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Thu May 2, 2013, 12:23 AM

Murder in a Friendless World

What does it mean to live "without a friend" in a world "without values"? We can't ask Tamerlan Tsarnaev, although we know that is how he believed his life to be. Will the prosecutors hoping to convict his brother Dzhokhar of the Boston Marathon bombing ask the younger Tsarnaev? Or will the case be so overdetermined by the accusations of terrorism that any possibility of drawing a broader social meaning from the murders and mayhem they unleashed will be frustrated?

Of the many questions that have been asked about the bombings, one of the most important is why the murder of the three innocent people is so quickly described as terrorism while the murder of 26 children and teachers in Newtown, or 12 students and one teacher at Columbine are the work of insane people. After Boston, politicians are calling for even more draconian restrictions on rights and civil liberties; after Newtown, they called for increasing mental health treatment. One led to a push for more mental health care and the other for more "homeland security" spending.

What makes makes some violence terrorism and some violence merely criminal? One murderer insane and another an "enemy combatant" - that is, totally outside the social body? Why do we assume that if a young man is obsessed with extremely violent videos, websites and extreme music that he is psychologically disturbed, but if he's obsessed with religion - not any religion, Islam only it appears - and begins following extremists online and viewing violent videos or reading violent literature that he's become merely a "radical" - that is, he's made a conscious and "sane" political decision to attack and murder people in the name of an ideology, and isn't suffering from some kind of mental illness?

Why do we have to make these epistemological and even ontological distinctions between forms of discourse and symptoms of mental illness that in fact are quite related?


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Reply Murder in a Friendless World (Original post)
Manifestor_of_Light May 2013 OP
freshwest May 2013 #1

Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 12:50 AM

1. A few thoughts about the difference, generally speaking.

Bombs, things like bombs = Terrorism.

Guns of all types = Lunatics.

One is legal (guns).

The other isn't (bombs).

Gun crime is assumed to come from several domestic causes, never having that 'foreign' flavor to it.

Political or foreign = Terrorism.

Domestic crime = Insanity.

Terrorism seems to be confined as something between nations or groups that are not nations but go after other nations.

If groups go after each other inside their own country, it's not called terrorism. It's called civil war or conflicts.

If these had been completely home grown corn fed white boys, it'd be handled the same as the White Supremacists who bombed some places to kill people a couple of years ago. Just plain criminal, nothing to see here folks, move along.

This event should be handled as a criminal matter by the locality affected and it looks like it will be. Which is not how terrorism cases are.

They aren't being charged with committing terrorism, only state charges. Some people thought the guys who planned to kill Obama and take over the government were guilty of sedition, treason or terrorism, all the big sexy stuff.

The state didn't see it that way. They charged them as the criminals they were and that was that. That's what the difference is my mind.

The reason we don't call gun crime or domestic crimes with bombs terrorism is because we never ascribe a political motive to it. I think this is going to shake out exactly that way, no matter how much the media howls for going to war.

No doubt about it, that's what Lindsay Graham and media are trying to do, sell a war. Obama won't agree to it, so they will call him soft on terrorism. As usual, they are full of shit.

For all we know in this case, the very able defenders will come up with a way to show that Jahar didn't do it, or that there is some extenuating case. I don't particularly care why he did it if he did it. Only that he won't do it again.

That's about it for me. Sure someone will come up with some better answers.

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