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The PJ Tatler

by
Leon de Winter

Bio

January 15, 2011 - 7:10 pm

One of the most breathtaking opening lines of a column I’ve ever read, I read today in the Los Angeles Times.
Let’s call it “historic.”
There were written by Ronald Brownstein, a progressive journalist.

Here’s the first line he wrote in that column: “Let’s stipulate that Jared Lee Loughner’s mind is a dark and twisted maze.”
There is no need to stipulate: it’s a fact. The second line: “And that he was driven to violence by feverish compulsions, not a political cause.”
True. Well analyzed by Mr. Brownstein! Third line: “And that his conception of politics fits no recognizable framework.”
Brilliant!
And now Brownstein starts hitting: “Even so, Saturday’s rampage should encourage everyone in the political arena to look in the mirror.”

It took away my breath.

There is no logical, reasonable connection between the fourth line and the first three, but Brownstein feels there’s no reason he should be held back by logic and reason. And on he goes, line five: “Here’s one reason: Everyone who deals in hyperbolic political rhetoric was only a mouse click from disaster after Saturday’s attack.”

Really? Jared is a nutcase, didn’t listen to talk radio, didn’t watch the news, and may have never read a newspaper. He was a gamer, a 9-11 truther, a pothead, a conspiracy-freak and deeply mentally ill, but because of him “everyone who deals in hyperbolic political rhetoric” should have been on the brink of disaster last Saturday.

Line six: “Yes, there’s no evidence that the alleged gunman drew direct inspiration from any incendiary language on the Internet (or elsewhere in the media).” Right! Nothing. Nada. Niente. Nichts.

And here comes the killer line: “But if he had, the source of that rhetoric (left or right) would pay an enormous political price.”

Jared hadn’t because he was not interested in politics but obsessed by nightmarish magic. Still, everyone uttering hyperbolic rhetoric would pay an enormous price, according to Brownstein.

It’s nonsense. But its printed nonsense. So it has the suggestion of seriousness.

Here are some variations:

“Yes, there’s no evidence that the alleged gunman drew direct inspiration from fashion statements on the Internet. But if he had, the source of those fashion statements would pay an enormous price.”

“Yes, there’s no evidence that the alleged gunman drew direct inspiration from statements by Al Gore on the Internet. But if he had, Al Gore would pay an enormous price.”

“Yes, there’s no evidence that the alleged gunman drew direct inspiration from my dog. But if he had, my dog would pay an enormous price.”

“Yes, there’s no evidence that Ronald Brownstein drew direct inspiration from clear thinking. If he had, he wouldn’t have written this piece of dreck.”

“Yes, there’s no evidence that the alleged gunman drew direct inspiration from Barack Obama’s 2008 statement ‘If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,’ which he found on the Internet. But if he had, the source of that statement would pay an enormous price.”

Love The Los Angeles Times. Always brings a smile to my face.

Leon de Winter is a novelist and columnist for Elsevier Magazine in the Netherlands. His last novel, The Right of Return is a thriller set in Tel Aviv in 2024. He presently lives in Los Angeles.
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