Baen: Paranoia, perceived provocation, and politics

The web forum known as Baen’s Bar is once again being criticised for the apparent violent comments in one of its subsections. There is coverage here at File 770 ( item 2) of a Tweet by Jay Blanc. That Tweet has since been removed by Twitter:

“My twitter account is now locked and disabled due to an unknown group of people reporting the Baen whistleblowing tweet as “abuse and harassment”. You can draw your own conclusions as to who would have done this.”

I’m reposting a version of Jay Blanc’s screenshot here but with usernames and other personal details obscured:

There are a number of elements here and I’ll point out a major caveat first:

  • Discussion about gun practice drills are common in gun rights circles and hence normal thread drift can end up on this topic without an overt attempt to link to the original topic.
  • I haven’t seen the wider discussion referenced or the steps that led from a discussion about the judge who signed the warrant for the search of Trump’s office ended up at a discussion on how to shoot people.

Still, you’d have to be an idiot not to realise that discussing how to shoot people in a thread about a judge is a BAD LOOK and something that, say, a lawyer might advise you not to do.

So let me instead use a simpler example of the same genre. It even (slightly) puts Baen’s Bar in a better light because this example is straight from Twitter and if Twitter isn’t moderating this sort of stuff, then arguably Baen’s Bar is the least of the problem.

For more context see my earlier post on Larry’s reaction to the so-called “raid” on Mar-a-Lago.

Unlike the Baen’s Bar comments, Larry isn’t linking this to a particular judge or federal employee. It is a more general expression of a species of the claim that the left (in general, i.e. the US centre-right, Democrats and the actual left) is provoking right into righteous anger and hence violence. It’s the “you made me do this” rationale for violence.

“Dicken drill” here refers to a bystander who ended a mass-shooting attempt at a US shopping mall in July this year (see ). This rare example of the “good guy with a gun” reducing the death toll in a mass shooting became a major talking point on the right and in gun rights spaces. The bystander (whose surname is Dicken), shot and killed the murderer within 15 seconds of the shooting starting. (Note that this apparently best-case scenario of the “good guy with a gun” still had multiple deaths and injuries.) Since then, fans of shooting people have been practising so-called Dicken Drills named after the bystander.

Here’s the thing. Without the context of Correia’s initial Tweet, the subsequent discussion of the “Dicken Drill” would look like a “reasonable” (in the context of US mass shootings) discussion of a means of self-defence in the case of an irrational attack.

Add the full context and it is advocacy for people on the right to prepare to start shooting people. Who? That’s vague but “the left” or “the feds” or this vague, never well-defined looming threat that is coming to get them. This message isn’t new but it is worth pointing out each time. It is a way for a section of the population to ready themselves psychologically and practically to kill their perceived enemies. I doubt Larry Correia is ever going to shoot anybody but this kind of messaging is very much about encouraging a hair-trigger response to perceived POLITICAL threats.

Look at the elements:

  • A belief that the “left” is intent on provoking the right into violence.
  • A belief that the US Federal government is out to get its political opponents.
  • That people on the right should be ready to respond with arms.
  • That this readiness specifically includes being ready to kill within 15 seconds of recognising a threat.

Like I said, Larry Correia is not going to shoot anybody. He has a lot of bluster but he’s not an idiot and he doesn’t have a history of violence. But look at that last point. Does anybody seriously think that nobody who shares the the other three beliefs is going to exercise perfect judgement on evaluating perceived threats WITHIN A MATTER OF SECONDS? Add in a milieu of paranoia about the “left”, and the “government” as well as the rare but genuine threat of other mass shooters.


19 responses to “Baen: Paranoia, perceived provocation, and politics”

  1. This last paragraph seems strange. Why would you write a sentence “Larry Correia is not going to shoot anybody” when he reports in social media that he is constantly practicing the capability to do so? If what you intend to communicate is that you think he will only do so in situations where it would be legal, well, that’s still going to mean shooting somebody.

    You also say “he doesn’t have a history of violence.” Of course, he may not, but it’s the next cousin to the ad ignorantiam fallacy to make an assumption just because there’s nothing online.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe that if Larry had ever shot somebody in self defence we would have been told about it many times, so I am assuming he never has and hence (probably) never will. I’ll concede that I may be wrong about that but as I am also expecting that Larry’s fans may misread this post as me suggesting that Larry is planning to murder FBI agents (or something), I thought it best to discourage that reading.


      • I agree with wanting to discourage that reading, but also: I don’t think Larry is significantly less likely to be the next George Zimmerman than the average US gun nut and self-defense fanatic. Which still means the likelihood of him ever killing someone is close to zero, but it’s higher than it would have been if he didn’t habitually carry a gun and didn’t train himself to use it in a perceived self-defense situation.

