Patterico's Pontifications


A Short Life, a Horrific Death

Filed under: Crime — Jack Dunphy @ 8:18 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Saturday’s Los Angeles Times features a story on the short life and horrific death of Kirsten Brydum, a 25-year-old woman who, in the tradition of Jack Kerouac, set out last summer on a two-month road trip that ended with her murder in New Orleans.

Brydum, the story says, “arrived in New Orleans in late September with a rail pass, a little red notebook and a head full of ideas about the oppressive forces of capitalism and government, and how they might be replaced with something better.” She hoped to contribute to the post-Katrina rebirth of New Orleans. Instead, she was shot four times in the face and dumped in the city’s 9th Ward. The murder remains unsolved.

I must emphasize that in writing what follows I am not blaming Brydum for the fate that befell her. In an ideal world a lone petite woman should be free to roam about as she pleases without fear. But it is not an ideal world, and few cities in America are as far removed from the ideal as is New Orleans. Which brings me to the point that some may find objectionable and even insulting to Brydum’s memory. No insult is intended, but if Brydum’s death is to be remembered as anything other than another unsolved murder in the country’s most dangerous city, one must draw the lessons one can from the tragedy.

Brydum was a woman of the political left, which I again say is not to relieve her killer from even a trace of moral culpability for her death. But among the criticisms we conservatives have of people on the left is their naiveté when it comes to responding to evil. Modern liberals, as contrasted with pre-1960s liberals, often seem unable to respond to or even recognize malevolence when it presents itself. The results can be disastrous, both for individuals and for nations.

In my long career as a police officer I’ve counseled the young cops I’ve been entrusted to train that they should not go about in the belief that everyone out on the streets will try to kill them. But neither should they forget that there are people out there who, if given the chance, will.

You don’t have to be a cop to take my advice.

100 Responses to “A Short Life, a Horrific Death”

  1. Two peas in a pod: Rachel Corrie, and Kirsten Brydum.
    Idealism untempered by reality, now both dead.
    One lionized by the international press, the other just a footnote in a failing paper.
    They both deserved better.

    AD (d63605)

  2. No one has ever died badly, they got the job done after all.

    Soronel Haetir (cabedb)

  3. There was a young lady from Niger
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
    They returned from the ride
    with the lady inside
    and a smile on the face of the tiger.

    Barth (1aaf0a)

  4. Cycling at midnight in the 9th ward is a liberal penchant?


    steve (4c7b2c)

  5. Modern liberals, as contrasted with pre-1960s liberals, often seem unable to respond to or even recognize malevolence when it presents itself. The results can be disastrous, both for individuals and for nations.

    You nailed it.

    Old Coot (543f9d)

  6. I have friends and colleagues who are liberals who well recognize evil (and hate it.) But, yeah, the idea among some that a kind word and a gentle touch will rehabilitate evil is pretty clearly mistaken.

    It’s a tragic story. I hope her killer is found and brought to justice. She strikes me as a very sympathetic – if misguided – victim.


    JRM (355c21)

  7. It’s not much different than the death of Tim Treadwell and his girlfriend, the infamous bear lovers who knew better than the rest of us rubes that bears actually loved humans and would respond to our compassion and nonviolence.

    Liberalism simply fails to understand human motivation. From the punishment of innovation and hard work to the misbelief that all laws will be followed (thus denying the existence of law-breakers), they create systems and societies that are cursed to failure.

    HatlessHessian (cca288)

  8. This is heartbreaking. As the parent of a 25 year old as well, who lives in a metropolitan city, it makes me shudder. Fortunately she is savvy and doesn’t assume that everyone is good and kind and knows that’s it’s always wise to keep one’s third eye watching behind.

    Ms. Brydum probably believed, as many liberals do, that all people are born good and that evil can always be won over by that goodness. It’s an ugly truth to learn that there are people whose sole motivation is to actually perpetuate that evil by bringing harm to others. Without understanding that and being able to fit the hard truth into one’s life is to entertain danger.

    Dana (137151)

  9. My father had advice for me growing up which loosely translated says …..

    …. no need to combine lack of preparation and recklessness in pursuit of stupidity.

    Parents, in upper middle class households, need to do a better job of preparing their kids for the world that exists not the one pontificated on in Academia.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  10. Hey, we’re talking about Obama and the Middle East right?

    Alta Bob (44f27c)

  11. US Army Drill Sergreant Tracy D. Walton, Sand Hill, Ft. Benning, GA, circa September, 1999:

    “Private: There ain’ no cure fo’ stupid”

    Robert C. J. Parry (50a453)

  12. Rachel Corrie was sold a lie by her professor at The Evergreen State College–and her liberal parents did not make her immune to that cold siren call of activism. Having been to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, I am not so naive to think there are not two sides to this story. Israelis are not perfect, Palestinians are not evil, but the reverse is also true. But not for Rachel, she was fed a soup of lies on how Israelis were oppressors for crushing the empty homes of terrorists who crushed living persons with explosives strapped to their bodies.

    I am sorry for this loss of this young woman in New Orleans. I hope and pray my own daughters never lose the optimism of youth, but do not fall blindly in an idea.

    Joe (17aeff)

  13. I am sorry for the untimely deaths of Kirsten Brydum and Rachel Corrie.

    Joe (17aeff)

  14. I agree with the above, but the gene pool is also better off without these folks. And liberalism not only fails to understand human motivation, it fails to understand and in fact denies human nature.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  15. Peg C

    Do humanity a favor and quit blogging

    EricPWJohnson (a1d9fc)

  16. Obamas grandmother’s expression of fear was justified.

    rab (7a9e13)

  17. I think of it as evolution in action.

    Jack (d9cbc5)

  18. When the news reached the Bay Area, some of her fellow activists wondered if there had been a conspiracy. Some suspected the CIA.

