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Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby wild_quinine on Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:05 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote:they are capable of being a danger to society within prison if they are still allowed to vote.


How, exactly?

jollytiddlywink wrote:they pose a threat to the continued existence of representative government, partly because they may well advocate a theocracy (or something equally anathema),


They can advocate for all kinds of non-representative government - with or without the vote.

But by taking their vote away, you make them part of one. I just don't see the justification.

jollytiddlywink wrote:but largely because their crime was to undertake political action so far outside the accepted moral and legal bounds. I think it either case, because of the nature of the threat posed by such crimes, it warrants both incarceration and loss of suffrage.


But you haven't said why 'it warrants both incarceration and loss of suffrage'. This is my whole point. They don't deserve it, so we'll punish them by taking it away?


There are just precisely two arguments I've seen here.

1) Giving them the vote is dangerous.
2) They have 'waived their right' to the vote, through a particular kind of action.

The first point seems to hinge on the fact that it would be bad if they voted, because we're unlikely to agree with them.
The second seems to be that it's OK to punish people by taking away their right to vote.

Now being charitable to your general direction, because I don't think you've really spelled it out, it seems like your answer to the question 'why is it OK to take the vote from these people?' is that it is safer for democracy.

So the second, and probably more important question, is: why would that be safer for democracy than letting them vote anyway (whether they deserve it or not)?
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby LonelyPilgrim on Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:11 am

There is another argument and one that I think is justified by looking at the history of who was allowed to vote. Here, in the US, voting was originally up to the individual states to sort out. Many states had property ownership requirements for the vote... because they felt that only men who had shown a degree of responsibility (commensurate with the management of an enterprise, such as a farm or shipping company or sufficiently sizeable household.) could be entrusted with the vote since only they would have the knowledge of management needed to understand the issues and the responsibility to know it wasn't something you f***ed with.

If you accept that position (and considering the US was not founded as a democracy but as a republic, it make sense) then depriving criminals of the right to vote is justified on two grounds:

1. It is not an unconditional right open to all citizens, but is instead a conditional right granted to citizens who pass some sort of rough measure of 'responsibility'.

2. Criminal activity exhibits a lack of responsibility as well as poor judgement. It's worth noting that even today in the US the vote is taken away from felons and not all criminals. More and more crimes that would once have been misdemeanors or handled through the civil law courts (and therefore not result in the loss of the vote) are being made into felonies as our legal system is getting irrationally 'tough on crime'.

All in all, historically, taking the vote from felons makes sense. It still makes sense if you accept that voting is not an unconditional right of citizenship. On the other hand, if you believe that it is or should be an unconditional right of citizenship... that democracy is an ideal instead of the first step to mob rule and the tyranny of the majority... then clearly it doesn't make sense.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:44 am

LonelyPilgrim wrote:2. Criminal activity exhibits a lack of responsibility as well as poor judgement. It's worth noting that even today in the US the vote is taken away from felons and not all criminals. More and more crimes that would once have been misdemeanors or handled through the civil law courts (and therefore not result in the loss of the vote) are being made into felonies as our legal system is getting irrationally 'tough on crime'.

For reasons too complicated to cover here, in the US (in particular) black people tend towards criminality more than white people. Denying criminals (or felons) the right to vote is a racial veto. I'll take a guess and suggest that Republicans are more in favour of that premise than Democrats.

In a society where the colour of your skin doesn't make you more likely to end up as a criminal, that policy might be more defendable. At the moment, regardless of any other argument wrt the rights and wrongs of denying the vote to particular non-citizens, it isn't a policy that can be rationally defended.

LonelyPilgrim wrote:All in all, historically, taking the vote from felons makes sense.

Historically, lots of things make sense. Plato couldn't condemn the treatment of slaves as property because it made sense for society to have unpaid workers who weren't as human as their owners. It made sense. Historically.

LonelyPilgrim wrote:democracy is an ideal instead of the first step to mob rule and the tyranny of the majority

That's exactly what democracy is; mob rule. The steps which are implemented to prevent the minority from being persecuted by the majority aren't democratic steps. They're anti-democratic.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby LonelyPilgrim on Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:52 am

RedCelt69 wrote:For reasons too complicated to cover here, in the US (in particular) black people tend towards criminality more than white people. Denying criminals (or felons) the right to vote is a racial veto. I'll take a guess and suggest that Republicans are more in favour of that premise than Democrats.


