Not super villains after all

First sensible thing I’ve read from Andrew Bolt in a very long time:

IT’S time we realised most Islamist terrorists aren’t fiendishly clever killers in keffiyehs but laugh-out-loud bozos.

Quite right. Terrorists are not super villains – they’re just criminals. Their motivation for committing acts of violence is no better or worse than that of any other psychopath who commits acts of violence.

The question then is: why on earth can’t we just treat them like criminals who commit the same acts? Why do we need to invent special “terrorist” laws to deal with them differently? Why do we need to hype up the threat to the point where we achieve for them their aim of instilling fear?

Finally Bolt has realised a truth that was obvious to many of us a long time ago:

It might also help us to shame these madmen out of existence.

That’s right. Exaggerating their threat gives them an inflated sense of importance and quite probably motivates more impressionable young idiots to follow them. Treating them as ordinary criminals – or even as deranged mental patients who should be in padded cells – would undermine their credibility much more with those we’re trying to discourage from joining them.

Unfortunately Bolt can’t quite make it to the common sense conclusion – that the problem is the extreme anti-terrorist laws prompted by blind panic that are still in place, and still glamourising that which we should be treating with utter contempt.

Instead, his piece is whinging that courts, apparently surprised that these people are a “rag-tag collection of malcontents”, accordingly don’t think the super penalties available under the legislation justified by hyping them up as so much more are appropriate: Bolt wants these people shamed as bozos and THEN given the penalties designed for super villains, as if that contradiction makes any sense and is in any way sustainable.

But at least he, and possibly his readers, are beginning to see a glimmer of why the current approach doesn’t work.

Advertisements

42 responses to “Not super villains after all

  1. “treat them like criminals who commit the same acts”

    Your average garden variety crim isn’t trying to kill hundreds of people though Jeremy.

    What sentence would you think appropriate for, let’s say, Richard Reid, who had he succeded in lighting his shoe, could have potentially killed hundreds of people?

    Do you charge him with attempted arson?

  2. You charge him with attempted murder and related offences, in the same way as you’d charge any other psychopath who tries to blow up a plane.

    What difference does it make from which particular brand of madness the nutter’s offending stems?

  3. “any other psychopath who tries to blow up a plane”

    But isn’t any psycho who tries to blow up a plane charged with terrorism? Doesn’t trying to blow up a plane define you as a terrorist?

    And is it attempted murder x 400? (depending on the number of people on the flight).

    Genuine questions Jeremy; Laws not my area.

  4. “But isn’t any psycho who tries to blow up a plane charged with terrorism?”

    They probably are, now. But there were existing charges that would’ve resulted in a similar sentence previously, anyway.

    “Doesn’t trying to blow up a plane define you as a terrorist?”

    I don’t think so. What’s your definition of “terrorism”? Mine would be something along the lines of “attempting to obtain political change by instilling fear in a population of random violence if it doesn’t accede”. Hence the “terror” part. I suppose you could define “terrorist” as “mass murderer”, but that requires giving a bit more credibility to previous psychos.

    Would you call Martin Bryant a “terrorist”?

    “And is it attempted murder x 400? (depending on the number of people on the flight).”

    Among other available charges.

    If you add up the maximum penalties available on those offences, the courts already had the power to impose sentences as severe as the ones under the new legislation. Without glamourising the offenders as super villains.

  5. Splatterbottom

    Looks like there are millions of psychopaths out there:

    A 2004 Pew survey revealed that Osama bin Laden is viewed favourably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%), Jordan (55%) and Morocco (45%). In Turkey as many as 31% say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable.[8] [9].

    One approach would be to attack that psychopathy at its roots – ignorant murderous religious beliefs. For example the UN Human Rights Council should point out that many aspects of sharia law are per se crimes against humanity and then investigate the many many examples of sharia based human rights abuse. Instead it forbids discussion of all abuses of human rights relating to sharia law.

    It would be sensible to begin by recognising that many if not most terrorist attacks have a common religious motivation. For example when you find Teo van Gogh dead in the street with religious message affixed to his chest with knife, it is probably best to narrow your search to groups which share those religious sentiments.

