Siegfried, the Tiger, and the Murders in Afghanistan

I’m sure you remember the story of Roy Horn, the Las Vegas illusionist mauled on stage by Montecore, an exquisitely beautiful seven-year-old white tiger with whom he thought he had a trusting and affectionate relationship. It was an awful story. Of course many made an obvious observation: Animals do what animals do. Tigers have instincts and a fixed nature. It would have been ridiculous to call the tiger a “savage” or a “barbarian.” 

To those in the media who are suggesting, apparently in all seriousness, that Terry Jones caused the deaths of seven UN employees in Afghanistan by burning a copy of the Koran, I’ll just note that the only way that argument works is by means of a suppressed premise. The premise is that the killers had no moral agency–in other words, that they were, literally, animals. 

Me, I’ll stick with “savages” and “barbarians.” 

….

Correction: Thanks to our member Pious Agnostic, who pointed out that Roy Horn, not his partner Siegfried Fischbacher, was mauled. 

  1. Cas Balicki

    You and I must have been thinking and writing the same thoughts at the same time, Claire. See my post in the Member Feed. 

  2. Instugator
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: To those in the media who are suggesting, apparently in all seriousness, that Terry Jones caused the deaths of seven UN employees in Afghanistan by burning a copy of the Koran, I’ll just note that the only way that argument works is by means of a suppressed premise. The premise is that the killers had no moral agency–in other words, that they were, literally, animals. 

    Me, I’ll stick with “savages” and “barbarians.”  ·

    I agree, those in the media who are incapable of assigning proper moral agency are indeed “savages” and “barbarians”. Those folks who beheaded the UN employees – animals. Rabid ones at that.

  3. Harlech

    Would the same people who blame the Koran burner also blame a scantily-clad coed who gets drunk and sexually assaulted at a frat party?

  4. Franco

    Exactly. They believe them to be “noble savages”. I wonder, do gays having a parade in NYC cross-dressing, openy kissing and flaunting their sexuality incite rednecks? Or Muslims for that matter?

    Great analogy btw about the Tiger mauling of the deluded narcissus as Vegas magician. Those guys are what Milli Vanilli would have been had they decided to take a magic course. (Oh I hate magicians – I know too many of them)

    But I also knew and worked with a real tiger trainer. I worked four shows a day seven days a week for two summers in the presence of 26 Bengal and Siberian Tigers, some wolves a bear and a panther He never lost touch with the fact that his animals were capable of anything, at any time.

  5. Nyadnar17

    Funny, if you ask the same people if it would a valid solution to start bombing for lower taxes they get all indignant. I really don’t understand how people can simultaneously believe that Muslim murders are human beings and at the same time believe that they can’t control their impulse to murder and rape.

    I just don’t get it. Abortion clinic bombers are murders and Muslim extremist are victims of being “antagonized”. I really wish someone could explain to me how its possible to hold both views at the same time. I don’t need them to convince me, I just want to understand the thought process behind it. Does anyone know anyone personally who feels this way? Could you please ask their opinion and post their response?

  6. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Harlech: Would the same people who blame the Koran burner also blame a scantily-clad coed who gets drunk and sexually assaulted at a frat party? · Apr 2 at 10:48am

    That’s exactly what I was wondering, Harlech.

  7. Franco

    You know the MSM are utterly without principle. It NEVER works the other way with them.

    Here is another example: In 1979 I’m living in Cairo Egypt. They have newsstands all over the place selling The International Herald Tribune, Arab News, The Egyptian Gazette some Magazines and papers in Arabic, Der Speigel and TIME magazine. Lots of Egyptians speak and read English.

    TIME magazine awards Khomeni the Ayatollah “Man of the Year” Of course we know (sorta) that this isn’t necessarily an accolade (except when Bush was an obvious candidate – then it might be misconstrued) but the Egyptians don’t know this! They can’t afford to buy a foreign magazine or for that matter,  get the subtle distinctions TIME’s editorial board.. All they know is that the Iranian mullah made the cover of TIME and they called him “Man of the Year”.

    And another thing. Our movies. All the big shoot-em-ups are specifically targeted at foreign markets. The ones who make white men the greedy corporate bad guys. The ones that imply America is one big weapons supplier with ammo dropping on innocents everywhere. Who owns these propaganda factories? Time-Warner which owns CNN

  8. Aaron Miller

    One of these days, Claire and Mark have got to share a podcast:

    …. If someone’s “offended”, that’s that: You’re guilty. And increasingly, in Canada, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Scandinavia, the human right not to be offended trumps all.

    This is disastrous. It puts free societies on the same continuum as the ululating savages of Mazar e-Sharif. They were also “offended” – by some no-name pastor on the other side of the planet burning a book. The Taliban’s idea of due process is less protracted than the Australians’, but operates on the same basic principle – that the right not to be offended is sacred.

  9. Kenneth

    I wonder what would happen if I put up a YouTube of me burning Going Rogue?

  10. Israel P.
    Aaron Miller: One of these days, Claire and Mark have got to share a podcast:

    Apr 2 at 1:40pm

    This has been suggested here before.

  11. Pious Agnostic

    Great points, all.

