Self-Refuting Arguments: Snow Edition

Rush Limbaugh argues we’re seeing “the Chickificiation of America” because of a delayed ballgame:

All I could think about was the Donner Party.  You know the story of the Donner Party.  A bunch of pioneers heading out to California got trapped in a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada mountain range out there near Lake Tahoe and they couldn’t get to Harrah’s, and they couldn’t get to any of the casinos.  It was bad.  They resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.  If you read from the diaries that were kept by members of the Donner Party, you know what you find as a reference to the weather?  One, “It was an unusually cold winter.”  There wasn’t any complaining. There wasn’t any whining.  There wasn’t any moaning.  It’s just what it was.  These are pioneers.  What would the Donner Party think if they knew that we were canceling a football game because of a forecast?

Andrew Sullivan:

I imagine it might be difficult to think of anyone in American history who retroactively might have shown more deference to a forecast of heavy snow than the members of the Donner Party.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jack says:

    Heh… good point regarding forecasts…

    Tangentially on topic, I was thinking earlier today about how in our national anthem we declare that we are “the land of the free and the home of the brave” yet our reaction to terrorist attacks has been to limit or even eliminate freedoms enshrined in our Constitution because we are afraid.

    I think that is better proof of our loss (I refuse to use the terminology of Limbaugh and his ilk).

  2. As usual Rush’s taste in analogies is questionable, at best. Having said that, however, where do you stand on Ed Rendell’s rant about a nation of wussies and how China wouldn’t have cancelled the game?

  3. JKB says:

    @Jack – new version: the land of the free, home of the brave and domain of the risk-adverse bureaucrat with his state dependent peons.

    What would the Donner party think of all the people willing to risk blizzards and all manner of disaster just to get out of California?

  4. john personna says:

    For Steve B,

    Clad only in swim trunks, China’s Jin Songhao reportedly endured a freezing-cold ice bath for two hours — potentially setting a new world record for direct, full-body contact with ice.”

    Of course, that goes beyond tough, past tuff, and right on out to stoopid.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @ Steve Bainbridge,

    Doug captured my thoughts pretty well in “Blizzard Postpones Sunday Night Football: Are We A Nation Of Wimps?

    The issue wasn’t that it was too cold to play ball but that it was too dangerous to travel. If the snow that hit New York and Connecticut had hit Pennsylvania, and the game had gone on as planned, decision-makers would rightly have been lambasted as reckless. It’s a No Win situation but, really, there was no downside to playing Tuesday and a whole lot of downside to playing Sunday.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    “Clad only in swim trunks, China’s Jin Songhao reportedly endured a freezing-cold ice bath for two hours — potentially setting a new world record for direct, full-body contact with ice.”

    Sorry. I think you’ve been foaf’ed. I’m pretty sure no one that was fully, or even significantly, submersed in ice water could survive two hours. From the google:

    The United States Search and Rescue Task Force has a risk list for when hypothermia might set in if you are submersed in water:

    Water temperature: 32 degrees or below
    Time until exhaustion or unconsciousness: Less than 15 minutes
    Expected time of survival in the water: Less than 15 to 45 minutes

    Water temperature: 32.5 to 40 degrees
    Time until exhaustion or unconsciousness: 15 to 30 minutes
    Expected time of survival in the water: 30 to 90 minutes