    Of course, if you don’t see any underlying religious connection between particular terrorist events then you are less likely to be able to limit them. If you really want to be stupid about it you can ignore the preachers of religious hatred and instead prosecute those politicians who call them out as is happening now in the farcial trials of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria..

  6. I think you’ve missed the point about the Super Villain Legislation, which achieves none of the aims you’ve set out and just makes them feel like badasses.

  7. Of course, if you don’t see any underlying religious connection between particular terrorist events then you are less likely to be able to limit them. If you really want to be stupid about it you can ignore the preachers of religious hatred and instead prosecute those politicians who call them out as is happening now in the farcial trials of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria..

    Stupider again would be to refuse to acknowledge any connection between (a) the US policies and practices of endless occupation, mass slaughter of civilians, indefinite lawless detention without charge in black hole prisons, torture and so on in predminantly muslim countries with (b) the “terrorist” acts against the US that people in the affected countries then commit and support. Particularly when those people actually expressly state what is the motivation for their actions and desires, namely, US foreign policy of death and destruction in those countries. It reminds one of the old saying about the floggings continuing until morale improves.

    Best to refuse to make any connection between those things and stick to one-dimensional platitudes like “they hate us for our freedom” or offensive ideas about Islam promoting evil, or whatever. Because, of course, it is only matter of time before all terrorism is completely defeated by US military smackdown. Any day now the US will have rid the world of terrorism, either by killing or capturing the finite number of terrorists out there.

  8. Splatterbottom

    If you regard the crimes as isolated events then it seems logical to treat them like ordinary crimes. However criminal combinations pose more of a threat to society than isolated individuals, and there is some logic in having a different category of crime for them. If they are left to be dealt with under the ordinary legislation then the increased danger to society of combined action can be taken account of at sentencing. The only remaining questions are whether in such cases there should be greater maximum sentences for involvement in the combination, and whether the law needs to address specific acts of involvement, for example by a religious leader declaring that the planned action is religiously sanctioned.

    My post above was addressing the problem of dealing with crimes with a common underlying cause by treating them “like criminals who commit the same acts? “. You also need to address the common element in the crimes.

  9. “many aspects of sharia law are per se crimes against humanity”

    Agreed. The UN Human Rights Council should make a declaration to that effect. Then they could make a similar declaration relating to the practices of many Christian and Jewish sects which have similar impacts on the lives of women, “apostates”, “heathens” and “heretics”. Which you would doubtless support.

  10. Quoth Andrew in criticising terrorism: Killing the innocent just stung governments into defiance: “Target countries view the deaths of their citizens and the resulting turmoil as proof that the perpetrators want to destroy their societies, their publics or both. Countries are therefore reluctant to make concessions.

    I wonder if he even realises the impact that this obvious truth should have on his blind support for aggressive wars in the Middle East?

  11. and whether the law needs to address specific acts of involvement, for example by a religious leader declaring that the planned action is religiously sanctioned.

    Criminalising the expression of honestly held religious views is not the way to address terrorism.

  12. Psychopathy is defined as “a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct but masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal”. I saw quite a lot of that at the public meeting in Inverbrackie the other day. Did anyone else notice it? Seems like the Muzzies don’t have a monmopoly on it. Tony Abbott must have been so pleased to hear Fredrick Toben saying how much he loved him.

  13. It was a funny article, actually, wasn’t it. Made me laugh out loud. For the right reasons (for once).

    And he nails it pretty well – it’s stupidity and ignorance behind a lot of that nasty stuff. Much of it, furthermore, can easily be attributable to the shamefully low educational systems in that part of the world. And don’t start in with the “but the bombers / terrorists were educated, middle class etc” because their “middle class” is around about the same level as our bogan elites.

    The low levels of education in several pockets of the USA contribute to another type of fundamentalism, which we can see in the current Tea Party fervour.

  14. and whether the law needs to address specific acts of involvement, for example by a religious leader declaring that the planned action is religiously sanctioned.

    I have a feeling he’s not referring to George W Bush’s statements to the effect that God told him invading Iraq was the right thing to do.

    Or Rumsfeld’s creepy religious messages on Iraq war briefings:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/18/rumsfeld-gq-iraq-bible-quotes-bush

    Sickening terrorism when done by Them. No probs when done by Us.

