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Old 05-16-2004, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default "They" are the monsters!

They [terrorists] cannot change who they are. They must be destroyed.
The above statement was being debated in another thread, but has turned into a shouting match. The idea that terrorists are inhumane monsters that can't be changed; therefore, deserving destruction raises some very troubling issues. I would like to present some of the issues I see and invite others to do so, too.

However, I would like to keep this thread flame free. While the topic is highly charged, I don't think slinging insults will be productive.

Also, the purpose of this thread is about debate and discussion only. I doubt seriously that we can change each other's minds on any given issue, but that doesn't preclude us from having rational exchanges. So, please, express your ideas with out flames and try to back up what you are saying with either evidence or reasonable arguments. Simply saying, "You are wrong" without supporting reasons is an empty expression.

After Nick Berg's decapitation pictures and video hit the internet and news media all of us who viewed the images were disgusted by the barbaric act of the terrorist who did the beheading. I don't know a single westerner that is trying to justify the action taking Berg's life, and what I am about to argue is not a justification for that horrible event.

Some of us have tossed out thoughts that these terrorists are simply animals lacking the capacity to be reasoned with and hence they should be hunted down and destroyed with total disregard for their lives.

There are two striking issues I have with such thinking and both issues intersect at the point of whether or not such people can be reasoned with.

By reasoned with I mean "to influence or persuade by use of reason", and by reason I mean "a rational motive or ground for a behavior".

The first issue deals with the dehumanization of others in order to make calls for their deaths no matter how brutal and while ignoring justice. When we say that group x can't be reasoned with and should be destroyed, we are really claiming that said group is not like us: humane. Indeed, group x lacks any compassion or sympathy for other humans and therefore, must be destroyed like the brute animals they are!

If that is how we think, haven't we simply rationalized away another's humanity? In other words, haven't we just become what we claim about group x? After all, there was a time where the members of this group rationalized away your humanity in much the same way some of us have theirs!

The capacity to rationalize aways another's humanity entails a reason for that sort of behavior. In turn, that means the actions of those who have dehumanized others have been influenced by the use of reason. Indeed, those here who have called for the immediate execution of terrorists have rationalized away the humanity of the terrorists.

When we dehumanize another individuals we have lost. In fact, once we have dehumanized the persons we want to kill, and outright kill them, justice has been lost. Sure, the "monsters" are dead, but society didn't have a chance to administer laws according to established rights; in other words, we didn't get the chance to bring a criminal to light and demonstrate how his actions didn't conform to the law or to righteousness. The lynch mob mentality robs civilized peoples of justice.

The second issue I see with the claim that terrorists can't be reasoned with is that we must be saying they have no rational grounds, or motives for their behaviors. Some how, these people just woke up out of bed one day and for no established reason started killing people who aren't a member of their community. In fact, it is hard to see how these people could even unite under a cause, since purportedly they have no rational grounds for their behaviors!

If these people are simply randomnly walking around killing people with no rhyme or reason, then people of reason will lose the fight against them. We will never be able to understand the whys of the terrorist's actions and hence we will never understand the rules by which they engage their percieved enemies. In other words, we will not be able to ever predict with a degree of reasonableness their next move. We therefore lose.

What I have not been arguing is a justification for the deaths of people like Nick Berg. What I am arguing against is the militant rush towards dehumanizing the killers of Nick Berg with the "they can't be reasoned with" line. The way I see it is that if we dehumanize these people then we have abonded justice and become just like them. We also give up hope that we can predict their behaviors and either capture them or prevent the needless deaths of innocents. Finally, we toss out the idea that we can rationally point out the errors in their motives and views so as to persuade others not to follow their agenda of terror.

If you have read this far, thank you.

Again, let's keep this thread flame free. I promise to do my part.

Oh, I haven't checked spelling or grammar... so live with the mistakes.
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Old 05-16-2004, 12:29 PM   #2
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What 'they' want is the death of westerners, there is no way to reason with that. They think we are the satan becuase our freedom and culture is poisoning their muslim cultures and traditions. Their people are now wanting more and more freedoms especially the women and the men are infuriated by this. Their religion is all they know and if by destroying us they think it will make things go back to the 'old days'.

