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Winning the language war

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Apparently, all the time, now. Last night, watching CNN report on the Chechnyan terrorists takeover of the theater in Moscow, CNN referred to them over and over again as "the hostage-takers." In one Reuters article, they are called "captors," "rebels," and "guerrillas." The only mention of terror refers to "the U.S.-led global war on terrorism." This AP story doesn't refer to terrorists, either. They are "gunmen" and "hostage takers"

In my lexicon, guerrilla fighters and rebels are names for the people fighting military forces and choosing military targets. The second you move on to deliberately targeting civilians, you are no longer anything but a terrorist. But hey, what do I know? Here's the AP description of the scene:

The hostage-takers earlier threatened to begin killing their captives at dawn Saturday. After the two killings, officials reached the captors by phone but then quickly said their negotiations had failed. The raid began.

Russian television pictures from inside the theater showed the camouflage-clad body of the gunmen's leader, Movsar Barayev, lying on his back in blood and broken glass, a cognac bottle sitting on the floor near his hand.

In the theater hall, the corpses of several female captors, clad in black robes and head coverings, sprawled in the red plush seats, their heads thrown back or on their folded hands, as if asleep.

Canisters loaded with explosives and metal fragments were attached to the waists of some captors.

Captors. Gunmen. Hostage-takers. Not terrrorists, though many of them were clad in the latest of bomb-belt fashions. Dozens of their hostages are dead today, many wounded, and these simple "rebels" are described as above.

The terrorists have won the language war. Or is it the multicultis and the PC crowds? Certainly, the newsroom staffs across the globe have succumbed to the mindset of—captives. Why else are they so afraid to call a bloodthirsty killer a terrorist?

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When the media say so.



Only for a moment

The newsletter is finished, the apartment is mostly clean, I haven't revised my chapters, but hey, maybe something will hit me tomorrow.

The good news: The sniper only lived in NJ, and frankly, Camden is South Jersey (practically Philadelphia), and we don't really count it as part of the state. What a sick, twisted, pathetic piece of human excrement he is. I sure hope they try him for murder in Virginia. We have the death penalty here, and it is carried out. Try him and fry him, please.

Does it mean anything that he converted to Islam? Yeah, it means that even religious converts can be sick, twisted, pathetic pieces of human excrement. The Muslim issue does nothing for me but scream "coincidence!" The guy he was with is from Jamaica. Does that mean anything other than he was from Jamaica?


On the other hand, if they find an Al Qaeda connection, then you can talk Muslims to me. Don't be so quick to point fingers and lay blame.

If you want to talk Chechnya, on the other hand... I could swear I read that the Islamofascists mentioned that they were going to do just such a thing months ago. If anyone remembers where I might have seen that, please email me.

And let's hope it's not a practice run for the Great White Way.



Wake up to some good news from Israel

And New Jersey:

A 13-year-old from New Jersey took the meaning of his bar mitzva to heart and donated a portion of his savings to soldiers stationed in the West Bank.

"I've decided to donate part of my bar mitzva money to the IDF," Josh Cohen told friends and relatives at his bar mitzva party on September 2. The food was Middle Eastern-themed, the beer was brewed in Israel, and the traditional floral centerpieces were replaced by baskets filled with presents for the soldiers. Josh also asked his guests to add letters of support and thanks for the soldiers.

[...] Four weeks later, Josh, his parents, three siblings, and grandmother boarded a bullet-proof bus, said the Traveler's Prayer, and rode to Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. At a rest stop for soldiers, Josh distributed 27 gift bags filled with snacks bars, energy drinks, towels, Chapstick, socks, cards, Band-Aids, paper and pens, Scotch tape, and a booklet with the Grace After Meals from his bar mitzva. He said he spent $500 buying the products at stores in the US and Israel.

[...] "Sometimes when you give a gift, you feel even better than receiving it. As much as we saw all the soldiers' smiles, Josh had this big smile from ear to ear. He was so proud and he has so much respect for the soldiers," said Abbie.