  15. Splatterbottom

    Buns you need to direct your comments to Ahmadinejad. He has similar views about the Great Satan. I’m sure he will agree with you that the Australians targeted in the Bali bombing were victims of Australia’s murderous foreign policy and a natural consequence of the mass slaughters of civilians we have carried out.

    bloods: “the practices of many Christian and Jewish sects which have similar impacts on the lives of women, “apostates”, “heathens” and “heretics”. Which you would doubtless support.”

    Absolutely! All those countries that have canon law as their legal system and who impose the death penalty on gays, apostates, rape victims and blasphemers should be roundly condemned.

    Mondo: “Criminalising the expression of honestly held religious views is not the way to address terrorism.”

    Speech can and should be a crime when it is also furthering a criminal enterprise.

  16. “Which you would doubtless support.”

    “Absolutely!”

    Knew I could count on you SB!

    “Speech can and should be a crime when it is also furthering a criminal enterprise.”

    Including hate speech against Muslims, a la Danny Nalliah?

  17. Speech can and should be a crime when it is also furthering a criminal enterprise

    LOL – SB looks forward to the day where mere expression of support for a crime is a criminal act in and of itself.

    There are already laws against assisting individuals in their criminal enterprises (our ‘accessory’ laws) but you now want new rules going so far as to criminalise the expression of verbal support for a criminal act.

    Once again I find it instructive to hear SB, the ‘libertarian’, advocating in favour of authoritarian thought crime legislation.

  18. Splatterbottom

    bloods: “Including hate speech against Muslims, a la Danny Nalliah?”

    How was that in furtherance of a crime. That prosecution was a disgrace. Nalliah left Pakistan because he feared he would be jailed for blasphemy only to be prosecuted in Victoria for the same offence.

    Mondo: “now want new rules going so far as to criminalise the expression of verbal support for a criminal act.”

    That of course is not what I said. My statement was unexceptional. I didn’t say anything about new rules, you just made that up!

  19. Seems to me SB and Mondo sort of agree about this, but SB can’t decide what he believes.

  20. Buns you need to direct your comments to Ahmadinejad. He has similar views about the Great Satan. I’m sure he will agree with you that the Australians targeted in the Bali bombing were victims of Australia’s murderous foreign policy and a natural consequence of the mass slaughters of civilians we have carried out.

    To paraphrase some knob I read somewhere, that of course is not what I said. You just made that up!

  21. That of course is not what I said. My statement was unexceptional. I didn’t say anything about new rules, you just made that up!

    No, he didn’t. Here’s what you said:

    and whether the law needs to address specific acts of involvement, for example by a religious leader declaring that the planned action is religiously sanctioned.

    Your words are there for us all to read and their meaning is plain. You are advocating new laws be enacted to criminalise a declaration of support for a criminal act.

  22. Splatterbottom

    Buns, by omitting the first part of the quote you are trying to hide the fact that I was not advocating anything. I merely raised a question. True enough my words are there for you to read. It is a shame that you can’t understand them.

    As to certainty of belief, bloods, I am always re-thinking things. That is the benefit of having an open mind.

  23. Speech can and should be a crime when it is also furthering a criminal enterprise.

    SB – this is an expression of your desire for rules criminalising certain speech. These rules do not currently exist in Australia, and therefore would need to be created.

    I didn’t say anything about new rules, you just made that up!

    Except that you quite clearly have expressed a desire for rules that do not currently exist.

    SB – your Islamophobia is not consistent with your professed liberalism.

  24. On the contrary mondo Islamic law (sharia) is not conducive to liberalism.

  25. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: ‘These rules do not currently exist in Australia, and therefore would need to be created.”

    Wrong. There is plenty of scope under existing laws relating to conspiracy, incitement, aiding and abetting, being an accessory etc.

  26. “Speech can and should be a crime when it is also furthering a criminal enterprise.”

    Very slippery slope there.

    Let’s say an activist is arguing for the decriminalization of minor drug possession offences, but not large scale international drug trafficking. That would further the “criminal enterprise” wouldn’t it? The drug traffickers would have a larger market that don’t fear prosecution. Under your scheme, does that mean we should jail the activist under trafficking laws?

