Missing the point


From time to time, I participate in political discussions on a message board. Usually I just lurk and read, since most of the posting goes on during the day, while I am at work, and posting when most people have gone home feels like talking to an empty room...I can blog and do that.

There is a strong conservative element on this board, though the liberal certainly hold their own. Still, it has been a great illustration in how people hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see.

Last night, I posted the following hypothetical question, in regards to the debate on Iraq:

You are a woman going to your car in a underground car park late at night (yeah, bad idea that). You see a man walking towards you who rather resembles the description of a serial rapist who has been raping women at gunpoint (but could easily be just a random guy). You are between him and the exit, he is between you and your car.

You have a handgun in your bag, and you are a crack shot. From this distance you would easily have time to draw and shoot him before he did anything.

* If you get closer and he *is* the rapist and he does pull a gun on you, you only have a 50% of beating him to the draw. If he wins the quick draw, he will rape and probably kill you.

* If he *is* the rapist, but decides to pass you by, he will definitely go on raping women, and will eventually kill.

* If he is not the rapist...well, then he isn't the rapist. You are in no danger from him, and if you shoot him, you will have shot an innocent man.

* You have no cell phone, but there are a few emergency phones in the area. You do have the option of calling the police, but it does leave open the possiblity that he might attack you before you reach a phone.

What do you do?

There were only two comments on the question, neither of them to answer it. Comment number two was a "the same and more so" to comment number one, so let's look at comment number one.

Comment 1:

Not a good analogy. If you said, he is definitely the rapist and you recognize him clearly, that would make it a good analogy.

You know who the guy is that you're dealing with - sure there's some question whether he's going to rape YOU, but he's definitely the guy.

This was from a person who feels quite strongly that Saddam Hussein is definitely a threat, a clear and present danger, and must be dealt with immediately. My point in asking the question was to highlight the complexities and uncertainties involved. (And to use it as an illustration as to why people are against the war...besides being un/anti-American weaklings who love evil-doers.)

We know that Saddam Hussein has committed terrible acts in the past, and there is a chance that he may do them again the the future, but that is by no means certain.

We could continue to leave him be, go on our merry way, and hope for the best. In this scenario, he may really continue to do nothing but bluster until someone *from his own country* decides to take him down. Or he may slaughter more Kurds, bomb Isreal, and wreak havok throughout the world.

We could let the inspectors have more time and resources, continue to monitor Saddam, and see to it that he can't take onyone by surprise. In this scenario, he may really continue to do nothing but bluster until someone *from his own country* decides to take him down. Or he may slaughter more Kurds, bomb Isreal, and wreak havok throughout the world.

We could strike first, before he has the chance to do anything else. In this scenario, he is definitely take him out, and has no chance to slaughter more Kurds, bomb Isreal, and wreak havok throughout the world. However, now there are all those possible "collateral damage" causalties among the citizens we hope to "liberate". There is the possiblity that this will unleash more death and terror on the world than it would have stopped. Most of all, in the eyes of the world, we become the agressor nation, gun in hand, waiting to take out the next guy who looks at us funny. Other countries, less "enlightened" ones than ourselves take up this policy, too. Soon, everyone has a gun, and it becomes shoot first, ask questions later. When and where does it end?

In the "is there a rapist in the parking garage?" scenario, the woman could shoot first. If it turns out that he really was about to rape and kill her (even though he'd made no move yet) it could be labeled as self-defence and/or justifiable homicide. But what if he wasn't the rapist? Or what if he was, but was unarmed at the time? Or what if the was no direct evidence linking him to anything? Or what if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? What would the jury say?

To close, I don't think that Saddam Hussein is an innocent victim, but I believe this current, preemptive attack is a grave mistake. I believe it is setting us up for worse and worse in the future.


very interesting article: Bush is an idiot, but he was right about Saddam

two wrongs can make a right? but i doubt it will fix the us's foreign policy.

I could not agree with you more and from what we have seen and heard from the media the hornet's nest has truly been stirred up. Here is a quote that I found that I believe is worth the read:

"We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."
— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, U.S. representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, Aug. 12, 1945.

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This page contains a single entry by Kayjayoh published on March 22, 2003 12:00 AM.

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