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James Taranto, the Wall Street Journal columnist who writes for their "Best Web of the Day Today" column, posted the following tweet yesterday, referring to the women who were saved by their partners in the Colorado shootings.


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@jamestaranto 's Twitter page

Needless to say, his tweet provoked a variety of reactions.

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The New York Observer covered it under the headline "WSJ Columnist Asks if Women Saved By Boyfriends in Aurora Theater Shooting Were Worth It"

This was my response to his tweet

"@jamestaranto Not so much "challenging" as gratuitous, insensitive twaddle. Worthy?!

What makes any of us the artbitrater of such things? Trying to provoke debate by writing such a tweet is, in some situations, a 'worthy' pursuit but, on this particular occasion, it exemplifies a type of lack of awareness and compassion that illustrates very adroitly the short comings of social networking. It allows people to say things they wouldn't dream of saying in real life - not because the politically correct "police" prevent them, but because they know, in their heart of hearts, that such comments are not worthy of them.

I don't subscribe to your politics but that wouldn't prevent me from engaging in debate with you on any number of subjects. Sometimes you might even convince me that I need to look at a particular subject again but, on this occasion my friend, you have made the old mistake of getting the order wrong - you opted for tweet, gear, brain, rather than brain, gear, tweet - and that, in itself, highlights something far bigger than the actual tweet itself.

I often find tweets offensive or lacking in compassion or unnecessarily thoughtless but, usually, I put it down to a spur of the moment, knee jerk reaction which the poster may well delete at a later point. The great thing about social networking is that it allows all of us to say whatever we like (those of us living in those countries which permit free access anyway), and sometimes perhaps we show a little more of ourselves than we had intended to.

There is a very nice little quote which your tweet reminded me of.

It was made by Mark Twain..."It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

I really can't think of anything more to say.  I am still stunned that anyone would write such a tweet in the first place.   Unbelievable.
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