The Cohens are from Livingston, NJ. Josh attends Kushner Hebrew Academy, where my mother worked for some years. (She was horrified the summer day I came to visit wearing shorts. Kushner Academy is Orthodox. Whoops.)

It's nice to see something good happening in Israel once in a while, eh?



Happy UN Day

Reader and frequent correspondent Alex Bensky had a great day celebrating this "holiday":

I am taking this opportunity to wish two of my favorite bloggers (despite the regrettable moral depravity of one self-confessed Yankee fan) a very happy and meaningful U.N. Day.

I plan on celebrating the occasion in a way appropriate to U.N. reality: I'm going to spend a lot of money, get nothing worthwhile, and otherwise completely waste the time. Then I'm going to harass some Jews.

I love my readers.

Just one minute!

The MinuteMan let his 7th-grade daughter make a guest appearance on his weblog today. Her homework assignment was to imagine herself as a "newspaper editorialist in 1776. You are solidly behind the newly-announced "Declaration of Independence" - what do you write?"

Here's part of what she did:

Fellow patriots, a great thing has happened today. The lousy scum bags who call themselves Englishmen received our Declaration of Independence. They claim that their unfair taxes were fair, the liars, and that we are using them. Ha! As if! They had it coming. Not giving us our rights and freedom, not allowing us a representative in parliament, levering huge taxes on us. Yet they are still under the false illusion that we did something wrong. They refuse to see that they are in the wrong. They used us, not the other way around. They used us to get more land, more money, and to make themselves feel more powerful.

I sense a Fox News show in this girl's future.

MSNBC removes the label

Will Femia changed the LGF label. It now reads:

A popular but controversial Warblog focusing on militant Islam and terrorism.

I am content. But is Will right when he refuses to change the last line of this graf?

***Updated 10/20 This site is the focus of considerable controversy for its focus (and particularly the focus of the constituents in its comments section) on Islamic culture and dogma as the source of Islamic terror. As a popular, active, and well presented site, it is worth checking out, but some may find its content hateful or even racist.

Some people do call LGF hateful and racist. That's not much different from The Fray's posting guidelines. Oh, wait. Yes, it is. Nowhere does MSNBC warn its users that posts may be hateful or even racist. This is as close as they come to it:

The Fray is committed to free expression but expects users to follow a few simple "Rules of the Road." We ask that you don't unnecessarily antagonize others, and don't represent yourself as another person. Also, do not post any material that is defamatory, infringing, obscene, pornographic, abusive, or otherwise unlawful, or which violates the legal rights of others. And remember, you can be held legally liable for what you write in The Fray.

Will, I'm glad you removed the hate label. And yes, some people do find LGF's content hateful or even racist. But putting that warning on the LGF description is kowtowing to the whiners and smear campaigners and the PC crowd. Sorry, Will, but you've still got a failing grade in First Amendment 101 from me.

Update: A quick look at the Fray on this article brings you a first post titled, "West African scumbags." Hm. Is The Fray too hateful?

Three things before bedtime

1) Pontifex Ex Machina joins in the LGF Blogburst with a pretty funny post.

2) Anil Dash has sent me a long and very nice letter that I would like to post and respond to, but I'm working on a newsletter deadline and then after that I need to revise two chapters or write a brand-new story by Thursday night, plus I need to clean my apartment because I'll have a guest for the weekend, so it may not happen until next week. I will try to spare some time for it tomorrow night.

But here's the thing. Will you guys stop already with the stupid mangling of his name? It's so effing childish that it only insults you for stooping so low. (Although Anil ought to work on that masochistic streak of his and not respond to everyone in the comments sections of their blogs. Really, Anil—sometimes you have to know when not to post.)

Um, you know—dialogues can be good. Flinging insults aren't the only way to talk.

3) I found a new blog that I really like, courtesy of Lynn B.: Who Dares Wins. Here's a sample:

William Tecumseh Sherman on the Palestinians

Well, not exactly. General Sherman is one of my boyhood heroes; what I learned in school in New York was that his campaign through the heart of Dixie is what ultimately convinced General Lee (strangely enough, another boyhood hero) that prolonging the conflict was not useful. I later discovered, once I lived in the south, that Sherman was not universally admired, but, hey, the winners write the history, sorry about that scorched earth campaign and all that.

