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This is a reality-based community.

When news broke late yesterday that the office of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) had been attacked by a man who threw molotov cocktails at the door, a diary went up and the diarist included speculation about the attacker's motives, including references to Planned Parenthood.

The comment thread degenerated from there.

Given that there has been a spate of right-wing violence over the last few years (see also G2Geek's excellent diary on "Stochastic Terrorism"), this speculation is understandable to a certain extent. But what I want people to realize is that as liberals, we should be committed to veracity.

When (for example) someone massacred 77 people in Norway in July of last year, the usual suspects wasted no time in blaming Islamist jihadis. Of course, the crimes turned out to have been committed by a right-wing Islamophobe named Anders Breivik.

The Fort Worth attacker has been arrested and identified as a mentally ill homeless man named Cedric Steele.

Before his arrest, Steele "spoke of an alien species" to officers and said he "had another piece of the alien in the rafter" of the vacant residence on Donnelly, the affidavit says.

....

Steele has four convictions between 2006 and 2010 in Dallas County, one for a assault of a family member and three for criminal trespassing, Dallas County records show.

There is no public record indicating that Steele is registered to vote in Tarrant County.

Clearly this individual has more in common with John Hinckley Jr or Jared Loughner than the likes of Breivik or Osama bin Laden.

We mock Peggy Noonan for once literally saying "Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to." We should be mindful at all times why that statement (and the self-serving attitude towards truth and accuracy that it represents) deserves contempt.

When news of violence breaks in the future, please remember this incident and let's not make unsupportable assertions based on fear, or our preconceptions. Let's wait until the facts start coming in before we try to decide what something means. "A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on" and all that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  fortunately (16+ / 0-)

    no one was injured. Thanks to the actions of a staffer, the fire was quickly put out.

    Here's to hoping our country remembers that dumping the mentally ill out into the streets serves no one's interests.

    exception: analogy subprocess error #09: analogy too deeply nested, analogy will be aborted so please vote for me, because these larger than average pancakes are quite impressive.

    by nota bene on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 11:32:55 AM PDT

  •  The key thing here is mental illness assistance (4+ / 0-)

    Look at the majority of crimes committed in Occupy Camps - the violence, drug overdoses and rapes - which were primarily committed by homeless individuals living in the camps.

    Yet, the right wing was quick to associate these crimes with the Occupiers - though that it is really a different discussion.

    The rate of the homeless that suffer some sort of mental illness is staggering and it exposes a glaring hole in our already skimpy safety net.

    With regard to jumping to conclusions: Nota Bene is right. this is a reality based community(Or claims to be anyway) and if we immediately do what the wingers do every time there's a tragedy - it reflects badly on everyone.

    Some of the comments in Rec list diary were bordering on hysterical - take a deep breath everybody.

    Power-Worshipping Fascist

    by campionrules on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 11:49:04 AM PDT

    •  Bordering on hysterical? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nota bene, campionrules

      I'd say a few of them went right off the hysteria cliff.

      and we wonder how things escalate to a point where people belieeeeeeeeeve the world is coming to an end?  

      I certainly don't.  

      •  Ah well, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nota bene

        I was just trying to be a little politic - people sometimes let their emotions run away with themselves.

        Power-Worshipping Fascist

        by campionrules on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:10:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill W, PsychoSavannah

        the diarist included speculation about Planned Parenthood and such, but at least it was presented as speculation. Unfortunately the commenters just ran with that speculation as if it were indeed proven fact. So that led to people talking about civil war, and leaving the country, and yada yada.

        What really set off my smoke detector was when I and a few others had the temerity to point out that zero evidence existed yet to confirm that the attacker was indeed some sort of partisan, people responded with ridicule. One poster said "the chances of this being anyone other than a right wing extremist are < .00000001%" or something to that effect.

        Maybe they should buy a lotto ticket....

        exception: analogy subprocess error #09: analogy too deeply nested, analogy will be aborted so please vote for me, because these larger than average pancakes are quite impressive.

        by nota bene on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:18:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've said it before... (3+ / 0-)

          ...the guy the Secret Service and FBI are worried about isn't the guy who listens to Rush and Glenn Beck every day.  
          They're worried about the guy who's never heard of either of them because he won't allow a radio in his home because he's convinced that's how the government is sending the coded messages to the chip that was implanted in his head back when he was in the hospital.  

          But you can't make much political hay off of that guy.

        •  The < .0000001 comment was from me. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nota bene, claude

          I was wrong. I'll eat my crow now and like it.

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 06:20:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  kudos for not taking that personally.... (0+ / 0-)

            everybody has preconceptions, even liberals. (I know, I know....)

            It's the nature of preconceptions to occasionally bite us in the ass, which is why it's important to make sure to examine them every now and again, and to measure twice and cut once.

            exception: analogy subprocess error #09: analogy too deeply nested, analogy will be aborted so please vote for me, because these larger than average pancakes are quite impressive.

            by nota bene on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 10:52:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This might not be a "hot topic" right now, but (5+ / 0-)

    we can all use this reminder now and then.  

    "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

    by gustynpip on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 11:57:59 AM PDT

  •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    campionrules, Spirit of Life

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:01:51 PM PDT

  •  Same thing happened with the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    campionrules, Bill W

    "14 People Fired for Wearing Orange shirts" diary......when it was pointed out that one of the workers gave a videotaped interview and admitted they did it to make fun of a new manager and her "orange" tan, fucking PROGRESSIVES said it was a-ok to mock the manager.

    All you can do is shake your head, then go do your own research.  If you rely on DKOS for ALL the information, you'll be caught with your pants down on many occasions.
    you'll find it quite lacking.

    •  whoops.....last part should say: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      campionrules

      If you rely on DKOS for ALL the information, you'll find it quite lacking.

      •  There's a lot of potential reprehensible (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nota bene

        behavior being allowed or outright advocated on this site as long as the target belongs to the 1% - or sadly, what people believe to be the 1%, which seems to boil down to anyone in a position of power that they dislike.

        I will say that Dkos as a loooong history of overreacting to things - we are a very large and diverse community after all - but this diary is a nice reminder to try and stay grounded sometimes.

        Power-Worshipping Fascist

        by campionrules on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:09:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          campionrules

          I think it's a function of being human in general, rather than something particular about this website.

          Humans have a herd instinct, but we also have other faculties that can allow us to rise above that.

          exception: analogy subprocess error #09: analogy too deeply nested, analogy will be aborted so please vote for me, because these larger than average pancakes are quite impressive.

          by nota bene on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:29:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Another problem is... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nota bene

            ...the need everyone seems to have to know everything instantly. Blame it on electronic media, the internet, and the 24 hour news cycle, but people just can't stand to wait for anything any more.  Whatever facts are lacking must be fabricated through wild speculation, otherwise we all lose interest.

  •  This may not be a popular thing to say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill W

    but maybe it's time for many of us (including me) to put our "false equivalence" Super Soakers away for awhile. Because, unfortunately, sometimes what we do is JUST AS BAD as what the other side does and in some cases it IS equal.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 06:30:50 PM PDT

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