Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Paris, Nantes, Toulouse, Strasbourg, and more

According to the USA Today yesterday’s violence was the worst to date: more than 30 police were injured (10 hit by gunfire) and 1,400 cars burned across the country, and 395 people were arrested. Note this: "Almost 1,000 cars were targeted in towns and cities outside Paris, underscoring how violence has spread from its original flashpoint." France’s police chief warned that a shock wave is spreading across the country. The New York Times reports that the police seemed powerless to stop "the mayhem." Were some cars also torched in Berlin? (via No Pasaran.)

Discussions - 57 Comments

This certainly seems like improper behavior.

So the overall "ignore their behavior and they will stop" tactic isn’t working? I’m so surprised...

Seems to me that force is the only language a riot will succumb to. Lack of swift and decisive force is allowing this to spread like wildfire. If they don’t get a handle on it, it will spread to other cities in other countries.

And it continues to get worse... Even the MSM is beginning to hype this up {ABC News Report).

This is getting uglier, and doesn’t seem likely to stop soon. I pray that it doesn’t spread to the rest of Europe.

DRK

Well, I guess it reinforces the Democrats and Libs fervent belief that "gun control" works, at least in Europe.

Ah mean jess look how Europe’s (ergo France) citizenry is dependent on the protection of an impotent and powerless police force unable to stop the mayhem.

Oh, by the way, how did "Ahab de Arab" git dem guns?

H’mmmmmmmmmmmmm........?

I personally want it to spread throughout Europe. This may be their last opportunity to wake up before morphing into "Eurabia." If they had any brains at all they’d use this as an excuse for massive deportation/exile. Most of these people just aren’t digestible. Multiculturalism = cultural suicide.

ABsolutely! Let it get worse. If the French think they can get help from us they can think again. It would be one thing if they had joined the Coalition of the Willing but now - as someone who saw the WTC fall in Manhattan on 9/11 might say- Fuggedabowdet! HAHAHA

Warm up those trains, Dain! You know, you bridle when I associate your verbiage with the old Soviet and Nazi solutions, but you keep on making my points better than I ever could:

"Most of these people just aren’t digestible."

and then,

"If they had any brains at all they’d use this as an excuse for massive deportation/exile."

Seriously, was this your solution during the riots in the US during the 60’s? Back when OUR gun control policies were working so well with OUR undigestibles?

Why don’t you just suggest using nerve gas on ’em, and complete the circle?

Fung:

We touched on this problem a few months ago when we were discussing the philosophical effects of evolution. Can you come up with any moral reason/duty why the people of France, if their lives were in danger, or even moderately in danger (the risk was too great not to act) could not kill all of the rioters, or anything short of killing them all. Please stick with moral arguments/duties, no prudential or pragmatic arguments such as: 1. it will increase the violence, 2. killing them all would be impossible, 3. it would be too expensive, 4. it would waste resources, 5. When things are calm they will contribute a lot to France, and so on.

I am very curious if modern liberals can offer any moral arguments while accepting evolution as true. I do not think they can, but would love to see if you could. I think your field of study might give you special insight into how to combine morality with evolution.

Steve- My initial and fundamental response to your question is that of a secular humanist. I would assert that human life is precious, and should never be taken as a short-cut, or as a knee-jerk response due to frustration or ignorance.

Second, are the rioters not the "people of France," as well as the ones that you refer to as part of the solution? This is not merely a rhetorical question. If an individual’s family and home are directly threatened, then that person should resort to a level of force that is sufficient to protect the family, including deadly force if necessary. But, I cannot see that the same individual has similar rights as a representative of France, any more than I have a right to execute Klan members as a representative of the United States.

But, as a humanist, I have a few questions to ask before I endorse the wholesale killing of rioters (assuming that we can correctly identify and capture only those guilty of threatening the lives of innocent persons.)

Did the Apartheid government of South Africa have the right to kill Black rioters before the fall of that government? Did Southern slave-owners have the right to engage in wholesale slaughter in order to quell slave revolts? Who is to decide? Is there a system in France that is responsible for the disenfranchisement of a French/Algerian minority? Does that group have a reason to suspect their leaders of corruption, or of systemic discrimination, or worse? I don’t know the answers, but I would want to consider them exhaustively before I started a program of wholesale killing.

Too often, I fear, what is "moral" is decided by the powerful. Some reader will undoubtedly assume that I support violence as a way out for any group that wants to claim that their rights are not being protected. That is not the case. I would merely ask the question," Under what conditions are we likely to see violence erupt?" Usually, those conditions occur NOT when a group has been chronically subjugated for a long time, but rather shortly after they have a reason to expect some success or relief, and are then suddenly frustrated and disappointed. For instance, remember the LA riots after the "Rodney King" trials where the whole world KNEW that those cops were guilty, and yet they were acquitted.