I'd suggest that when it comes to denying felons the right to vote, there isn't much difference between the parties. As a nation we have this perverted sense that we have to be tough on crime, and so criminal sentences have been getting longer and longer and more and more things are being criminalised. Japan, which has the lowest recidivism rate in the developed world has a criminal justice system that was more or less copied from ours in the 50s. We, meanwhile, have effectively scrapped our old criminal justice system and now have the highest incarceration percentage in the world and the highest recidivism rate in the developed world, in part because it's become extremely difficult for ex-felons to re-enter society both because of the length of prison terms rendering them unaccustomed to life on the 'outside' and because of the many restrictions placed on them in regards to employment, where they can live, and what hobbies they can pursue (for instance, the community theatre I am involved with refuses, point blank, to allow any ex-felons to participate in any capacity whatsoever). These changes have occurred in red states and blue states, under governments of both parties.

In a society where the colour of your skin doesn't make you more likely to end up as a criminal, that policy might be more defendable. At the moment, regardless of any other argument wrt the rights and wrongs of denying the vote to particular non-citizens, it isn't a policy that can be rationally defended.


Historically, lots of things make sense. Plato couldn't condemn the treatment of slaves as property because it made sense for society to have unpaid workers who weren't as human as their owners. It made sense. Historically.


Not trying to defend it, just explain it. Also, comparing taking the vote from felons to slavery is a bit of a stretch. Freedom is a natural right that has to be taken away. Voting is a political right that has to be given. I really don't have the heart for a big philosophical discussion about rights and all that, but surely you can acknowledge that there is a difference between an inherent right and a given right?

That's exactly what democracy is; mob rule. The steps which are implemented to prevent the minority from being persecuted by the majority aren't democratic steps. They're anti-democratic.


Are you agreeing with me here, or taking the piss? If you're agreeing with me then we have an interesting problem... if we accept that anti-democratic principles are necessarily followed for the good of society then we've arrived at a belief that the good of society can trump democratic ideals. If that's so, then there is no ideological reason not to take the vote away from felons, only a practical one. If it can be argued that doing so is good for the society, then no problem. Or if you start from the original premise that the vote should only be extended to those who have (nominally) passed some sort of competency standard, then regarding criminalism as incompetence is fine.

The problem, if it is a problem, is that we live in societies where voting is regarded as a right of citizenship and where the number of people serving felony sentences is much larger than before (both because we execute less felons, less quickly, and because the number of felonies has increased). Now, maybe taking the vote away doesn't make sense, since telling a man who drunk drove three times in his 20s that he can't vote when he's 55 and a pillar of the community (since some US states never return the right to vote) is a bit off.

This really highlights what I consider to be the relativistic nature of policy... many policies can make sense in one context and not make sense in another (ie. when voting is already a restricted right and most felons are executed quickly and all felonies are for very serious crimes, taking the vote away from felons makes sense but when most felons aren't executed and many felonies aren't such serious crimes anymore and voting is generally not that restricted, then taking the vote from felons may not make sense), especially when they aren't moral questions. And if you accept that voting isn't a natural right and that restrictions on democracy are necessary to not end up living in a chaotic dystopia, then felons voting isn't an absolute moral question... it can still be, and should be, a utilitarian question.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:36 am

LonelyPilgrim wrote:for instance, the community theatre I am involved with refuses, point blank, to allow any ex-felons to participate in any capacity whatsoever)

So, on the question of whether incarceration is meant to punish or protect... those people (who advocate such treatment after the incarceration has ended) very much side with the punishment ideal. A lifelong indictment is overly harsh, to say the least.

LonelyPilgrim wrote:comparing taking the vote from felons to slavery is a bit of a stretch.

I wasn't making that comparison. I was simply saying that history isn't a valid means of excusing the here and now. Things (thankfully) change.

LonelyPilgrim wrote:I really don't have the heart for a big philosophical discussion about rights and all that, but surely you can acknowledge that there is a difference between an inherent right and a given right?

No. Rights aren't a product of physics. They aren't inherent; they are assigned. Society decides which are assigned - and to whom. No need for a big philosophical discussion.

If that's so, then there is no ideological reason not to take the vote away from felons, only a practical one.