The only way we can defeat these radical muslims is to change their way of thinking about western culture or killing /imprisoning every single one of them.
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Old 05-16-2004, 01:06 PM   #3
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Deadlock, 'they' will not accept foreign standards tainted by infidels, including whatever is definitive of a civil society by our standards.

There are two striking issues I have with such thinking and both issues intersect at the point of whether or not such people can be reasoned with.
They don't want to reason with the infidels over matters sacred to their beliefs. End of story. Deadlock. Cost to life does not matter, lose does not matter. Endgame.
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Old 05-16-2004, 01:19 PM   #4
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Unfortunately the media has succeded in clouding the minds of many in the west. The fundamentalists are interested in more than just killing Americans. We know what they want..... US troops out of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, no more Israel, less US influence over goverments in the middle east. The US will never meet these conditions. It's not that they can't be reasoned with.... it's that we will not negotiate with them or meet their demands.
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Old 05-16-2004, 01:39 PM   #5
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Chuck, do you mean with the "they" you are referring to is the totality of Muslims? Turkey is an Islamic state and is a NATO member. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state who is also a major ally. Iran, while pounding their chests over the US as the "great satan", wants to open greater trade relations with us just as Libya did.

I suppose you mean by "they", terrorists. If so, then isn't it a mistake to automatically paint all terrorists as irrational religionists who just want us dead? That goes directly to the point I made above, which is if we think our enemy is an irrational foe we lose, since we can't predict their behaviors or rationally point out their motives (since they have none if they are acting with no reason at all) in an effort to persuade others that their beliefs are wrong.

BTW, these so-called "irrational monsters" are recruiting people on the basis of offering reasonable explanations for their religious faith.

I used to be an extreme fundamentalist Christian. I was attatched to a "holliness church". The rule book we played by was our community's interpretation of the bible. "Outsiders" couldn't understand us because they couldn't grasp the reasons behind our behaviors and we usually could trounce other Christians because not only did we understand the reasons for our own faith, but we also knew the "play book" of other Christians.

There was no point in reasoning with a member of the sect I belonged to unless you first understood our methods of interpretation. Most people wouldn't take the time to do so, since to them we were just unreasonable heretics set upon our own spiritual destruction.

I credit those who did, for one reason or another, take the time to learn and it were they that eventually got to me.

My point is that we must defend ourselves against these terrorists, but at the same time we have to learn what the reasons are that motivate them. Just saying, "they hate western culture" is not pointing out their motives... why do they hate "western culture". I think you pointed out correctly that some of the reason behind the hatred is because they see the west displacing their culture. So, shouldn't we examine how we are doing that (displacing their culture) and address it? Certainly, by doing so we uncover the motives of the terrorists for their countrymen to see and hopefully demonstrate just why the terrorists are wrong, so that others will not pick up where the dead terrorists left off.
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:31 PM   #6
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'they' as in radical Islam, the majority of the islamic religion is peaceful. The reason why they dislike us so much doesnt have much to do with miltary conflicts, other foreign nations for thousands of years have been warring with some part of the middle east and they dont have a vendetta against them. Its what we represent, our many freedoms. We tempt their people to throw away their religious beliefs, the women no longer behave like a piece of property and more like a westerner. They must stop us or they fear their whole way of life will collapse.
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:31 PM   #7
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What 'they' want is the death of westerners, there is no way to reason with that. They think we are the satan becuase our freedom and culture is poisoning their muslim cultures and traditions.
Not trying to flame here. Terrorists have never had any problems with our freedom. What they want is their freedom from us and our military to leave their Islamic lands. I strongly suggest anyone and everyone rent "Lawrence of Arabia" it is based upon the true story of T.A. Lawrence.
Lurikeen what you are arguing for is ethnocentricity. That is too complex an issue for most people to want to begin to participate in. Our culture lives on soundbites and doesn't think anything through. Some believed that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms into Iraq. It didn't happen. We had no idea what they wanted because we don't understand them.
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bumbleroot
Terrorists have never had any problems with our freedom. What they want is their freedom from us and our military to leave their Islamic lands.
So explain 9/11 Bumbleroot. Where in their Islamic lands were our military when they attacked us on 9/11? When will you learn that terrorist don't need a reason other than they are savage beast that must be dealt with in a manner they understand?
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bumbleroot
Lurikeen what you are arguing for is ethnocentricity. That is too complex an issue for most people to want to begin to participate in. Our culture lives on soundbites and doesn't think anything through. Some believed that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms into Iraq. It didn't happen. We had no idea what they wanted because we don't understand them.
I am actually arguing against ethnocentricity, which is the idea that one's own culture (or community) is superior to all others.