Morally, I would never condone the kind of violence that I see in France. but, before I started up the Gattling guns, or Dain’s trains, I would ask myself if I have been supporting leaders who COULD have done more to avoid this kind of frustration and disenfranchisement. I would ask myself if I have benefitted from other peoples’ poverty, and if I have voted for representatives who automatically dismiss the complaints and perspectives of entire groups and classes of people who look and speak differently. I would ask myself if I have ever scoffed or laughed at the claims of such people, or if I have ever supported or voted for people who do. I would ask myself if I am guilty of blaming the poor for their poverty, and the weak for their weakness, and the sick for their sickness. I would ask how hard I have tried to understand what my government has done to, and for, and about such people. I would do all of these things before I started killing as a representative of "The People."

Excuse me, Steve, I missed the previous discussion of the philosophical effects of evolution, but if I’m going to be even a spectator of this thread, some clarification of the terms in your question for Fung would be helpful for me.

What kind of situation would present itself where "all of the rioters" would endanger - or "moderately" endanger - the lives of "the people of France?" If a rioter’s involvement in the havoc only extends to throwing rocks through shop windows in one specific neighborhood, or even burning unoccupied vehicles, how does this mortally endanger "the people of France?" Also, seeing that clearly a sizeable number, about 3 million, of "the people of France" - I presume you’re insisting on one being a French citizen, at least, to be in that group - are Muslim, and a certain percentage of them are rioting, I wonder if they are, or can be, the endangered group or, necessarily, only the threatening group? How does one determine, in this situation, with all of one resulting death so far (quite remarkable considering the scale of the rioting), when the collective "people of France" are in mortal danger? Thus far, it sounds like vehicles are at far more risk than humans. If putting people in mortal danger is what this rioting is about, the rioters, in practical terms, have done a horrible job (and I am, of course, quite happy about that fact). It seems that killing a rioter would be appropriate in response to some acts (throwing a Molotov at an occupied bus or shooting at someone) and inappropriate in response to others (overturning a car, throwing a rock at a shop window, or even a police officer in riot gear), particularly when the offense does not endanger a life. A one-size-fits-all solution of "killing" strikes me as definitively and needlessly indiscriminate, for starters. That is why your question doesn’t make sense to me. Why should "kill all of the rioters" be a starting point of any discussion?

Morally, I would never condone the kind of violence that I see in France. but, before I started up the Gattling guns, or Dain’s trains, I would ask myself if I have been supporting leaders who COULD have done more to avoid this kind of frustration and disenfranchisement. I would ask myself if I have benefitted from other peoples’ poverty, and if I have voted for representatives who automatically dismiss the complaints and perspectives of entire groups and classes of people who look and speak differently. I would ask myself if I have ever scoffed or laughed at the claims of such people, or if I have ever supported or voted for people who do. I would ask myself if I am guilty of blaming the poor for their poverty, and the weak for their weakness, and the sick for their sickness. I would ask how hard I have tried to understand what my government has done to, and for, and about such people. I would do all of these things before I started killing as a representative of "The People."

Sniff, sniff. Touching. BS; but touching.

LT- That is the kind of scoffing that I refer to. It is easier for you to promote killing, as a supposed "last resort," than it is for you to even entertain the validity of someone else’s perspective. You wonder why people get frustrated, and lash out? You have articulated a big part of the problem. You refer to ME as a traitor, yet you would rather smirk and scoff at anything that doesn’t entail the use of force, thus committing people on both sides to a "righteous" war.

Well, YOU are full of BS. And it is the worst kind, because it is dangerous and hypocritical. When it is YOUR house that gets burned down, I want to hear your "sniff sniff" then.

Touch this, Bubba.

If there are ever riots in LT Baum’s town, he’ll slide the M-4 out from under his mattress, go kill ’em all, and let God sort ’em out. Then he’ll no doubt be hailed as a hero by the good town citizens (and probably by his good little sycophant, Fat Mike).

This thread has moved rather quickly since I wrote my previous post. I would have to agree that Mr. Naum’s comment was really beyond the pale.