    The solution to bad speech is more good speech, not less bad speech. The problem in religious societies (and increasingly in western right-wing media) is the censorship of good speech. This makes it easier to turn ordinary people into killers – whether we call those killers “terrorists” or “soldiers” depending upon which side we are on. We won’t solve this problem with more censorship.

  27. Splatterbottom

    Uniquerhys: “Let’s say an activist is arguing for the decriminalization of minor drug possession offences, but not large scale international drug trafficking. That would further the “criminal enterprise” wouldn’t it?”

    No. Not in either case.

    My proposition that speech in the furtherance of crime can be criminal is unremarkable. It has been the law in all the countries I can think of for a very long time.

    “The solution to bad speech is more good speech, not less bad speech. “

    Completely agree.

    My observation is that PC hysterics are the most likely to criminalise speech. Victoria has a law against ridiculing religion. Frederick Toben was jailed for not taking down an offensive web site in NSW. Ezra Levant was prosecuted for posting the Mahommad cartoons in Canada. Mark Steyn was prosecuted for quoting a European imam. Geert Wilders is on trial for making a short film. David Irving has been jailed for his views on the Holocaust. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is on trial in Austria for her views on Islam. Climate alarmists regularly call for their opponents to be jailed for expressing their views.

    Hizb-ut Tahrir is banned in many countries because it teaches a radical brand of Islam, and is seen as playing a role in radicalising young muslims. In Australia Ruddock decided not to ban them because they did not practice violence.

  28. Wrong. There is plenty of scope under existing laws relating to conspiracy, incitement, aiding and abetting, being an accessory etc.

    No there isn’t SB – certainly nothing that would criminalise the mere religious sanctioning of a criminal act, as you have advocated for above.

    But regardless, I see you defending Nalliah for his Christian hate speech while calling for the criminal prosecution of Islamic hate speech. I’m confident thatt most commentators here can see that you apply a double standard based on your own religious beliefs.

  29. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, I wasn’t talking about the mere religious sanctioning of a criminal act. When terrorists go on their missions they seek approval for their particular terrorist attack of a cleric to ensure that they get to heaven to enjoy their 72 virgins. That cleric has the power to withhold his confirmation, without which the mission will not take place.

    The good news for us is that the koranimals who were going to shoot up Holdsworthy couldn’t get an Australian cleric to bless their mission and had to go to Somalia for confirmation that they were acting as good muslims.

    Also, I’ve read the transcript of what Nalliah said. It wasn’t hate speech. It was his opinion, based on the vile persecution he suffered at the hands of Pakistani muslims and the Pakistani state. It looks like you want to brand as hate speech anything critical of islam. Maybe you should have some sympathy for the victims of vile religious beliefs, instead of branding them as promoters of hate speech when they tell their story.

  30. If you really have read the transcript of what he said, you’d know he did a lot more than tell his story. Don’t be dishonest.

  31. Splatterbottom

    Buns, I read it at the time. He over-generalised, but did qualify his remarks by noting that they didn’t apply to all muslims. He was peculiarly qualified to speak about life for non-muslims in an islamic state, and perfectly entitled to make the points he did, even if I disagreed with some of them. It is disgusting that he was hauled before a court by muslim complainants who went along to his talk with a view to being offended. Their attack on his right to express his opinions was far more hateful than anything Nalliah said.

    Idiots often bandy the term ‘hate speech’ around to get a rush of blood to their genitals as they parade their superior virtue for all to see.

  32. Idiots often bandy the term ‘hate speech’ around to get a rush of blood to their genitals as they parade their superior virtue for all to see.

    As you’ve done here with Al-Awlaki, you mean?

  33. Splatterbottom

    My concern with al Awlaki is not his hate-speech, but the fact that he is an al Qaeda operative involved in terrorist attacks.

  34. Or so you read at his wikipedia page.

  35. Splatterbottom

    Nah. Dick Cheney tipped me off!

  36. but the fact that he is an al Qaeda operative involved in terrorist attacks.

    Once again you present mere Government accusation as though it is conclusive proof of criminality.

    You’re a very obedient footsoldier in the fight against Islam SB.

  37. Splatterbottom

    Let us be clear here, Mondo. My problem is with particular religious beliefs held by individuals, especially where those individuals feel compelled to act on them. If you want to talk about hate speech, why not leave a poor victim of sharia law like Nalliah alone, and concentrate on some hate-speech that is actually causing people to be killed, like:

    Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them.