    “Kirsten’s death looks more like a hit job rather than a random act of murder,” someone called SF Activist commented on one blog, one of a number of similar comments. “New Orleans is still a militarized zone and it’s quite possible she was targeted by hired guns.”

    My mind boggles at the sheer stupidity of these people. Nope, it’s not street scum criminals that killed her, it’s the CIA!

    Steverino (b12c49)

  19. Some good comments. The Right, at its best, is reality-based, not illusion-based. The problems in the last 8 years came from wishful thinking. The Left lives largely in a world of illusion and/or grievance, not reality.

    jack (1f4d17)

  20. Young people are generally adventurous and idealistic. If they direct their risk-taking to socially acceptable acts they become heroes. If to socially unacceptable ones, they become criminals. I find it hard to distinguish this unfortunate young lady from the nineteen-year olds who volunteer to fight in Iraq.

    And in response to morons Peg C. and Jack: Evolution made rabbits to whom being safe is everything, and human beings who struggle for something more.

    nk (bf9c84)

  21. NK wrote:

    I find it hard to distinguish this unfortunate young lady from the nineteen-year olds who volunteer to fight in Iraq.

    The 19 year olds who volunteer to join the Armed Services are taught, by experienced drill sergeants, what they will face in Iraq. These brave soldiers and Marines go in wearing protective gear and armed, and they know, in advance, that there are bad guys out there who would like to kill them.

    Who knows, maybe some of the young people who enlist are especially naïve, but that’s what drill sergeants are for, to knock that naïveté out of them and turn them into soldiers before introducing them into dangerous situations.

    The Dana whose older daughter is in Basic Training at Fort Jackson (556f76)

  22. Jack Dunphy – “Modern liberals, as contrasted with pre-1960s liberals, often seem unable to respond to or even recognize malevolence when it presents itself.”

    That reminds me of this: “… the research … suggests that liberals may display mammal-on-a-hot-rock languor in the face of legitimate threats. ‘They actually don’t show any difference in physical response between a picture of a spider on someone’s face and a picture of a bunny.'”

    Scrutineer (7a27e6)

  23. The History Channel series Gangland runs an episode dedicated to post-Katrina gangs and their violent culture. Anarchy reigns on the fringes The Big Easy. I sure as hell wouldn’t go there for any reason.

    The death of Kirsten Brydum is sad, but it was purely avoidable.

    Dan F (a67de7)

  24. Young people are generally adventurous and idealistic. If they direct their risk-taking to socially acceptable acts they become heroes. If to socially unacceptable ones, they become criminals. I find it hard to distinguish this unfortunate young lady from the nineteen-year olds who volunteer to fight in Iraq.

    I’m failing to see just what Kirsten Brydum hoped to accomplish and how she hoped to accomplish it. Soldiers have a mission and a set of orders to carry out. Best I can tell Brydum hoped to save New Orleans by blogging about it, like, radically, dudes.

    The Tim Treadwell comparison is much more apt than the Corrie one, I think. There’s a bit of Underpants Gnomes in this sad, sad story also.

    Pablo (99243e)

  25. I agree Tim Tredwell is a good example of not really understanding what you are dealing with and paying an ultimate price for that.

    Joe (17aeff)

  26. Thing is, we’ve just heard, by way of The Los Angeles Times, about the death of Kirsten Brydum, another white girl, as she went about unprotected in a violent city. Miss Brydum may have been young and idealistic and had Hope that she could Change the world, but she neither more nor less dead than the hundreds of barely named and mostly unpublicized murder victims in foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia.

    Miss Byydum’s death was apparently preventable, since she could have stayed in Van Nuys. Perhaps we might consider the people who seem trapped in North Philadelphia or Kensington or Strawberry Mansion.

    The saddened Dana (556f76)

  27. Personally, I think Tredwell and the human speed bump are more analogous. The one in this post is just sad.

    JD (2aa114)

  28. Patrick,
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Larry Niven.In his “Known Space” series,central character Louis Wu is apt to pontificate;”Stupidity can be a capital crime.” I haven’t had the heart to read the story

    corwin (ec8e62)

  29. I don’t think St. Pancake was as much ignorant as she was simply wrong. Aside, that is, from the “I’ll stop this bulldozer with the power of my righteousness!” line of thinking. That was pretty ignorant.

    She knew what she was doing and what she was getting herself into.

    AKA Pablo (99243e)

  30. I must emphasize that in writing what follows I am not blaming Brydum for the fate that befell her.

    Of course not. And if I leave my new digital camcorder on the dash of my unlocked car while I’m at the movies…it isn’t my fault that the thing is gone when I get back. But no one is really surprised that it was taken. In fact…I will be regarded as a fool by most of the people I tell my sob story to. Some might even accuse “well, what did you expect?”. Those are the sort of people who would blame Brydum for the fate that befell her.

    Al (f11584)

  31. I wonder if this young woman had any friends who were sensible enough to at least question her motives, and offer counsel on how to take care of herself. Regarding Treadwell, he was admonished countless times by both friendly park rangers and native Alaskan hunters that he was just asking to be eaten. As one hunter who became friendly with Treadwell put it after his death, “what some wish to see as the eyes of a animal with feelings, the bear looks back at you and sees just one thing – lunch.”

    Dmac (2fab96)

  32. Been to the Howlin Wolf several times, an awesome place for live music. But absolutely smack dab on the wrong side of Canal Street. No one is safe there and it is totally obvious to even the minimally observant.

    ThomasD (1659da)

  33. For what it’s worth, her body was found in the Bywater, not the 9th Ward. I hope that doesn’t rob the story of some of its totemic importance.