        Liked by 2 people

    • What Mike said. Many shooters have no history of violence until they do.

      Also, your last sentence is wrong. I believe it’s been more than adequately demonstrated over the years that he IS an idiot.

      Liked by 4 people

      • In the world of legal-type talk, what Cam’s first two sentences in that last para constitute is “CYA language”. They reduce the chance that Larry or any of his followers start credibly calling Cam a loony cancelling leftist.

        “What do you mean? I *specifically* said larry wouldn’t shoot anyone and that he’s not an idiot” (although a few points removed for that last word, which has some eugenics-related overtones).

        Liked by 1 person

        • We need a word that means “idiot”, but self-caused idiocy, not actual mental disability.

          Guess we’ll have to go with “fool”. Unlike Mr. T, I do not pity them.


  2. “Like I said, Larry Correia is not going to shoot anybody. ” As George Orwell said, the people who talk this way (including Tucker Carlson, the late and unlamented Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, etc.) never fight. They think shooting their mouth off is a substitute for fighting.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. At best, Larry here is just bluster. Talking up his backyard gunslinging to make himself look cooler than he actually is to his kinds of people. In the absence of any contrary evidence, I also think he is not a danger to anyone other than his own ego.

    I have every reason to believe that despite this talk, Larry is a law-abiding citizen when it comes to firearms. But only because I have no direct evidence to the contrary.

    At worst, Larry’s paranoia is showing. He himself has said that shooting is a perishable skill(You lose it if you don’t practice), and you don’t practice those kinds of drills that hard if you don’t think you will need it.

    In between, I think Larry is just plain irresponsible here. I don’t visit his blog much at all and avoid his comments like the plague, but the last time I saw the comments section, I remember Larry trying to shut down people in his own comments advocating violence. Yes, it is the smart and responsible thing to do, but it also gave me the feeling that either Larry doesn’t understand his own fanbase and target audience, or he doesn’t care and has lost control of them.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I wish these unhinged fantasists would stop with the chest pounding. How many mass shootings have to be inspired by this style of rhetoric before they take a step back and stop demonizing people they’ve never met or even communicated with?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is far more likely that guys like Larry will injure themselves or one of their friends with a gun mishap than they will ever actually stop a shooter or use a gun in self-defense.

    It is highly likely that should Larry ever find himself in a self-defense situation, he will be killed before he can unholster his gun.

    If the “right” Larry is talking about “starts shooting” (like they haven’t been already), their days of glory will be short and end badly for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s just the usual threatening that they’ve been doing since the 1980’s when they pretended that Reagan was any minute going to be deposed, drug gangs were coming for them and they had to be prepared for a “Red Dawn” scenario. They just recycle it. We’re always bad and forcing them to act with violence, justified, righteous, “defensive” violence, that they want us to be very aware of they are experts in doing, experts ya know. In particular, if enforcement authorities that usually coddle and wink at them go after white right wingers, or say get back classified documents from the former prez who stole them from the U.S. government, that’s not the way that things should be and so they make with the threats that aren’t really threats, smirk, smirk.

    Social media has been a boon to this violent abuser rhetoric that seeks to dehumanize and illegitimatize marginalized people and allies and justify corruption and violence. They get whole cheering sections telling them how tough and essential they are, pouring on the clan identity. Social media marketing companies are hired to set up endless bots on all the platforms, saying awful things to marginalized users with big enough followings so that they can attract the best customers for ads on virility aids, gun equipment and prepper products — most of them related to violent, autocratic fantasies. But larger platforms do a lot of haphazard but heavier monitoring the last few years so if you really want to do the shame that we might have to shoot them conversation, you have to try 4chan (which still is lousy at monitoring it) or the littler scream-fests like Telegram and Gab. Or your own private forum hosted by a right-leaning fiction publisher.

    Every one of them is indeed quite happy to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. That’s why many of them love Trump — he gets away with things. Him getting rapped on the knuckles by the FBI for not returning the classified documents he stole and probably sold to Russia, China and the Saudis is not quite getting away with things. It makes Trump look like a loser, which makes them losers, which is not acceptable to them even if they don’t like Trump. So they’re talking about how to be violent and supposedly heroic, dreaming of killing whoever they want, whoever makes them feel not special or could be sacrificed to make them feel special. They use it as an opportunity to threaten their perceived opponents with death. U.S. culture has always been hostage to insecure goons and right wing ideology is always about declaring righteous repression on pretend enemies.