    As to al Awlaki, his sermons are riddled with hatred and pleas for the murder of civilians. Maybe you are too busy impugning Nalliah to be bothered calling al Awlaki out.

    It is quite reasonable for me to accept the opinion of the US authorities when it comes to al Awlaki. I don’t believe every villain must be captured tried and convicted before I can comment about them on a blog site. We are dealing with a person who we know publicly encourages the murder of civilians and who was stated by the underpants bomber to have recruited and trained him.

  38. Splatterbottom

    Sorry about the formatting, probably because I was so outraged when I wrote it.

  39. Let me post some thoughts by a former US special forces soldier.

    FBI investigators sayAl-Awlaki’s function may have been to keep the 9-11-01 hijackers “spiritually on-track”. That IS the function of spiritual advisers, after all. And one could argue that U.S. military chaplains do the same for our soldiers. Both sides kill civilians, so the label terrorist could depend on which side of the fence one resides.

    The U.S. did not target Shiite cleric Musa al-Sadr, whose preachings obviously led to U.S. deaths. How is one exempt, and another slated for dispatch into oblivion?

    Truly, the U.S. President lacks the authority to sentence any one to death, nor can he legitimately authorize assassination. Assassination is not an option in the U.S. legal pantheon for responses to terrorist actions.

    Definitions matter in a country under rule of law. Is al-Awlaki a belligerent, as claimed? Belligerent is a term of warfare as defined by the Geneva Conventions. Yet if we capture belligerents, we fail to afford them prisoner of war (POW) status and all rights that issue from that.

    Further, we predict that al-Awlaki presents an imminent danger to U.S. citizens. Going with this line of predictability, do not serial killers also pose imminent threats to life? Yet, we do not target them for assassination. Likewise, we do not target Mexican or Columbian drug lords, yet just as surely they are imminent threats to life which bleeds over our borders. The U.S. has precedent for dealing with criminals, and it does not involve assassination.

    We are assured that the Central Intelligence Agency will be prudent and apply due process in their assemblage if their kill lists and this elicits a snicker, for surely the CIA is composed of extremists every bit as much as the group al-Qaeda. There have been no charges of terrorism filed against al-Awlaki, and the administration refuses to release evidence (State secret, y’know.)

    When the U.S. must maintain a death list and cannot extract a small-time operator like al-Awlaki from tribal areas in Yemen, how can we say we are a world power?

  40. Splatterbottom

    “Both sides kill civilians, so the label terrorist could depend on which side of the fence one resides.”

    This statement is evidence his inability to think logically, infected it seems with moral relativism.

    “ How is one exempt, and another slated for dispatch into oblivion?”

    Completely illogical argument: they didn’t kill x so they can’t kill y. The real question is the basis for killing y. The reasons for not killing x are not relevant.

    I’m not rehashing the legitimacy of the capture or kill order on al Awlaki here. It was done to death on the other thread. Buns only raised al Awlaki to distract from his other woeful arguments.

    “When the U.S. must maintain a death list and cannot extract a small-time operator like al-Awlaki from tribal areas in Yemen, how can we say we are a world power?”

    Maybe he underestimates the political and tactical difficulty. He doesn’t know the relevant facts. He’s like a Monday’s expert who didn’t even see the game.

  41. In that any argument you don’t accept is “woeful”, of course. You’re so full of yourself, aren’t you? It’s nauseating.

  42. If you want to talk about hate speech, why not leave a poor victim of sharia law like Nalliah alone, and concentrate on some hate-speech that is actually causing people to be killed

    I don’t care about that idiot Nalliah – I’m only raising him as evidence that your outrage over hate speech is selective, and rooted firmly in your personal affinity for Christianity (and aversion to Islam).

    It is quite reasonable for me to accept the opinion of the US authorities when it comes to al Awlaki.

    Of course – because world history has taught us that US Government claims during wartime are inherently trustworthy, right SB? Because there’s no historical precedent for the US making exaggerated claims about muslim terrorism in order to provide public cover for strategic military action.

    You’re hilarious – Awlaki is your new Emmanuel Goldstein.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s