Phil, I really hope the hypothetical scenario involving Lt. Naum that you described would be just that, but let’s remember what military service is doing to too many of our servicemen and women, such as the "Marine of the Year" 2005, who was/is "just an all-around example of an excellent Marine." Upon his return to the States, when some random drunk tossed a battle through his apartment window, his measured, sane response was to fire "a warning shot", hitting two civilians (duh), including a 15-year-old girl. So, if this is what our returning Marine of the Year does (who wants to bet he’ll get inadequate mental health care, something he clearly needs), nobody should be too surprised that some of the less-decorated fellows would recommend that a government take a kill-em-all approach with its own citizens and residents.

WEll I don’t know what beyond the pail means but I can say this, I do agree that shooting rioters will put a stop to the rioting and is therefore a sollution. Perhaps your right Fung that Lt. Naums words were a bit hard but I think that he has retaned the soldiers mentatlity and for that we can not blame him one bit. The man has served his country and lets not forget it.

I just say that if you were having rioting in your own city you would probably sing a very diferent tune Fung. Morality and liberal hogwash goes straight out the window when its life or death my freind.

LT- That is the kind of scoffing that I refer to. It is easier for you to promote killing, as a supposed "last resort," than it is for you to even entertain the validity of someone else’s perspective. You wonder why people get frustrated, and lash out? You have articulated a big part of the problem. You refer to ME as a traitor, yet you would rather smirk and scoff at anything that doesn’t entail the use of force, thus committing people on both sides to a "righteous" war.

Fung, I have never once refered to you as a traitor. You know it. You have no idea what I believe regarding the use of force in any situation. I have never made a claim regarding this. You know this, too. You say that I wonder why people get frustrated and lash out, but you know I’ve never wondered that. I’ve been frustrated with your idiocy and have lashed out on numerous occasions. You say that I don’t want to consider the validity of anyone’s argument. Bubba, what the hell do you think my comment was? I considered the validity of your argument, and found your pontificating to be full of BS. It’s not even good speech writing (though I’m sure it made you feel really good about yourself). In some way, you’re guilty of all of those things that you imply of all of us who don’t think like you (I’m sure that you’ve benefitted from some poor person’s debt today). So calm down, Bubba, and get a grip. You’re no altruist, and you know it.

By the way ... I don’t even own a gun. Sorry to burst everyone’s preconceived bubble.

Now, commence with the further childish name-calling. I’m ready (and unmoved).

Well, I’ve called Fung a traitor, and I still do. A traitor to his country, and a traitor to his people. He’s exactly the kind of person who led us into this multicultural hell, and he did it out of self-loathing and hatred for us, his people. We should ask the smartass for a few successful examples of multicultural harmony...Yugoslavia, Canada, Sudan, Iraq? He’ll say Switzerland, but he won’t tell you that they have to be culturally segregated to make it work.

A few trains and some breathing space between disparate peoples beat mass murder, jerk.

Okay, "jerk," when are you leaving?

LT, excuse me. It was Dain, and apparently not you, who called me a traitor. You called me a liar, which I am not.

I began this conversation with Steve, and got sidetracked. I’ll wait for something from him, and will stop wasting my time with you "two."

Actually, I called you a liar, tongue-in-cheek, to show that just because someone might be wrong about something doesn’t mean that they ... oh for crying out loud, "you" are not worth it, either.

You’ll notice Fung doesn’t deny being a traitor, but he does deny being a liar. Ironic, isn’t it? Upon his return to the blog he made himself a liar, so it’s doubly true now! The traitor label is also richly deserved.

Touch that, nancy boy.

I have suggested it before, and I’ll do it again. I think that LT Naum (puts the "u" in Nam) is Dain. Read how "they" express their frustration. It’s the same guy.

I could be wrong....

Steve? Are you there? I wondered if perhaps you couldn’t find space to write among all this trash.

Fung, I think your theory about Dain and LT being the same person is valid. Where’d LT come from all of the sudden? First we had Dain claiming to be too old to go fight in the war he was so fond of. Then we get the boastful LT insisting that everything’s super-dee-duper in Iraq and that no one can argue with him because we don’t have personal experience like he does. HMMMM. Looks to me like Dain’s created his idea of a super hero!

Ahh. The conspiracy theories of the left. When they can’t address the issues, they point to the "vast right-wing conspiracy." That, and name-calling.

As always, they are wrong.

Where’d LT come from all of the sudden? Iraq. Remember?

I would not equate exposing Dain’s little alter personality with exposing a ’vast" conspiracy. Half-vast, perhaps.

Last year, I accused Dain of sitting in his basement, in the lonely glow of his terminal, surrounded by action figures and photos of his heroes: Churchill, Batman, and Audie Murphy. Now, I think his favorite action figure (LT Naum) has emerged (you came from Iraq? Were you there before we invaded?) like Arnold in the Last Action Hero, fighting off Dain’s enemies wherever they may be!

