William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

More Election Violence!

A sketch artist was on the scene.

A sketch artist was on the scene.

We’ve all heard that several hundred social justice warriors were triggered beyond their ability to endure and were thus forced to disrupt Donald Trump’s—the chief triggerer—Chicago rally. Triggering removes free will. Anyway, this wasn’t the only scene of campaign violence in America’s great democracy. There was also this.

Here’s the scene: After trekking across the Pacific from Yokohama, Phileas Fogg and Passepartout have just set foot in San Francisco, where they soon meet Detective Fix—and also meet a mob.

On Montgomery Street, “Men were going about carrying large posters, and flags and streamers were floating in the wind; while loud cries were heard on every hand.”

Fix told Fog, “‘Perhaps we had better not mingle with the crowd. There may be danger in it.’ ‘Yes,’ returned Mr. Fogg; ‘and blows, even if they are political are still blows.'” Just then “there was an unusual stir in the human mass.”

All the hands were raised in the air. Some, tightly closed, seemed to disappear suddenly in the midst of the cries—an energetic way, no doubt, of casting a vote. The crowd swayed back, the banners and flags wavered, disappeared an instant, then reappeared in tatters. The undulations of the human surge reached the steps, while all the heads floundered on the surface like a sea agitated by a squall. Many of the black hats disappeared, and the greater part of the crowd seemed to have diminished in height.

Fix asked a bystander what was happening.

Before the man could reply, a fresh agitation arose; hurrahs and excited shouts were heard; the staffs of the banners began to be used as offensive weapons; and fists flew about in every direction. Thumps were exchanged from the tops of the carriages and omnibuses which had been blocked up in the crowd. Boots and shoes went whirling through the air, and Mr. Fogg thought he even heard the crack of revolvers mingling in the din, the rout approached the stairway, and flowed over the lower step.

Our heroes were caught up in the melee. “The torrent of men, armed with loaded canes and sticks, was irresistible.” A “human tide now swept by”; the men were knocked about; the “clothing of both Mr. Fogg and Fix was in rags”. But—glory be!—our crew were able to escape with their lives.

Reposing later on a train, which was to whisk them away from the scene, Fogg finally figures the foundation of the fracas. A porter told him, “It was only a meeting assembled for an election…of a justice of the peace.”

—————————

I remind the reader that Around the World in Eighty Days was published in 1873.

Democracy forces you to care. That’s the only gentle point I wish to make. It forces you to care, even about matters which are incomprehensible. Not incomprehensible to all, of course, but to many. Yet we all must vote. Do your duty and vote!

For mayor or Water Board supervisor in a small town this makes eminent sense. But for president? Not so much. Yet we must care. It’s simply no wonder that chaos increases in step with increases in the voting franchise. Didn’t we read recently that 17 year-olds are now allowed to vote in the presidential primary? That’s 17-year-olds, folks. Voting, albeit indirectly, for president.

Appropriately enough, the link to the story was to Teen Vogue, which is problematic twice over. How do you appeal to these voters, and that endless string of voters, who can’t, say, identify who the Vice President or Secretary of States are, or who cannot even identify what the Secretary of State is? How do you reach out to voters who have no idea why the Middle East is called the Middle East? And so on and on.

The answer is obvious. Make them care. Since what they care about won’t be the subtle diplomatic differences between ministers plenipotentiary and secretaries of state, and will instead be images more vivid, violence must be inevitable, at least sometimes. And, since Verne must have been drawing from some experience, the level of the office doesn’t have to be particularly high.

Update Apropos:

13 Comments

  1. Reposing later on a train, which was to whisky them away from the scene…
    Whisky? Your enemies are into the sauce this morning.

    Since choice is mostly based on emotion, this sort of activity is inevitable. The only questions are how much and how often. The Democrat convention in 1968 was a good example.

  2. Briggs

    March 15, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Gary,

    How else do you think these posts get written?

  3. Gary

    I often have a whisky when I’m reposing.
    It helps whisk away the trials of the day.

  4. Briggs and John B(),

    There’s a pun about Scotch-free somewhere in this business.

  5. Gary

    (Scot free) or Scotchgard(TM)?

    Whisky is the Scottish spelling
    Whiskey is the Irish/US spelling

    Of course Scot in Scot free actually refers to tax

    Which, of course, brings us back to the Whiskey Rebellion

    The puns could become a pun of ScotchGardian Knot proportions.

    What was the post about, again?

  6. Very cute comments!

  7. Keep your powder dry and your whiskey wet. That’s going to be the only way to get through this election.

  8. Sander van der Wal

    March 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Why are you on the one hand telling people that Man is a Rational Animal, and show on the other hand he’s not.

  9. Ye Olde Statistician

    March 15, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Why are you on the one hand telling people that Man is a Rational Animal, and show on the other hand he’s not.

    Why do you suppose that others do not have reasons for what they do? Besides, we mustn’t forget the second part of rational animal. That well-ordered reason may govern the appetites does not mean that they always will, or that they are well ordered. Not when the whole Late Modern Age has been directed toward the triumph of the Will over the Intellect.

  10. Sander: I would refer you to Freud. Will I usually avoid the guy and his philosophy, the id, ego and superego are a very easy way to visualize humans. Note that two out of three are not “rational”, so unless a person develops a strong superego, said person can be a topic for Brigg’s blog posts. Even then, there may be disagreement over the term “rational”. Face it, humans have a ton of potential and most of it is wasted. Sigh…….

  11. Infamous trigger words:

    “Niagara Falls!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYP1OBZfFK0

  12. Briggs

    March 15, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Uncle Mike,

    “Slowly I turned!”

  13. Uncle Mike, Briggs:

    “Step by Step…Inch by inch!”

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