More to the point, the extract below attributed to Sherman was provided by James H. Fink in a letter published in the July-August 2002 issue of Commentary. Mr. Fink made the direct analogy between the Confederacy, the object, of course, of Sherman's wrath, and the Palestinians:

If they want eternal war, well and good; we accept the issue and will dispossess them and put our friends in their places...Next year, their lands will be taken; for in war we can take them and rightfully too, and in another year they may beg vainly for their lives.

I may get run out of Richmond on a rail for printing the above, but hey—I was born a Yankee, so maybe it's expected of me. Maybe Jack will write more regularly with us peeking in on him now. (Psst: Layne has a "y" in his name.)



Carnival of the Vanities #5

It's up, it's hip, it's happenin'... okay, it's up.

More on LGF

I can't resist this one: Lynn B. warns MSNBC that they're skating close to the edge of libel with their "hate" site designation of LGF.

Knowingly or even recklessly false statements that tend to damage a person’s reputation, liberty or livelihood are called slander (when spoken) and libel (when written). And while Charles probably qualifies as a “public figure,” making the burden of proof on the issue just a little bit tougher, MSNBC is skating close to the edge, here. The more they’re alerted to the fact that they’ve published a false accusation on their website, the harder it would be for them to claim that leaving it up didn’t represent publication (or re-publication) with actual malice.

One other thing that Lynn pointed out that we all missed:

If you scroll through Blog Central, you’ll find something almost totally absent. Criticism. For page after page, you can read nice things about nice bloggers, funny bloggers, interesting bloggers and informative bloggers, but there’s not a word of qualification, not a hint of caution. Until the subject of Little Green Footballs comes up. Why is that?

Well, for one reason, Charles has many more readers and much broader exposure than the vast majority of the bloggers mentioned. But that’s not it, is it? Something else is going on here, and it isn’t funny. Not when a major cable network feels it can, with impunity, post this sort of vindictive and utterly baseless nonsense.

Yeah, that is an interesting point. Nobody but Charles got singled out for criticism. Why is that? I have my theories, but no proof. So I won't post them. Yet.

Richmond sniper update

The note they found at the site of the Ashland shooting has caused Richmond area schools to close down for the second day in a row. My religious school class is canceled today. I was speaking with one of the parents, who is from Westchester, and we're pretty much agreed that we know perfectly well how to protect ourselves from the usual travails of city life—but we're clueless on how to deal with this.

And, of course, you all know by now that he struck again, in Maryland. A bus driver. If his message is "I will get you no matter what you do or where you go," well, uh, we already figured that out, nutjob.

Susanna Cornett has an extensive analysis of the shooter, drawn from her work and studies in law enforcement. She follows up with a new post answering questions from readers. Michele wonders out loud her theories—like me, she just thinks out loud and goes from the gut. We have no expertise to speak of, but damn, we have our opinions, right Michele?

My brother and my mother keep calling. I extracted a promise from Heidi not to shop at the shopping area off 95 where I fear the sniper will shoot next when he comes back to VA. I won't need gas until Monday or Tuesday, I hope, so I don't have to worry about that until next week. "Stay safe" or "Be safe" is now the way everyone ends their phone conversations around here. My emailbox is filled with comments from people who add as a by-the-way, "Be careful." The Beltway Bloggers and I crack wise or compare stories.

The most telling remark came this morning, from Heidi. She's worried about the school closures, which happened because in the note he left at Ashland, the sniper apparently threatened to go after children. At least when it snows, Heidi told me, we know it's going to melt.

Stay focused: It's still the MSNBC "hate" label

Amidst all the brouhaha over whether or not LGF is "racist" (it is not), let's not forget that MSNBC still has that "but" statement on its Best of Blogs page:

A popular but controversial Warblog focusing on militant Islam and terrorism. Is this news or hate?

