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bin Laden, activist?
September 3, 2003 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Is Osama bin Laden an anti-American activist? Few newspapers would phrase it as such, yet many seem to print something similar when it's this guy: Paul Hill, a religious leader proud of his upcoming martyrdom, and expectant of his "reward in Heaven" for the deaths he brought for his cause. Is he or isn't he a terrorist? And if the answer is no, what reasons do/should the American media give? Nationality? Race? Religion?
posted by XQUZYPHYR (85 comments total)

 
I'll just say in here that I specifically avoided mentioning abortion or the death penalty in the FPP because it's not what my question is about, regardless of my opinions on them.

Ultimately, my biggest question is wrapped in a question of subconscious media racism: is Paul Hill not a terrorist because it would confuse or detract a newspaper's reader? When you hear "terrorist," is there an image that appears in your head, the evil Arab akin to the green martian and the thick-glasses librarian? In other words, is Hill not a terrorist because he's a Christian white guy?

Does/should the media have an official rubric for defining an act as terrorism? Does it always apply? Is it different in your local media range?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2003


I don't care what you call either of 'em. I (and most people, I'd imagine) would like to see both of 'em roasting on a spit. The rest is semantic hairsplitting.
posted by jonmc at 9:57 AM on September 3, 2003


Was this found via Tom Tomorrow by any chance? He talked about it this morning.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2003


Really, what's the difference? I've heard Timothy McVeigh called a terrorist - so is the difference number of people killed/injured? Or the amount of terror invoked? Or is it simply that people can fathom no reason for the Oklahoma City bombing or the 9/11 attacks, but some can understand killing an abortion doctor?
posted by agregoli at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2003


OT: Though the national news media doesn't seem to be mentioning this, Paul Hill was excommunicated for his advocacy of the murder of abortionists almost a full year before the bombing. His church, the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso, FL, argued that his views were both unbiblical and highly dangerous. Hill challenged the ruling, but the board of appeals (made up of representatives from several other churches) eventually affirmed his excommunication.
posted by gd779 at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2003


In that he tries to affect people's future behavior by scaring them through violence, yes.

United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan: (see bottom)
Terrorism - Terrorism includes the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.


In that this guy is a fucking nutball whose absence will make the world a better place, I agree with jonmc.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:03 AM on September 3, 2003


I've always been under the impression that most people who believe that "abortion should be illegal" also believe that "the death penalty is justified". Is that not true? Or is this just the usual human exceptionalism (ie it's okay when *my* side does it)?
posted by Slothrup at 10:04 AM on September 3, 2003


One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
posted by banished at 10:08 AM on September 3, 2003


Hill's skin isn't dark enough to be a terrorist.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2003


Really, the term terrorist is a loaded one people like to throw around to suit their own agendas. They're all bastards.
posted by angry modem at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2003


Nope, terrorist. Definitely.

I don't think that it's about skin color at all. As someone said above, Timothy McVeigh was called a terrorist, because almost no one agreed with him and his 'cause." However, caalling Paul Hill a terrorist would piss off a great number of right-wing anti-abortion people who buy papers and stuff advertised on TV programs, though. Where there's no harm in calling OBL a terrorist, because there are few who would be offended, many press companies would be hit in the purse by calling this guy a terrorist, point-blank.
posted by aacheson at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2003


I've always been under the impression that most people who believe that "abortion should be illegal" also believe that "the death penalty is justified". Is that not true?

My dad's against both if you want a datapoint. Some "pro-life" people do mean just that.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:17 AM on September 3, 2003


Coming from the UK, I grew up in an environment where the media portrayal of terrorists was firmly white / Christian / Irish. This blinkered image lead (directly or indirectly) to a number of miscarriages of justice (Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, ...). It makes a change for the terrorists to be brown guys in robes ...
posted by daveg at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2003


Though the national news media doesn't seem to be mentioning this, Paul Hill was excommunicated for his advocacy of the murder of abortionists

Uh, from CNN: "Kicked out of his church for promoting violence against abortion providers, Hill never denied the shooting and filed only the mandatory appeal in Florida Supreme Court."

I'd call CNN national news. Which is odd, since we all know how the overwhelmingly liberal media takes every opportunity to discredit Christianity… right?
posted by Fenriss at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2003


Is he one, who employs terror as a political weapon?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2003


I'll try. Paul Hill seems more like an assassin because he seems to have targeted his victims specifically. He killed pretty much exactly the people he set out to kill. The secondary goal (and effect) of his action might've been to send a terrorist's message, but the primary goal was to stop a specific doctor from doing his job.

