A Tale Of Two Razors
Longtime readers of this blog (Hi, Mom!) might have picked up that I really don't hold much with conspiracy theories in general. From my vast years of experience being isolated from the world in a 360 foot long steel tube, I've come to believe that two philosophical axioms, or "razors", can be used to explain much of what goes on in the world: Occam's Razor (the simplest explanation is usually the best) and Hanlon's Razor (never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity/incompetence).
That's why I'm uncertain of how to evaluate the various reports coming out about the suicide in Norman during the Oklahoma-Kansas State game (the one about which I made a snarky comment immediately after I heard about it). The right side of the blogosphere has been discussing it in increasingly ominous tones throughout the week, but I'd pretty much shrugged it off until Ninme, no conspiracy-monger herself, mentioned it this morning.
Here's what we seem to know so far: Joel Hinrichs, a 21 year old engineering student at Oklahoma, blew himself up shortly before the end of the OU-KSU game in Norman on Saturday night. In the days before his suicide, he apparently tried to buy ammonium nitrate from a fertilizer store.
Sources of dubious reliability are now claiming that Hinrichs often visited a mosque, had a Pakistani roommate, and may have been planning to blow himself up in the middle of the crowd leaving the game. [Intel source: Wizbang] His father, on the other hand, seems to think he just wanted his passing to be noticed by as large a group as possible. How can I, as an interested observer, determine what really happened here?
After applying the two Razors mentioned above, I've come up with what I think is the most likely scenario. A depressed loner, Hinrichs wanted to come up with some way to end his life with a bang. Probably a contrarian, he, like the "American Taliban" and the kid who flew his plane into the Bank of America building in Tampa, came up with a way to do the one thing that would piss of the society that had hurt him the most: become an Islamic terrorist. I'd be surprised if he discussed this plan with anyone else; I'd really be surprised if he got any outside help. Fortunately, he was kind of an idiot and arrived at the stadium too early; tinkering around with his bomb, he blew himself up.
How does this match with the two Razors? Well, since it's not normal behavior for someone to blow themselves up near a crowded stadium, there are clearly abnormal circumstances at work. The simplest explanation for a guy who gets blown up with a bomb that had been strapped to his body is that he wanted to commit suicide. The fact that he used a bomb strapped to his body, as opposed to a gun, indicates that he wanted to make some sort of statement with his death, and may have wanted take some other people out -- that's the simplest explanation for such a public display (it's completely contrary to the normal male Western models of suicide, where you do it in the privacy of your home, hoping your loved ones will find you first and be hurt by it). Depressed contrarian individuals often come up with plans that don't make sense to sane people. The fact that he arrived so early, as opposed to heading to campus just as people were leaving, when it'd be easier to escape notice, indicates that there probably weren't any sane people involved in the planning -- evidence of stupidity vice conspiracy.
Note that had OU been losing at the time, the simplest explanaton would have been that a student was so pissed off at the team dropping to 1-3 that he would have done this as a display of displeasure at the football team. Those who don't see that as the simplest explanation don't understand the importance of football in the Oklahoma/Nebraska areas.
As always, I reserve the right to change my scenario as more information becomes available.