It’s quite sad, really.

LT, I thought you said you were checking in with NLT even when you were in Iraq.

And, what issues, by the way, do you suggest I am not addressing?

"When they can’t address the issues, they point to the "vast right-wing conspiracy." That, and name-calling."

This began with Steve asking me to articulate a moral response to the riots that was consistent with an acknowledgment of evolution. I did that.

since then, he has flown the coop, and you and your imaginary friend have called me a liar and a traitor. Thais is not an issue, that is, in fact, name-calling. Well I am rubber and you are glue. Maybe you can get your little head around THAT!

I was, occassionally. Internet is not terribly reliable there (so, we should probably leave!). I don’t recall receiving any of your attacks then, so maybe you weren’t checking in with NLT.

Fung, I’m offended that you think I’m a little personality. Is it a flaw in my ID? Certainly not my Super Ego! That’s well intact.

Fung, are you also a kindergartner?

It’s really not your inability to address issues. It’s the other guy who can’t. You actually try, and that is what makes you dangerous.

Fung: This is a response to Comment 9, many insults away

Did the Apartheid government of South Africa have the right to kill Black rioters before the fall of that government? Did Southern slave-owners have the right to engage in wholesale slaughter in order to quell slave revolts? Who is to decide? Is there a system in France that is responsible for the disenfranchisement of a French/Algerian minority? Does that group have a reason to suspect their leaders of corruption, or of systemic discrimination, or worse? I don’t know the answers, but I would want to consider them exhaustively before I started a program of wholesale killing.

In your words and belief you seem to think that killing people is all the same. An unjustly repressed slave uprising is not the same as a unjust revolt. First you have to accept that there is right and wrong. It is right to revolt against and kill tyrants, wrong to revolt against and kill the just. Slaves had the right to revolt because they were wronged and without appeal (Locke).

Our question is: do the muslim’s in France have a right to revolt and kill in the name of tyranny?

I believe that the answer is no. France has a functioning democracy, and a reasonable government to appeal redresses to without riots. Locke and any thinker only used force as a last resort. Of course the rioters have complaints, but such issues as poverty, and housing do not warrant murder and revolution. They are not enslaved, they have life, liberty and property in themselves in France. Therefore the complaints that they have do not justify the way that they have rioted.

Having rioted when they could have appealed, killed when their live were not threatened, looted when their property was not siezed, and rebelled when they were not subjected to tyranny, the rioters are in the wrong. When people unjustly kill, loot, and riot, they deserve punishment and correction. France and the French people have the right to stop this unjust riot/rebellion by whatever means necessary.

Fung and Paul Billens:

Sorry I did not respond. Thank you for your quick responses. I did not mean to be rude. I have been working on my mock oral argument for a class, and have not had time to devote to writing about the evolution question, although I have been thinking about it a lot.

I do not imagine I will have time to post today (Wed 11-9) but promise I will post the best explanination of my position tomorrow (Thur 11-10).

Naum and I are not the same person, as you well know. And such drivel isn’t particularly entertaining or informative. But then again, traitors and liars have to do SOMETHING to divert attention away from their intellectual and moral poverty.

Clint - Thank you for your thoughtful response.

I agree with much of what you wrote, except for the opening statement. I do not assume that all killing is the same, which is why I posed the questions. I know very little about what life looks like subjectively to an American who feels repressed. I know even less about French minorities. that is why I asked the questions, and did not pretend to know the answers. If you are correct, then I feel less sympathy with rioters. But, I still deny the right of someone like me to act on behalf of "the People."

I also feel that right and wrong are easier for us to separate with the luxury of hindsight and physical distance. It is relatively easy for me and my Southern friends to use slavery as an example, but I can imagine that all of us would have had more trouble taking the "morally correct" path if we had been born into positions of wealth and privilege. I assume the same is true, today.

I don’t deny the existence of right and wrong. I merely deny that it is always easy to recognize good and evil while one currently benefits from privilege, power, and prestige -- much of which we inherit (or not) because of our luck.

And so, while I acknowledge the murkiness of morality, I am hesitant to take drastic measures until and unless I can be certain that I would not behave like a rioter in the same circumstances.

And so, while I acknowledge the murkiness of morality, I am hesitant to take drastic measures until and unless I can be certain that I would not behave like a rioter in the same circumstances.

