Tuesday, 17 April 2007


Ken Berwitz

The (at least) 33 dead Virginia Tech students are not yet in their graves, and already there are demands that Virginia Tech's president and other key figures of authority must resign or be fired for the mistakes they made yesterday.

I won't go into the specific mistakes they are accused of, other than to say that the school president made a credible argument on Today this morning regarding why the campus was not immediately locked down after the first fatal shooting.  My point is more general in nature.

When there are situations of extreme stress and/or when there are situations in which we cannot anticipate what one or more others will do (in this case, a man who was indifferently killing every person he saw), there are going to be mistakes.  And the people in charge cannot know whether their decisions will cause a better or worse result. 

Suppose, for example, the campus was locked down completely.  Remember, they did not know where the gunman was at that time.  Would he then have killed even MORE people because the lockdown concentrated a greater number of targets where he happened to be? 

Suppose that's exactly what happened, and he managed to kill 25 people before taking his own life.  We would never know that 8 or more lives were spared, would we?  The President of the school would have been accused of making sitting ducks of those 25 victims.

Conversely, are there scenarios in which the gunman could have killed even more than 33 people?  We don't know that either.  Maybe the President's actions saved lives. 

I don't claim to have any answers here.  But what I do know is that it is damn easy to sit in judgment after the fact and bark out what someone should have done.  When it is happening, and you have to make decisions on the spot?  That isn't so easy.

I hope the powers that be take this into account when they judge the president and other authority figures of Virginia Tech.


Ken Berwitz

Here is Tom Sowell's column on the Duke lacrosse incident and its aftermath.  You can always count on Mr. Sowell to be intelligent and insightful;  this is no exception:

Gutless Lynch Mob
By Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just before the Attorney General of North Carolina appeared on television to announce his decision on the Duke University "rape" case, one of the many expert TV legal commentators said that Attorney General Roy Cooper would probably use the words "insufficient evidence" but not the word "innocent" in dismissing the case.

As it turned out, the Attorney General did use the word "innocent," saying that he and his staff considered the accused students innocent. It was the only decent thing to do.

Anything less would have let the ugly accusation follow them for life and, years from now, when all the details of this sordid story have long since been forgotten, hang over their heads with a suspicion that they got off on some legal technicality.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago, there was a lynch mob atmosphere against the accused students -- from the Duke University campus to the national media, and including the local NAACP and the ever-present Jesse Jackson.

These were affluent white male students and a poor black woman accusing them of rape. For those steeped in the new sacred trinity of "race, class, and gender," what more did you need to know, in order to know which side to come out on?

Duke University suspended the students when charges were filed, cancelled the entire remaining schedule of the lacrosse team for which they played, and got rid of the coach. Former Princeton University president William Bowen -- a critic of college athletics -- and the head of the local NAACP were called in to issue a report, which complained that Duke had not acted fast enough.

Meanwhile, 88 members of the Duke faculty took out an ad in the campus newspaper denouncing racism. Among other things, the ad said, "what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism."

As for the demonstrations and threats loudly voiced by some local blacks, in the wake of the accusations against the Duke lacrosse students, the ad said:

"We're turning up the volume in a moment when the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait. To the students speaking individually and to the protesters making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourself heard."

This year, after all the charges have collapsed like a house of cards, the campus lynch mob -- including Duke University president Richard H. Brodhead -- are backpedalling swiftly and washing their hands like Pontius Pilate.

They deny ever saying that the students were guilty. Of course not. They merely acted as if that was a foregone conclusion, while leaving themselves an escape hatch.

It is bad enough to be part of a lynch mob. It is worse to deny that you are part of a lynch mob, while standing there holding the rope in your hands.

What is even more important than clearing the names of the three young men charged with a heinous crime is making sure that the man responsible for this travesty of justice -- District Attorney Michael Nifong -- pays the fullest price for what he did.

The state bar association investigating Nifong needs to understand that this case is much bigger than Nifong.

If prosecutors can drag people through the mud and keep felony charges hanging over their heads, long after all the evidence says the opposite of what they were charged with, then any of us, anywhere, can be put through a living hell whenever it suits the whim or the political agenda of a district attorney.

Much was made of the fact that these Duke students came from affluent families. Lucky for them -- and for all of us. Not everyone has an extra million dollars lying around to fight off false accusations. Their fight is our fight.

This case will send a message, one way or another, to prosecutors across the length and breadth of this country. Either you can get away with dragging people through hell without a speck of evidence -- and in defiance of other evidence -- or you can't.

This case has already sent a message about the kinds of gutless lemmings on our academic campuses, including our most prestigious institutions.