I wasn't taking the piss. I've said (in previous posts in this thread) that a vote has very little practical value. I don't see it as a means of punishing a potential criminal - that, in committing a crime, they face the loss of a vote. In the grand scheme, I don't much care if they can or can't vote. The difference (in any regard) is a tiny one. There is, however, a bigger risk of any executive deciding who is (and is not) allowed to vote. To draw an analogy, during the trial, should the prosecuted be allowed to decide who in the jury is allowed to judge them?

Taken to extremes, full suffrage is better than restricted suffrage. One is more democratic than the other.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby Anon. on Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:54 am

RedCelt69 wrote:I've said (in previous posts in this thread) that a vote has very little practical value. I don't see it as a means of punishing a potential criminal - that, in committing a crime, they face the loss of a vote. In the grand scheme, I don't much care if they can or can't vote. The difference (in any regard) is a tiny one.


In national elections, perhaps. But the suffrage applies to local elections as well. In Eastchurch, in Kent, the population of the Sheppey Prisons Cluster is higher than the local population of people at liberty. How would that skew elections to Swale Borough Council?
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:00 am

Anon. wrote:In national elections, perhaps. But the suffrage applies to local elections as well. In Eastchurch, in Kent, the population of the Sheppey Prisons Cluster is higher than the local population of people at liberty. How would that skew elections to Swale Borough Council?

Well, short-term prisoners would/could still be registered wherever their home address is. Long-term prisoners (effectively homeless) wouldn't be able to vote. Unless they changed the system to mirror that of lunatic asylums. In which case, yes, electoral districts that included prisons could potentially be influenced by the vote of prisoners. Which would be no more damaging than areas of cities with a large homeless population having a section of the electorate heard. However slightly.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:52 pm

wild_quinine wrote:How (do they pose a danger to society if still allowed to vote), exactly?


My apologies for not wording that correctly. The vote doesn't make them a threat to society. I should have said that they continue to pose a threat, albeit much smaller than before their conviction for treason or terrorism, to the democratic process and the current system of representative government if they are allowed to keep the vote.
As to your point that they can *advocate* for all kinds of non-representative government with or without the vote, please bear in mind that, if they are in prison (likely for life, or near enough, given the crimes), they are unlikely to be giving televised speeches, writing newspaper columns, or handing out leaflets in busy cities. The vote would be their biggest chance to impact matters outside prison.

I disagree that taking the vote away from traitors and terrorists would make them subject to an unrepresentative government. The mere fact that they committed treasonous or terrorist acts means that, even with the vote, they likely felt the government was unrepresentative. Secondly, we do not give the vote to all citizens in all circumstances. Children don't vote, and I doubt that anyone will suggest that 10 year olds ever should have the vote. I don't think that means that our government doesn't represent those children. If you want to allow for their parent's votes looking after the interests of children, or leaders paying for public schooling for narrow reasons of economic efficiency, fine. But cynicism or not, a government that is singularly unrepresentative of minors does a pretty good job of looking after their interests. Finally, I don't think that subjecting people who tried to alter or destroy government by force to unrepresentative government is a horrible crime.

wild_quinine wrote:There are just precisely two arguments I've seen here.

1) Giving them the vote is dangerous.
2) They have 'waived their right' to the vote, through a particular kind of action.

The first point seems to hinge on the fact that it would be bad if they voted, because we're unlikely to agree with them.
The second seems to be that it's OK to punish people by taking away their right to vote.

Now being charitable to your general direction, because I don't think you've really spelled it out, it seems like your answer to the question 'why is it OK to take the vote from these people?' is that it is safer for democracy.

So the second, and probably more important question, is: why would that be safer for democracy than letting them vote anyway (whether they deserve it or not)?


I'll handle your two points in reverse, if I may. I don't argue that they have 'waived their right to vote' but rather that, in the case of the only two 'political crimes' (bad overtones, I know, but what else to call treason and terrorism?) that western, pluralistic and democratic legal systems recognize, the loss of liberty and the vote is commensurate punishment. To put it this way, violent action against an individual, like murder, is a violation of the murder victim's freedom to live life. The punishment is depriving the murderer of his freedom, both as punishment and to protect society. Violent action against a lawful government is a an attempt to violate society's rights to alter or not alter that government by voting. As such, it seems suitable to both lock up and disenfranchise the culprits.

As far as recognizing that it is wrong to punish people by disenfranchising people, you and I are almost entirely in agreement; you take the principle to be absolute, and I think that a certain very extreme exception should be made, but no more.

