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

  32. Michael says:

    So… you thought the chance was small yesterday but nonexistant today. Did something change in that time?

    You’ve resorted to this? A very small chance may as well be no chance when you are considering legislation that would have an impact on a large number of people. It’s like saying because pot smoking is necessary for 0.1% of the population, it should be legal for 100% of the population. You should pass and revoke laws that benefit the most people while causing the least impact. You should NOT pass laws that have a small chance of benefiting a small number of people, because it will inevitably have a higher cost than return. Think Terri’s law.

    Just because you don’t own a gun doesn’t mean you can’t have a pro-gun agenda. You seem to feel very strongly that people should be allowed to carry guns easily and often, that comes through in your argument being biased to the benefit of doing so, while ignoring other means of achieving the same benefit.

    Finally, your second amendment right doesn’t allow you to carry weapons into most federal buildings, does it? Your second amendment right certainly doesn’t let you carry a gun in my house if I don’t want you to. I also fail to see how allowing guns on a college campus would help ensure a well armed malitia. The 2nd amendment was not created because the founders liked their guns and wanted to carry them all the time.

    Now, that being said, I’m ok with people being allowed to carry weapons if they have the training and maturity to do it safely. I don’t particularly have a problem with those people being allowed to carry them on campus except that each college has the right to declare what they will and will not allow on their campus, within reason.

    My problem with this hole argument is the thinking that it was the gun ban that caused the deaths of 31 people, and that repealing that ban will ensure, or at least give a high likelihood, that such an event could not take place in the future. Installing lockable bullet-proof doors would do more to ensure student safety from crazed gunman than allowing guns on campus ever would, and even that I think is a knee-jerk reaction because, as James has pointed out, these kinds of events are extremely rare, and don’t justify legislation that won’t significantly reduce them.

  33. brainy435 says:

    Michael, you’re missing the point entirely. We don’t NEED legislation to carry guns on campus… it’s already LEGAL. It’s the POLICY of the school to expell students with guns on campus. I’m sure that it’s a big comfort to students and families to know the the school would have expelled Cho for having brought a gun to school… except he’s currently dead. The ban might not have CAUSED the shootings, but it sure as hell didn’t do anything to PREVENT them.

    Along the same lines, it’s ILLEGAL to have a gun in a federal building except for certain circumstances but, again, it’s perfectly LEGAL to have a gun on the college campus. If the school is recieving federal funds, it must obey the constitution, so it’s not a stretch that the 2nd ammendment should be respected. It can decide to eschew federal funding if it wants to restrict certain things, because it’s then optional to attend. But that’s not the case here.

    No one is asking for more guns or for anything that would put anyone at any more risk than they would usually assume when walking down the street across form the campus. I don’t know where this phobia of armed CCW lisensed individuals comes from.

    No one is saying that having a gun on campus would have prevented any or all of the deaths at VT. It COULD HAVE, but we’ll never know. Reinforced doors would help, too, but the liscenses and permits for CCW’s already exist. No need for contractors or any additional tuition hikes to implement. Just a rewrite of the schools policy..or even an addendum.

    Your examples are straw men and easily torn down. Take a deep breath and THINK instead of FEEL.

  34. Bithead says:

    Michael, you’re missing the point entirely

    By intent, it would appear.

    (Your) examples are straw men and easily torn down.

    True, but isn’t that always the way when someone’s attempting to shape the nature of reality, so as to support a political POV?

  35. Michael says:

    The ban might not have CAUSED the shootings, but it sure as hell didn’t do anything to PREVENT them.

    There are a lot of things that didn’t to anything to prevent this, so what? The school’s ban wasn’t intended to stop crazed gunman from going on a shooting rampage, so why act like it failed in it’s intent?

    I get the point that it’s legal to carry a gun on campus, but against the campus rules to do so. I also get that it’s legal to carry a gun in my house, but against my rules to do so. Doesn’t the school have the right to set rules for admittance to it’s campus? Do your personal rights supersede the rights of the owner of the property you’re on? Many colleges also ban alcohol on campus, even if you’re over 21, do you think that violates students constitutional rights also? The 2nd amendment protects your right to own and carry a gun, but it doesn’t give you the right to do that everywhere.

    No one is saying that having a gun on campus would have prevented any or all of the deaths at VT.

    Actually, Bithead said exactly that, in no uncertain terms. I can find the exact quote if you want. You claim that the ban couldn’t prevent it, the lack of a ban would not have prevented it, but you want to change the ban because of it. That logic I find hard to follow: ‘A’ won’t work in this situation, ‘B’ also won’t work in this situation, but ‘B’ is better than ‘A’ as evidenced by this situation.

    Your examples are straw men and easily torn down. Take a deep breath and THINK instead of FEEL.

    All straw men are easy to tear down, that’s the whole point of the straw man. However, the one tearing them down (which you just took credit for) is always the one who set them up in the first place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

    To reiterate, again, I’m not opposed to people carrying guns on campus. I am opposed to saying that lifting the ban would have done anything in this situation.

  36. Michael says:

    Bithead,
    What exactly political view am I trying to impose on reality?