A terrorist's target is more random. OBL's target was WHOEVER was occupying the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Capitol building. His first goal (and effect) was mayhem, and his secondary was to impede the functions of those institutions.

In Hill's place, a terrorist's approach would've been to kill ANYONE in the clinic, probably with a bomb or something -- and that's been tried, too.

Let me just say I think murder's still murder and this guy's a murderer; but the difference is more than semantic. McVeigh was certainly more of a terrorist in the terms I've described above.
posted by coelecanth at 10:26 AM on September 3, 2003


Is it not just that terrorist wasn't a word used very often in the US until 911 (or much less than it is now at any rate), and thus that it is generally the groups associated with that event are the ones that get called terrorist. Would he have been called a terrorist before 911? Frankly, I'm happy to see less use of the term as it does seem to come with an agenda all too often.
posted by biffa at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2003


17 comments so far in a discussion about the correct way to refer to the murderous douchebags of the world. I'm certainly glad we're getting that straightened out.
posted by jonmc at 10:33 AM on September 3, 2003


If you don't find the thread interesting, don't participate. I, for one, always find the way we use language interesting.
posted by agregoli at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2003


"Is he or isn't he a terrorist?"

For Paul Hill, I prefer the term "fetus avenger". In fact, when he's executed he ought to be wearing a superhero outfit with a big FA on the chest.

And a cape.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on September 3, 2003


Most of the pro-Israel activists get very annoyed when a suicide bomber blows up a bus and kills 10 people and the papers refer to the bomber as a "militant." Thus, the Americans, when attacked in Iraq are by contrast referred to as terrorists and not as militants.

Perhaps Osama is a militant and not a terrorist. Or does the word matter? For manyh, it does. To call someone a militant is to lend some honorable reason for his action; to call someone a terrorist is to bring down condemnation upon that person.

The usual def: a terrorist is one who knowlingly seeks non-military people to slaughter in hopes of instill fear and confusion. A militant acts only against military personnel, though in the course of his actions he may by chance inflict damage unwittingly against civilians.

The anti-abortion freak: singled out civilians to instill fear in those who perform abortions. Abortions ok according to the law. He is therefore somewhere in between: a murderer who is nutty enough to believe that killing is a way to stop what he considers a bad thing! solution: inject him.
posted by Postroad at 10:58 AM on September 3, 2003


Hill is a terrorist, McVeigh was a terrorist and so is Eric Robert Rudolph and the UniBomber. Anyone who thinks that their right to kill someone is Divinely given is a terrorist. Anyone who is pissed at the government and thinks that killing people will make them feel better is a terrorist.

By the way, all of these men are white christian males (except for Ted, I don't know if he was religious or not). But amazingly no profiling of this group is being done as far as I know.
posted by bas67 at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2003


Fits official definition of terrorist? Check.

Uses religion as justification for violence? Check.

Inspired by hatred? Check.

Hoped to influence behavior of others? Check.

Disregard for life of others? Check.

Disregard for laws of civil society? Check.

Islamist or Christianist? Christianist.

Nope. Not a terrorist. No way. He's a white guy. From the US. Get over it. What a stupid question! :-)
posted by nofundy at 11:01 AM on September 3, 2003


Another question- Let's say we capture Bin Laden and sentence him to death. On the eve of his execution, will he have the same opportunity to hold a press conference and chat amiably about his views?
The war we need to be fighting is the war on all fundamentalism, whether muslim, christian, hindu or whatever primitive screwhead "religion" that has infected civil society.
posted by 2sheets at 11:02 AM on September 3, 2003


Killing [...] people to scare other people into behaving the way he believes is what terrorism is all about. The simple rule: add a flag to act of violence committed against civilians and you're a terrorist. Even in war times, if I remember correctly.

Having said that, it seems pretty clear that this nutcase and his cohort would actually suffer more if he is not executed.

XQUZYPHYR My 2 cents: the use of the word terrorism to domestic affairs could very well be related to how the citizens of a given nation view the idea of defending yourself or your property *and thus perhaps your ideas* with a gun. The more popular this idea is, the less the T-word is tossed around. On the contrary, there are countries where walking down the street with a gun means that you're either a common (and dangerous) criminal or a less common (but equally dangerous) terrorist. Regardless of my opinions on the matter, of course.
posted by magullo at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2003


Yeah, it's just a word, but it's arguably the most powerful word in American English right now. Not to mention that we have declared war on this word, which certainly ups the stakes of figuring out what the hell it means.

