Laughing As They Die

This stuck in mind: the story about the kids who laughed and jeered while a disabled man drowned.

In a news story that sounds like something from Mad Max, a group of Florida teenagers who filmed themselves laughing and cracking jokes while a disabled man drowned, and then left the scene without telling anybody, will face criminal charges after all…

The callous crime, which is vaguely reminiscent of the infamous Kitty Genovese slaying in New York City, is indicative of a trend that has been bothering older Americans since the first signs began emerging in the early 90s. The contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility, fostered by smartphones and digitization of daily life, where violent videos inure children to death and violence. The boys can be heard in the video discussing Dunn’s impending death. One of the boys teased another about being scared to see a dead body, the boy replies “I ain’t scared to see no dead person.”…

“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed,” Martinez said. “They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming … for someone to help him.” The teenagers didn’t stop joking about Dunn when he failed to surface in the water.

I think it stuck in mind because the way those kids treated the drowning disabled man reminded me of the way smokers are being treated: smokers have been evicted from society (tossed in the pond), and left to drown, while everyone ignores them, and just watches it happen, unmoved. In fact, they even laugh at them. It’s another contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility.

My attitude to the antismokers in Tobacco Control is that they’re worse than those Florida kids, because they’ve tossed hundreds of millions of people in the pond, and left them to drown. And probably those kids didn’t actually toss the disabled man in the pond. And although the smokers aren’t actually drowning, they’ve been “exiled to the outdoors”, and thereby placed in a danger – and in a danger far greater than any danger posed by their innocuous smoke.

The story raised a few other questions. How did the disabled man get to be floating in the middle of a pond in the first place? How deep was the pond? And could the kids swim? If you see someone drowning in a pond, should you always jump in and try to save them, even if you can’t swim? Might there be some element missing from this story – like, for example, that the drowning man was the kids’ hated math teacher?

Somehow or other this story got linked to the interview by Sam Harris of Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist and blogger. They were discussing Donald Trump from opposing points of view. Sam Harris thought that Trump was a “con man” and worse, while Adams thought he was a “Master Persuader.” Their two-hour conversation seemed remarkable to me in that neither man ever lost his cool (at least not during the first hour, which is all I’ve heard so far). The context was that Sam Harris wanted to hear someone defend the Trump that he personally thought indefensible, and Scott Adams had been drawn to his attention as a notable admirer of Trump: they were enemies meeting during a temporary ceasefire. They didn’t know each other.

Sam Harris took a high moral view of Trump. He saw him as con man, a braggart, a sleaze. He regarded him as a deeply immoral man – in fact the empty husk of a man. Scott Adams, by contrast, didn’t seem to see Trump in any moral terms at all. He judged Trump for how effective he was.

Listening to the podcast, it seemed to me that Sam Harris’ Trump was an imaginary man, a sort of monstrous caricature of a man, to whom the real Donald Trump bore little or no relation. One of Trump’s innumerable crimes, in Sam Harris’ view, was that he was cosying up to a Vladimir Putin who was well known to be an utter monster. Well, Putin may well be a monster. All sorts of stories get told about him. But all sorts of stories get told about Trump. All sorts of stories get told about everybody. And I’m someone who tends not to believe these sort of stories. I tend to judge people by what I know about them, not by what other people claim to know about them. And I’ve not seen Trump do anything really horrible yet. Nor Putin either. So it seemed to me that Sam Harris was probably someone who believed everything he was told. He probably believes in global warming, because he believes whatever any experts tell him. He’s probably an antismoker too.

And although he didn’t come over as much of a Hillary Clinton supporter, his high moral tone reminded me of her and her “deplorables”. Trump was one of those deplorables. And Sam Harris deplored him too. He probably wouldn’t have minded if she’d been elected president.

I take the opposite view. I think Hillary Clinton is utterly despicable. Far more so than Donald Trump. Why? Because she’s a virulent antismoker, just like Michael Bloomberg and countless other Abhorrent Toads. And these people, in my view, have thrown smokers into an outdoor pond, and are standing around watching them slowly dying, and laughing at them as they die. They think very highly of themselves, but I think they should face criminal charges for what they have done.

P.S. I’ve been listening to the second half of the discussion, and Sam Harris (around the 1 hour 30 minute mark) more or less said that you have to believe the climate scientists when they tell you that anthropogenic global warming poses a global threat, just like you have to believe 97% of oncologists when they tell you that smoking causes lung cancer. The guy does indeed believe everything the experts tell him.

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About Frank Davis

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13 Responses to Laughing As They Die

  1. Frank Davis says:

    Wikipedia: Sam Harris is considered a member of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism”, alongside Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

    Here’s a transcript of the point where they’re talking about climate science:

    S.A.: (1h29m)”…the idea of this red team – blue team discussion on climate science, which would have the benefit of educating the public, and – here’s the brilliant part – if it turns out that the consensus of scientists are spot on, and everything they’re saying we should have listened to them harder, this red team -blue team thing is going to surface that and it’s going to allow the administration, including president Trump, to side with science, once it has been completely communicated and vetted in a way that the public and the administration can understand. Because the alternative to that is for him to pretend he understands what the science is saying. And I think that that’s the big dope trap, that any of us think we… In your case maybe you can understand the science. But the average person doesn’t have any hope of looking into this field and penetrating it.”