I also firmly believe that many in our culture do think things through. We are here debating and exchanging ideas. I have no reason to believe that others are able to do so, too.

Originally Posted by Caelie
When will you learn that terrorist don't need a reason other than they are savage beast that must be dealt with in a manner they understand?
Would you mind supporting your assertion that these terrorists are simply "savage beast(s)"? BTW, before you point out their acts of brutality please consider what some of our own have done in Iraq. Simply saying, "they killed so-in-so brutally" will not cut it. Some of our own troops brutally beat a man to death and in all honesty... getting your head sawed off, while very dramatic to on-lookers, is likely to be a far better way to die than slowly being beat to death over a time frame of minutes.
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Old 05-16-2004, 03:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bumbleroot
What they want is their freedom from us and our military to leave their Islamic lands.
BTW, that is an excellent point. I don't think these guys want to occupy our land.
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Old 05-16-2004, 03:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lurikeen
Would you mind supporting your assertion that these terrorists are simply "savage beast(s)"?
I think the term savage beast speaks for itself. I don't need to support my assertions when I look back at any number of terrorist attacks.
BTW, before you point out their acts of brutality please consider what some of our own have done in Iraq. Simply saying, "they killed so-in-so brutally" will not cut it. Some of our own troops brutally beat a man to death and in all honesty... getting your head sawed off, while very dramatic to on-lookers, is likely to be a far better way to die than slowly being beat to death over a time frame of minutes
. You're kidding me right? First of all, it hasn't been confirmed that the man was beat to death by American soldiers. Then again, if he was beat to death, he was probably a party to blowing up some American soldier.
I feel sorry for you if you think humiliation is in any way close to what happens to our guys when they were caught by the Iraqi's. So the prisoners had to watch sex acts while tied up and didn't have any way to relieve the pressure. Poor poor souls. Give me a friggin break.
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Old 05-16-2004, 03:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Caelie123
I think the term savage beast speaks for itself. I don't need to support my assertions when I look back at any number of terrorist attacks.
Their actions are considered savage to us in the west. I don't think dehumanizing them with "beast" is right and I have presented my reasons above.

You're kidding me right? First of all, it hasn't been confirmed that the man was beat to death by American soldiers. Then again, if he was beat to death, he was probably a party to blowing up some American soldier.
So, are you advocating that we abandon justice because he may have enacted violence against troops?

I feel sorry for you if you think humiliation is in any way close to what happens to our guys when they were caught by the Iraqi's. So the prisoners had to watch sex acts while tied up and didn't have any way to relieve the pressure. Poor poor souls. Give me a friggin break.
Caelie, I would like to keep this thread flame free. You can feel sorry for me, but let's try not to inflame a highly charged topic with personal digs. ok?

So, I understand you are claiming that what was done to the Abu Grhaib prisoners was the right thing to do.

Well, first of all it was against the Geneva Conventions of war. Civilized countries have adopted those conventions so that we have a standard of humane treatment we provide to prisoners during a time of war.

Just because these terrorists abandon the Geneva Conventions shouldn't force us to disregard them.

Again, when we dehumanize people we lose. Please see above for the reasons I presented.
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Old 05-16-2004, 03:39 PM   #13
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Turkey is ONLY a NATO member because we were afraid of the USSR.

