WSJ's James Taranto: Moral Blowhard

While reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog on The Daily Beast, I ran across this post from Andrew. *The **Wall Street Journal’s *James Taranto’s latest tweet is quoted, which talks about the Aurora girls whose boyfriends saved them when the latter used their bodies in a self-sacrificial effort to absorb the theatre shooter’s bullets. Taranto says, “I hope these girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of their sacrifice.” Of course, this insensitive tweet produced a backlash, documented here on HuffPo. Taranto, facing pressure from his tweet’s critics, decided to clarify what his tweet really meant with:

What the hell does he mean by “good, full, happy”? Specifically, what does he mean by good? Is this just supposed to be a colloquial way of wishing the survivors well, as in saying “Have a good life”? Or, is this supposed to be a moral mandate, like, “Be good”? Who fucking knows. Either way, the clarification of his tweet has problems. If he is claiming that his tweet solely intended to express hope that the survivors live long and prosper, then there is no way, even for James Taranto, to plausibly infer such sentiments from what he tweeted. Whereas, if he intended to morally lecture the survivors by telling them to be good, then one needs to ask this particular conservative why it’s too early to talk about gun control but not too early to lecture the grieving.

Also, note that Taranto’s tweet reads that he hopes that these girls “were worthy.” Kinda hard to pass this off as a statement about the remainder of the girls’ lives, when used the past tense.

He was telling them not to be sluts, i.e., not to fuck anyone until they married, and to vote Republican.

He’s also not expressing any admiration for Stephanie Davies. I guess it doesn’t matter if a woman is worthy unless a man dies.

I am really fighting an urge to point out that she managed to save someone who was actually injured, for several terrifying minutes, without …

Nevermind, those young men did a good thing, and I can’t let Tarantor taken that away.

Taranto sounds like a Marvel super-villain from the early 60s, with the Fantastic Four standing about looking bewildered as he busts in from the skies:


FWIW, it’s the same sentiment expressed by Tom Hanks to Matt Damon near the end of Saving Private Ryan: “Earn this.”

Yeah, and Ryan was tortured by it for the next 50 years. :slight_smile:

Oh, one other thing – it’s real different for the dying hero to say it than some uninvolved jerkwad a thousand miles away.

And bookended by his asking his present day wife if he’d been a good man. (And of course the implication is that we all need to earn (live up to) the sacrifices of those who gave their last full measure.)

I agree that his original formulation carried potential overtones that I would find distasteful. His amended version doesn’t strike me as particularly questionable.

I didn’t realise this guy was a WSJ commentator, but here’s what I posted in the other thread (Denver Batman Killer):

Basically, if a military vet thinks it’s worth it to sacrifice his life to save his lover, who am I to tell him he’s mistaken?

Right, and I’d extend that to any sacrifice like this. You don’t have to go out and prove you’re worth it - the person who made the sacrifice already decided you were worth it, and since it’s a debt that can’t be repaid, “I hope you were worth it” is pointless. The only thing it really conveys is an attitude of a stranger sitting in judgment.

The only thing it really conveys is an attitude of an asshole sitting in judgment.


I hope the letters whose keys you used to type that post were worthy of being pressed.

While we’re at it, and I think j666’s post sort of hinted at this, but there’s something about this comment that feels sort of vaguely condescending or demeaning to women.

Other than misspelling ‘worthless jerkoff and complete moral leper’ as ‘stranger,’ I’m in full agreement with this.

ROFL! (OK, chuckling out loud while eating lunch at my cube, but still.) And I see silenus beat me to the punch - that’s what I get for not previewing. :slight_smile:

Hell, yeah. Imagine the soldier who falls on a hand grenade to save the other soldiers in his foxhole - would anyone in this world think to suggest that his buddies might not be worthy of his sacrifice, for any reason? It wouldn’t cross people’s minds.

How am I supposed to choose?

If someone sacrificed himself to save me, it would cross my mind that I wasn’t worth it. OTOH, if some third party suggested I wasn’t worth it, it would piss me off royally – I would see this as some kind of insult to the person who sacrificed himself.

I think there’s a contradiction in there, but hey, it’s psychology, whaddareyagonnado?

Gotta agree there. He comes off as really, really creepy.

It should have been you, [del]Geordie[/del] Boyo Jim. It should have been you.

My point was not that he was rather ugly to the women who were saved - haven’t we agreed that “hoping” the women were worth it, implies it is at least possible, if not likely, they are not?

I was angered that he did not even acknowledge Ms. Davies, who was not heroic for one tragic moment, but risked her life for … well, I don’t know - at least a minute? to save her friend. She was luckier than those men, not less heroic.

Who says you have to choose? Taranto’s both a floor wax and a dessert topping!