Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stupid Has a New Name.

Call me rude.  Call me unchivalrous, uncharitable and boorish, but this, my friends, is stupid.  Professor Ruth O'Brien writes to tell the world that the poor brothers Tsarnaev were mistreated during the course of their apprehension.  The authorities violated their rights, she says, and gave the rest of us a black eye in the process.
Now we have captured the two terrorists from Chechnya who come from the troubled region that is Muslim, but we cannot understand their motives, not yet.  And Obama encourages us to refrain.
This said, the mortuary pictures of the older brother of the two are extremely disturbing, raising questions as to whether the Boston Police Department captured him with too much force. I understand the explanation offered ... Yet, it does not ring true.  A picture is worth a thousand words that will keep our ears ringing as we recoil from this photo.  Images have a way of searing themselves into our memory in a way that can't be undone. We have an emotional memory, not just a rational one that is exemplified by words.
First of all, this is just plain lousy writing.  "...who come from the troubled region that is Muslim..." How's that?  My old editing professor would have adorned that with a lovely red "Awk" for awkward, and that would have been a kindness.    How about, "the older brother of the two?"  Using the comparative, "older" implies that there are two.  Had there been more than two, the superlative, "oldest" would have been appropriate (Eldest, for the real sticklers, and you know who you are.)

Am I being too much of a grammar fascist?  Even for those who hold grammar in lower esteem than I, this gem of a mixed metaphor should cause some consternation. "...A picture is worth a thousand words that will keep our ears ringing..." Go ahead; read it again.  That's priceless.

The assertion that, "we cannot understand their motives, not yet," is grammatically sound, but factually deficient.  Anyone who cannot understand the motives of Muslim terrorists is just not paying attention.  And they're working pretty hard at it, too.

But what really bothers me is the author's claim that undue force was used to subdue the bomb brothers. How, exactly, does one subdue gently those who have killed innocents on a street corner, murdered one policeman and thrown bombs at others?  How does one inveigle surrender from those whose goal is to die in  jihad?   Professor O'Brien worries that  the United States, in defending itself against people who blow up children, is "uncouth." and might be "judged harshly by the international community." A reminder for those who've been distracted - the international community consists of nations like Syria, North Korea, and Iran.  The only thing objectionable about being judged harshly by such a community is the notion that its members might ever be in a position to judge us in the first place - a notion, incidentally, that the author seems to accept as a basic premise.

The worst part about fatuous nonsense like this is that it betrays a complete lack of understanding, not only of human nature and its capacity for evil, but also of justice, which demands that evil be addressed, and that innocence be protected.  The professor's concern is misplaced.  Like some schoolgirl with a perverse crush on bad boys, she frets about the injuries to Tamerlan, the gravest of which were inflicted by his own brother, not the police, and disregards the blood of innocents that only a week ago was still pooling on the sidewalks of Boston.


Yos said...

My grammar was a fascist. (Sort of.)

I managed to dodge grammar in school - very little was offered and I blew through even that. (Yeah, yeah, it's obvious. Got it.)

You raise an important issue: Here we have an erstwhile educator who is deficient in three basic skills: Fact gathering, writing and critical thinking. Students pay to take her courses?

Steven Givler said...

And apparently people buy her books.

P.T. Barnum was right...

Yos said...

Hey - is it time for a "class action" lawsuit?

When will students (such as hers) sue their colleges for a defective product?

Just about every course and degree from a department that ends in "Studies" is raw b(ravo) s(ierra.)

The Academy is one institution and market wherein the customer is expected to be naive, where the principle of Caveat Emptor has limits. H-ll, kids come out cave empty but they have their BS, More of the Same and Piled Higher & Deeper propping-up "self esteem" framed on the walls.

Right - have a good week-end.