    The route from Howlin’ Wolf to the 3000 block of Laussat Place – where her body was found – isn’t particularly dangerous. She was traveling through the French Quarter for 80 percent of her journey, something thousands of people do every day without being harmed.

    But the tail end of her route did take her near a former public housing project, and that area is incredibly dangerous. The cops won’t say whether she was sexually assaulted – which means she was – so it’s not unreasonable to surmise she was bumrushed, assaulted and killed.

    What happened to her was inhuman, but I’m not sure her apparent naivete had anything to do with her death. Plenty of people run through bad neighborhoods and leave unharmed. Given what I’ve read, there’s no reason to believe she was doing anything but biking through a neighborhood she had to go through to get to the house where she was staying. She wasn’t out preaching to the poor, or organizing an anarchist collective.

    You’re taking a risk just living in New Orleans, for crying out loud. The sad fact is she took a risk – a risk tourists and residents in New Orleans take constantly – but the result was fatal. It’s a one in a million deal.

    It’s lazy and inductive to tie her political beliefs, which I find ridiculous, to her death, which is tragic. I don’t think the connection is warranted.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  34. AKA Pablo wrote:

    (Rachel Corrie) knew what she was doing and what she was getting herself into.

    You think so? To agree with your statement, I’d have to believe that Miss Corrie was perfectly willing to commit suicide for her beliefs, and I have my doubts that that was the case. It seems more likely to me that the notion the bulldozer operator would not stop for her was simply outside of her paradigm.

    From the Everything I Need To Know About Life I learned From Star Trek Department: In the episode “The Immunity Syndrome,” Mr Spock describes the feelings of the all-Vulcan crew of the Intrepid, at the moment of their deaths as “astonishment.” Somehow, my guess is that what Miss Corrie and her friends and fellow travelers experienced was just that, astonishment.

    Dana the Trekkie (556f76)

  35. #34 Brian Moore:

    I don’t think the connection is warranted.

    While she may not have been involved in any the activities that brought her to New Orleans in first place, simply that she WAS there than elsewhere is a result of her naiveté, informed by her politics so I don’t see the connection as unwarranted.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  36. @ EW1(SG)

    Then someone needs to explain to me how Brydum’s politics characterized her death in a way that doesn’t characterize the murders of other tourists in New Orleans.

    And though he wasn’t killed, Ray Davies of The Kinks got his ass shot – literally – five blocks from where Brydum was murdered. Is there a connection between being a rock star and getting shot in the ass?

    Brian Moore (062480)

  37. #37 Brian Moore:

    Then someone needs to explain to me how Brydum’s politics characterized her death in a way that doesn’t characterize the murders of other tourists in New Orleans.

    She was physically present at the scene of her demise because of her politics: it would even be fair to argue that tourists who suffer a similar fate do so because of their lack of political awareness.

    But she didn’t go to New Orleans for any other reason than to engage in her political beliefs: she didn’t go to collect beads, or sample begnets or etouffé. Ergo, had she not held a rather naive view of the world, she might be alive today. Or not, as she was quite capable of placing herself in danger in any number of other places in the world.

    Tourists, who visit dangerous places about the world, do so precisely because of their lack of political awareness sometimes.

    And yes, being a rock star is also a form of naiveté that has its own hazards.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  38. @ EW1(SG)


    So which is it, then? A surfeit of politics or a total absence thereof? Either way, you’re screwed. By your reasoning, an afficianado of hamburgers ought to question his love of beef, since Ray Davies got shot leaving the best burger place in New Orleans.

    For those who are interested, Davies got shot outside of Port of Call, an awesome bar/restaurant on Esplanade. Polynesian decor, tropical drinks – and burgers. It’s like Tiki Ti without the Hollywood BS. And with burgers.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  39. – “Modern liberals, as contrasted with pre-1960s liberals, often seem unable to respond to or even recognize malevolence when it presents itself.”

    Very scary. I see this with our students all the time. They are taught to valorize the homeless, for instance, and give them money, never thinking they might be dangerous.

    Remember years ago, the story of the two teenagers who shot and killed the professor and his wife in New Hampshire in a thrill killing? The two had knocked at two other doors that evening and were chased off by tough, wary locals. Only the profs opened the door.

    “Naivete dressed up as hope.” –Joan Didion

    Patricia (89cb84)

  40. Now that I’m here, I’m going to defend The Big Easy in brief fashion.

    First, a caveat: all the criticisms of New Orleans are hereby stipulated: there is too much crime. The authorities – from mayor to dogcatcher – are corrupt and incompetent. City services are nil. Its citizens are crazy. I’ll grant you all that.

    That said, what makes it blessed is it’s a city where thought crime is non-existant. To wit, try walking around with a McCain/Palin t-shirt in New York or Los Angeles. You’d be lucky if you don’t get shot in the face five times. In New Orleans, folks don’t care, even if they voted for Obama using multiple identities. They’ll just hoist a schooner, nod at your shirt, and say “here’s to ya’.”

    Similarly, you could be a card-carryin’ gay guy who blows more dudes in a given afternoon than most heterosexuals do in a lifetime, and even the most religious Christian won’t give you any crap. That’s your business, so here’s to ya’.

    It’s the one city I know where “mind your own got-damn bid’ness” is the operative attitude. I’ll take it.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  41. Kirsten Brydum pedaled away from the Howlin’ Wolf club into the darkness of another American city that she didn’t know very well. It was 1:30 a.m.

    Brian Moore, whether or not it was her political leaning that led to her death, without question she lacked common sense. If you’re a young woman riding a bike alone at 1:30 a.m. you have already rolled the dice. The fact that for most of the ride it was considered a fairly safe area doesn’t matter. Bad things generally happen late at night, and a young woman alone increases the chances.