It seems to me that if we really lived according to this ethic any sort of moral judgment would be virtually impossible. How can one be certain that the Holocaust was wrong, unless one knows what it was like to be a German in the 1940s? Do we not end up establishing a sliding scale of morality, in which the set of rules one is obliged to follow is determined by one’s social and economic circumstances? What then becomes of the notion of equal protection of the law?

John- Isn’t this one reaon for due process under the law, so that we can ascertain some semblance of the truth in otherwise murky circumstances?

This is why, for instance, we use the court system to find out if A killed B in self-defense, or after premeditation, or in a sudden rage. There are different sentences for different circumstances.

So, on the one hand, I am suggesting that "I" cannot represent "The People" by advocating wholesale killing in retribution without the facts.

Some of my moral superiors, on the other hand, have suggested (comment 5) that it would be good if the rioting spread across Europe.

And, I would agree with you that, at some point, someone (like an elected leader or congress) may have to make a decision based on safety for the majority. That is one reason we elect leaders whom we hope will make good, ethical decision. My argument, however, is to (a) respond to Steve S’s question, and (b) remind us that history is often written by the winners, and resented chronically by the losers.

John- I am still thinking about your last comment/question, and especially this part:

"How can one be certain that the Holocaust was wrong, unless one knows what it was like to be a German in the 1940s?"

As a psychologist, I defer to the Stanley Milgram research in the 1960’s on "Obedience," in which Milgram manipulated social stimuli (the authority of a man in a lab coat) and cause dsubjects to obey commands to hurt (shock) an innocent person. Milgram’s muse when he designed this research program was Adolph Eichmann, who stunned the world when put on trial, because he looked like an ordinary shlepp, and also because of his chilling suggestion that anyone in his circumstances would have behaved as he did.

Now, I lose my liberal humanism when it comes to the authorities at Eichman’s level of responsibility and freedom, while I tend more to retain it when it comes to the brake man on the train to Treblinka.

Eichman had vision, responsibility, alternatives, and autonomy to a much greater degree than (I think) that enjoyed by the average rioter in the suburbs of Paris.

I would expect that a similar distinction might hold in the case of Lyndie Englund (sp) who seems to lack vision, autonomy, and viable alternatives, while her superiors enjoy a greater degree of all of those.

So, I am not suggesting that a phenomenological approach always points us towards forgiveness or leniency. Instead, I guess I am advocating for those who seem historically to have little voice, little power, and great frustration.

Finally, it seems that an understanding of this dynamic might help our elected leaders to prevent frustration in the first place, either out of true compassion or simply pragmatics. As I tell my sons, and Dain, and myself: If we keep throwing rocks at the bee hive, we really cannot blame the bees when we get stung.

Phil & Fung - I never thought the day would come when I’d say anything at all in Dain’s defense, but really, let the Dain = LT Naum theory go. Sadly, even the tiny percentage of Web-surfers who read this blog adds up to quite a few people so, on a right-wing blog of this sort, it should come as no surprise that there are a handful from the radical right. Also, Dain is notoriously mysterious about his real identity, and LT Naum has his picture on this very site, having his picture taken as part of Robert Alt’s Iraq travelogue. Say "Cheese!"

Sure, they wnat us to believe that that is LT Naum, but it could be that they count on us accepting it, because none of us were there. I might as well say that is MY picture there with Robert. It sure was hot that day!

Okay, I’ll let it go.

I was kidding. But whether Dain is amused or not, I still think the idea of him creating some tough-guy alter-ego is a funny one.

Finally, it seems that an understanding of this dynamic might help our elected leaders to prevent frustration in the first place, either out of true compassion or simply pragmatics. As I tell my sons, and Dain, and myself: If we keep throwing rocks at the bee hive, we really cannot blame the bees when we get stung.

A reasonable policy, I suppose, but of limited use. Don’t we all have rocks thrown at us in our lives? When do I get to sting? The people of France are asking that right now, I wager. And when they sting it won’t be pretty for the rioters.

John- I don’t think that my "policy" is all that limited! Rather than try seriously to extend it, or to apply it, you have immediately reversed it, so that "we" are the bees, and not the rock throwers.

I wouldn’t mind entertaining that perspective at some point, but couldn’t we at least try it out a bit, before we turn it inside out?

I am suggesting that, instead of spending thousands of lives, billions and billions on armaments, injuries, offense and defense -- instead of spending billions cleaning up after riots, and putting people in prison after they riot, and so on -- we might spend billions looking at ways to maintain a society without pissing off or marginalizing, or disenfranchizing whole sub-populations.

Then, if that doesn’t work, THEN we can take the role of the bees.