There is also this gem that I must have missed yesterday:

***Updated 10/20 This site is the focus of considerable controversy for its focus (and particularly the focus of the constituents in its comments section) on Islamic culture and dogma as the source of Islamic terror. As a popular, active, and well presented site, it is worth checking out, but some may find its content hateful or even racist.

In the meantime, let's look at MSN's policy statement on The Fray that you get from their guidelines:

Slate does not endorse or stand behind the accuracy, truthfulness, or reliability of any information (including statements of opinion and advice) posted by users in "The Fray," and is not responsible in any manner for any of the content in their posts, or for any subsequent actions you may take as a result of such posts. Statements made in "The Fray" reflect only the views of their authors. While we do not, and cannot, review every posting in "The Fray," we reserve the right to remove any posts that we deem unacceptable. You remain solely responsible for the content of your posts.

Obviously, MSN is no stranger to "hate" posts. They expect them on The Fray, and indeed, we have all read far worse on The Fray than we have read on LGF. Well, those of us who have actually read both sites, anyway. Will they label their own Fray "racist" or "hateful" because of that?

I think not.

And so, let me get back on point: MSNBC, remove the "hate" label from LGF on your page. Will Femia, you are libeling Charles Johnson's reputation and weblog. (That link is an email link. Click it and give them your opinion.) MSNBC, stand up for freedom of expression.



Reading between the lies

Anil Dash has posted a few comments over on Charles' weblog, one of which directs a series of questions to me, and accuses me of being untruthful. It's become too long a response for me to put in the comments thread. Sorry, Anil. You'll have to post a reply on your blog, because I don't have (and won't be getting anytime soon) comments here.

Let's talk lies, Anil.

Meryl has made mention of the Protocols in reference to me on her site

Lie. I mention the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in reference to Indymedia (scroll down, it's right below this one).

What next, are you going to ask me to name names so I can clear myself? Is there a blacklist?

Ooh, it's the Patented McCarthyism Tactic. I haven't seen that before.

Meanwhile, Meryl Yourish has accused me of being a leftist (lie.) leader (lie.) who emailed MSNBC (lie.) who called Charles a racist (lie.) and called LGF a hate site (lie.). She accuses me of "persuading" MSNBC to do something (lie.) which is impossible as I've never sent an email to them, for any reason.

Here's my quote:

Some webloggers of the left, led by Anil Dash, have labeled Charles Johnson a racist, and his site a hate site—because some people in his comment threads leave bigoted remarks.

Here is MSNBC's text:

An interesting question has arisen, however. If reader feedback can put a blog on the “Best of” list, can it also take a blog off the list?

Case in point: Little Green Footballs. No sooner had LGF won a spot on Weblog Central’s Best of Blog list than e-mails of objection began to arrive.

“Are you aware of the fact that LGF (Little Green Footballs) is a blog which conveys a message of intolerance, hatred (and so forth) towards Muslims?”

“I’m quite shocked that you listed LGF in this Best of Blogs: have you looked at the content and the editorial line, and more importantly, at the anti-muslim anti-left anti-prettymucheverythingnotgeorgewbush hate that gets its way on that weblog ? How can a blog be considered worthy of reading when it’s so obviously dedicated to bad mouthing Islam by relentlessly confuse it with the Islamic terrorists’ view of it?”

The objections are based on the fact that LGF has, over time, increased its focus on militant Islam and terrorism and in the process has drawn a constituency of considerable hostility to Islam to its comments section.

Former Best of Blogs blogger Anil Dash is one of LGF’s most vocal detractors and has made many critical posts in his own blog as well as in the LGF comments section.

Though LGF author Charles Johnson has many supporters, Anil Dash, as was pointed out this summer in Wetlog is by no means alone in his criticism. The submissions to the blogspotting mailbag show evidence of both sides. Some celebrate Johnson for highlighting and tracking the threat to the United States by Islamic extremists, others resent him for grouping all of Islam and Islamic culture in with the terrorists who act in Islam’s name.