    So yes, her naivete did contribute to her death. A more savvy young woman is going to be anywhere else but out alone at 1:30 in the morning rolling through dangerous turf. This is not representative of wisdom, discernment or experience.

    Dana (137151)

  42. To agree with your statement, I’d have to believe that Miss Corrie was perfectly willing to commit suicide for her beliefs, and I have my doubts that that was the case. It seems more likely to me that the notion the bulldozer operator would not stop for her was simply outside of her paradigm.

    Her paradigm was formed by years of MSM cheerleading for street demonstrators, always portrayed as morally superior, combined with decades of US laws doing their utmost to demonize the police.

    Indeed she felt that her righteousness (combined, of course, with the videos her cronies were making for world broadcast and consumption) would be sufficient to stop the dozer. And quite likely he’d HAVE stopped, if he’d have seen her in the last fatal location she chose – she’d successfully disrupted his work several times already. But, this time he didn’t see her, and the martyrdom of our Two-Dimensional Saint was established.

    Insufficiently Sensitive (673620)

  43. @ Dana

    Fair enough! She did lack common sense.

    But the point everyone’s making is a specious connection between her death and her politics. It doesn’t add up.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  44. she was murdered on (or near) Laussat PL and Feliciana ST in New Orleans…

    go to google maps and do a street view of that area… I have had a friend go in and take more recent pictures and the only difference is that now, the weeds are almost head high instead of being only knee high…

    I wouldnt bicycle through that area at high noon with a 12ga in my hands, let alone at 1:30 am and unarmed…

    sorry but some people have to learn the hard way that they are not immortal

    chris (9541df)

  45. It’s a common thought, but one that you can live by:

    Be professional, be courteous, and have a plan to kill anyone you meet.

    Jeff Cooper Redux (19874b)

  46. Just for laughs, let’s flip this on its head.

    Let’s say it’s not a self-styled “anarchist” like Kristen Brydum we’re talking about, but a pie-eyed Methodist from New Hampshire who’s spending her spring break renovating hurricane-ravaged houses in the 9th Ward with her church group. She’s worked all day, so she deserves a break. She goes to Howlin’ Wolf, has a good time listening to a decent band and then calls it a night around 1 a.m.

    On her way to where she’s bunking, she gets raped and murdered.

    Would anyone here be commenting on how her politics led to her death? Or would they simply be writing about what an awful tragedy it was, without delivering self-serving, “I-told-you-so” asides?

    Brian Moore (062480)

  47. Blame the victim and congratulate yourselves. Splendid.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  48. “Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

    i have no sympathy for either St. Pancake, the bear food twins or this misguided naif.

    redc1c4 (9c4f4a)

  49. Brian: By your reasoning (Dunphy’s) , an afficianado of hamburgers ought to question his love of beef, since Ray Davies got shot leaving the best burger place in New Orleans.

    Exactly, there is no rhyme or reason to ignorance and brutal senseless acts of violence. It’s like trying to put a political spin to an act of nature. That argument reduces the death of this girl to some stereotyped dated inaccurate portrayal of “liberalism”, simply to make a cheap political point. It insults the memory of a person that is more than a political belief and in the process renders her a fool.

    Patricia: The two had knocked at two other doors that evening and were chased off by tough, wary locals. Only the profs opened the door.

    I’m not sure you can put a political bent on that anymore than you can kindness or generosity. Some people are more trusting than others. Some are more aware of their surroundings than others or suspicious. I personally believe think people should be allowed to own guns if they want, but background checks and age restrictions should be a part of the process. You don’t need look any further than what happened at Virginia Tech. Two professors living in the middle of nowhere should be realistic enough if not, to at least to have a gun, than to be aware enough to know when they might be in danger.

    “Naivete dressed up as hope.” –Joan Didion

    There’s a difference between naivete and stupidity or blind faith. I could easily point to the GOP blind faith given to the “free market” and wall street and what it’s done to the millions in this country. And before anyone mention Freddie or Fannie or Barney Frank or Dodd or whoever, you need to think of the ideology and principles that weakened government’s role in that area, as well as many other’s including the shameful response to Katrina and it’s disasterous aftermath that in all likelihood had much to do with this girl getting shot so brutally, although to be fair New Orleans had terrible crime and a lousy Police Department (the NOPD) even before the hurricane.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  50. Brian Moore, whether or not it was her political leaning that led to her death, without question she lacked common sense

    I’m with Brian Moore here: her death had nothing to do with her politics.

    And I agree with you, Dana. She lacked common sense, and her lack of common sense proved fatal in a decidedly non-political event. However, I think her lack of common sense was the cause of her politics, not the other way around.

    Steverino (69d941)

  51. The killer or killers (ambiguity, not suggestivity) did not seek a liberal activist to kill. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was an easy target for any violent criminal that happened by. But to dismiss her activism from the periphery of the equation is unsound.

    Her activism caused her to leave CA and go to LA, New Orleans in particular. Had she been a do-nothing type person, she would not have made the journey. Can we fault her activism for her death? Not exactly. As stated earlier, tourists occasionally get murdered. And, while the tourists’ choice to visit the place where they get murdered is in the periphery of causes, the choice itself cannot be faulted.

    Liberalism and naivete very often go hand-in-glove, especially among those on the outside looking in. This was definitely the case with this young woman. She was naive. She was definitely not world-savvy. Her naivete was a much greater part of the causation than her liberalism. And her naivete indeed rises to the point of “lesser fault” in the event.

    But even the “lesser fault” does not mean she did it to herself. She did not act in any criminal manner. In an ideal world, she should’ve been able to stroll through any part of that city throughout the night. Obviously, this is not, nor ever shall be so long as mere mortals are in charge, an ideal world.