Underlying Fung’s theory of agency and moral responsibility is the old Leftist double-standard. Some human beings (in this case, Englund) are victims -- just too stupid to understand their own actions. On the other hand, those in power are to be doubly blamed (and hated) because, well, they are smarter (and therefore actually evil, not just prisoners of ’society’). It’s psychobabble, sure, but psychobabble that allows Fung to feel morally righteous while simultaneously enjoying the (all too human) tendencies to scapegoat, stereotype, and out-group. It’s a nice trick (doublethink, Orwell called it), and explains why the Left can preach humanitarianism while practicing the most outrageous class and race hatreds.

Fung- Apparently, Dain is against the structure and intent of the law, which recognizes differences due to capability, responsibility, and evidence of forethought. Taken to the logical conclusion, a child (even a baby!) could be charged and sentenced for assault when it waves its arms and hits another in the eye, causing damage to that eye.

Apparently,. Dain does not recognize any variability in responsibility due to rank or authority. So, he would be just as happy if we capture and try one of Bin Laden’s minions as he would if we capture and try Bin Laden, himself.

I never said anything about blaming, either. I am talking about holding people responsible for the crimes that they commit, or force others to commit. In his frenzy to lick the boots of his superiors, Dain the brownshirt apparently feels that people in authority are above reproach, and that holding them to the SAME standard to which we hold "ordinary people" is unfairly "blaming" them.

Naturally, I would disagree, since I refuse to hand my brain and my freedom over to any yahoo that pretends to enjoy a direct line to God and the Truth.

If Dain is too stupid himself to recognize a difference between Englund and, say Rumsfeld, then perhaps we should hold his comments to a lower standard, and then I should apologize. Sorry, Dain, I incorrectly assumed that we were swimming in the same intelligence pool! From now on, I’ll use bigger type when I waste precious time responding to your prattle.

When Fung isn’t busy with the insults I like his insights.

"Eichman had vision, responsibility, alternatives, and autonomy to a much greater degree than (I think) that enjoyed by the average rioter in the suburbs of Paris." This is an interesting view/perspective. I would actually argue the reverse. Eichman had fewer alternatives, vision or autonomy than the average rioter in the suburbs of Paris. The average rioter in Paris has more self-doubt, less ideological purity, and a smaller vision of his mission in life than Eichman had. I believe Eichman when he says that anyone in his shoes would have behaved as he did. All conditions being the same it could not have been otherwise. This doesn’t mean that Eichman wasn’t responsible, rather Eichman was the essence of responsibility in that the basic ideas that were responsible for such brutalism, such cold calculating rationalism, found the purest expression in his person.

Most people may disagree with me but I believe autonomy may initially increase but then begins to rapidly decrease with power, wealth, prestige, and especially ideological vigor. We shed aspects of individualism when we attach ourselves to people, things, and ideas.

I would argue that what we need to do is kill the Eichman’s of the Islamic Jihad, we should target the people who give interviews in Time magazine about rationally maximizing the placement of suicide bombers. We should kill off the die hards, the rioters themselves should for the most part not be killed. I believe Fung is right about the sort of mental process one should undergo if one finds oneself with an overwhelming desire to kill. I don’t think it is B.S. to introspect. In the end I think introspection and calm thinking will show that the fault for a lot of the angst in France lies with the horrible socialism that has strangled opportunity not just for the muslim but for all young frenchmen. When the economy is bad, racial nationalism more easily regains a foothold. Please go read Hayek’s "The Road to Serfdom."

The real enemies aren’t the rioters, the real enemies are the dishonest intellectuals, corrupt politicians, Islamicist clerics and religious extremists.

The failure of Muslisms to enjoy freedom in France stems from the fact that there is little of it to go around.

I did write that last post. Not sure how the second "Fung" got in there.

I want to go back to Fung’s invocation of Stanley Milgram’s work. Naturally we judge Eichmann more harshly than the we do the brakeman on the train to Treblinka, just as we judge the gang leader more harshly than the ordinary gang member. However, this has nothing to do with one’s overall place in society. There was, of course, correlation between status in the Nazi hierarchy and complicity in Nazi crimes, but only because the regime itself was a criminal enterprise. It simply does not follow that because we judge Eichmann more harshly than we do the brakeman, we must differentiate between criminals engaged in the same activity, but of different social status. A rich kid who torches an automobile shouldn’t be judged any differently than a poor kid who does.

On the other hand, it would be morally abhorrent for the French government to treat Muslims in French suburbs who have remained uninvolved in the rioting (and, indeed, who have been the primary victims of the riots)the same way as it treats those who engaged in rioting. This is why Dain’s scheme of mass deportation is to be rejected. Perhaps that’s the only point Fung is trying to make, in which case we are not in disagreement.