As a Weblog specimen, LGF is actively maintained, well-presented, heavily trafficked, and a prime example of the ability of blogs to generate discussion and create community. While I do not think that LGF should be ignored or excluded from Best of Blog contention, I do agree that my own entry should have done more to both describe and contextualize it. That said, I’ve amended both my original entry below and the description of LGF in the column on the right.

Wow, three mentions of Anil Dash in one paragraph, all linked, on the MSNBC Best of Blogs page discussing LGF. Quoted emails calling LGF hateful. An admission by MSNBC that they reviewed their inclusion of LGF in Best of Blogs. Yeah, I sure was making up the facts by the handful, wasn't I? Anil has nothing to do with the change in LGF's label.

And you might want to read your own comments thread, Bunky.

I can safely say comments that Anil (and I) might deem racist are hardly the minority in the LGF thread (and at LGF in general.) What you consider racist is your own perogative, but don't discount his views by marking them as a response to a "small subset."

And what's this? Could it be a remark by Anil indicating that he thinks Charles is a bigot?

Charles also put up a thread about this, I've commented more there. Tellingly, he describes his campaign as a "crusade". Subtle, no?

Posted by: Anil on October 21, 2002 12:02 AM

Nah. The mention of "crusade" isn't meant to jab you with an elbow and a wink and say, "See? He's a racist," is it, Anil? (Try not to misquote me when you mangle that last phrase, will you?)

She then accuses me of trying to silence LGF (lie.)

That wasn't you I was talking about directly, but you sure seem to have done a good job at leading the charge against LGF. MSNBC says so. Lie.

despite the fact that it directly contradicts my exhortations that everyone here do justice to the points that they're trying to raise, by not sullying them with the taint of xenophobia or bias.

And yet, the first comment to your post on your weblog is as follows:

Wow. The people at that site really, really scare me.

Not in that "I'm afraid of you, so I'll soil my pants and run away" scared, but the "aww, you poor thing. so dumb and still able to type and screw your sister at the same time" scared.

OK, so thats a really bad analogy.

Thus proving that there are idiots on both sides of the aisle.

She says that some people consider bigotry a right-only problem, apparently including me. (lie.)

My quote:

But bigotry is a right-only problem, isn't it?

Sarcasm, Bunky. Ever heard of it? It's a tool I use frequently, as any regular reader of mine can tell you. Lie.

Or that I object to Charles being a hawk. (lie.)

My actual words:

Yep, he was a lefty. Now he's a hawk,

Didn't say what you said I said. Lie.

Or that I don't object to IndyMedia or other similar sites. (lie.)

Didn't say that. Lie.

Or that I claimed Charles is a bigot. (lie.)

You did say that. See comment 23. Lie.

This is someone most of you claim to respect, yet I can effortlessly pull almost a dozen lies out of one short post on her site. Doesn't it bother you that she's making up a screed against someone?

Nah, they like my screeds. Just ask 'em. And, their respect—well that comes because they know that I back my words up with facts, unlike what you've just done. Lie.

That she makes assertions without even taking the time to link them to proof, as I've done with mine?

Lie. See above.

That she didn't take the time to email me personally, as I did with Charles and several others on this site?

Gee, Anil. I didn't know those were the rules. I'm supposed to email personally every single blogger I disagree with before putting a post on my website, or writing a comment here on LGF. Got it. Check. Not a lie, just a whine.

I read your post, and reacted. As is absolutely my right, and you know that. What, I was supposed to ask someone for permission before posting? I don't think so.

Since MSNBC posted their link, I've received one, arguably two, death threats via email.

Wasn't me. But I've gotten some pretty crummy email from the right, too, especially after I take down Coulter on my weblog. Her fans are both legion and often mouth-breathers. I just ignore the email and, if necessary, put the sender in my filter. I also get email from twisted people for no apparent reason. What's your point? Do you really think there's a concerted effort to assassinate you because you dissed Charles Johnson? Get real. We all get hate mail.