    Every decision, whether of action or of viewpoint, has foreseeable consequences and unforeseeable consequences. And many of those unforeseeable consequences wholly lack in logical connection — thus unforeseeable. Her naivete and idealism, while great for a child, is dangerous for an adult. “When I became a man, I put away childish thinking.”

    Do I blame her for her death? No. I blame the killer or killers. But is she totally free of fault in this terrible incident? No.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  52. Let’s not talk about the “shameful” reaction to Katrina without talking about Obama’s “shameful” reaction to this ice storm disaster.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  53. While I don’t think her politics led to her demise, her friend’s reactions to her death certainly lend credence that her actions devolved from a certain naivete’ about life in general. So the CIA is responsible for her death now, not a bunch of thugs? That is the other reprehensible part of this story – that somehow, somewhere and in someway, the evil US gov’t is involved. No, her actions did not play any role in this tragedy, the dark lords of the gov’t did – so fine, don’t blame the victim, but don’t make excuses for the savages who committed this heinous crime, either.

    as well as many other’s including the shameful response to Katrina and it’s disasterous aftermath that in all likelihood had much to do with this girl getting shot so brutally

    Nice strawman you got there, so how about I take your strawman and tell you that how on earth could The One be so racist and uncaring about all the poor white folk down in Kentucky, who are still without power, and will be for at least another week? Doesn’t he know that people are freezing to death? Where’s FEMA??!!!

    BTW, do you have any idea what New Orlean’s crime stats were BEFORE KATRINA? Not much better than now, so take that strawman and shove it up your bibby.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  54. For Peter, somehow, someway, in some manner – it’s all BUSH’S FAULT! Asshat.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  55. Only in Peter’s stunted world-view, does the GOP have a “blind faith (in) the ‘free market’ and Wall Street”. I suppose the concepts of due diligence escape him, as do most concepts of common sense actively engaged in by business people throughout the world who don’t genuflect at the alter of socialism.

    AD (7c0940)

  56. TO Tim Mc Garry
    I’m not sure people are congratulating themselves.I do agree they are blaming the victim.A couple of above commentors are also using quotes from Niven(Improving the gene pool and evolution in action).I don’t get the sense people are chortling over this young woman’s fear and painful death.But the secondary blame is hers.(Primary goes to the murderers).All she had to do to be alive today was ask for a ride home.As an analogy,years ago,i was at a park in Texas.NIce pond,and I enjoy swimming.But it said “Gator Warning”.I didn’t swim.This woman was a fool.There is no nice way to say it.

    corwin (ec8e62)

  57. Leave it to Peter to blame Bush, and Tim to intentionally misrepresent the discussion.

    JD (2aa114)

  58. JD, I have represented it perfectly.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  59. Tim, please do point to any self-congratulatory post in this thread and please do explain how it is self-congratulatory. Use fact and reason in your post-selection and your examination of the post.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  60. @Peter

    One quick point: I was summarizing EW1(SG)’s reasoning, not Jack Dunphy’s. I happen to think Dunphy’s a pretty smart guy.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  61. Brian Moore – Not to flog the point any more, but do you thingk Ray Davies would have been shot has he not elected to chase the people who snatched his companion’s purse?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  62. Sigh. If, only, God would heed mothers’ prayers. We would all be living rotting in safety and luxury.

    nk (bf9c84)

  63. Liberal logic leads me to the simple conclusion that the killers are Republicans.

    I invite my fellow commenters to apply the various logical fallacies to prove that only Rethuglicans are evil.

    Fred Z (8b55a0)

  64. I feel sorry for the young woman and her family but also feel that like young Rachel Corrie her blindfolded leftwing ideology was a gross behavoiral defect that has contributed to her downfall. Of course the primary responsibility goes to the murderer (but I do note in the WTC 9/11 litigation the hijackers were found less than 40% liable for the attack and injuries caused whereas the secondarily liable party the Port Authority was found about 60 percent liable, but I digress) her actions were grossly naive at best. This is like a child whose parents tell him/her to run into traffic in hopes of receiving a negligence windfall, this young woman’s beliefs made her ill prepared to function in the present world where democraps are incompetent about managing cities and hamstring law enforcement’s ability to take bad guys off the streets.
    If her death causes Ray Nagin to be defeated in the next election, that would be an ironic (for I’m sure she would have voted for Nagin as a good lib sheeple she was, had she the chance) victory from her shortened life.

    eaglewingz08 (c46606)

  65. @ daleyrocks

    Davies probably wouldn’t have been shot had he not played the hero. (That’s the funniest part of the whole story = no bloke is gonna’ rob me bird and get away with it!) But that doesn’t change the fact he was in a dicey part of town late at night.

    Is it me, or does anyone here think it’s strange beyond measure she was shot four times? That’s seriously messed up.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  66. since someone has dragged the whole Katrina canard into the discussion, i’d like to point out that every major failure had previously been noted in the disaster planning exercises, and the local governments did NOTHING between then and the storm to remedy them.

    also the mayor and governor both delayed making the formal declaration of disaster necessary for each level of government above them to respond. FEMA and other federal agencies can’t legally get involved until after the state declares the emergency and asks for help, and the state can’t do anything until the local authority does the same. that means a formal document, not some moron talking smack to a TV camera.

    lastly, FEMA is NOT a first responder, and blaming them for not reacting as such is bullshit.

    redc1c4 (9c4f4a)

  67. eaglewinz08….Nagin cannot run for re-election…two term limit and he is in his second term….

    reff (ea7aa1)

  68. Well, not to be too grisly about it, but these types of crimes often involve more than one gunshot – the tendency among the more hardened criminal element (at least here in Chicago) is to make sure there are no witnesses to the crime. It also serves as a deterrent to potential witnesses who may have been bystanders to the crime as well.

