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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I want to see evidence of many innocent civilians being intentionally killed.

    Surely the state sponsored murder (intentional killing) of even one innocent civilian is too many. And illegal under US law if memory serves.

    Which begs the question of what is 'intentional killing'. If the conversation went "Doing this will probably result in the deaths of "n" innocent/non-combatant people."
    "Okay, those are acceptable losses, do it."
    Would those count as intentional killings? How big does n have to be (as a perc

    • Sure, those are reasonable questions, and I have no problem discussing them. The point of the journal entry isn't to defend the US or discuss the issue at hand -- I pondered picking a different example, but this one was fresh in my mind -- but just to note that we should not fear these kinds of discussions, defining our terms, making sure everyone knows what we mean, if we really want to have honest communication.

      Sometimes it does descend into an endless pit of defining and redefining every word. At that point, I usually step back and say, "what are we really trying to prove here?" As in this case: he was trying to prove America was wrong. So I try to get the conversation away from labels describing the situation (slaughtered, terrorized, murdered) and get to a simple factual description of what was done that is wrong (killed 30 innocent civilians in an air raid on an al Qaeda hideout). Then we can discuss what the motivation was, what the intent was, what the justification was, and perhaps reach some sort of conclusion.

      If that doesn't work, give up. :-)

      [As a side note, a friend of mine asked me this morning how to define terrorism to include bad things like the attack on the WTC, and not include other more justified things, like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I tried to explain that labels are just conveniences so we can have a good idea about something without having to think so hard. If they get in the way, they are not doing their job, and you should get rid of them. No, this is not an attempt to justify through undefining, it is a recognizing of the fact that labels are imperfect conveniences. Yes, this is an implicit denunciation of Bush's War On Terror as portrayed by and through the dominant mass media.]