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Author Topic: San Bernadino attack
Fenring
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What irks me isn't the possibility that the FBI was werely hasty and/or incompetent. It's the possibility that the superiors of whomever was in charge of the scene was content to let that happen for some reason. In such a publicized and important event in terms of national security I'm sure news of what was going on went all the way up to the head of the FBI and even to the President. If a clean-up crew decided to leave 24 hours after 'securing' the area it couldn't have been on the say-so of some low-level agent on the ground.
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Rafi
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That's my thinking too. Lots of terms have historically been used to describe the FBI and neither hasty nor incompetent was one of them. This turn of events is so totally out of character that it seems impossible to have happened without some kind of direction from above. Given the IRS targeting and other abuses, it's not inconceivable more was behind this.

With Obama insisting ISIS is contained and Islam is peaceful and the whole narrative, I wouldn't put it past him to try to protect it in such a manner.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I think it's clear that a specific intent in this event was terroristic--as in, it was apparently motivated by subscription to an organized ideology/political movement
Facilitated, that's not a clear motive. MOre tot he point, it's not a clear motive to create terror in some way. It could be that this is a form of stochastic terrorism- indirectly predisposing people to violence, then letting them randomly act on their own, but we'd need to see a repeating pattern for it to actually rise to the level of terrorism. Right now there simply isn't a reasonable expectation that any given person might be targeted based on any common characteristic here.


quote:
This is loaded with assumptions, of course, but it seems to me to be a more reasonable narrative than one which insists that no sensible inferences can be made regarding why the perpetrators acted as they did.
The evidence bar between act of violence and terrorism is very high- it requires positive proof, not inference, which is as likely to be colored by prejudice as it is based on any real facts. There's a huge difference between saying "my best guess is that it's terrorism" and either "the perpetrator intended this to be terrorist" or "this fits a pattern that makes it de facto/stochastic terrorism".

There's no pattern here. There is an affiliation with groups that employ terrorism, but no evidence of a clear plan to cause fear that otherwise distinguishes it from other workplace shootings.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
[QUOTE] You and Rafi G have joined forces to deflect [blah blah]

Man up, dude. People are getting killed right and left. What should we *do* about it?

To add to the half dozen odd proposals I have made this week to decrease alienation and desperation, (including public transport, universal mental health care and prescription coverage, legalizing pot etc) I'd add this gem from my man Bernie: "Demilitarized local police departments [and make them] part of the community, not seen as an oppressing force."

E.g, not used as they are in Vegas, as the government's primary revenue generator, which obviously sets them at odds with the folks they are supposed to serve and protect. I remember calling the cops when my neighbor's man was kicking the shot out of her in front of the kids. When the cops got there, they didn't pursue him, but wanted her for unpaid parking tickets ...

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Pete at Home
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Now I would appreciate if you would take your own advice regarding maturity, and address my actual proposals, rather than trying to box me in with your man Raf. Stop claiming I have said we should "do nothing." the measures I have been recommending are what used to be considered, back in days you should remember, the heart and essence of liberalism. Ending poverty, despair and isolation.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I'd add this gem from my man Bernie: "Demilitarized local police departments [and make them] part of the community, not seen as an oppressing force."
Yeah- that's one of the goals of the push for Community Oriented Policing. It makes a big difference when the police are there to protect the people as part of the community rather than to shake them down as best possible.
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Pete at Home
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Yep. And it worked in New York City, until someone reminded Giuliani that he was supposed to be a Republican and he switched from broken windows to its evil idiot cousin "zero tolerance"
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Fenring
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When I lived in NYC in the years following 9-11 there was a distinct sense of the police being there to protect you. People walking down the street were generally happy to see officers nearby or standing on a corner, and it wasn't at all unusual to chat with officers as you'd walk by. Having grown up in a city where the police by and large were seen as a kind of blight, it was quite a change to live in a place where even I, a relative newcomer, felt thankful for the police looking out for everyone. The difference between police as shakedown taxation units versus police who serve and protect is huge.

That being said the NYPD was simultaneously being armed and turned into a nation-level army that developed a reputation for breaking up protests and demonstrations with full force, so this didn't help their image in the long-term. But the militarization aspect aside, my experience showed me that even in a major city the populace can instantly feel the difference between one kind of police force and another. My experiences around small New England towns over the years also reinforce the idea that police departments that have strong ties to the community make a big difference.

