~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

On over-abused words

A quite thoughtful piece in the LA Times from Alan Dershowitz. To the long list of labels incorrectly or indiscriminatly applied these days (examples; nazi, fascist, traitor, torturer, Orwellian, evildoer, etc.) Dershowitz adds, "civilian." He suggests a "continuum of civilianality" that doesn't award civilians who fund, house, or arm terrorists the same moral / legal status as two year olds and human shield hostages. Long, long overdue, I say.

The domestic law of crime, in virtually every nation, reflects this continuum of culpability. For example, in the infamous Fall River rape case (fictionalized in the film "The Accused"), there were several categories of morally and legally complicit individuals: those who actually raped the woman; those who held her down; those who blocked her escape route; those who cheered and encouraged the rapists; and those who could have called the police but did not.

No rational person would suggest that any of these people were entirely free of moral guilt, although reasonable people might disagree about the legal guilt of those in the last two categories. Their accountability for rape is surely a matter of degree, as is the accountability for terrorism of those who work with the terrorists.

Rent The Road to Baghdad, CNN's hastily produced, but largely accurate documentary about the initial ground war in Iraq. Pay special attention to the chapter titled "They're Not Playing By the Rules" which highlights the moment when the enemy began hijacking civilian taxis and ambulances for bombing runs against US checkpoints. I cannot begin to tell you how maddening it was to witness such callousness, such cold blooded tactics. How do you fight against an enemy willing to use the emotional value you place on non-combatants against you in such a calculated way?

Employing a more nuanced "continuum of civilianality" is a good place to start. It will take away some of the propaganda value of "civilian casualties" terrorists love to exploit.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Related.

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