Liddick: Common sense: R.I.P |

Liddick: Common sense: R.I.P

Morgan Liddick

Editor’s Note: Morgan Liddick’s column will return to its normal Tuesday slot next week.

I’d like to report a murder. The victim is common sense, last seen about 1993 when a Democrat President and a Republican Congress finally agreed to heed the admonition of the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan, that paying people to be unemployed for an unlimited amount of time would hardly encourage them to seek work.

I don’t think that was the motive, by the way.

Instead, I have a growing suspicion that common sense was dragged from its bed and beaten to death because we were simply tired of its nagging. It was such a drag, constantly hearing about things we should have known but didn’t want to, because they were too uncomfortable. There certainly is no lack of evidence.

Exhibit A is the whining that happens every year when standardized tests are given to schoolchildren. CSAP or its clones, the ACT, SATs – it’s always the same. Little Nancy just “doesn’t do well on standardized tests;” Freddie lags because “he’s bored in school.” While rationalization like these may salve the pain, they’re mostly knee-deep buncombe. If Nancy’s grades are congruent with her scores – and I’m willing to bet they mostly are – her SATs are in the low range because she prefers texting until two a.m. to doing her class prep, and she has parents who are either too distracted or too indifferent to notice. If Freddie’s bored, his last name better be Einstein or Jobs; true genius is much rarer than a kid who lacks the discipline to pay attention to the instructor instead of the antics of the guy in the next seat. But if he’s truly bored, have him learn Latin, and follow it with calculus. It’s good mental exercise.

Exhibit B is the claim that Colorado’s Secretary of State is evilly plotting to disenfranchise voters by demanding they provide what my bank requires of me when I cash a check: proof I am who I say I am. The argument that “there is no evidence of voter fraud” is an assault on common sense: how can one prove such fraud if one is prohibited from requiring evidence of proper enfranchisement – as is now the case? That Mr. Gessler was, in the teeth of this prohibition, able to present a list of 4,000 names which may represent illegal voter registrations is clear evidence that work needs doing here. Common sense might ask the naysayers “How much fraudulent voting are you prepared to tolerate,” but anyone with a working knowledge of history already knows the answer: “Just enough to win.”

Exhibit C is the current kerfuffle over the fate of James Holmes, already well on his way to darlinghood among Colorado’s anti-death-penalty crew. Counsel for Mr. Holmes, who recently killed 12 and injured 58 in a shooting spree are evidently planning a “schizophrenia made me do it” defense. In his bid to escape the needle, he is being ably assisted by those who argue – among other things – that the death penalty in Colorado is racist; that it is unevenly applied; and that it is simply an expression of anger and vengeance. As if, in the case of a mass murderer such as he, “vengeance” is not among the entirely appropriate responses available to society.

Let us be absolutely clear: Mr. Holmes is a brilliant fellow who was studying neuroscience before his appalling detour into slaughter. There is ample evidence that he planned his crimes in advance, that he understood what he was doing and its implications, that he didn’t want to be apprehended, but that he planned for that contingency as well. He committed vicious, calculated murder 12 times, and would have done far more of it had fate not intervened. He is the sort of person against which society must protect itself, and the death penalty is the most certain way to do this. The execution of Mr. Holmes may not be a general deterrent to murderers, but it is a specific one: he will never kill again.

The last piece of evidence that common sense is now six feet under – or at least living incognito in Paraguay – comes to us courtesy of the airline industry. It seems that last week, a certain Arijit Guha was denied boarding on a Delta Airlines flight from Buffalo, N.Y. Mr. Guha was wearing a t-shirt denouncing Federal Security Agents and announcing “Terrorists gonna kill us all.” He argued that the misspelling of “going to” should have indicated that the sentiment was political satire.

The airline has not commented, but I suspect they were concerned that Mr. Guha’s T-shirt indicated he was so stupid that, somewhere over Cleveland he would forget to breathe – suffocating himself, and thereby inciting the wrath of every liability lawyer East of the Mississippi.

Common sense, please phone home. We miss you.

Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. Email him at

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