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  •  How about Timothy McVeigh operating under (5+ / 0-)

    the delusion that the Turner Diaries were a blue print for action? How many "lone wolves" have to act on these sick fantasies before there is something to it? We can't stop their speech, that's not how the Constitution works. But we don't have to sit around and be polite and coy with our treatment of them. They intended to use fear and terror to achieve their political and social goals. That is a pretty damn good definition of a terrorist and it is exactly what they are. Or as Kos himself put it, they are "The American Taliban".

    All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:16:45 PM PDT

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    •  how about that? (0+ / 0-)

      I haven't read the book myself, but that seems more like a description of McVeigh's mind than the authors.  Charles Manson was supposedly inspired by the Beatles' Helter Skelter.  Your supposedly hypothetical question asserts that there is action "on" the fantasies of the author.  Maybe so -- but a lot of speculative fiction is based on the idea that this is what might happen in the long term unless less drastic steps happen in the short term.  Seven Days in May shouldn't be blamed if there's a military coup.    

      But I don't think we should be coy either -- for speech that is incendiary, I propose asking what the person hopes to accomplish.  Make them account for their own speech more explicitly.  Speech either helps or hinders the process of finding reasonable common ground.  Painting a bullseye isn't an incitement to violence, it's just stupid.  Make them reveal that they know nothing.  Of course, these people still will appeal to the ignorant and the depraved, and there are people so ignorant and depraved that they can't be rationally deterred, but I see the problem of damaging political speech more as a demand problem.  This speech isn't just damaging on the basis that it might "lead to" (whatever that means) flying an airplane into an IRS building (why nobody talks about this or Steve King's after the fact justification is an oversight).  It's damaging because it directly leads to an utterly dysfunctional process of debate in this country.  But I suspect Fox News viewers know on some level they're not actually getting news, at least from the shows labeled as opinion.  They're getting rationalization.  (While the supposedly down-the-line news programs are also skewed, they also don't compare anyone to Hitler except on Hank Williams Jr. morning bourbon day.)  

      I also understood American Taliban to refer to republicans' social views, but I didn't read that book either.  Was it a blueprint for killing republicans?  As for the definition of terrorism, I don't agree that it's a good one.  For one thing, I can't tell from your statement whether you're referring to the actors or authors -- if the latter, it assumes an intended and explicit connection to violence that I think is an unwarranted assumption.  If the former, then nobody's debating that people who burn a church or what have you are terrorists (use of randomized but targeted violence to advance a political goal by fear), but what does it add to the discussion to say that people who wouldn't have met the second two parts of Brandenburg are?  (If in fact they didn't explicitly advocate or intend the violence, as with fiction, as with just about all hyperbole.)  

      So, I'm all for calling them out, but doing so by not just calling them terrorists but acting like they have already committed (in some sense) acts of violence, doesn't actually serve a purpose other than red meat of our own.  First, because as a concept it take a simple and circular argument and gilds it with pseudoscience.  Second, because it doesn't illuminate any new phenomena.  The line of argument made by Ted Nugent didn't help me accomplish any of my goals, and whether it helped him depends on what they are which we yet do not know.  Probably just to feed his own ego.  Calling him a terrorist stochastic or otherwise rewards his persecution fantasy, nothing more.  

      IN this day and age people do select media sources that confirm their own views, which leads to those views being more intensely held and further polarized, but nobody's so isolated that they can get access to only one set of arguments.  Put another way, why did McVeigh pick the literature he did, and is someone who believed the federal government put a microchip in his ass the best source of information about his own brain and body?

      The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

      by Loge on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:21:48 PM PDT

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      •  You've got your definition of terrorist backwards (0+ / 0-)
        but acting like they have already committed (in some sense) acts of violence, doesn't actually serve a purpose other than red meat of our own
        A terrorist doesn't have to commit an act to be a terrorist, they just have to rely on fear they might do it. Not everyone in the NRA or even the Taliban has committed acts of violence. But that doesn't mean they're not terrorists.

        And I hope this was a typo

        I also understood American Taliban to refer to republicans' social views, but I didn't read that book either.  Was it a blueprint for killing republicans?

        All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

        by ontheleftcoast on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:31:09 PM PDT

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        •  let's see (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity, IreGyre

          second point first -- fix your snark meter.  I assume Kos knew perfectly well that comparing republicans to a group of people we are actively fighting in a war was deliberately incendiary.  Our state policy is to shoot them over there, after all.  But of course nothing in the book suggests or implies -- I am assuming based on Kos's existence as a mostly-respected person in the political world -- what the logic of the title does.  That's the point about the danger of slippery slopes.  It's a bait and switch; maybe you should ask for your money back.