People have accused me of being all kinds of evil I'm not. I entered into a dialogue about LGF because the problem isn't Charles, it's the atmosphere he creates on this site. I don't think Charles is a racist, and I think that he should make sure his site should reflect that. But Meryl, like many of the truly desperately vicious people here, wants to make this about me vs. Charles, when it's me and charles, and any reasonable others, against people who don't do justice to important ideas.

Ah. So I'm truly vicious. Thank you for the compliment. Because after all, that wouldn't be, oh, a personal attack that would create a vicious atmosphere, would it? Again: Get real. If you think my writing is vicious, you have an incredibly low tolerance level for dissent. Get a grip. If I wanted to be vicious, you'd know it. Just ask Nasty Boy (a.k.a. Nastification Agenda), who is, by the way, one of the people who post in the comments threads at LGF that I wish wouldn't. I disagree with nearly all of what he says, and he's absolutely the kind of bigot you're talking about. I have told him so, and will doubtless tell him again. (And I mean that in the kindest of ways, NB, so kindly don't go ballistic on me. Be a good Poster Child.) But Charles won't ban him because NB stopped attacking other LGF commenters (mostly). That's the beauty of America. People get to put out hateful thoughts without being thrown in prison or shut down. (Well, unless you're pro-Israel, but that's another topic entirely. [cough! SFSU! cough!]

Your premise, Anil, is actually something that I have wrestled with in the past: Should "hate speech" be banned, or must we continue to protect our First Amendment rights fiercely, and allow any moron with a permit to march in hate and display hateful signs and make hateful speeches? I used to be a pure First Amendment rightist (as in rights, not as in political leaning), but then I started to wonder if neo-nazis actually do inspire some to kill in their name. I'm still not 100 percent sure of my opinion on the issue.

But one thing I am sure of: To accuse Charles Johnson of fostering an atmosphere of hatred and bigotry, when what he is really doing is providing a forum for attitudes that you and various other bloggers and readers don't like—well, your accusation lacks a certain moral clarity. Charles prints the truth on his weblog. Those are news articles he quotes, not made-up, not fiction. His readers comment on them. Some of them put in really stupid comments, like the geniuses who seem to think that misspelling your first name is some kind of hilarious. (It's not, morons, it's a cheap hit and makes you look like your brains are as tiny as your wieners.) See, Anil, that was vicious.

Next time, come back at me with some nonfiction yourself, and we'll see if we can talk. Because all I'm seeing from you is misquotes, fudging, and lies. Your argument doesn't stand up to daylight. Over to you, Chet.

Charles under siege

Some webloggers of the left, led by Anil Dash, have labeled Charles Johnson a racist, and his site a hate site—because some people in his comment threads leave bigoted remarks. Bill Herbert weighs in:

First, Charles has never uttered a word that would lead a sane person to believe that these depictions represent all Muslims. Moreover, to expect him to continually qualify his commentary with obligatory "this is not to say all Muslims are bad" clauses is itself racist. Of course the maniacs who adorn their children in fake C4 belts do not represent all Muslims.

This same twit refers to Charles as "someone who claims that a group ought to be able to control the actions of its most extreme members." Also nonsense. The "extreme examples" Charles and media research organizations like MEMRI are not the fringes of the Islamist ethos. We're talking about media depictions of Jews as vampires in state-controlled media, terrorist organizations that are either officially sanctioned or tolerated in the countries in which they reside, and a Jewish journalist inciting an angry mob simply by his presence in Lebanon, to cite a few examples.

While these are worthwhile thoughts, and I agree with them, you've missed the big picture here: Dash et. al. have successfully persuaded MSNBC to label Charles' site as a "hate" blog. This is how it's described in Best of Blogs:

Little Green Footballs
A popular but controversial Warblog focusing on militant Islam and terrorism. Is this news or hate?

