14 August 2004

Friendly skies

Patrick Smith over at Salon has been continuing his assault on that crazed woman who saw terrorists in a group of Syrian musicians. I assumed the story played itself out and is now, appropriately, forgotten. Have I not been paying attention? Well, in case I haven't, here are local copies of his original and three follow-up articles.

It may be beating a dead horse, but he makes some funny, incisive comments on That Idiot Woman and her story:

Among the letters I've received over the past couple of weeks, several have taken me to task for not bothering with a point-by-point dissection of the musicians' in-flight conduct. Jacobsen presents a theater in which the men engaged in everything short of an onboard decapitation and a Frisbee game down the center aisle: They congregate and socialize; they bring cameras and cellphones into the lavatories; one removes a long skinny object, draped in cloth, from the overhead bin. What do these things mean?

Embedded in each tiny snapshot is a nugget of scary-sounding detail. But that's precisely the narrative's undoing; the entire thing is an out-of-context cheap shot of gratuitous detail. The men brought phones into the toilets? Who cares? Were the phones in their hands, or clipped to their belts? And if the former, what would the point be when all he'd have to do is slip the device into a pocket to conceal it? What of the item wrapped in cloth? An ivory-handled scimitar magically slipped past security? And so forth. It's ridiculous, especially when we accommodate even a small measure of embellishment.

[from the August 6th article]

In the most recent post, the author quotes Prof. Stanley J. Alluisi from the Aviation Sciences Institute at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, commenting on Ms. Jacobsen's dementia:

Her 'logic' that the Syrians were terrorists on a dry run is similar to the arguments put forward by those claiming psychic or magical powers. First, they demand that you prove their extraordinary claims are false, turning the evidentiary requirements on their head. And if you would just look closer and closer, you will eventually find the proof! The truth is out there.

Jacobsen says, 'I saw what I saw' and 'Those men were up to something and I cannot believe otherwise.' Therefore, no amount of investigation will be sufficient if it does not dig deep enough to 'prove' the 14 Syrians were terrorists. Nothing short of their signed confessions, or their actually participating in a terror attack could satisfy her, since she 'cannot believe otherwise.' This is religion, not logic.

I hope this story is dead, although Smith says that the Washington Times [has] propagated this affair through continuously vapid coverage. Jacobsen's story might become one of those "facts" that will get thrown around to support more PATRIOT Acts.

[ posted by sstrader on 14 August 2004 at 7:46:32 AM in Culture & Society ]