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Thread: The Crime Thread - Cause, Effect, Sentencing, Empathy

  1. #1
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    The Crime Thread - Cause, Effect, Sentencing, Empathy

    I just returned from watching Wicked in the West End. It was pretty rad, and it got me thinking a bit about how our politics work.

    Bin Laden wasn't that bad, for example. He killed 4,000 people (and this is ignoring that he probably didn't mastermind 9/11) and destroyed a national landmark. Compared to other figures of the past and present (Qaddafi, Mubarak, Hussein, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc.) he did nothing. By all accounts, he was a pretty decent family man by Muslim standards, friendly to western reporters, and believed he was doing the correct thing in starting the modern equivalent of a holy war. He was then used as a scapegoat by a far more powerful nation, called the modern equivalent of Hitler, and there was public celebration in the streets when he died.

    If I agreed with Bin Laden's cause, I would label him a tragic hero. As I don't, I think the worst thing you could accuse him of is having the wrong cause. Men like Bin Laden were the Founding Fathers of America, the leaders of the French Revolution, et cetera. I can see why some Muslims of a more fundamentalist bent still look up to him as a hero of Islam. While I actively despise his ideology, the man himself was of a rare breed, and the whole saga of 9/11 and the demonisation of Islam is probably better thought of as a tragedy of cultural differences.

    The main problems I can see with Bin Laden are, as I said above, his ideology, and, as Kodos talked with me about on AIM, his methods. Being the liberal atheist I am, I can't condone the end result of a successful fundamentalist Muslim insurgency, which would be some sort of highly authoritarian, patriarchal society. However, Bin Laden clearly believed that a heavily Islamic society would be a sort of utopia. Ask yourself this question: if you believed you could create a beautiful, perfect society by sacrificing the lives of a mere four thousand people, would you do so? Islam, and especially fundamentalist Islam, have dozens of valid criticisms that can be levelled against them, but Bin Laden's actions were, at worst, the actions of a calculating revolutionary. They weren't the actions of a monster; provided you imagine that you believe that Islam is the one true way and that all non-Islamic people are amoral, then Bin Laden's actions can easily be empathised with.

    Moving onto Bin Laden's methods, Kodos pointed out that terrorism doesn't work. Which, as he said, makes it useless at best, and at worst just angers much bigger and nastier organisations (such as America vs. terrorist group). This, however, is a fault that can be attributed either to Bin Laden's optimism (hardly the trait of a monster), or to a lack of research/knowledge, rather than any amoral intentions. If I, say, attempted to help a homeless person by giving them money, and instead of using that money to help themselves they bought heroin, accidentally overdosed on it, and died, would I be responsible for their death? To what extent? If I believe I'm doing good, am I morally culpable? Quite possibly. But is my character in question? Doubtful.

    In conclusion, I don't think Bin Laden was a wicked man. He was, quite possibly, mislead. He was also, quite possibly, overly idealistic. And he was certainly pursuing a dream that, had it been successful, would have led to a massive reduction in quality of life for millions of people (especially women). But those aren't criticisms that would make him a monster or a madman, like propaganda said he was. My interpretation of him is that he was an unfortunate, mislead man, with extraordinary hope and ambition, and that, while what he preached and did was abhorrent, we need more men like him in the world.

    To tie this back to Wicked, bear this quote in mind: "There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we pretend they don't exist."

    Then listen to this song and cast your mind back to the celebrations on the streets when Bin Laden died:
    Last edited by Delphinus; 08-24-2011 at 05:49 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  2. #2
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    There was a quote that was like this: In war, every faction believes that God is that their side.

    I have always seen USA news about Bin Laden and Hussein very biased and they are obviously selling them as monsters.

    People mostly do things believing they are doing the right thing. The idea of someone who is bad, as Alex from Clockwork Orange or Paul from Funny Games, its only true to people who have a big psychological problem, and its not focused between good and evil, but more to power.
    Last edited by ClockHand; 08-24-2011 at 05:48 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    Every time thousands of innocent people are hurt, it's a tragedy. Let's not try to bill it off as some "misunderstanding".

  4. #4
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    I'm not trying to say that 9/11 wasn't a tragedy, just that it's understandable why it occurred and that Bin Laden was no different to many of the great innovators and revolutionaries of history. He was far from a monster. Call me sentimental, but focusing on people's thoughts is what I do.

    I heard Wicked was partly a satire of the events surrounding Iraq. I could just be reading it that way, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wicked
    Is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?
    It's all in which label
    Is able to persist
    There are precious few at ease
    With moral ambiguities
    So we act as though they don't exist
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  5. #5
    Fifty Fifty Member Evil_Cake's Avatar
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    so u are saying that if i was crazy i would like bin laden okay

  6. #6
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    u gotta be crazy to support people who take money away from the people they're supposed to serve to make themselves more popular
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  7. #7
    Fifty Fifty Member Evil_Cake's Avatar
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    wat are u saying he did it just to be popular? what a dick

  8. #8
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    We're drawing a clear distinction between "understandable" and "acceptable", right?

  9. #9
    Super Senior Member Delphinus's Avatar
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    As I highlighted in the post, whether it's acceptable is heavily debatable.

    You don't call the founding fathers monsters or terrorists, do you? They seceded from a state, attacked the institutions that made that state viable, and (if they were following standard rules of warfare at the time; it's hard to find material here) probably killed as many civilians as Bin Laden did, possibly more. They did this to try and spread their ideals and make what they believed would be a better world.

    Do you believe that doing the right sometimes takes innocent bloodshed? If so, and Bin Laden believed what he was doing was the right thing (everyone believes they're doing the right thing in these cases), then why do you label him a monster?

    EDIT: AN UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenn
    You forgot your F in Modesty.

  10. #10
    Super Senior Member CypressDahlia's Avatar
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    I would like evidence of the founding fathers going around recklessly killing citizens, please. And I don't put demonstrations and acts of vandalism in the same class as crashing airplanes into buildings. And it's not like Jefferson and Hancock went Dukes of Hazzard and wreaked havoc all across Jamestown, just because //they// wanted to do it. They were fighting for a cause supported by a large backing of the oppressed, in the immediate place that it affected. How the hell did destroying two towers hundreds of miles across the Atlantic help Bin Laden's (extremist/minority) cause?

    And yes, he believed he was doing the right thing. Key word "he". That doesn't mean I have to agree with him. The acceptability of an act is respective to the person making the judgement.
    Last edited by CypressDahlia; 08-24-2011 at 07:41 PM.

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