This is unacceptable. MSNBC needs to remove this label. I sent them a letter that includes the following:

[LGF] has a decidedly pro-Israel slant, which is the main reason I started reading it. It is absolutely and unapologetically against terrorism and militant Islam. But Charles does NOT encourage racism or bigotry. He has deleted the posts of neo-nazis and outright hate groups, but he has a First Amendment attitude toward the rest of the comments. He allows his readers free reign, for the most part, unless they get belligerent to other readers. Yes, a few people post some rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Muslim screeds. But they are either ignored or shouted down by the majority. "Do not feed the troll" is an unfortunately more common saying now than it was even a few months ago. It gets posted for the anti-Muslim hate posts as well. I have frequently taken the bigots to task, or asked people not to respond to their hatred.

You have placed yourself into the middle of a mud-slinging assault on LGF. Many of the posts the others are complaining about are not even written by regular contributors to LGF, something that Anil Dash and his friends aren't getting. That needs to be taken into account if you're going to characterize them as typical of the LGF commenters. They are not.

You can send email to MSNBC and tell them they need to remove that "hate" label. If your'e going to cc: it to anyone, cc: it to Charles, not me.

As I see it, we have a perfect example here of the left trying to muzzle or altogether silence a weblog that purveys ideas they don't like or agree with. Which is sadly amusing if you go read Charles' archives from the pre-9/11 days. Yep, he was a lefty. Now he's a hawk, and he is exercising his First Amendment rights, as are his readers—some of whom are bigots. But bigotry is a right-only problem, isn't it? It's not like Charles were running a site called, say, Indymedia and had posted, oh, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, right Anil?

Right. Goddamned hypocrites. Clean out your own back yard first, then come complaining to Charles—when Indymedia isn't fabricating "news" reports that accuse the Mossad of the Bali bombing, or posting ancient anti-Semitic forgeries on their website. And he still won't be the bigot you claim him to be.

The sniper comes to Richmond: film at eleven

It is 12:40 p.m., and I'm sitting in my Jeep in the parking lot of the First Union Bank on the corner of Parham Road and West Broad Street. A line of police cars block the street, diverting traffic. A news helicopter flies in small circles, then comes to rest over the crowd of media people and vehicles that stand in the street in front of a bank. The satellite trees stick out between the actual trees lining the back of the bank parking lot. The Exxon station across the street is the place where the police surrounded and arrested two suspects who may be the snipers. Yellow police tape now surrounds the station, making it look faintly ridiculous. As I sit here typing, I've seen several photographers, still and video, come into this parking lot and unload their cameras, their press credentials prominently displayed. So far, no one with a digital camera, alas.

A little way farther down Parham is the Henrico County Courthouse, where the suspects have been taken and are being interrogated. Rain beats down intermittently. The officers wear their flourescent green and orange raincoats, whistles bleating at intervals as they direct traffic away from the gas station.

There's going to be a press conference in about five minutes. Finally, I found someone with a digital camera, who will be emailing me the pictures that he takes. I find myself hoping with all my being that these are the shooters.

Virginia radio stations are lacking. Not a single all-news channel, as opposed to three in the New York metro area. I'm relying on news from passersby and waiting for the press conference to begin, which the talk radio station I'm listening to will broadcast live. But the excitement here is winding down—they've reopened West Broad, traffic is easing, and frankly, I'm getting bored. While it was fun playing Girl Reporter again, I don't want to stand in the rain and wait for the news conference. I'm not being paid to do this, so I'll finish up at home.

1:50 p.m.: Home, watching News12, and getting more and more certain that these two suspects are the snipers. Wondering if Henrico schools were closed due to the knowledge that these snipers were going to be contacting the police. I wonder a lot of things, but most of all, I want to hear that these two suspects are, without doubt, the sniper team.

Let me try to give you the context of where this is in relation to where I live. The Exxon station is about twelve miles north of me. It took me twenty minutes to get back home via Parham Road. On the way, I passed my synagogue and my library. This is far more excitement than I bargained for when I moved to Richmond. I will be most pleased if this is the most excitement I ever have as a resident of Virginia.

I'll update with pictures when Jody emails them to me.

Update: CBS News is reporting the two men are not the sniper team. Okay, now I'm really bummed. Probably not nearly as much as the two men, who will be going to jail for a long time.