Ken Berwitz

Yesterday the Virginia Tech gunman was a 24 year old Chinese national who came here less than a year ago on a student visa and who killed because of a love triangle.

Today he is a 23 year old Korean who has lived in the United States since he was 8 years old.  Specifically, he is Cho Seung-Hui, a resident alien of the United States.  Further, he bought the guns used for his mass murder over a month ago.

Don't EVER accept initial reports.  Not on this, not on anything.  And don't even accept this one until we see what new and possibly different information still has not emerged.


Ken Berwitz

In the previous blog I cautioned readers not to accept initial reports.  Not about the Virginia Tech horror or anything else.

That goes for CYA accounts of accidents that nearly kill governors too.  Read this editiorial by The Trentonian and see what I mean:

Taking a closer look at governors crash

There seems to have been some spinning going on regarding the crash that came perilously close to costing Gov. Jon Corzine his life.And we arent talking about the spin of vehicles involved in that horrendous crash on the Parkway.
Were talking about the spin-- spin as in weasel-worded official accounts -- describing the accident.

At first, State Police brass sought to shift the blame for the accident on the driver of a red pickup truck, who was initially described as causing the crash with his erratic driving and then fleeing the scene.

But subsequent official accounts began to retreat from that blame-shifting scenario when the pickup truck driver, a lowly Atlantic City casino employee, was located.No charges were immediately filed against him.

The 20-year-old pickup truck drivers story reportedly is he pulled off the roadway upon seeing emergency lights flashingon the governors two-vehicle entourage coming up behind him.

The somewhat revised official story thats now being disseminated is that the young man momentarily lost control of his vehicle and skidded back onto the roadway.Another oncoming vehicle swerved to avoid the pickup and forced the SUV in which the governor was riding into the guardrail.The pickup truck driver is now said to have been unaware he had any role in the crash.

And so it would appear that the triggeringevent in this accident was the questionable use of emergency lights by the governors vehicular entourage-- that and the likely speed of the entourage.

Let us interject at this point that we wish the governor a speedy and complete recovery from the surely excruciatingly painful injuries he is suffering. But sympathy for the governors physical plight should not sweep aside legitimate questions about this accident.

The governors grandly titled state trooper "Executive Protection Service" in this case was serving as a glorified chauffeur service. The governors entourage was racing to get from Atlantic City to Princeton where Corzine was to host a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers womens basketball team.That was not by any stretch of imagination an "emergency."

State Police brass were quoted as saying that the emergency lights were turned on as a "safety" measure.But that sounds like a sample of the spin we mentioned at the outset.

We certainly are not experts in reconstructing accident scenarios.But neither were we born yesterday.From the damage to the governors SUV, wed hazard the speculation it was traveling at a high rate of speed-- a speed that evidently precluded defensive driving measures even with a trained state trooper at the wheel.

Wed hazard the speculation that there was a bit of official haughtiness involved in this crash, with the governorspeeding along in the left lane with emergency flashers on, declaring, in effect, to all other traffic, "Out of our way, make room, peasants!"

This likely scenario, plus the governors reported failure to have his seat belt buckled-- as state law mandates-- suggests a bit of reckless, irresponsible bravado on the governors part such as so often manifests itself among teen motorists with tragic results. The governors entourage not only endangered itselfbut others using what is, after all, a public highway, not Gov. Crozines personal roadway.

It seems to us a governor has some obligation, by virtue of the position of public responsibility he holds, to exercise a level of personal caution in his life.If he has an urgeto live dangerously, whether it be to go skydiving or enter a demolition derby-- or tospurn the use of a seatbelt--he should quit his public job and indulge this urge on his own time and dime

Again It will soon come out that the trooper was also using his cell phone and eating a sandwich. (04/19/07)


Ken Berwitz

Remember the "Haditha massacre"?  The one john murtha said was a case of marines killing civilians in cold blood? 

Well here is some news regarding one of the defendants:-

Charges dropped against Marine in Haditha killings

Charges against one of the eight U.S. Marines accused in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha have been dismissed, a Marine Corps official said on Tuesday.

The charges against Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz were dismissed because of "insubstantial" evidence against him, the official said. Three Marines remain charged with murder and four others are charged with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report and investigate the deaths.-

In other words, one of the four marines murtha tried and convicted of murder before bothering to wait for a trial, is off the hook. 

Unless your name is bin laden, zawahiri, nasrullah or al-sadr, don't hold your breath waiting for an apology from the Pennsylvania dumbass.  

Now let's see what kind of news coverage this gets.  I have a feeling I already know.  Don't you?

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