Patterico's Pontifications

10/10/2006

Memo to Joel Stein: Making Up Facts Is Not OK — Even for a “Humor” Writer

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:02 pm

I know Joel Stein is a clownish figure who is not to be taken seriously. Still, I have to call him on this:

Although we have killed more than 50,000 Iraqis for reasons that no one is able to explain other than that letting crazy, anti-Western, death-cult Arabs vote for their own crazy, anti-Western, death-cult Arab leaders is awesome, we have decided that we cannot accept mistreating captured enemies.

I’m sorry, Joel. “We” have killed more than 50,000 Iraqis?

The Los Angeles Times reported in April that the civilian death toll during the Iraq war had topped 50,000. However, the paper reported:

Almost 75% of those who died violently were killed in “terrorist acts,” typically bombings, the records show.

In other words, “we” didn’t kill that 75% — the enemy did. Saying “we” killed that 75% makes as much logical sense as saying that “we” killed six million Jews in World War II . . . because we fought an enemy that killed them.

Some could argue that these deaths are attibutable to the invasion — but that argument incorrectly assumes that civilians weren’t murdered in equal numbers under Saddam. As I showed in this post, they were. Saddam murdered, on average, over 16,000 civilians per year — about the same number as have died during the course of the war, primarily at the hands of the same Ba’athist terrorists who murdered civilians during Saddam’s reign.

Nor is it accurate to say that we killed the other 25%. According to the June Times article, that group was killed by both Iraqis and Americans in military clashes, including accidental crossfire.

Any way you slice it, Stein wildy misstates the facts when he claims that “we” have killed 50,000 Iraqis.

I realize Stein is a “humor” writer — and I use the quotation marks advisedly. But being a humor writer does not entitle you to take liberties with actual facts, unless you’re saying something so patently absurd that nobody can possibly take you seriously — like: “the Los Angeles Times has no liberal bias,” or: “Joel Stein is a witty and insightful writer.”

Or: “The L.A. Times is likely to correct Joel Stein’s misstatement, because at the L.A. Times, accuracy is goal number one.”

P.S. If for some strange reason you took me seriously there, the Readers’ Representative can be reached at ReadersRep@latimes.com.

North Korea May Have Conducted Another Nuclear Test (UPDATE: False Alarm?)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:00 pm

Uh-oh.

UPDATE: It may be a false alarm. South Korea has detected nothing. It sounds like it may be a real earthquake.

One of Those Glass Half Full or Half Empty Deals

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

Depending on whom you ask, the North Korean nuke test may have been non-nuclear, or nuclear — but much smaller than expected. Allah provides context, and does what he does best: he updates, and updates again.


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