I dont know anyone that agrees with their political structure.
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Old 05-16-2004, 04:09 PM   #14
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Again, when we dehumanize people we lose. Please see above for the reasons I presented.
100% right. We should not lower ourselves to the animal instincts in this battle. The terrorists are wanting us to do so and we are complying with their wishes.
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Old 05-16-2004, 06:32 PM   #15
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Ok Lurikeen, I will do my best to keep this flame free. I ask only that you debate by rules of logic, rather than emotion, and all of us attempt to keep this apolitical, (ie no Bush did it, libs did it crap)

lacks any compassion or sympathy for other humans and therefore, must be destroyed like the brute animals they are!
Sympathy, by definition, implies feelings as others feel. That was the point I tried to make in the other thread. To truly understand and feel 'human' as you sawed off a person's head, is unthinkable. Not so much because of the dramatic effect, but rather because of the physical senses that are overwhelmed by doing this.

I asked if you had ever 'felt' death that way, not to flame you, but to show you that to understand the horrific 'animal-ness' of this act, you must first know the initial feeling. I can say I have never felt a human thrash under me as I sawed off his head, but I have butchered many animals for meat, and I have seen the motions, actions and sheer volume of blood released during these events.

To me, to hold a human, which I am supposed to feel both sympathy and empathy for as a fellow member of the human species, and saw off his head is the ultimate act of being inhuman. Killing in self-defense, or even 'perceived threat' self defense is reasonable, not excusable, but at least can be comprehended by most. Killing a bound human, unarmed and totally non-threatening, by the act itself, dehumanizes the ones doing the killing, for there is no rational or perceived threat. Not even a 'future threat' arguement works for this, because no past history of danger was ever associated with Nick Berg (as opposed to death penalty type 'rationalization')

The stated aims of most fundamentalist Islamic groups is the recapture of the glory days of Islam, ~12th century A.D. Any and all opposition or perceived opposition to this is deemed 'infidels' and must be killed to ensure this goal. However, all rational humans know that we cannot go back in time, technology cannot be forgotten, ideas, once learned or experience cannot be erased to please others.

We cannot change who we are, what we know, what we have done, or learned about freedoms to please anyone. Again, that was my point about using "7' tall and growing beans out your ass". That is impossible, and to even think that another person can do that, throws out all logic and reason.
That was the point. We, the West, the East, everyone who has advanced beyond 12th century thinking, are incapable of meeting their demands, because they are unreasonable and irrational.

We can never 'accede to their demands' or follow their beliefs, so we will always be infidels, with a death sentence on our heads simply for 'being'. That is irrational thinking at its heighth, and anyone who believes this cannot be human, because they are not following the human condition of thinking or reasoning.

I don't dehumanize them to make myself feel better about killing them, rather I understand the 'inhumaness' of doing/thinking the way they do. I believe the same things about serial murderers, no matter how 'intelligent or reasonable' they might be, they are not human, ie they don't follow the rules that allow us to be human.

Our biggest problem is the political thing. We have advanced so far as a world civilization, that we are incapable of policing ourselves anymore, there are just too many factions involved.

Mass wars used to weed out many potential problems, simply by elimination of 'bad genes' from the population. Fewer breeders means less gene variety and fewer chances of gene mutations that allow people to be 'bad'. In a way, the very technology that fundamentalists are fighting against, is what has allowed them to become who they are.

I still can find no justification or even fathom how a human being, can saw off another's head. Not by axe or guillotine, but by holding them down and feeling the knife saw through flesh and bone. It's beyond chilling to think that some people still want to negotiate or reason with the people that can do this.

I may make this group bigger than it actually is (the terrorists) but definitely believe that the few who did this have foregone their trial by justice, by cheering and allowing it to be public. Crimes are not done in public for attention by rational people who expect anything but death from it.

Rather rambling, but welcome to debate, it was a quickly thrown together post.