As for Fung’s most recent point, that Donald Rumsfeld is more culpable for the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib than is Lynndie Englund, this would depend on whether Rumsfeld ordered prisoners to be treated in this manner. Otherwise you’d be judging him not for his role in a criminal enterprise--because such a thing has not been proven--but rather by virtue of his status.

Does that make sense, or am I just rambling?

To John Moser- "It simply does not follow that because we judge Eichmann more harshly than we do the brakeman, we must differentiate between criminals engaged in the same activity, but of different social status."

Agreed.

" this would depend on whether Rumsfeld ordered prisoners to be treated in this manner."

Agreed, again. I remain skeptical, though, when a female, intellectually challenged, lowest ranking soldier is found guilty, when there HAD to be more powerful people running that show! But, I agree that there is no hard evidence specifically implicating Rumsfeld.

To John Lewis -- I am not sure that I follow your argument about shifting responsibility among the privileged. It looks like you argue for a process through which the trappings of power and influence begin to convince the powerful that they enjoy a unique, and entitled absence of accountability. I think that is possible, though I don’t think that was Eichman’s point.

Instead, I believe that Eichman wanted the world to believe that anyone confronted with the same carrots and the same sticks would perform exactly as he had -- not that his situation was unique.

On the other hand, if other readers accept your argument, then they might respond more favorably to the Ted Kennedies and the Bill Clintons, I suppose! I still judge them more (rather than less) harshly for their specific transgressions because they enjoyed such trust, prestige and power, and treated those gifts as trivial.

As for your beliefs about going after the leaders first, I agree with you!

Well, Fung, I admit that I do find it difficult to communicate with creatures so far down the food chain (such as yourself).

Children? I thought we were talking about capable adults. Even the extreme example of children (an old Lefty trick, using the most extreme examples to undercut someone’s perfectly valid argument) isn’t all that clearcut. Is the 14 year old who slaughters his own family incapable of moral culpability? I think not.

And why (in your view) is power inversely related to sympathy? Are not powerful people also under enormous pressures to make certain decisions? Actually, I would argue that it would be far easier for Englund to refuse to torture than it would be for Rumsfeld to drag his feet on finding intelligence that might save lives. Leftists like yourself rarely have sympathy for "powerful" people...probably because the only things you people run are your mouths!


If I’m a brownshirt then the Nazis must have been pansies! Fung, you should be so lucky as to be persecuted by me. On the other hand, you’re still a traitor and a filthy liar...hell, I bet your self-worth is rooted in self-delusions.

Dain-- Sympathy is not the central focus of my efforts at distinguishing between rioters and "mainstream?" criminals, or between Englund and her superiors. But, power and influence are more than labels, they are states of affairs. People who have them have more choices, and therefore more freedom than do people who don’t. That is one reason, I believe, that murder is legally distinct from killing in self-defense, and why killing (or hurting) out of a sudden rage or frustration is distinct from premeditated murder. The difference has to do with available freedom to behave in an alternate way.

Yes, Rumsfeld has pressures that Englund and I don’t, but he and I both had choices of career, education, and style of living that were not available to her. She could not be a professor, or a politician or a cabinet member. But he could, and he also had available her choices, as well. The same is true of the stereotypical rioter. (Acknowledging that there must be many different stories among them.)

Fung-

The problem I have is that I disagree with you that "People who have them have more choices, and therefore more freedom than do people who don’t." (refering to positions of power.)

For example, just because an Army general might love Patton, doesn’t mean that he is free to emulate him. Let me quote from Rich Politz’s excellent article:

""To conquer, we must destroy our enemies. We must not only die gallantly; we must kill devastatingly." George Patton

One wonders what the backlash would be if CNN aired one of our current Generals in Iraq uttering such a statement."" In other words here we have Generals who can’t say certain things...let alone do them. We have Pat Robertson who is admonished to shut up least he "discredits every institution associated with him".(I already think he is an idiot) but then again...

I would submit that all the trully powerfull people in the world today have their hands tied. They have power but to that extent they do not have choices. They have perhaps A or B or C, but never or very rarely the choice that would appear best to take in the abstract. In exchange for Power to have choices over how to run the railroads rationally Eichman gave up any and all choices or control over what the cargo would be. He was very effective at running the trains, his system for running trains was rational. Anyone else in his position had they been intelligent enough or had the qualities that would have allowed them to achieve that position would have ran the trains in the same way. In other words all other conditions being the same it could not have been otherwise. If it was not for Eichman maybe it would have been Zimmerman.(does the man matter?) Isn’t he just a figurehead for an ideology of evil?