    “I have represented it perfectly.”

    Another typical Troll – claiming some type of idiotic and incomprehensible “victory,” despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  69. Hitchcock: Let’s not talk about the “shameful” reaction to Katrina without talking about Obama’s “shameful” reaction to this ice storm disaster.

    That’s just silly.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  70. Brian, I’m not questioning Dunphy’s intelligence. I’m questioning the facile specious nature of his argument.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  71. Thanks, Jack Dunphy, for the heads up about this story. I don’t read the LA Times unless I’m looking for a particular story. I used to be a regular subscriber until 1999 when I finally realized that way so often the LA Times’ stories were intended by its authors to sway public opinion (or prevent public opinion from being swayed in a different direction by not publishing all relevant information). What a shame. I still miss leafing through a newspaper while I’m having my breakfast.

    In any event, there are a lot of smart comments in this thread.

    Brian Moore in #34 and Dana in #42 get it right. While the story makes clear that (i) Kirsten Brydum had what I consider wackily naiive views about what she considered oppressive capitalish, and (ii) she did trust strangers way too much (finding a ride on Craigslist), I think what did her in was the carelessness many people in their teens and twenties exhibit.

    Of course, while it isn’t “right,” people, and particularly women, should make sure that they reduce as much as possible the chance that they may come face to face with a bad actor when there are no witnesses around. This is true, of course, in high crime areas. It is also true in other areas because (i) many of the bad actors have cars so that they can expand their activities outward from the areas they had turned into high crime areas, and (ii) some bad actors live in areas which are not (yet) high crime areas.

    Jack Dunphy writes, “Modern liberals, as contrasted with pre-1960s liberals, often seem unable to respond to or even recognize malevolence when it presents itself.” My theory is that at least in part they fail to recognize malevolence on purpose in order to make the job of providing security with freedom much tougher for the rest of us. Kirsten Brydum’s San Franciso friends’ attribution of the murder to the CIA is a variation of this purposeful failure to recognize malevolence (i.e., blame the good guys so their job is harder).

    However, I do not think there is evidence in the LA Times story to suggest that that was the case with Kirsten Brydum.

    Some commenters in this thread have analogized Kirsten Brydum to Treadwell and Corrie.

    The analogy to Treadwell is in my opinion inapproriate. Getting that close to bears is just fool hardy. The bears that ate him and his girlfriend were doing what all bears do. The person (or persons) involved in the Kirsten Brydum murder were not doing what all humans do.

    The analogy to Rachel Corrie is even more off the mark. While I am sure that her death was the result of an accident, Rachel Corre actually was acting like an enemy combatant.

    My heart goes out to Kirsten Brydum’s family. She apparently was a very good kid, even if I would not agree with her politics.

    Ira (28a423)

  72. Kirsten’s life & death reminds me of Helen HIll’s. Her 2006 New Orleans murder hasn’t been solved yet either.

    Susan (488d87)

  73. That’s just silly.

    As opposed to your shrieking about Katrina, which is brilliant.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  74. Her 2006 New Orleans murder hasn’t been solved yet either.

    In that case, I blame Bush.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  75. As opposed to your shrieking referencing about Katrina, which is brilliant.

    If we’re going to look at contributing factors, might as well go back to the reason the place is a dysfunctional dying disaster area. All I’m doing is extending the flawed logic applied to the reason for her death. Strange you should get so bent out of shape about it, but not buy into it hook, line and sinker when it contributes to your worldview.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  76. not

    Peter (e70d1c)

  77. Peter, the dysfunctional dying disaster that is New Orleans is the result of decades of corrupt dysfunctional Democratic city and state administrations.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  78. Brian

    it is easier for me to feel angry, sad for a woman who went to rebuild a city, than for one who went to hang with guerrila gardener/anarchists living in the ghetto because it was “cool”.
    My best guess is that the local appreciate the rebuilders a bit more than they appreciate the anarchists.
    So for me, the political element of misplaced, misguided uselessness of spray painting A for anarchy on walls while wearing a che guevara t shirt that masquerades as altruism compared with the genuine altruism of someone donating their time and resources to actually help the poor tangibly is specious.

    Rebuilding homes of the poor = tangibly good and the death of a young woman murdered in the course of an altruistic work would arguably be a great loss to society
    Daft hippie living in ghetto with anarchists is a recipe for failure. Her death is arguably less tragic for the greater society than the woman outlined above.

    That said, I believe in hell, and I hope this girl’s killer finds a way to make life right before judgement day

    SteveG (a87dae)

  79. I think you’re all splitting hairs between politics and world view. This young woman’s politics/world view led her to NO and to her rosy view of life. Yes, 90% of the time that’s charming and inspirational, but she sacrificed her life for it. Leftism is based on beliefs in innate human goodness; conservatism takes a more tragic (and realistic) view. “If men were angels there would be no need of government.”

    Of course I’m sorry for her. I’m also angry at our educational system and media for teaching this crap.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  80. might as well go back to the reason the place is a dysfunctional dying disaster area.

    Apparently you’ve never heard of Huey Long, or of the others in a long list of nefarious and incredibly corrupt politicos that have created the culture of present – day New Orleans. I get “bent out of shape” when people subscribe to a simplistic rendering of what actually happened to New Orleans for decades before Katrina hit, since it betrays a lack of knowledge about the region and city in particular.