Short ones

This is the coolest airplane ever: Check out the new Bird of Prey (and yeah, it looks very Trekkish). Via Duckboy. Click on all the images; you will not be disappointed. Wonder if this is the giant bird they're talking about in Alaska?

Got a search request for "henrico county schools closed sniper" this evening. And so it begins. Henrico County schools are all closed tomorrow.

Mom called tonight. She wants to know what I'm doing to protect myself. In a case like this, you can't tell your mother, "Well, nothing, really. I switched gas stations." So I told her I'd be careful. Then I told her there are about a million people in the Richmond Metro area, so the odds were about a million to one that I'd get shot. That seemed to comfort her a bit. Then I told her that if I do get shot, and lapse into a coma, I don't want the life-support unplugged unless they're absolutely, positively sure I'm brain dead. (Kindly keep the evil thoughts to yourselves, oh smartasses, about the power of my brain when it isn't dead.) I'm not sure that comforted her, but hey. She's used to my sense of humor by now.

If you ask me, the sniper isn't a southerner. If he truly wanted to spread fear into the hearts of southerners, he wouldn't have shot someone coming out of a Ponderosa. He'd have staked out a Waffle House. Or an Aunt Sarah's.

Mmmmm. Waffle House....

Richmond sniper update

So after teaching religious school this morning (where we had extra teenagers helping because Henrico County—surprise—cancelled all outdoor games today), there was still the problem of filling my vehicle's gas tank. I found myself trying to choose where I should go: The expensive gas station down the street that's so far off the beaten track that Psycho Sniper couldn't find it? The gas station where I normally fill up because, dammit, I'm not going to be afraid to fill up my gas tank? The gas station beyond my regular one because it doesn't have anywhere to hide?

Well. Bravado won. I drove to my regular place, pulled into the lot, and realized—there are trees out back. Lots of 'em. There are power lines behind the station, with a line of woods and trees far enough away that a sniper could hide and shoot from them. Oh, c'mon, I told myself. Don't be so paranoid. He probably doesn't even know this area exists. You have to take an exit off 95, then another exit to the main road here. Which is not so far off, I realized, from the way the psycho struck last night.

The upshot: I drove out of the perceived danger zone and down the street to the WaWa, and realized that the reason this S.O.B. is getting away with it is that everything around here has trees behind it. There is far more room and fewer people down this way than there are in New Jersey. Well, North Jersey, anyway.

It's very strange. I lived in New Jersey for most of my life, and worked in New York City for several years. I've always lived in areas where you (especially if you're a woman alone) have to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, lock the car, know where you are at night and be careful about getting in and out of your car. I know how to travel around NYC at night with the least possible risk of getting mugged or worse. Here in Virginia, I don't have to lock my car in most neighborhoods, and have a feeling of security that I've rarely felt in New Jersey.

And yet, now, I'm supposed to prepare for the worst—just to go out and fill up my car with gas. Well, except that there really isn't much I can do. How does one try to find a nutjob hiding in the bushes? Do I get my binoculars out and bring them with me to scan the area while I'm getting gas or shopping for food? Do I walk with a crouch or stand near someone who's bigger and makes a better target? Do we get how ridiculous this is yet?

I suppose I'll just go on about my normal business, and keep my eye out on the horizon for the glint of light on metal coming from the trees. Well, when I remember to, anyway. Like I said, on Wednesday night, my friend and I simply walked out of the restaurant where we'd eaten dinner and went to my car, without stopping to wonder if we'd get shot for doing so.

They really need to catch this psycho.

Indymedia fabrication update

A day or so ago, I pointed out Zem's discovery that the nazimedia kiddies were making up press releases to make it seem like the Mossad was behind the Bali bombing. He updates that information today:

I received a response from AFP's Sydney office confirming that none of their stories have mentioned Israel in connection with the bombing, in particular with the manufacture or supply of explosives.

Can you say, "Indymedia = anti-Semitism"? I knew you could. Let's try this one: "Indymedia = Lies."


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.