    They will always threaten to shoot us. They talk about shooting us among themselves, in private, in public, in an endless frenzy of violence, some of it again to sell ads to the violent. And they demand that others think the same way and threaten to shoot us when we don’t, claiming that really, we’re (secretly, conspiratorially) planning to shoot them. It’s how they were raised and what they chose.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s well worth noting that in pretty much every case of an armed bystander stopping a shooter, it’s not a well-meaning civilian gun-nut but a serving or ex-member of the police or armed forces. When push comes to shove, their OTT rhetoric and delightful little drills don’t seem to help.

    Liked by 4 people

    • True, but sadly, many “civilian” ammosexual white supremacists are current or former military or police. The militias are full of them and they are actively recruited (to once again kill their neighbors/squad mates.) The young guy they are currently lionizing was not that, I don’t think, and may or may not have had a gun that was legal. He shot with reckless disregard for the other folks in the mall and may have helped injured some of them. And that’s part of the problem with the Hollywood wild west fantasies they’re constantly spinning. He could have also easily been shot, even if he was military or police or formerly was one, by the shooter or by police mistaking him for a shooter.

      But in this case the guy managed to take out the shooter and prevented more deaths. He’s an outlier in the statistics they refuse to face. And it doesn’t change the big problem — that the shooter, a young, white supremacist guy — had easy, legal access to fast shooting military weaponry in the U.S. because we got rid of gun control laws and are blocked from improving the situation by conservatives. If the assault weapon ban we had for ten years — when mass shootings dropped considerably — was still in place, that shooter in the mall likely would not have been there and killed people. We know this; we have the data. Folks like Larry want that shooter in the mall to be there, with an AR-15 or similar weapon, killing people in seconds, so they can have the dream of heroism among a terrorized society. That’s what they think is a healthy society — macho violence and people threatening each other with their weapons. That’s what the mall mass shooter thought was a healthy society too.

      Timothy McVeigh shared this philosophy as well. He was ex-military. He and his terrorism cell thought they were heroes. They thought they were helping start the supposedly inevitable civil race war in the 1990’s (the one that’s still supposedly coming any day now) and in particular that they were fighting against a supposedly corrupt FBI under a Dem president. So now, when we have militia folk who share these right wingers’ philosophy doing bombing schemes, kidnapping plans of Dem governors, and talking about how the FBI is corrupt and needs to be taken out due to doing a warrant search for stolen classified documents, we again believe what they say. We don’t trust them to be a hero with a gun because people with their credo have regularly been domestic terrorists with guns and bombs. Because they constantly threaten to shoot marginalized people and anyone who talks about equal civil rights, helping the poor or combatting climate change. Because many of them are or used to be cops and soldiers, etc., and seem quite eager to have gun battles in the streets or take out their fellow cops and soldiers (see Jan 6.)

      Larry, I am given to understand, used to own a gun shop. I’m sure he’s done a lot of shooting as part of that. He’s perfectly able to shoot people. A five year old can shoot people — and they do it every day. Toddlers shoot their parents or siblings. They pretend that shooting someone is special, tactical and important — heroic. And so instead of reducing the need for armed self-defense through common sense gun laws that we know work whenever we’ve managed to apply them, they demand more and more sacrifices, terrorize us with guns and offer more threats if we criticize their earlier threats to shoot us.

      If they actually wanted to heroically stop these mass shootings, particularly in schools and places of worship, they’d work on deradicalizing these white guy mass shooter candidates, especially the young ones, and stop pushing the myths that serve as the shooters’ manifestos. Instead, they’re training the mass shooters how to shoot better, including at cops, and talking about how we need more and more guns everywhere to stop BIPOC immigrants and liberals. And they’re making sure the mass shooters can go buy their guns easily to do what they’re telling them needs to be done. They’re making their own “bandits” and using that as an excuse to take over to “stop” them. It is very disheartening to live in a society where 30% of the populace believes that Emperor Palpatine had the right idea with the clone wars. (Or rather Star Wars drew inspiration from the make your own bandits with weapons of mass destruction U.S. war on Iraq and the on-going domestic effort demonizing Black people.)

      Anyway, the people on Baen Bar talking about tactical shooting aren’t heroes, whatever myths they cling to. They’re violent assholes and I’m perfectly willing to believe that they’ll shoot people. Just like the teenager who shot protestors with the shiny gun he cheated to legally get to be a hero against black people or the men who hunted down and shot Arbery with their legal guns, claiming they were heroes. And just like the mass shooter in the mall who they want to practice “drilling” against but who shared almost all of their beliefs, especially about guns. We didn’t really need the screen shots of the forum to know what they say, because they say it all the time out in public on a regular basis.

      Liked by 2 people

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