In this case, I do feel that giving them the vote would be a bit dangerous. To pose a counter-question: how is it safer for democracy to allow for the votes of people who would destroy democracy however they could, even by democratic methods?
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby LonelyPilgrim on Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:59 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote: ...in the case of the only two 'political crimes' (bad overtones, I know, but what else to call treason and terrorism?) that western, pluralistic and democratic legal systems recognize, ...


What about:

Aiding and abetting?
Sedition?
Espionage?
Sabotage?
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:05 pm

LonelyPilgrim wrote:
jollytiddlywink wrote: ...in the case of the only two 'political crimes' (bad overtones, I know, but what else to call treason and terrorism?) that western, pluralistic and democratic legal systems recognize, ...


What about:

Aiding and abetting?
Sedition?
Espionage?
Sabotage?


Good point(s). I'll take a stab at addressing them, but these are hasty thoughts, so I'm not by any means committed to them; I offer them as a starting point for discussion, no more.
I think that the courts could be left with the option, in instances of trials for these crimes, of either revoking the vote in sentencing, or not. Aiding and abetting could be, I suppose, done knowingly or unknowingly. Sedition might be translated to 'incitement to rebellion', which, again, is less clear-cut than treason or terrorism.
The penalty for espionage is usually death, so while we might have spies locked up for life rather than execute them these days, I think depriving them of the vote (if they happen to be a citizen and not, lets say, North Korean) may be warranted, depending on the situation.
I don't think sabotage qualifies. If it were a dire act of sabotage, it would likely be charged as terrorism or treason anyway. But the other three, I think, are at least less clear-cut examples than the two I mentioned originally, and it could, if taking the vote was deemed appropriate for certain levels of espionage, sedition or aiding and abetting, be left to the sentencing judge to rule on the matter.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:33 pm

1. What's the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter?
2. What if the terrorist/freedom fighter has 51% of the population agreeing with them?
3. What damage can possibly result in a terrorist/freedom fighter having a vote? If he's in the minority, his wishes aren't fulfilled... if he's incarcerated in a democratic state.

Limited suffrage = limited democracy, and I've yet to hear a good (rational) explanation for the supposed importance of certain people losing the right to vote - whether the decision is made by the government or a judge.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:37 pm

RedCelt69 wrote:1. What's the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter?
2. What if the terrorist/freedom fighter has 51% of the population agreeing with them?
3. What damage can possibly result in a terrorist/freedom fighter having a vote? If he's in the minority, his wishes aren't fulfilled... if he's incarcerated in a democratic state.

Limited suffrage = limited democracy, and I've yet to hear a good (rational) explanation for the supposed importance of certain people losing the right to vote - whether the decision is made by the government or a judge.


Don't be silly. Don't fall into the lazy assumption that terrorists are just freedom fighters on the 'wrong side'. International law and common recognition allows for a clear-cut distinction between the two, if not always between groups which commit both kinds of action. Terrorists commit indiscriminate violence, usually for either political or religious ends. Freedom fighters, resistance movements, people looking for national independence or for freedom from foreign occupation, can be terrorist. Or not. ETA in the Basque country is terrorist. The IRA was terrorist, to various degrees at various times, but is now (very largely) a political movement within the processes of representative government. The French Resistance, or the Dutch resistance, or the Norwegian resistance, etc, were not terrorist. It is possible to be a 'freedom fighter' without actually 'fighting' at all. Consider Solidarity, or the Quit India campaign.

The level of support that a body enjoys has no bearing on whether it is terrorist in its actions or not. Whatever else might be said about Hitler's rise to power, he and his party secured enough democratic votes to take power (yes, as a historian of these times, I'm aware that this is a simplified version, but let's carry on to the point), but the regime was still terrorist when it flew transport aircraft over Warsaw at low altitude, shoveling bombs and incendiaries out the side doors to cow the population.

