04 January 2010

Basketball Jones

Paul Campos has found the most exquisite metaphor for our elite media's hysterical assessment of our vulnerability to terrorism.
I’m quite sure I could beat LeBron James in a game of one on one basketball. The game merely needs to feature two special rules: It lasts until I score, and as soon as I score I win. Such a game might last several hours, or even a week or two, and James would probably score hundreds and possibly thousands of points before my ultimate victory, but eventually I’m going to find a way to put the ball in the basket.
He then goes on to wonder why we spend so much energy demanding a stronger government response to something with such a low likelihood of ever killing anyone.
Meanwhile, in the week that began with a terrorist incident in which no one other than the pathetically incompetent aspiring terrorist was hurt, approximately 47,000 Americans died. Around 13,000 of these people never reached old age, including nearly one thousand children.

Indeed over the past seven days approximately 350 Americans were murdered. About twenty of these murder victims were women killed by their husbands and boyfriends, while something like 35 were children who died as a result of abuse. Several hundred Americans committed suicide between Christmas and New Year’s Day and several hundred others died as a direct consequence of not having any medical insurance.


Another reason has to do the imaginative capacities of our elites. The typical Congressional subcommittee chairman or cable news anchor or syndicated columnist can’t really imagine not being able to afford to take his child to a doctor, or being wrongly convicted of a crime, but he is quite capable of imagining being on a Paris to New York flight that’s blown out of the sky. And while it’s true the risk he faces of suffering this fate are very close to zero, they are not, as they are for a poor person, literally zero.
I've thought for awhile that there may be something to this; that terrorism so frightens the ruling class because it is indiscriminate and cannot be passed off to the poor the way most dangers can. Even so, however, the chances of the well-to-do perishing in some terrorist attack are much less than any number of other natural or man-made disasters. The point may be that none of those work nearly as well at, shall we say, "terrorizing" the rest of the public or acting as a red herring from other curable maladies which the rulers believe are simply necessary for keeping society ordered the proper way.