The Morning Jolt

National Security & Defense

What Did and Didn’t Cause Yesterday’s Terror Attack

Making the click-through worthwhile: The curious pattern of early initial non-terrorism explanations for terror attacks; a tough question about why the attacker entered the country; and a rough thought on deterrence of sexual predators in the workplace.

Those Strange, Quickly Emerging, False, Non-Terrorism Explanations

A rarely-discussed aspect of post-9/11 terror attacks is that shortly after the first reports of casualties, a non-terrorism-related explanation tends to surface within a very short time. You probably recall the San Bernardino attack initially being described as “workplace violence.” The “underwear bomber” in 2009 was initially reported as someone attempting to set off firecrackers on a plane. There are still those who contend that the primary motive in the Orlando shooting was gay self-hatred on the part of the shooter, and not his pledge of loyalty to ISIS.

Yesterday afternoon, we received word of a truck running people down on a bike path — in a manner similar to other truck attacks committed by jihadists in Europe — and an assailant allegedly having a gun. The site of this attack was not far from Ground Zero in Manhattan. The bike path runs parallel to the West Side Highway but is separated by a low median with intermittent trees — making it difficult, but not quite impossible, for a truck to accidentally veer onto the bike path.

And yet . . . not too long after the initial reports, a Twitter account called “New York City Alerts,” describing itself as “a team of reporters tweeting NYC news and photos as it happens. We’re not official.” started putting out new information that turned out to be . . . not accurate at all:

Yes, it is possible that this is an exaggerated or inaccurate version of events.

How does society deter bad behavior? Moral instruction and appeals to conscience and empathy are, sadly, not always enough. Then society must enforce consequences.

It is painfully clear that the most shameless sexual predators do not fear the human resources department. In many cases, the human resources department may report to them. The powerful predators have the financial resources to offer settlements, and they have enough powerful allies to smear or blacklist any accuser. They have the lawyers to threaten libel or slander suits to prevent any reports of their behavior. There is really nothing that the modern corporate structure or culture can throw at them that they fear.

But they might just fear “a Missouri whooping.”

All that money and all that power and all those lawyers might not count for all that much when a father, brother, husband, or boyfriend is coming at you with rage in his eyes. Sure, you can press charges after you’ve found all of your teeth that were knocked out, and you’ll have a lot to tell the police once your jaw is unwired. It only takes seven to nine pounds of pressure to break a nose. Any significant blow to your head can cause your brain to bounce within your skull and cause a momentary “knockout.” Hopefully in the melee, nothing you really need like a kidney, spleen, or lung will get all that banged up. (Sufficient blunt trauma upon your kidneys will cause them to fail.) The odds of a fatal cerebral hemorrhage from your head hitting the ground or a wall or something else hard are small, but not quite nonexistent.

You might win a civil lawsuit against that father/brother/husband/boyfriend, but you’ll be enduring a lot of physical pain in the meantime. And you never really know who the jury will believe. You had better hope there aren’t any fathers, brothers, husbands or boyfriends on that jury. Yes, you can claim that this was an unprovoked attack, but everyone’s going to wonder why this seemingly mild-mannered guy chose to assault you. If you’ve earned a bit of a reputation as an aggressive sleaze, a lot of people will know exactly why this happened.

These are the sorts of thoughts that we need to be running through every predator’s head when they feel the temptation to grope their underlings.

ADDENDA: Ben Shapiro on why Trump fits this moment, when Democrats contend Ed Gillespie supporters want to run down children: “Reagan and Bush both met with left-wing opponents who excoriated them for their supposed “lies,” calling them war criminals and maniacs. So did candidates the Left pretended to tolerate, from John McCain to Mitt Romney. Trump has no moral opposition to trashing his opponents — in fact, he’s made a career out of it. His knee-jerk tendency to demonize his adversaries fits perfectly with the conservative desire to strike back at the Left.”

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