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the relation between Allen's racial attitudes and his "boobery" wrong. First, Allen isn't "racially insensitive"; he's a racist. Allen's as much a racist as Mel Gibson is an anti-semite. The "macaca" comment comes on top of the Confederate flag fascination, the picture of a noose hanging from a tree, and the pro-Confederate proclamations Allen made while governor. We should all be honest enough to take the broad hints that Allen's been giving us.

Dickerson also writes as though being a racist and being a boob are different things. This is not the case with Allen. The "macaca" comment was a pretty standard boob approach to racism. Instead of calling the opposition photographer Sidarth by one of the standard racial epithets for dark-skinned people, Sen. Allen thought that he would use a fancy French term for blacks that no one would recognize. This is almost precisely what it means to be a boob, to think that you're the smartest person in the room even while you're making an idiot of yourself. Sen. Allen thought he was demonstrating his racial superiority to the irritating guy, thought he was entertaining his all-white audience, and thought he was scoring points while he was NOT noticing that Sidarth was holding a camera in his hand and recording the whole blundering soliloguy. What a racist boob!

As little respect as I have for George Bush, it wasn't fair for Dickerson to equate Allen with the President. Whatever his failures as president and "goofy, amiable, towel-snapping qualities," Pres. Bush has too much "message discipline" to be caught making that kind of racist comment on camera even if he feels that way in private (and I don't think he does). Perhaps the worst thing you can say about George Allen is that he is considerably more of a boob than George Bush.

Not that such a thing would stop the Republicans from nominating him.

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A profusion of additional commentary can be found in Politics. AC5:53pm PDT

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Monday, August 14, 2006

In her latest column, "Teen Terror," Dahlia Lithwick ponders the similarities between a teenager and a terrorist. While noting many commonalities—or, perhaps, overlaps—between the two categories, Lithwick believes that, "because teenage boys with grudges are fundamentally different from adult men with liquid explosives, we should resist the lure of using terror laws to prosecute them."

Several readers disagree that American high-schoolers with dreams of mass homicide are different in nature from Islamic terrorists bent on mayhem and destruction. HLS2003 doesn't think Lithwick's case adds up:

The only analysis she does offer contradicts her assertion. After all, what is the difference between Timothy McVeigh and Mohammed Atta, other than one's motivation by Nazi fascism and one's motivation by a form of religious fascism? They were both terrorists and they both wanted to kill a lot of people. And how old do you think many of these terrorists are, Dahlia? Are they all thirty-somethings who have gotten past the pimply stage? Or are many young and impressionable teens just like your alleged victims here?

Another practicing attorney, carolfb, explains the legal doctrine of "terroristic threat":

While modern "terrorism as a political weapon" has changed our use of words, people have been terrorizing other people for millenia. "Terroristic threat" is not a new idea springing from the world-wide-war-on-terror, but an old concept in criminal law. While I would agree the teens you discuss are not "terrorists" as the word is used today, their actions (if proven) do indeed constitute "terroristic threats".

A terroristic threat is any credible threat that terrorizes another. [...] Depending on where you live, there are historical artifacts in these statutes. In Georgia, a terroristic act includes burning a cross or other symbol with the intent to terrorize another or another's household. Depending on the seriousness of the threat, the charge can be a misdemeanor or felony. [...]

My experience with terroristic threats comes primarily from representing women in domestic violence cases. [...] The goal in these crimes is the same goal as international terrorism, writ small. The abuser wants to control "his" woman. She won't challenge him so long as she is afraid of him. Usually VERY afraid of him. [...]

The teens you describe are also seeking to control those around them -- perhaps for different reasons but with the same tool -- terror. I agree that these kids are not international terrorists a la Osama Bin Laden. They are, however, mixed up adolescents who are INTENDING to scare the pants off other folks. That is the whole point of these activities: hurt or kill some folks, TERRORIZE lots more. The criminal code does and should address not only the physical assault, but the "terroristic threat".

Clown_Nose agrees there's a difference between American teenagers and Islamic terrorists but wants to close the gap as quickly as possible:

Why doesn't the United States take advantage of the teen angst like the Islamists do?

It seems to me that we know that suicide is a leading cause of death for teens. Islamists take advantage of this by telling these teens that it is God calling them to kill infidels.
Instead of using psychologists to try (and fail) to fix this defect, why don't we seize the opportunity and send these people over seas to blow up terrorist cells? They are going to die anyway, we might as well get some value out of it. [...] Lets jump on the bandwagon and use some losers too.

Dayenu not only believes we should treat murderous students as terrorists, she's prepared to take out the stateside sponsors who harbor them:

It does seem that one element is missing from this equation. It would probably be a good idea to prosecute and lock up parents who exist in such a moral vacuum that they could watch their kids assemble arsenals and do nothing.

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