    To cite just one example, there has been decades of widespread police corruption in New Orleans, partly due to the city’s reluctance to pay their force a livable wage:

    That (along with statewide corruption and a preponderance of welfare recipients) is just one contributing factor in New Orleans being habitually among the top cities in murder rates, and this infamous distinction goes back decades as well:

    Simply put: New Orleans was a dying and incredibly dangerous city for many years before the storm hit, and unless the local political and social culture is radically changed, no amount of Federal largesse will cure it of it’s many ills. To blame Bush for the deep – seated and ingrained problems in New Orleans is specious as best, and dishonest at worst. The election of the reformer Bobby Jindal is a step in the right direction, at least as far as the state itself goes. Perhaps the local citizens will finally realize that incompetents like Nagin will never help their city recover, and start to elect reformers as well.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  81. If we’re going to look at contributing factors, might as well go back to the reason the place is a dysfunctional dying disaster area.

    Decades (nearly a century? More?) of Democrat governance. I wonder if the storm would have done nearly as much damage had the elected levee boards spent their budgets on the levees and pumps rather than themselves.

    I will give them a bit of credit, though. I was there (before Katrina) and one of the museums had a small exhibit pointing out that during Reconstruction, the election of a Republican candidate was typically followed by a riot intended to unseat the Republican.

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

  82. It is true, there are some people on the fringe right/left who will kill an individual who has leftist/rightest views, just like there are white vigilantes who openly admitted to shooting blacks just because they moved. We do not need any hidden race wars, just like we do not need any hidden political view wars. We need to see each other as equal. Those terrorists who want to terrorize others just because they have certain political views or are of a certain race, need to be found and dealt with because these United States of America cherishes the freedom of speech and the freedom to live.

    Da Bombz Diggity (ebdf4f)

  83. Blame the victim and congratulate yourselves. Splendid.
    Comment by Tim McGarry — 2/1/2009 @ 10:38 am

    I will assume I am not included in this condemnation. If so, please read my comments again.

    Without question one’s world view informs their politics. What else would? Whether one believes that all people are inately good and anything less can be won over or whether those who are more conservative inclined to hold the view that people are capable of horrific evil and that goodness in this lifetime does not necessarily triumph over evil, there is a correlation at some level between this girl’s politics/belief system and world view.

    However, as a parent I guess I find it a bit unseemly to dissect this. There are two parents grieiving and their lives will never again be the same.

    I also believe Jack Dunphy has witnessed so much wasted life in his job capacity that he can take it down to the bone much easier than most of us. His words of caution are wisely made and sadly necessary.

    Dana (7f8235)

  84. Tim McGarry has enough self righteousness to supply the entire blog world for a year.

    New Orleans is an example of what a city looks like when it is run as a criminal enterprise for a few generations. The COE funds were spent on parking lots for casinos instead of levees.

    The young woman went there on a misguided political mission and found that wishes and delusions are not enough to keep you alive. I feel bad for her mother. The girl’s politics are pertinent in the reasons why she was there at all and why she chose where she would stay.

    I was a tourist in NO the day after hurricane Ivan missed by a few miles and damaged Pensacola. I saw no evidence of any precautions taken by the city government. I stayed in that Hilton across from the dome and was very aware of the criminal element in my path from the hotel to the restaurants. Anyone who was riding a bicycle at 1:30 AM where she was found is a fool.

    Or a criminal.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  85. Then someone needs to explain to me how Brydum’s politics characterized her death in a way that doesn’t characterize the murders of other tourists in New Orleans.

    she wrote, she met up with “a small activist scene living in the cracks of a neglected and impoverished neighborhood. . . . We borrowed bikes and rode all over town, visited the urban farm, danced at a benefit for Critical Resistance” — a group that advocates the eradication of prisons — “

    I do not know if her killers have already served time. I do know that I want her killers to serve serious time, or -ideally- face execution, neither of which Brydum would likely support.

    It is rather ironic that Brydum would have us live in a world where dangerous criminals would be allowed to remain free.

    ThomasD (211bbb)

  86. I was on campus during the Sixties, so I had a chance to see this view in birth.
    It’s a zero-sum equation. The Man is Bad. Therefore, those who are called bad are really Good, because they oppose The Man.
    It was–would be still if I were still talking to those types–fascinating (aka “horrifying”) to hear them excuse even vile personal crimes by suggesting the vic was part of the oppressors, i.e, had money, maybe. Ran an appliance store. Can’t blame the oppressed suppressed repressed and depressed for their outrised upraged anger.
    One corollary of this is that the downtrodden are really nice and they WOULD NOT HURT anybody who stood in solidarity with them. Like Bydrum.

    Richard Aubrey (ae61c7)

  87. People often have very idealistic worldviews…until harsh reality smacks them in the face. I don’t think it is entirely fair to blame this woman, but her choices were certainly not safe ones.

    This case was tragic, not matter what. I promise you that this unfortunate young woman would have sneered at a group of Mormons speaking to her, and yet be kindly inclined toward people acting more “gangsta.” The former would be, in her view, “establishment” and the latter “more real.”

    Sad, sad story.

    I am reminded of the very old definition of a conservative: a liberal who has been mugged.

    I have spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and even the most hard left of my friends there are very, very aware of its dangers (and indeed travel in groups). Such a sad story, again.

    One of my students was involved in a protest at a armed forces base a couple of years ago. She was arrested, along with an activist group. The protesters in that group really egged my student on to “fight the power” with them side by side, and so forth. After throwing things at police officers, they all were arrested.

    The activist group had lawyers. My student did not. Guess who was bailed out first? My student had to wait until her mother posted bail.

    She is still as left of center as possible, but she is smarter about it now.

    Again, the posted story is a tragic tale.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  88. From the Frisco Bay area-
    This tragic story reminds me of an incident several years ago where a young white male (dreadlocks included) from somewhere else (aka-wanna be outside agitator) had ventured to a local SF housing complex, likely to buy some weed after leaving a club. Early morning.
    I am quite sure that he felt safe.