[ December 08, 2015, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
The evidence bar between act of violence and terrorism is very high- it requires positive proof, not inference
What "evidence bar?"

Are you talking about some formal process within our judicial system? The perpetrators are dead. This case isn't going to trial. There isn't a formal "evidence bar" with specific, strict standards that that you can insist must be met before we can reasonably characterize the act as terrorism.

We're talking about a public narrative. The investigators have acknowledged that, based on the evidence, they are treating it as a terrorist attack. Family members of the perpetrators have come out and acknowledged that the perpetrators had become radicalized. The president addressed the nation and said that, while there is still much that we do not know, what we do know is that: "this was an act of terrorism" (in spite of obvious political incentives not to have the act thus characterized, if the label could somehow reasonably be avoided).

At some point, Pyrt, you need to look at your own arguments and ask yourself whether it's possible that you are simply insisting upon using a biased framework (which no one else finds reasonable) out of a desire to maintain a prepossessed conclusion.

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The Drake
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More of a categorization bar than evidence. I would suggest that the type of cause should not matter, but also all mass shootings should not rise to the level of terrorism. It goes to motivation, planning, and conspiracy. The Boston Marathon was clearly terrorism, even if those guys didn't plot with a known terror group, and so was McVeigh, and for that matter so was the Unabomber. According to my arbitrary criteria.

It would be useful to come up with a unified definition, so that we can clearly differentiate between the risk of terror attacks (by whatever group) and that of mass shootings. I think this is true because the methods needed to combat the one type of killing from another might be very different.

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Pete at Home
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Clearly these guys were planning a terrorist strike inspired by and possibly following public ISIS guidelines. They may have jumped the gun because of someone that pissed them off. Don't know if we should say it wasn't terrorism just because it partially aborted. The plane that went down in Pennsylvania on 9/11... Do we say it wasn't terrorism just because it was an unscheduled ."dispute with passengers?. No. Why not? Because it happened when a Republican was president.

Maybe we should have a thread on what the Obama administration would have called 9/11 if O man was in charge then.

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Rafi
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Workplace violence obviously.
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The Drake
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Pete, I think you're making the argument that there should be a generally agreed upon definition, so that people can't game the system based on wordplay. Our government regularly goes through contortions to avoid the obvious definitions because they are afraid of soundbites being taken out of context or because they have an agenda. An example is trying to describe what is, or is not, a combat troop versus an advisor who gets into battles.

The FBI definition is part of the US Code, and not written by Obama as far as I know.

It doesn't include the person's beliefs, associations, or country of origin. It says simply:

quote:
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping
So, does this particular attack appear intended to do one of these things? It doesn't appear that (ii) or (iii) are in play. But (i) does look supportable.

I could see it going either way, whereas 9/11 can't possibly be construed as anything else. This differs from my proposed definition.

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Pete at Home
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I hope there is more to that definition because as it stands Dr King's March from Selma was "Terrorism," and the 9/11 attacks were not "Terrorism" if their purpose was to sway the Muslims worldwide into creating a global validate.
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NobleHunter
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9/11 was i or iii easily.

There's other bits to the definition, Pete. Notably, "involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law." Which still strikes me as absurdly broad.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Family members of the perpetrators have come out and acknowledged that the perpetrators had become radicalized. The president addressed the nation and said that, while there is still much that we do not know, what we do know is that: "this was an act of terrorism" (in spite of obvious political incentives not to have the act thus characterized, if the label could somehow reasonably be avoided).
At that point, I'll ask where the evidence of an agenda was, or whether the evidence that this fits a pattern that makes people feel at risk is.

Being radicalized and associated with ISIS makes it possible that there was an agenda behind the attack, but as yet, we don't have a shred of evidence to tell us what that agenda was, never mind that one existed. Just speculation that it's possible that they had an intentional agenda.