    I hate to be “that guy” but just a clarification: “Siegfried & Roy” are in fact two people, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn. It was Roy mauled in 2003 in a horrifying incident, and yes, the tiger was just being a tiger. Very sad.
  12. Sisyphus

    Kenneth: I wonder what would happen if I put up a YouTube of me burning Going Rogue? · Apr 2 at 2:03pm

    I’ve seen your type before! You better stay the heck away from my Road to Serfdom.

  13. Sisyphus

    Claire: What have savages and barbarians ever down to you? I’m going with “monsters and thugs,” myself. This is the kind of atrocity Americans go to war against. We went to get Bin Laden. We failed. We stayed to “nation build,” that was hubris.

    What have we actually accomplished in Afghanistan? We have modernized the infrastructure for life, inshallah, and the Sharia way. We have restored the opium trade. We have inspired a populist Sharia revival throughout the region.

  14. Nickolas

    If I walked down the street at 2 AM in parts of many American cities screaming racial epithets there is a good chance I would meet a similar fate at the hands of similar savages and barbarians.

    A similar fate might befall me in Mexico if I threatened to obstruct the transport of illicit substances into the US.

    In past times if I didn’t pay for protection and threatened to go to the authorities in many American cities I might meet a similar fate.

    There was a time not so long ago when if I said the wrong things in some parts of the Western world I would risk being burned alive.

    At its most savage and barbaric such behavior is directed at not only the immediate target, but also at the target’s friends and family. This behavior can still be found in civilized Western countries, and all around the world.

    Historically, savagery and barbarism are commonplace among humans.

    Savagery and barbarism are not unique to Afghanistan. Whether or not savages and barbarians are in charge is the issue.

  15. Peter Gøthgen

    This reminds me of what I tell my 7th and 8th grade students all the time, whenever they try to claim that they “can’t help it” as an excuse for their behavior. Anyone who is incapable of controlling themselves is not fully human.

  16. Margaret Ball
    Nickolas:Savagery and barbarism are not unique to Afghanistan. Whether or not savages and barbarians are in charge is the issue. · Apr 2 at 7:01pm

    Evidently they are. Karzai made a speech about the Koran burning, a mob killed U.N. workers in Mazar-i-Sharif, another mob torched a girls’ school in Kandahar, and suicide bombers attacked an American army base in Kabul.

    WtF are we still doing in this country?

  17. Nickolas
    Margaret Ball

    Evidently they are. Karzai made a speech about the Koran burning, a mob killed U.N. workers in Mazar-i-Sharif, another mob torched a girls’ school in Kandahar, and suicide bombers attacked an American army base in Kabul.

    You think Karzai is to blame? I don’t know the details of his speech, but

    The top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, blamed Taliban infiltrators for the killings, saying the victims were deliberately murdered rather than killed by an out-of-control mob…

    In Kandahar, several thousand young men, shouting slogans calling for death to Americans and to the government of President Hamid Karzai, were still rioting after several hours on Saturday…

    Zalmai Ayoubi, spokesman for the governor, said the rioters attacked the Zarghona Ana High School for Girls, burning some classrooms and a school bus. The school is supported by the United States Agency for International Development. The Taliban have opposed education for girls…

    Sounds like the Taliban learned some of their lessons from the Viet Cong.

  18. Claire Berlinski
    C
    Pious Agnostic: Great points, all.

    I hate to be “that guy” but just a clarification: “Siegfried & Roy” are in fact two people, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn. It was Roy mauled in 2003 in a horrifying incident, and yes, the tiger was just being a tiger. Very sad. · Apr 2 at 5:39pm

    You’re not “that guy”–I really appreciate it when people correct me about stuff like this, actually. 

  19. Eugene Kriegsmann

    Anyone who has ever experienced combat knows that there are a certain percentage of human beings who will fight and even kill if pushed to an extreme, and that there are certain percentage who merely need the license to act in that manner. Fortunately, the latter group are a small minority, but they do, on occasion, find their way into the media, witness My Lai, Colombine, and other rare but highly publicized events. Savages have always existed among us. They serve their Darwinian function or they would have been eliminated from the gene pool long ago. They also make up a major portion of the players in apocalyptic literature and theater as the major tormentors of the protagonists. They are not, by any definition, the true representatives of any race or nation of people. We forget that when we talk of our enemies or they talk of us. The savages among us do not define us.

  20. Sisyphus

    Nyadnar17: Funny, if you ask the same people if it would a valid solution to start bombing for lower taxes they get all indignant. I really don’t understand how people can simultaneously believe that Muslim murders are human beings and at the same time believe that they can’t control their impulse to murder and rape.

    I just don’t get it. Abortion clinic bombers are murders and Muslim extremist are victims of being “antagonized”. I really wish someone could explain to me how its possible to hold both views at the same time. …

    Remember the story about CNN, in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where it was revealed that, in order to protect their indigenous staff and, to some extent, their own safety and continued presence, CNN reporting from Iraq had been very much compromised in Saddam’s favor. That was hardly a unique situation. The reason that the blogosphere rules when it comes to reporting this stuff is that they present a far harder target than major news organizations with dozens of virtual hostages in easy reach.

    And then there are the carrots, bribes. The James O’Keefe NPR affair is not unique.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In