You make the assumption that democracy will continue to exist without needing to be defended, as long as everyone everywhere has every possible chance to vote. This isn't the case. Plenty of examples can be provided of governments voted into power which then abolished voting. Examples can be provided of parties that, if elected in a tolerant and pluralistic society, would set about destroying that society (BNP, for example). We recognise restrictions on free speech, against inciting racial hatred, for example, or (for the US constitutional purists) against shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre.
Democracy will not persist happily simply because it ought to. At a certain point, an open, tolerant and pluralistic society must cease to be tolerant and pluralistic of dogmas opposed to tolerance and pluralism. These belief systems are willing, under the cloak of "but these are my beliefs, and because I believe them, you have to tolerate them,"
to set about undermining and destroying tolerance and pluralism.
Consider the cases which have cropped up in the news recently, of some people claiming that equal rights of gays and lesbians violates their rights as christians. This is a claim, in the name of tolerance of beliefs, to deny rights to a group of people.
That is why people convicted of terrorism or of treason should not have the vote. At some point, to survive, a democratic and tolerant society must no longer tolerate extreme intolerance and anti-democratic methods.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:37 am

So, "silly" and "lazy"? Nice.

Name some terrorist organisations which you strongly support. Then name some freedom fighters who you strongly denounce. Just call me "curious" as well as silly and lazy.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby munchingfoo on Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:19 am

I don't understand your question RedCelt. Is it meant to have no answer?

I don't think I support any terrorist organisation nor strongly denounce any freedom fighter movement.

Is that what you expected everyone to answer?
I'm not a large water-dwelling mammal Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? Did Steve
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:43 am

RedCelt69 wrote:So, "silly" and "lazy"? Nice.

Name some terrorist organisations which you strongly support. Then name some freedom fighters who you strongly denounce. Just call me "curious" as well as silly and lazy.


I agree with munchingfoo. Trying to score rhetorical points isn't going to get us anywhere. Did you bother to read my last post?
Unless you insist on keeping to your silly and (curiously) lazy interchangeable definitions of terrorist and freedom fighter, you'll get just the answer that munchingfoo and pretty much anyone else gives you; one based on the actual definitions. I feel like something that was once said to a tea-bagger is apropos here: "You do realize that words have actual meanings?"
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:51 pm

Well. I asked the question hoping that you'd prove me to be (even slightly) wrong. As you ignored the questions, can we assume that you're still wrong? Or would that be too untidy?

If we were to travel around the world asking people whether certain groups were terrorist groups or freedom fighters, the answers would vary depending upon the situation of those asked. The words have precise meanings based on the perspective of the person using them. Had Germany won WW2, do you seriously think that the French Resistance would be called freedom fighters, rather than terrorists?

If you met someone who called a terrorist (in your eyes) a freedom fighter, saying that they're wrong and you're right isn't helping matters much. As they'd say the same about you. As with so many other matters of human interaction, perspective is more-than-nothing.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:41 pm

Redcelt, I ask again: did you bother to read my post? I defined 'terrorist,' and spelled out how your supposedly interchangeable categories of terrorist/freedom fighter are not interchangeable. Go back and read it again.

Here is the very simple summary. Terrorists blow up civilians, women and children. Freedom fighters fight for freedom. Some people fighting for freedom blow up civilians. Some don't. Some, indeed, don't fight at all. Consider the SNP: they're for a free Scotland, if you will, and who have they blown up?
Please recognize that your attempt to conflate the two terms is useless and will get us nowhere. Starting from that erroneous basis, your other points also fall flat. After all, it doesn't matter how many people support a terrorist; he's still a terrorist. Just as if Alex Salmond were the only Scottish nationalist left on earth, he wouldn't be a terrorist unless he blew somebody up. All your appeals to 'perspective' might as well be Glenn Beck telling us all how Obama is both a socialist and a fascist. Words have actual meanings. Don't go ignoring them to suit yourself.
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby RedCelt69 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:57 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote:Terrorists blow up civilians, women and children. Freedom fighters fight for freedom. Some people fighting for freedom blow up civilians. Some don't.

So the US government is a terrorist organisation, or does terrorism require non-state affiliation? Lots of civilians, women and children were killed in Iraq. Hell, let's go back a bit and look at WW2. Both the UK and Germany could be classed as terrorists.

State-affiliation aside, the French Resistance killed civilians, didn't they? If we limit the term of "terrorism" to those who actually kill civilians (and aren't a state) we're left with very few groups who could be defined as non-terrorist freedom fighters. A bit like the A-Team... they fight, but nobody gets killed. At least, no civilians get killed. Which freedom fighters have managed that little miracle of precision?