On the other side of the coin, we've had three domestic attacks that amount to random action be individuals radicalized by Islamists. That starts to make a pattern to fit it to, but fear mongering aside, not one that seems reliable enough to actually make any given person feel at significant risk. (And definitely not target consistency to make a specific subgroup feel at risk). But if we're going to call it terrorism on that count, then every Planned Parenthood attack falls under that umbrella easily, with far more clear evidence of terroristic effect, but yet many of the same people crying terrorism (and then targeting Muslims instead of Islamists with their concerns) are also trying to dismiss the notion that the PP attacks should be considered domestic terrorism instead of individual incidents.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Yep. And it worked in New York City, until someone reminded Giuliani that he was supposed to be a Republican and he switched from broken windows to its evil idiot cousin "zero tolerance"

Broken windows can be tricky depending on how you define what's a broken window and what's a person that needs help. You can get a situation where the police even more distinctly come across differently based on who you are. I think that's why COP shifts the focus a little more clearly in the direction of making an effort to be a positive part of each neighborhood and community and, effectively, making sure that no one is breaking windows in the first place.
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Pete at Home
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It certainly seems that taking the flesh trade out of Time Square has improved the city, improving opportunity if not reducing crime. Literal broken windows are also a good place to start. And yes, community policing works well as well.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Family members of the perpetrators have come out and acknowledged that the perpetrators had become radicalized. The president addressed the nation and said that, while there is still much that we do not know, what we do know is that: "this was an act of terrorism" (in spite of obvious political incentives not to have the act thus characterized, if the label could somehow reasonably be avoided).
At that point, I'll ask where the evidence of an agenda was, or whether the evidence that this fits a pattern that makes people feel at risk is.

Being radicalized and associated with ISIS makes it possible that there was an agenda behind the attack, but as yet, we don't have a shred of evidence to tell us what that agenda was, never mind that one existed. Just speculation that it's possible that they had an intentional agenda.

On the other side of the coin, we've had three domestic attacks that amount to random action be individuals radicalized by Islamists. That starts to make a pattern to fit it to, but fear mongering aside, not one that seems reliable enough to actually make any given person feel at significant risk. (And definitely not target consistency to make a specific subgroup feel at risk). But if we're going to call it terrorism on that count, then every Planned Parenthood attack falls under that umbrella easily, with far more clear evidence of terroristic effect, but yet many of the same people crying terrorism (and then targeting Muslims instead of Islamists with their concerns) are also trying to dismiss the notion that the PP attacks should be considered domestic terrorism instead of individual incidents.

Delighted that you recognise ISLAMISM as a root problem. I like the term because it's a term made by moderate Muslims and singles out ththe problem rather than giving Islamists more credit and power as those recognized to speak for Islam.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
At that point, I'll ask where the evidence of an agenda was
We already covered this--the Facebook post alone was evidence, albeit circumstantial, of what the agenda was.

It might be worth mentioning at this point that evidence of a motive is almost always circumstantial. If we had found evidence of ongoing communication with known members of ISIS, along with an illustrated plan of the attack, we could still be having a very similar conversation about how such evidence still requires the use of inference to determine a motive...
quote:
But if we're going to call it terrorism on that count, then every Planned Parenthood attack falls under that umbrella easily
Yup. For people who aren't invested in the term "terrorism" primarily as some kind of hot potato that somehow wins or loses points for a political team, the denial that terrorists who are terrorizing PP clinics are committing acts of terrorism is as absurd as the denial here on this topic.

This constant endeavor to change the meaning of language in a blatant attempt to score points in the ridiculous game of political bias is absolutely noxious--it undermines the power of discussion as a tool to resolve problems.

[ December 09, 2015, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
We already covered this--the Facebook post alone was evidence, albeit circumstantial, of what the agenda was.
How so? I can't figure out from that who the intended target was, who should be scared because they will be targeted again in the future, or even an intent to target more people in the future. It gives absolutely no sense of what they were trying to accomplish to give it any kind of coherence.

quote:
Yup. For people who aren't invested in the term "terrorism" primarily as some kind of hot potato that somehow wins or loses points for a political team, the denial that terrorists who are terrorizing PP clinics are committing acts of terrorism is as absurd as the denial here on this topic.
And now, perhaps, you approach the point I'm making. There is one clear way to call this terrorism, but it means taht we have to face our dirty laundry rather than slandering an entire religion based on the actions of a small, radical faction that affiliates with it.

It's not terrorism because the perpetrators were Muslims (which was, essentially, the extent of the evidence offered initially, and what was held up as the thing that should make it obvious taht it was terrorism) or even because the people who did it were affiliated with ISIS.

Rather it's possible terrorism because, without regard to the people committing the act, because it contributes to a pattern that might eventually being to scare people if it continues without being addressed. It just has the misfortune of being up against a constant drone of other attacks on par with it that make it hard to stand out as an exceptional event. at the moment, so any fear that it might have caused directly from that pattern is overshadowed by a stronger domestic pattern that others are trying to raise concern about.