          To the first point, part of the problem with your argument is it presses even further -- the terrorist act that doesn't happen can still be blamed on the political figure because it created a climate of fear that it might.  The definition is deliberately indifferent to the actual violence.  That's the point.  also, that's not the place where I provided a definition of terrorist.  I came up with and stated:  "use of randomized but targeted violence to advance a political goal by fear."  Not all people have to commit violence themselves to "use" it (verbs being the most important part of any sentence), but there has to be some connection.  At minimum, it should require explicit advocacy of violence with the intent that it be carried out.  Which is the legal standard -- the court didn't pick the legal standard by accident, it arrived at it through trial and mostly error.  It reflects a policy judgment more than a legal one.  But your argument, by both my definition and the one you updated ("rely on fear" of violence), require bootstrapping to get Nugent or anyone else into that category.  He may "rely" on violent reactions of others, we don't know.   I assume not, as a matter of fact, as his only interest in the world seems to be Ted Nugent so actions of other people have little purchase with him.  But what did he actually do to get anyone to rely on what he said?  

          The problem is less with the definition of terrorist and more with the notion of causation.  The word stochastic (as if all terrorism weren't stochastic), does not mean that anything goes.  Even if we're not talking about literal causation but a looser notion of moral culpability, you still don't get there.  The very nature of a stochastic process belies the very idea of holding anyone responsible -- it's just a fancy way to call someone we don't like, with good reason, a name.

          The problem with Sarah Palin wasn't that she put a target on Giffords and someone shot her -- it was that seeing her metaphor acted out literally prompted no reconsideration of the appropriateness of the metaphor.

          The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

          by Loge on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:51:49 PM PDT

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          •  Ivory towers have nothing on you (0+ / 0-)

            In the real world words have the power to cause actions, whether directly "Bob, I want you to go and kill John Doe at 3:07 PM in the coffee shop on Madison" or indirectly "Obama isn't like Kennedy or Lincoln. Yet." That someone can hide behind a law is fine, laws are shields and should be a protection. But don't tell me or others we can't reasonably determine those words are designed to make someone think it's a call to action, even without knowing who would do it or even where/when it could happen. We don't need to arrest Ted Nugent for his words, we don't need to arrest Burke to his either. But we can call those things terrorism, because that's what they are. Or was "Won't someone rid of me of this meddlesome priest?" a completely innocent remark?

            All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

            by ontheleftcoast on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 03:17:51 PM PDT

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            •  you can call them whatever you want, (0+ / 0-)

              you'd just be elastic about it.  I love the "oh in the real world" arguments, as if an argument that was from the first moment a question of semantics and discussion of morals lends itself to one side or another having a closer connection to the "real world."  I think in the real world, we have to make distinctions and be precise in how we use language, or else the world doesn't reveal itself to us in its full complexity.  Either way, it's a disguised way to repeat your conclusion without arguing for it.  

              When we studied the first amendment in my ivory (rather, gothic) tower, we did talk about the Murder in the Cathedral problem.  Or the Mark Antony, they are honorable men speech.  Winks and nods by a person in direct authority is a bit different from the tasteless and vile.  Further, where there is a meeting of the minds, as there was in both cases, the language was every bit as explicit as it needed to be.  Bin Laden had some position of authority in certain cultures and circles, even if he didn't have the ability to directly command anything, but I think most people would blanche at calling Sayd Qutb a terrorist, though he every bit as much as Bin Laden called for people to commit acts of violence against the West.  His words had an effect (and it's particularly ironic to invoke the ivory tower -- a term usually describing people who tend to think that only words have effects), but the actual terrorism aspect came from the independent decision-making powers of a third party.  So, like Burke's line, there was a call to action -- necessary, but not sufficient.  

              The point is always what do you hope to accomplish by calling them terrorists.  I've laid out a case that distinguishes people like O'Reilly from those who are, but even if it's thought of as points along a continuum versus category differences, what is the goal?  For people to think the language is unacceptable?  I don't disagree -- but rather than building an elaborate argument that connects them to hypothetical crimes committed by other people, how about it's unacceptable because it, well, tasteless and vile.  

              I don't foreclose the prospect that people who don't pull the trigger can be criminals, but since it's dealing explicitly with political speech, I am not going to equate even the worst examples of rhetoric to documented physical atrocities.  But since terrorism is an actual crime, I think it makes a lot of sense to apply legal standards even to colloquial use, but it doesn't matter that much because the reasoning behind how the prevailing legal standard came to be already addresses these policy points.  To use past examples only, either Bernard Goldberg is morally responsible (bracketing the law) for a bombing of a Unitarian Church, in which case it requires stronger proof than the bomber's say so, or he's not a terrorist.    Calling him a terrorist, or a stochastic terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer, doesn't (a) make it so or (b) deter people on the political fringes (which we call the center) from using the rhetoric.  

              Using the word "terrorist" as an intensifier is both inappropriate and hypocritical.  

              The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

              by Loge on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 04:02:36 PM PDT

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