Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: 9/11

I’m Ready to Give Up On Gun Control–But Let’s Close the TSA

I know, right? Depressing headline. But it’s true. After some years of writing about gun control, I can’t do it anymore. As a society, we’ve made our choice–we’ve decided that it’s worth it to have a much more dangerous society in the name of freedom. But if that’s the principle, I want to abolish the TSA and go back to 90s airport security. Remember the 90s? You could just walk into the airport and go straight to the gate. No lines. No fuss. Sure, 2,996 people died on 9/11. But guns were used in 13,286 homicides in 2015 alone. There were zero terrorist attacks involving passenger planes in the 17 years before 9/11. But guns kill another 13 or 14 thousand people every year. Gun rights advocates might think the right to travel unmolested by the TSA is worth only a fraction of what the right to own a gun is worth. But we sacrificed our travel rights over only a tiny fraction of the number of lives guns take from us. I’m giving up on taking people’s guns, but I want them to give me back my airports.

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How to Usefully Distinguish Terrorism From Other Forms of Violence

I’ve noticed there’s been a bit of an uptick in think-pieces about what counts as “terrorism”. These tend to be built around a common observation that white mass murderers tend not to get the “terrorist” label and that the Trump administration reacts very differently to mass violence when the perpetrator is Muslim, an immigrant, a refugee, or a close relative thereof. Perhaps the most strident example is Matthew Walther’s piece in The Week in which he claims that there is “no such thing” as terrorism. It’s the return of a conversation we saw in 2015 and which has tended to repeat whenever some high profile mass violence occurs. This debate results from a lack of clarity in the way we think about violence. Let’s fix this.

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The War in Afghanistan is not a Reasonable Way to Save American Lives

President Trump plans to continue the War in Afghanistan. His reasons don’t make sense. Here’s why.

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A Critique of Conspiracy Theories

Increasingly just about any time anything tragic happens there will be some number of people who will immediately jump to the conclusion that the government did it. 9/11? An inside job. Newtown school shooting? A government plot to take our guns. Boston Bombing? A false flag operation. The most recent one that spurred this post is the killing of Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen immigrant whom the FBI chose to question as part of its investigation of the Boston Bombing. He was questioned by an FBI agent and two state troopers. The FBI says that Todashev attacked their agent, presenting an imminent threat to that agent’s life, and as a result the agent chose to shoot him. Corroborating the FBI’s account, the agent was hospitalised with injuries. Regardless, the FBI is investigating the incident.Yet, despite this, some people think that the FBI just went into Todashev’s home and killed him for some reason, or no reason, and that this incident suggests that our government is totalitarian and just goes around shooting people all the time. Why do people believe these conspiracy theories?

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The TSA: Mass Murderers

I happened upon an old article by the sage of Brooklyn himself, Nate Silver, about what Silver calls the hidden costs of airport security. Silver references a study out of Cornell University that indicates that the there were significant consequences to the increase in airport security post-9/11 that went unreported and unnoticed. These consequences were not merely financial–people died.

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