It isn't a lazy assertion, btw. The Cold War saw lots of groups who easily slipped between the labels - totally dependent upon whether Communists or anti-Communists were being killed. "Military" or "Civilian".
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jequirity on Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:26 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote:, but the regime was still terrorist when it flew transport aircraft over Warsaw at low altitude, shoveling bombs and incendiaries out the side doors to cow the population.


Faithfully recreated in Arma 2 ;) :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ_IlKiRxMs
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Re: Rights of Suffrage to Prisoners?

Postby jollytiddlywink on Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:36 am

RedCelt69 wrote:
jollytiddlywink wrote:Terrorists blow up civilians, women and children. Freedom fighters fight for freedom. Some people fighting for freedom blow up civilians. Some don't.

So the US government is a terrorist organisation, or does terrorism require non-state affiliation? Lots of civilians, women and children were killed in Iraq. Hell, let's go back a bit and look at WW2. Both the UK and Germany could be classed as terrorists.

State-affiliation aside, the French Resistance killed civilians, didn't they? If we limit the term of "terrorism" to those who actually kill civilians (and aren't a state) we're left with very few groups who could be defined as non-terrorist freedom fighters. A bit like the A-Team... they fight, but nobody gets killed. At least, no civilians get killed. Which freedom fighters have managed that little miracle of precision?

It isn't a lazy assertion, btw. The Cold War saw lots of groups who easily slipped between the labels - totally dependent upon whether Communists or anti-Communists were being killed. "Military" or "Civilian".


Did you notice the preface to my remark quoted above, namely "Here is the very simple summary"? Why ignore the disclaimer and then take the statement as the totality of my position, as if I have given no thought to any nuance?

Terrorists make a business of attacking soft civilian targets to generate the greatest possible publicity, or to create the greatest possible political pressure by creating the greatest possible casualty list. If you're going to engage with the issue (and not just fire off glib rhetorical questions), you'll need to recognize that its a complex one, and NOT one that can be reduced to 'perspective'. The pope's perspective is that atheists are fascists, which is plainly a load of fertilizer. Just because other people insist on being relativistic about terrorism so doesn't mean you should. And don't point to the Cold War: shouting, "Look, rabidly anti-commie Americans who saw pinkos behind every curtain did it!" is hardly persuasive.

The division between terrorists and freedom fighters is a clear one, as I have more than once laid out, just as the difference between squares and rectangles is a clear one. But some rectangles ARE squares, and some freedom fighters are terrorists. You insist on confusing, indeed conflating, the methods and the goal. Gandhi wanted the British out of India. His method was satyagraha (soul force), non-violence resistance. The IRA wanted the British out of Ireland. Their methods included civil war and bombings of civilian targets in Ireland and on the mainland. Both Gandhi and the Congress-led Quit India movement, and the IRA, were freedom fighters, in that they wished to liberate their countries from what they saw as an oppressive and foreign occupation. One was a terrorist movement, and one was not.

So the US government is a terrorist organisation, or does terrorism require non-state affiliation? Lots of civilians, women and children were killed in Iraq. Hell, let's go back a bit and look at WW2. Both the UK and Germany could be classed as terrorists.

Please note that terrorists are almost always expressly aiming to kill civilians, and certainly won't go out of their way to prevent such deaths. Whatever your mistrust of the US government (and there is room for quite a bit), it is not an aim of US policy to kill civilians. Do they kill civilians anyway? Yes. Is it intentional? No. Is it terrorism? No. State affiliation is irrelevant: what matters is the intention.
If you want to take as a starting point the idea that terrorism is violence for a political end, that runs headlong into the idea that war is violence for a political end (conducted by states). That does not make states terrorists simply because they wage war. Again, it is a matter of intent. Britain retook the Falklands, and, to the best of my knowledge, avoided civilian casualties, as a matter of policy. Serbia, in the 90s, engaged in a very dirty war which crossed all sorts of lines between war, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing, as a matter of policy. Britain waged war, Serbia waged terror. With regard to your comments on WWII and what I presume is a reference to the Blitz and the Bomber Offensive, I will say that I consider neither German not British bombing (with certain limited exceptions, like Warsaw, mentioned above) to be terroristic.
Terrorism does not require non-state actors; see Serbia, and the Taliban ran a state and sponsored bin Laden. But most terrorist organizations are non-state, and states almost always try to get rid of them, which is why failed states like Somalia are such fertile places for terror cells.

Right. Clear now?
jollytiddlywink
 
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