People in positions of power have less freedom and fewer choices, most of the choices they are forced to make in order to retain, maintain or acquire additional power.

In so far as one wants to be powerfull one must be willing to give up autonomy and attach oneself blindly to an ideology or structure of power. That is what Eichman did.

So yes, I believe Eichman’s claim, and that is the scary thing.

Even thought I am not a christian, I think that Mark 8:36 is pertinent "What benefit will it be to you if you gain the whole world
but lose your own soul?" I would say: "What good is Power if in order to gain it, one must give up control over how it is directed?"

The powerfull should be held accountable not because there is a soul left to hold accountable, nor because they are autonomous, but precisely because they are no longer capable of being autonomous all the chips they have are commited, or have already been commited in the process of acquiring or maintaining power. The only choice they have: To be or to not be (in Power).

If you ask me: who has more choices to make George W. Bush or Fung? I reply Fung. If you ask me who has more power I say George W Bush. Powerfull people don’t have choices they have options.

As a side note, I think George W. Bush is frustrated because he realizes the extent to which he can’t make any choices, he wanted to make a choice and nominate someone he knew, someone he ran with, talked to, had a personal connection with, so he tried nominating Harriet Miers. It doesn’t work that way...Mr. President, try again.

To John Lewis-

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I think that I see your point, but I still disagree. Or, more specifically, I would emphasize different parts of the situation as it regards the attainment and maintenance of power.

First of all, I would suggest that most people pursue goals that they perceive will bring them more, as opposed to fewer, choices and freedom. This is why few people knowingly pursue poverty and powerlessness (although, perhaps a Zen master, or other Buddhist might agree with you, and I agree that your version of events has precedent, and that events might transpire as you have described them.)

Still, when presented with an array of life styles, few people would pick poverty, powerlessness, or low status and prestige. And so I would point out that the very act of attaining power and influence is evidence of a difference in power and choice. That is, Bush had the choice to remain the owner of the Texas Rangers, or the Governor of Texas. He could have chosen to become a philanthropist, or an oil tycoon, or a playboy, or a race car driver. He could also have been a drunk, or a paperboy, or an oil rig worker. Lyndie Englund never had such choices.

So, the attainment of a position of power and prestige is itself evidence that the person has already enjoyed more choices than the person at the relative bottom of the heap.

Second, you are describing, with Eichman, and perhaps, Bush, people who have "landed" in the middle or top of organizations with, apparently very limited choices available to them. Your examples sound like they must choose the lesser of two evils, or the devil we know.... etc.. I would suggest that there might be other organizations that have not yet dug themselves into such a state, where the choices might well be the approach/approach kind, or the kind where everybody wins. Such a state of affairs might occur during times of surplus, for instance, where the question is: how do we spend this money most wisely, as opposed to: who do we deprive?

Finally, even granting all of your points, there is a big difference in the kind of restrictions suffered by choice-makers at the top as opposed to those at the bottom. In "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge must decide whether to spend or to hoard his wealth, while Bob Cratchet (sp) must decide between Christmas presents and food. Some of us may feel pinched between the right, and the practical thing to do, or about the kind of legacy we leave. These may be the kind of person who "retires" in order to spend "more time with the family." A tough choice. Others must choose between holding three jobs and spending ANY time with the family, or between working under- or over-the-table. Or between going to college and earning money for the family. So, they may (possibly) be the same quanitity of choices (though I don’t think so) but they are of a very different quality.

Dain said - "A few trains and some breathing space between disparate peoples beat mass murder, jerk."

This is insane!!!! Hitler made precisely the same "sensible" proposal. He called it "lebensraum" (as in "living space," basically the exact same idea). Of course, the end result WAS mass murder. Dain always rants about how liberals/the left are soooo much like Hitler (and then, for fun, that WE abuse the terms fascist, Nazi, SS, dictator, etc.), but it looks clear enough that he’s the one following in the mold of Adolph.

For the grotesque quote, see Dain’s comment 18 above.

Fung-I think I agree with most of your objections. I guess it is all in the way you phrase it. Still there is something mysterious about Power and Choice/autonomy. It seems complex and defies my powers of objectification.

Fung, have you heard anything further from Steve Sparks on this issue, and how it relates to the "philosophical effects of evolution"? I had asked him to clarify a few aspects of his question(s) to you, but I’ve yet to see a follow-up. He made a wholly unnecessary promise to answer/elaborate back at comment 32, but that’s been some time ago now...

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