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Rafi
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Man, you just really don't want to admit that it's terrorism do you? [LOL] It's so painfully, incredibly obvious this was terrorism - even Obama was forced to concede that.
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The Drake
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For the record, it seems highly likely to me at this point that this was an act of terrorism, and so are the attacks on Planned Parenthood.

What I don't get, is the "aha!" that comes along with Obama saying it is terrorism. Does naming it that come with some kind of "therefore" conclusion?

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scifibum
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Yes, you see, every bad thing that happens while Obama is president is a result of the fact that he likes to play basketball.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
For the record, it seems highly likely to me at this point that this was an act of terrorism, and so are the attacks on Planned Parenthood.

What I don't get, is the "aha!" that comes along with Obama saying it is terrorism. Does naming it that come with some kind of "therefore" conclusion?

I think the narrative of "Islam is a problem" is tangled up with the idea that refugees coming from Islamic countries are a danger. In turn, an attack that can be attributed to ISIS and to "terrorism" feeds into that narrative and is a 'strike' against trusting people from that region of the world, whereas a 'standard' mass shooting would be reason not to trust our own system. Obviously for those looking to support our gun system and vilify Muslims there is traction in this event being called terrorism, whereas downplaying that aspect of it gains traction for the gun control crowd. Either way it's a political power grab.

I prefer the approach to the subject in Rafi's mass shooting thread, where the political power points are absent and (I think) we're talking about terminology in a better way.

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cherrypoptart
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Maybe it wasn't terrorism. Maybe it was freedom fighting?

At least to some people.

As they say, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. They are fighting for the freedom to live under a fundamentalist Islamic State.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
For the record, it seems highly likely to me at this point that this was an act of terrorism, and so are the attacks on Planned Parenthood.

What I don't get, is the "aha!" that comes along with Obama saying it is terrorism. Does naming it that come with some kind of "therefore" conclusion?

Given the guys testimony yesterday, the PP shooter is clearly unhinged but what you're saying is interesting because now you're trying to make a smoke screen to confuse things and conflate issues.

It's not a "aha" that I'm seeing, it's a "finally" that the reality of the threat is being admitted.

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Yes, you see, every bad thing that happens while Obama is president is a result of the fact that he likes to play basketball.

Is this the point where you tell us it's Bush's fault? [Roll Eyes]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
Man, you just really don't want to admit that it's terrorism do you? [LOL] It's so painfully, incredibly obvious this was terrorism - even Obama was forced to concede that.

Funny, I've said exactly the opposite, despite your bluster. It's is terrorism by the exact same standard that makes the PP shooting terrorism.

Not because there's evidence that they had any explicit agenda to terrorize people, because no such evidence exists, but rather because they fit a pattern of becoming unhinged in service to a certain cause and perpetrating random acts of violence against the perceived opponents of that cause.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Given the guys testimony yesterday, the PP shooter is clearly unhinged but what you're saying is interesting because now you're trying to make a smoke screen to confuse things and conflate issues.
It was clear that he was unhinged when he grabbed a gun and started shooting people. The San Bernardino shooters were equally obviously unhinged. That really has little relevance to whether or not a class of people now has more evidence of a pattern of people becoming unhinged (which is to say, radicalized) and attempting to perpetrate violence against them.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Given the guys testimony yesterday, the PP shooter is clearly unhinged but what you're saying is interesting because now you're trying to make a smoke screen to confuse things and conflate issues.
It was clear that he was unhinged when he grabbed a gun and started shooting people. The San Bernardino shooters were equally obviously unhinged. That really has little relevance to whether or not a class of people now has more evidence of a pattern of people becoming unhinged (which is to say, radicalized) and attempting to perpetrate violence against them.
Are you equating someone who's potentially delusional and generally off his rocker to someone who has no problems with cognition and chooses to kill people anyhow? Is it your position that anyone who plans to commits a murder in the world is automatically "crazy"?
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D.W.
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Yes. When there is a consensus that murder is justifiable and logical, we call tend to call it law enforcement or war and for the outliers we use "justice".
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Are you equating someone who's potentially delusional and generally off his rocker to someone who has no problems with cognition and chooses to kill people anyhow?
Do they have no problems with cognition, or are they choosing to murder people? Psychopathy is absolutely a problem with cognition.