Also, words serve as handy bits of real-time cultural data, and can be good signposts of what is happening in a society. I would suggest that "terrorism" is a profound instance of just that.

I will never, every shut up on this topic, so here's a merciful self-link. It's a reasonably short essay on the topic of terror as a cultural meme, so I won't repeat myself here.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2003


I've always been under the impression that most people who believe that "abortion should be illegal" also believe that "the death penalty is justified". Is that not true? Or is this just the usual human exceptionalism (ie it's okay when *my* side does it)?

Its true that many pro-life people are also pro-death penalty. This is not contradictory, in theory, however, because in the case of abortion innocent children are being killed, and in the case of the death-penalty, supposedly guilty adults are being killed.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2003


Anyone who is pissed at the government and thinks that killing people will make them feel better is a terrorist.

George Washington? Does the distinction between "terrorist" and "revolutionary" appear once the revolution is successful? Where does "rebel" fit in?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2003


amen to both nofundy and 2sheets.

the only reason Hill isn't called a terrorist is b/c he's a Christian, and the US is basically nothing better than a Christian theocracy. via murder, Hill terrorized a specific group of people to intimidate them into changing their behavior. no two ways about it, as far as i can see.

i'd rather see a war on irrationality than fundamentalism. there are a lot of non-religious people out there who think that Saddam Hussein ordered the WTC/Pentagon attacks. i'm fine with fundamentalists, as long as they're minding their own business.

on preview, amen to magullo, esp. re: "The more popular this idea is, the less the T-word is tossed around." i couldn't have said it better myself. in the US, you're not going to see *any* Christian terrorists called what they really are.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2003


Does the distinction between "terrorist" and "revolutionary" appear once the revolution is successful?

Yes.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2003


2sheets just came closest to my original issue with this. I remember a year ago when the question arose about what would happen if we caught bin Laden- the cartoonists had their fun with Cochran-related scenarios, and it echoed the ridiculous sentiment of many- we CAN'T put bin Laden on trial, he'd get media attention, etc. And yet here we are doing that to someone who I unquestionably submit is a terrorist.

A lot of people have definitions of terrorism here and some others have asked "what's the point?" The point is that terrorism = evil. To label something as terrorist is to make it synonimous with that which we disagree with. This is why Arabs want the U.S. invasion called terrorist, the Israelis want Hamas labelled terrorist, Hamas wants Sharon called a terrorist, and equally why the 1980's Contras weren't called terrorist.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:21 AM on September 3, 2003


Did anyone else think it was odd that the 69 year old doctor had a 74 year old bodyguard?
posted by gemshwil at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2003


and the US is basically nothing better than a Christian theocracy.

If we were living in a true Christian theocracy, I assure you that you would already be dead.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:34 AM on September 3, 2003


disclaimer: I don't mean that to be taken in the wrong way, I'm just trying to point out that we don't live in a Christian theocracy. For example, things like adultery or homosexuality are punishable by death in a theocracy.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2003


Sure he was an activist! And so was Hitler, he wasn't evil, just a force for political change in Weimar Germany!

/sarcasm
posted by clevershark at 12:02 PM on September 3, 2003


I agree with coelecanth's comment: if the word terrorist means anything at all, it's got a specfic meaning, and that includes a certain degree of indiscriminateness about your target.

That said, the point is well taken that this goes well beyond the bounds of "activism" and doesn't deserve the respectability. One of the best things about the United States is that we usually don't try to kill each other over political agendas. We may yell and scream and cuss and even sometimes hate, but for the most part, we've tried to figure out better ways than murder.
posted by weston at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2003


For example, things like adultery or homosexuality are punishable by death in a theocracy.

Not necessarily by definition. I won't deny that there have been theocracies where this has been the case; it's clearly so. But I've also come across descriptions from some traditions of millenial reigns that include leaving people the choice to believe and behave as they wish, sans harming of others.

Really not that radical a concept, considering that God seems to let people do mostly as they choose to and is really rather selective about the whole striking people dead if they displease him thing. Too bad Paul Hill and the like didn't pick this up.
posted by weston at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2003


Does the distinction between "terrorist" and "revolutionary" appear once the revolution is successful?

Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

posted by languagehat at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2003


Regardless of the textbook definition of "terrorist," what intrigues me is why they chose the word "activist" over the inarguable and seemingly more appropriate "murderer" or "killer." Nobody ever referred to the Unabomber as an "activist." So, in that sense, I think XQU* has a point,

However: a Google search for "hill abortion activist" turns up references all over the place. My guess is that someone at Reuters or AP used the phrase "activist Paul Hill" and that phrase was simply cut and pasted into multiple other stories by reporters too hurried or lazy to come up with their own epithets. Either that or there's a national conspiracy to tone down the rhetoric against crazed anti-abortionists, which is pretty difficult to accept.