    S.H.: “But they don’t have to. The point is that It’s not our job to vet all of the specific sciences that the scientists working in that field are doing nothing but vet themselves. And so people do things with climate science that they would never do with oncology or with anything else. You’re not an oncologist, right? And when 97% of oncologists say that smoking causes lung cancer you wouldn’t be tempted to go on the internet and after an afternoon of google searches come to your own opinion about whether smoking causes lung cancer. That’s not a move that people tend to make, because for whatever reason that’s just not what people are politically divided about.”

    S.A.: “Let’s use another example. Let’s say the government’s food pyramid 20 years ago.”

    S.H.: “Yeah. That’s a famous area where the science is unsettled, and also where the incentives to do science… you know, the sugar council doing their own science, It’s basically like big tobacco funding their own research.”

    S.A.: “So you would say that there are examples in our common experience in which the experts who had some career-related incentive to fudge things fudged things, and fooled us for years that the consensus was right when in fact it was completely a hoax?”

  2. Vlad says:

    Sley, a 33-year-old ex-Wall Streeter who’s smoked cigars since he was 15, launched Hestia in 2013. The company’s small-batch “cigarillos” are made with tobacco grown on organic farms in the South and rolled in retardant-free natural papers with a nontoxic filter. Sley says the cigs are made for people like him, who eat kale and shop at Whole Foods: “People who put care and intention in their bodies.” http://nypost.com/2017/07/24/hip-health-freaks-think-smoking-is-cool-again/

    • Rose says:

      Oh dear, I’m going to have to try this kale stuff aren’t I, otherwise, I won’t be able to express a valid opinion.

  3. Rose says:

    I thought that’s where I first heard of it.

    Kale — a competitive winter feed
    2008

    “Kale is a good producer of high quality feed for either the milking cow, the dry cow or the weanling. Its energy value is the same as spring grass (i.e. 1.07UFL/kg/DM).
    Kale earned its status as a high quality feed due to its very good leaf to stem ratio.

    What has driven the interest in crops such as kale in the recent years?

    The only reason you, as a dairy farmer, should go down this road is that growing kale will put more money in your pocket at the end of the year.
    If kale is to put more money in your pocket, then it must be a cheaper way of feeding your dry cows or yearlings over the winter. The feed you are partly replacing is obviously silage. So, is growing a crop of kale cheaper than harvesting a crop of silage?”
    http://www.independent.ie/business/farming/kale-a-competitive-winter-feed-26454768.html

  4. slugbop007 says:

    Sam Harris is also a neuroscientist. Scary.

    slugbop007

    • Joe L. says:

      Besides being a neuroscientist, Harris is also a “philosopher” and author. From his Wikipedia page:

      In The Moral Landscape (2010), Harris argues that science can help answer moral problems and aid human well-being.

      Harris believes whatever “experts” tell him because he himself is a well-paid “expert.”

  5. Rose says:

    Chief to recommend charges against Florida teens who recorded drowning

    “The teens admitted being in the area “smoking weed,” police said.”
    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/21/us/florida-teens-drowning-man/index.html

    Hidden Benefits Of Nicotine on The Brain

    “Nicotine is considered a nootropic and can be used as a “smart drug” to maximize cognitive capacity, plus some evidence suggests that it may act as a neuroprotective agent. Examples of tasks that people have found benefit from using nicotine include: solving complex mathematical equations, taking exams, and technical writing.”
    http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/05/26/hidden-benefits-of-nicotine-on-the-brain/

    Perhaps if they had been clandestinely smoking tobacco they would have had the wit to either ring for help or drag him out of the pond.

    Our perhaps there’s just a special kind of useless idiot around these days.

    Health and safety row over man who died in 18in of water as 999 teams were told it was too risky to rescue him
    2009

    “Police, firemen and paramedics refused to go to the aid of an accident victim who was drowning in just 18 inches of water… because they believed it was too dangerous.
    A senior fire officer banned his men from using ropes and ladders to climb down a 15ft bank to the victim after carrying out a ‘risk assessment’.
    Acting on advice, ten police officers who attended the emergency also failed to rescue father-of-three Karl Malton, 32, as he lay face down in the shallow water.”

    “His body lay there for three hours after a decision was made to send for a ‘water rescue team’ based more than 50 miles away.”
    http: //www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203501/Health-safety-row-man-dies-water-ditch-999-services-stood-waited.html

  6. you have to believe 97% of oncologists when they tell you that smoking causes lung cancer.

    Where are the other 3 % of oncologists to be found? According the MSM they don’t even exist… At least in the case of AGW there seems to be an allowance of 3 % or so dissenting bona fide scientists, recognized as such by the MSM, whereas in the case of SHS (let alone 1st hand smoking “harm”), 100 % wall-to-wall consensus seems to be ruling the day, day after day, week after week, year upon year for decade upon decade, and till kingdom come by the looks of things.
    UNLESS…

    • Joe L. says:

      Interesting number, that “97%” is. According to this article from 2015, the White House tweeted, “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” A few days later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry announced, “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us [climate change] is urgent.” It seems as though the “experts” think they’ve found their magic number.

      • natepickering says:

        The oversimplification that plagues the conversation on climate change is shocking. A scientist (i.e. someone who values the scientific method and tries honestly to exercise it) should be the first to volunteer that belief in the climate change political worldview requires the acceptance of a whole series of propositions:

        1) Climate change is happening;
        2) It is bad;
        3) It is primarily or exclusively being caused by human activity;
        4) Governments can ameliorate or reverse it by enacting a certain set of policies.

        It should be self-evident that each of these assertions is bolder than the previous one, and should be scrutinized accordingly. But they aren’t. They simply are taken as a whole and rubber stamped by the “scientific community.”

        This is the point where science stops being science and becomes more like religion.

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