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Old 05-16-2004, 06:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Lurikeen
Their actions are considered savage to us in the west. I don't think dehumanizing them with "beast" is right and I have presented my reasons above.
Fair enough Lurikeen. It's ok that we disagree on this. You have presented your reasons and I think calling them "beast" is putting it mildly. You think they are worthy of some humanity and I have zero compassion whatsoever for any terrorist or the Iraqi's that continue to fight against the coalition. We took out Saddam and our goal now is to rebuild Iraq and take out terrorist. If these Saddam loyalist want to keep playing army, we'll play too. Coalition soldiers aren't there to kill anybody except terrorist, but we will fight back and play as dirty as we have to against these loyalist. Hopefully next go round, they'll loose the cameras.
Originally Posted by Lurikeen
So, are you advocating that we abandon justice because he may have enacted violence against troops?
I advocate whatever it takes to get these guys under controll. They continue to declare war, not us.
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Old 05-16-2004, 07:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Vulpes
Ok Lurikeen, I will do my best to keep this flame free.
Thank you, and from what I have read you have done a good job.

Sympathy, by definition, implies feelings as others feel. That was the point I tried to make in the other thread. To truly understand and feel 'human' as you sawed off a person's head, is unthinkable. Not so much because of the dramatic effect, but rather because of the physical senses that are overwhelmed by doing this.
First off, "sympathy" is having an affinity with others. It doesn't imply "feeling as others" because it is impossible to feel as others do. What we can do is understand what it might be like to feel something another does.

The guy who sawed off Berg's head did so with some feeling. How do I know that? Well, he used a damn sharp knife where he could have used a dull axe or a butter knife. He could have stabbed Berg numerous time, but didn't. That fact alone shows that the murderer has some sympathy. You may not see that, but think about it.

I asked if you had ever 'felt' death that way, not to flame you, but to show you that to understand the horrific 'animal-ness' of this act, you must first know the initial feeling. I can say I have never felt a human thrash under me as I sawed off his head, but I have butchered many animals for meat, and I have seen the motions, actions and sheer volume of blood released during these events.
Again, your question and response is still irrelevant. I used to raise rabbits, goats, and chickens for food and I slaughtered them for food regularly. I deer hunted regularly and skinned out my own kills from age 12. In all that time I have never thought that my acts in hunting were anything close to what it is to kill a human being. That is why I saw your questions as being inapropriate.

Killing a bound human, unarmed and totally non-threatening, by the act itself, dehumanizes the ones doing the killing, for there is no rational or perceived threat. Not even a 'future threat' arguement works for this, because no past history of danger was ever associated with Nick Berg (as opposed to death penalty type 'rationalization')
I agree with the idea that somehow this event with Nick Berg is incomprehensible. I can't understand it and I am not trying to pretend I can.

What I am saying is that we best learn the reasons these people are using for such actions so we can prevent them.

That was the point. We, the West, the East, everyone who has advanced beyond 12th century thinking, are incapable of meeting their demands, because they are unreasonable and irrational.
What demands have they made? Do you know?

I believe the same things about serial murderers, no matter how 'intelligent or reasonable' they might be, they are not human, ie they don't follow the rules that allow us to be human.
I can't follow your logic here. Is the decorated coreman that shoots 10 or more Iraqi somehow magically immune to following the rules? Hello! The other side is shooting back too! They are using the weapons at hand. If they can't produce the armour we have they will produce an alternative... like suicide bombers.

I still can find no justification or even fathom how a human being, can saw off another's head. Not by axe or guillotine, but by holding them down and feeling the knife saw through flesh and bone. It's beyond chilling to think that some people still want to negotiate or reason with the people that can do this.
You have to believe me when I say I agree. I have a hard time here too.

Vulpes, I have to say this is the best posting you have written to date. Thank you for not flamming.

If I missed a point you wanted me to respond to, let me know. Thanks.
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Old 05-16-2004, 07:26 PM   #18
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Heard this guy on the radio the other night while driving home, at least we know what to expect from the terrorists and where they are coming from. From what he said our mere existance and more so our actions are an affront to their "Muslim" sensibilites. Something to chew on.
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Old 05-16-2004, 07:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Lith Ahntalon
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From the mouths of the terrorists themselves and intersting reading.
That is not a source from terrorists themselves. Shame on you Lith!
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Old 05-16-2004, 08:12 PM   #20
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Basically there are two schools of thought and quite frankly those schools of thought are representative of what divides the electorate. There are those that say to stop crime you have to punish strongly all of the criminals. Then there are those that say to stop crime you have to find out its base causes and fix those.
As an example, you state
In turn, that means the actions of those who have dehumanized others have been influenced by the use of reason.
Hence you see underlying causes of the actions.
Whereas Caelie says
we will fight back and play as dirty as we have to against these loyalist.
Implying that she sees a need to simply discard the acting parties.