There are issues such as self-defense where we may declare that killing is justifiable, but at that point, you've more or less removed choice from the equation.

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Rafi
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Then what do you call a religious/ideological system that encourages and condones murder?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
Then what do you call a religious/ideological system that encourages and condones murder?

A tool for radicalization by those that promote it. Which there is no disagreement that Islamicism is like many other forms of fundamentalism.
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D.W.
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You say that like radicalization is the goal.

ANY religion who writes off this existence as little more than a test to achieve rewards in the next one is indeed a tool.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Yes. When there is a consensus that murder is justifiable and logical, we call tend to call it law enforcement or war and for the outliers we use "justice".

What does your sense of logic and justifiability have to do with it? Someone can make a decision based on pure reason that they need to do some killing, and you can inspect their reasons and decide for yourself that their reasons are flawed or insufficient. Maybe they made an outright logical error in their judgement. I don't see how you get from this to "the person is a lunatic." There are real reasons in the world a person can be driven to kill, it doesn't require that they lack reason entirely. Murder can happen as a result of clear thinking, faulty thinking, or mental illness. There are grey zones and sometimes it's hard to tell what happened, but the difficulty in assessing the minutiae shouldn't lead us to generalize and say that any killer is automatically "insane" as a blanket statement and write off the specifics altogether.

As for 'justifiable' that enters the territory of ends justify the means and what is considered to be the potential gain of the killing. Since numerous people in America outright have employed ends justify the means as a matter of public policy this alone can hardly be a relevant factor in assessing someone as sane or insane.

It seems to me that writing off any violent criminal act as ipso facto being a mental health problem is to brush aside all details of what actually goes into certain mental health problems compared to others. I think it would be fair to generally say that a mass murderer has 'a problem' of some kind, even if that problem is just being upset about something. For it to be a mental health problem they need to have some ailment impairing their judgement, and this is exactly the sort of thing that comes up in criminal trials. Even the PP shooter's lawyer wanted to plead insanity but the shooter insisted on there being no trial and pleading guilty, despite looking crazed and upon his arrest having made a "rambling" statement to the authorities, indicating a possible lack of being of sound mind.

There's crime, there's terrorism, and then there's Joe Rogan's famous "This country has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem" aspect to it. The purpose of categorizing certain acts as terrorism - especially in regards to ISIS - is to locate and assess threats to America based on political and ideological grounds. Someone who's totally unhinged whose chosen way to act out on this is to commit an act of terrorism still 'counts' as terrorism but it's a totally different ballgame than people who are recruited by a terrorist organization to attack America.

[ December 10, 2015, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
Then what do you call a religious/ideological system that encourages and condones murder?

A tool for radicalization by those that promote it. Which there is no disagreement that Islamicism is like many other forms of fundamentalism.
It's not like many others. Not even close. [Roll Eyes]
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D.W.
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quote:
What does your sense of logic and justifiability have to do with it?
My sense from the perspective of a perpetrator of hypothetical murder? Or my sense from the perspective of one viewing the murder of others?

While we are getting better at understanding brain structure and chemical composition and can to some degree label "normal" or "healthy" parameters, a lot of what we do, and almost ALL of what we do discussing this here or in the media is not related to that. It has almost everything to do with the sense of logic and justifiability.

As we make legal allowances for differing treatment of "crazy" perpetrators, we can't even trust that someone "acting crazy" is not gaming the system.

I'm sure we'll get to a point where we slap on some electrodes run a scan and go, "Yup. He's a nut alright." When that day comes someone will get the brilliant idea of using it BEFORE people commit horrible crimes. When that happens, we really aren't going to like the big picture we get.

So to answer your question. Nothing at all. And everything...

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Fenring
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I understand. I just don't see the value in placing someone who writes "ARMAGEDDON IS HERE THE WORMS ARE COMING FOR YOU OH MY GOD" on message boards alongside an ISIS fighter who believes in a caliphate. It's just apples and oranges. No, we can't scan their brains to 'verify' it, and maybe the lunatic is a brilliant actor and is gaming the system. But since we do assess motive, fitness to stand trial, and frame of mind (re: insanity defence), we do have to discuss these things one way or the other. That we can't do so conclusively isn't a good reason to ignore the issue altogether; we just do the best we can.
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