You can also have a look at his web page, where he explains in detail how God instructed him to shoot the babykilling abortionist.
posted by vraxoin at 12:20 PM on September 3, 2003


words serve as handy bits of real-time cultural data, and can be good signposts of what is happening in a society
Ignatius, your essay, was just thinking about similar ideas last night. Your right; liberal & conservative thinking about terrorism is basically the same as for communism.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2003


Also found in my searches, if you can handle it, is this maudlin travesty . . . I mean, this hip and now website created by Oregon Right to Life . . . I mean, this brave girl named Becky: StandUpGirl. If the Flash intro doesn't bring you to tears, the touching music video most certainly will. I want to go out and get pregnant now just so I can *not* have the abortion!
posted by vraxoin at 12:37 PM on September 3, 2003


It's tricky to follow this whole elaborate violence algorithm without proper documentation strings and comments.

(Many mathematicians claim Euclid's GCD algorithm ~300 B.C.E is the oldest extant....obviously this one is much older....)

By way of explanation, today's instance/execution of the algorithm boils down to the state killing people who killed people (to try to get them to stop killing), to try to get them to stop killing.

Consider the algorithm (coded in lisp) using a simple functional approach:

(kill_to_stop_killing (kill_to_stop_killing people_who_kill (kill_to_stop_killing people_who_kill (...))))

The imperative form:

(loop
(unless (eq people nil) (return nil)
kill_to_stop_killing (people_who_kill))
"N.B. Halting checks are usually superfluous but included here for completeness..."

And as we all know....to iterate is human, but to recurse divine:

(defun kill_to_stop_killing (people_who_kill)
(kill_to_stop_killing (people_who_kill)))

(kill_to_stop_killing people_who_kill)

Running time on the algorithm even with optimizations, unlimited resources, and proper tail recursion appears to be on the order of O(exp(killing))....quite similar to all other algorithms that attempt to solve the problem of violence with violence.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:56 PM on September 3, 2003


jonmc: despite your protestations, language matters--especially when it's on a scale as large as the national media. what you call someone colors how you think of him--or at least it does for a majority of media consumers. arguing over the word that one person uses may be "hairsplitting", but arguing over how an entire industry refers to someone has some relevance.
posted by jpoulos at 12:57 PM on September 3, 2003


Oh, the glurge.

Such a beautiful testimony to woman's responsibility to Stand Up and have the courage to be reduced to a second-class citizen who can't be trusted with her own reproductive choices.

Stand Up and have your rights violated. Stand Up and be submissive to your husband, as God intended.

Jebus, I certainly am grumpy and sarcastic today. Must be PMS.
posted by Fenriss at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2003


But if some fixed proportion of people kill, you can solve it in O(lg killing), or really O(lg people). Hmmm, that's actually quite good. Time to rethink my opposition to the death penalty.
posted by transona5 at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2003


I believe the words we are looking for is "Domestic Terrorist"
posted by Nauip at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2003


"...the state killing people who killed people (to try to get them to stop killing), to try to get them to stop killing..."

Apparently Foldy's taken to reading Fark lately.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:08 PM on September 3, 2003


jonmc: despite your protestations, language matters

I'm a writer, or I'm trying to be, so I know that, but when it comes to people like these two, I have a limited amount of patience. They both fall under the heading "murderous scum." Both of them would just as soon kill you as look at you, if they decided you were against them, so I'm not going to worry too much about what formal title they are given. It's not like either one of them is ever shown in a positive light outside of their small band of fanatic followers, so that's where the hairsplitting comes in.
posted by jonmc at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2003


hey i see no reason why this guy can't be a terrorist if george w. bush can be a warrior pilot, statesman and world leader.
posted by quonsar at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2003


>you're not going to see *any* Christian terrorists called what they really are.

Yep, not in the US, its too Xtian-friendly even when those Xtians are cold-blooded murderers for their ancient ideologies. Funny how we never had a problem calling the Weather Underground terrorists, but if one wields a Bible then one is an activist. Its semantic soma. I wouldn't be surprised if a PC term was developed for pedophile priests. Perhaps Clerical Man Boy Love Syndrome?

>"abortion should be illegal" also believe that "the death penalty is justified". Is that not true?