I tend to believe in the first thought and this is why....
Here is something on the causes of terrorism...
http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/eng/comment/com53_e.html
To put it as simply as possible, the sentiments will remain even if we demolish all of the known perpetrators. The causes are not biological but they are cultural. There is no way to destroy a culture unless you completely demolish the entire populace.
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Old 05-16-2004, 08:44 PM   #21
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I don't understand the serial killer comparison. It's not that we don't have anything to compare terrorists to inside the country, we have come up with a few of our own.

Timothy McVeigh received due process.

But even if you follow the serial killer logic, they also get their day in court, and we aren't rounding up every American white man between the age of 25-35 years of age and bombing them just to wipe the threat out. (For those not following, serial killers are predominantly American, white and 25-35 years of age. See note below.)

Pointing at a cultural difference is even more flawed. 75% of serial killers are American, yet we are only approximately 5-6% of the worlds population. Several have pointed to this as a cultural issue.

Regardless, you couldn't just walk outside your home and start killing random white 25-35 year old men on the basis that they are more likely to be serial killers, just as you couldn't kill one even if you knew that he was one, not without opening yourself up to exact sort of justice you denied him. Besides, then someone might kill you, based on the justification that you were just as bad as the serial killers....

It's circular. Lowering yourself to that level makes you no better, in my opinion. I truly believe that any law enforcement in this country would take a dim view at someone taking the law into their own hands and wandering around the country killing serial killers. (Wouldn't that make them a serial killer?)

I can understand being outraged at terrorists and even murderers, but I can't understand being willing to give up the very ideals that they may hate us for. If we do that, they really do win.

Note: Whites are the majority in the percentages, because they make up the majority of the population. Statistically, both white & black serial killers make up a portion similar to their respective percentage in the population pool. Of course, I haven't bothered keeping up the last couple of years, so my numbers may be off a bit, but the sentiment remains the same. Trust me, if I could get away with killing white 25-35 year old men, Cod would be under the little room under the stairs instead of living in it.
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:23 PM   #22
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Serial Killers do not act on a large scale basis. They tend to be individuals. They also do not "war" with their enemies.
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:33 PM   #23
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Thinking the people over there fighting against us as less than human is worse than anything they have done.

Humans are animals. What happens when you threaten the way of life of an animal? They get desperate. Back a wolf into a corner and it will fight you until their heart stops beating.

And that is what is happening. That is the underlying cause of suicide bombers, hostage-taking, and other associated tactics that we, civilized man, see as "less than human."

A woman is the perfect example of animalistic tendencies within the human race. The astounding surge of strength to lift cars, fallen logs, and the like to save their children.

And how is that different from what they are doing? Trying to lift the immense fat gut of western civilization and american dominance off their culture, to ensure that their children can live in peace, in the way of life that is their custom.

----

As it was said many times before, we do not understand them. You cannot fight that which you do not understand. They, however, understand us very well. They know what we want, and how we intend to get it. And they know how they can fuck it up.

We have the technology to "win," to defeat the stereotypic bad guy. But there is no winner in a war between ways of life. This is going to end up as history's best recorded and bloodiest stalemates.
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:55 PM   #24
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Bumble, I didn't bring up serial killers in this thread, in fact, I thought it flawed, I was merely pointing out various reasons why it's flawed.

The two situations really don't compare, in my opinion.
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Old 05-17-2004, 04:27 AM   #25
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To win this 'war', you have to understand what the enemy wants. The statements from a few that their objective is simply to kill westerners is overly simplistic.

One key strategy (alongside others) to winning is to starve these people of support. It's no good killing one if you create another 10 by doing so.

Either we perform genocide or we take the time and casulaties to remove their support whilst dealing with the ring leaders. The half-arsed and ill thought out strategies (such as the way we went into Iraq) do nothing but make the job much more difficult.
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