Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why We Can't Recognize Weapons

This is my first writing since a sore throat took me out of action last week. Since I use speech recognition to write,having a sore throat is rather the equivalent of having arthritis in your hands for a person who uses the keyboard.  (I know this is true, because I have arthritis in my hands as well.)

However, I could still read, even if I couldn't write the reviews, and so I did. So now, I have 10 items awaiting review. Four of them are short stories, which I will combine into one review; but that still leaves me with seven reviews to write.  And I was going to do it today, honest!  But I had to clean out my inbox first.  And as I was doing that, I saw that "According To Hoyt" had an interesting title, so I read it.  And the reviews got put on hold again.

Men – and Women — of Iron.  That's the title of the ATH post for today.  If you haven't read it yet, click on the link and go read it now; I'll wait.

Now that you've done that (unless you cheated), you know that Sarah starts with the example of disease to contrast the toughness of past generations with the college-age population today.  For her mother's generation, infant and child mortality was much higher than it is today, and that was accepted as an unfortunate part of life.  She contrasts that fortitude with a recent incident at Cal State Long Beach, where college students were being offered counseling for trauma suffered when a fellow student was discovered in possession of a pocketknife.

Confession: from this point on, I'm going to be saying some things I had not planned on saying.  Someday, I may give you a vibrant, rousing statement about the valiant efforts of our predecessors, and give you good reason as to why we must fill their empty shoes.

But today is not that day.

First of all, here's what I've gotten from the reports I have read about the incident at Cal State Long Beach.  On Thursday, February 25th, in a course titled "Race, Class And Gender,"  sociology  professor Dr. Sabrina Alimahomed-Wilson observed that a male student was visibly in possession of a small knife.  She asked him to leave the class, which he did.  She canceled the rest of the class, and the incident was reported to the university police.  Their investigation of the incident included an interview with the student and an examination of the knife.  The knife, with a blade length of less than 2 1/2 inches, was not found to be in violation of campus policy, and campus police accepted the student's statement that he was using it to clean his fingernails.  They returned the knife to him, and released him.

Social media exploded.  Every claim you can imagine, and some you hadn't even considered, was made by students who were not in the class.  I'm not going to go into them here, because they are aggravating.  If you are interested, please feel free to google.

But I have a theory about a contributing factor.

Four months ago (November 4, 2015), on another campus in the California University system, an 18 year old student went on a rampage with a knife.  After wounding his first victim in a classroom, he was driven off by a 31 year old construction worker, whom he also wounded.  He cut one more student, and stabbed a faculty member, before being shot and killed by campus police.  At autopsy, the inventory of his all-black clothing included a homemade ISIS flag, a two page manifesto documenting his plan of attack, including instructions on how to decapitate a human and multiple exhortations to worship Allah.  His name was Faisal Mohammad.

Here's the kicker: legal and campus authorities insisted that he was not a terrorist, that religion was not a factor, and that he was driven to this behavior simply because he had been ejected from a study group.

I don't dispute at all that the precipitating factor was his ejection from the study group; I also don't dispute that his actions were taken alone, not a part of a group activity.

However: in stripping away his Islamic radicalization as a prime motivating factor for his violent attack, the authorities promulgate an emotional environment in which every pocket knife becomes a threat.  That is false, that is bogus, that is a lie.  A pocketknife is never a threat; only a person can be a threat.  And when political correctness eliminates self-identification with terrorist groups as a factor to be considered, then no legitimate conclusions may be drawn.

And it becomes perfectly a reasonable to dismiss a student for cleaning his fingernails with a pocketknife.

Have we lost our minds?