    His last words to his soon to be killer, as same killer stood outside his car window were something like,
    “It’s all good…one love”.
    Then he was shot dead.

    Andrew (8a94e5)

  89. Realism is a virtue and it’s hypocritical to pretend otherwise. It is also integral to the conservative outlook on life.

    I share the expressions of sympathy for this young woman and her family.

    realist (04db65)

  90. Mad Bomber – I suggest you use the search function on to find out more information on Common Ground Relief. I followed their story right after Katrina and they appear to be a bunch of liars, scam artists and crooks. Just sayin’. Also nice of you to stop by and miss the point of the post and drop a race card in there.
    Was that

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  91. @SteveG

    That’s fine, up to a point. There’s no doubt New Orleanians appreciate folks who come to do the quotidian duties of putting a town back together over clowns who are there to advocate a ludicrous political agenda. But those nuances aren’t particularly meaningful when someone dies the way Brydum did.

    To me, it’s petty to focus on her politics, however lame they may be.

    @ ThomasD

    That she supported a group like Critical Resistance is purely ironic. It’s not causal, which is what’s being argued here.

    What’s rich is there are plenty of powerful New Orleanians who are zealous advocates of tough-on-crime laws and harsh prison sentences, but who are also incapable of designing a legal system that puts criminals in jail. I worry about those fools much more than I do about powerless people like Kirsten Brydum.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  92. Oh yeah – in case I’m coming across like a self-righteous putz, my initial reaction to the story was “this girl had it coming. She put herself in harm’s way because of her politics.” But I’ve been chewing it over for a few months, and I’ve decided that position – no matter how validating it might be for my politics – flat-out don’t hunt.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  93. Brian, politics aside, the woman was young. She was full of certainty about “good people” and “bad people.” Halliburton was the enemy she most feared. I found it sadly funny she belonged to an organization that promoted something like anarchy.

    Being young and idealistic shouldn’t be a capital crime.

    And it is absolutely the fault of the murderers (though I continue to believe that the woman showed poor judgement, which again should not be a capital crime). I realize that the murderers will never be caught, and if they were caught, they would not appreciate the life that they snuffed out so casually.

    A sad, sad story.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  94. @ Eric Blair

    I’m not disagreeing with your point. I’m disagreeing with the perspective that surrounds it – that irony is particularly important.

    To put it another way, I’m not defending Kirsten Brydum’s politics. I’m defending her.

    She could’ve made a wayward man a happy man. Even people as passionate as her tend to throttle back on dogma as the years go by in exchange for the tangible benefits of being in love and raising a family. She’d always advocate shit I’d have nothing to do with, but she also could’ve been a neighbor I would’ve liked to have had.

    Brian Moore (062480)

  95. To whoever said the Howlin Wolf is on the wrong side of Canal Street: Obviously, you haven’t been there too many times, or don’t know NOLA well. The bar is located to the west of Canal Street, in the Warehouse District. Due east is a rather sketchier area but after that it’s the Garden District and Tulane/Loyola, the most densely populated and one of the most affluent sections of the city, also not as affected by Katrina.

    To the east of Canal St. is the French Quarter and the Marigny and Bywater areas, as well as the poor northern sections of the Upper Ninth and then the Lower Ninth Ward and Holy Cross (the latter of which is noticeably struggling, but has a significant number of middle class residents). Further north, there is one of the safest sections of New Orleans, the Bayou St. John/City Park area.

    In short, there isn’t a “wrong” or “right” side of Canal Street. You’d be hard pressed to find such a street in NOLA with which to make such easy demarcations.

    Ray (3f9b09)

  96. Also, a couple of corrections:

    –Ray Nagin cannot run for reelection in 2010. The NOLA mayor’s seat is term limited.

    –Huey Long was not from New Orleans. Huey’s base was the north and central part of the state, and working class people who resented the overwhelmingly NOLA-based political establishment.

    Ray (3f9b09)

  97. Sigh. The story is sad.
    So the challenge is to raise children who can judge HOW to act, which is really a range of choices between irrational optimism (like the story) on one extreme – or my preference, the other, (though wrong)…”first, lay down a suppressing fire….”

    Californio (dfe407)

  98. When I lived in New Orleans in the 80s well before Katrina ever had any effect there, I would NEVER have done anything as foolish as what she did. You can fill hard drives with the names of innocent people who were the victims of vicious, evil crimes. Four shots to the face – what’s new about that in the “Big Easy?” Somehow, I don’t know how, I and my girlfriend made it out of that City without any crimes happening to us, but nearly every one of my friends had guns pulled on them at one time or another; several were beat savagely with baseball bats or other objects. I’ve walked down French Quarter streets – any of them – that mere minutes later some tourist was shot dead in a stupid petty robbery.

    This is a City where the threat of a direct hurricane strike had been discussed and warned about for years repeatedly prior to Katrina. Did the Parrish governments learn anything or really prepare for their citizens? No, they’re all too busy with their hands in the public till. I remember Bill Jefferson when he was starting out in politics making all the liberal meetings talking about how he was for the little guy and the downtrodden. How many citizens paid attention to the many, many warnings? Hell, with that – there’s a festival to go to.

    MikeHu (e9e89c)

  99. There used to be an intersection hereabouts which I considered particularly dangerous.
    While stopped at a red light at this intersection, I was alert, rather than messing with the radio. I was able to duck a semi blowing the light at a high speed, going right through the spot I had just vacated.
    If I’d been killed, it would have been his fault 100%. But I lived, due to my assessment of the intersection and the resulting alertness. So since I lived when, had I died it would have been all his fault, how do we parcel out the responsibility here?
    He was going to blow the light. I was going to be there when he did, or not. I chose not. I lived.

    Richard Aubrey (a9ba34)

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