True, and philosophically very contradicting. At best we can view the American right as a sort of patchwork quilt of various special interest groups and ideologies gathered together for the sole purpose of becoming more powerful. I think "thou shall not kill" is pretty straightforward and it should be the "smaller government/less powerful government/government out of our lives" types who should be demanding an end to the death penalty because it goes against the ideals of justice, once its carried out there is no turning back. Yet, they continue with their hypocrisy, but it was interesting watching Jeb Bush stammer through his little statement regarding our terrorist that explored the cognitive dissonence of having these views.

I also think its pretty predictable he's calling himself a martyr. He really has nothing else to say and he hopes by having other percieve him as a martyr they will join his crazy fundie ranks. You would have to be pretty fargone to follow this:
The 49-year-old former minister also described how he shot and killed Dr. John Britton and James Barrett with a shotgun as they sat in a pick-up truck.

"I fired tree shots directly at them," says Hill, "and then I ran over to a large oak tree that was on my left, sort of between us and off a few yards, reloaded the three rounds, and then I looked up, and Dr. Britton was still alive, was moving around, and I fired five more rounds until all movement stopped."

Hill says he knew it was Britton before the shooting, because the doctor was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
posted by skallas at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2003


Eric Rudolph is almost always referred to as a terrorist. I didn't hear the Weather Underground referred to as terrorists much until September 11th (and Bill Ayers' notorious "I don't regret setting bombs" interview.) I don't even think David Horowitz's writings about them used that word.
posted by transona5 at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2003


i think they were called 'radicals' back then.
posted by quonsar at 2:08 PM on September 3, 2003


Radicals, militants, domestic terrorists, etc. The Weathermen have been called everything under the sun, yet they never made it policy to target human life and their only casualties were accidents. Now "activist" Hill made it his only policy to target human life to put a chill on abotion doctors.

Double standard. Its right in your face, lets not deny it.
posted by skallas at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2003


Also to add more to my earlier post:

>I wouldn't be surprised if a PC term was developed for pedophile priests. Perhaps Clerical Man Boy Love Syndrome?

Heck, we don't even need CMBLS. The Catholic Church just calls them homosexuals, thus further pushing their anti-homosexual agenda while ignoring the fact that many of their clergy are sick pedophiles. Homosexually certainly does not equal pedophilia.
posted by skallas at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2003


Postroad, as for the Israel example, I believe that the media generally refers to suicide bombers as terrorists, but to people who have yet to commit a terrorist act "militants." Even if they belong to terrorist groups, the distinction is made, I believe, to separate those who act from those who have not.
posted by cell divide at 3:04 PM on September 3, 2003


A terrorist? No, I don't think Paul Hill can be called a terrorist, he wasn't seeking to inspire terror in anyone, just to kill a doctor and his bodyguard in a very sick justification and projection of his own religious beliefs on to others.

The fact he feels no remorse for having murdered two full grown human beings in cold blood should indicate that he's more than a bit touched.

His reward in heaven should be an eternity of getting kick in the balls. But knowing the damned religious background he's got, he'd probably get off on it.

I think that his sentence should have been a five year long brainwashing/cleansing program to rid him of the religious demons that sparked his attack. And then he should be executed.
posted by fenriq at 3:39 PM on September 3, 2003


Yes, of course he's a terrorist.

And what daveg said. It's surprising for someone from the UK to read that terrorism is portrayed in the US media as being an Islamic phenomenon. In recent British and western European history there have been many examples of terrorism primarily committed by white Westerners - the IRA, Ulster Loyalist groups, ETA, Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof Gang, far right groupings (the KKK is a terrorist group, surely?), Serbian extremists etc... not to mention, farther afield, Aum Shinrikyo, the Tamil Tigers, Hindu militant groups such as the RSS (a former RSS member was responsible for the assassination of Gandhi), the Japanese Red Army, South African white extremists (such as those responsible for the Soweto bombings last year) and so on... Didn't the term 'terrorism' itself originate with the French Revolution? Terrorism has never been primarily confined to a single cultural group.
posted by plep at 3:50 PM on September 3, 2003


>I don't think Paul Hill can be called a terrorist, he wasn't seeking to inspire terror in anyone

Killing a doctor who is part of a large community of doctors that does something he doesnt like is the definition of terror. Its not like he had a personal vendetta with the doctor, e.g. this doctor aborted his girlfriend's baby long ago. This is all about stopping abortion through chill and terror.

Also, the Do-like smile is creepy as all get out. One of the downsides of promising eternal life I guess. Oh, won't he be in for a surprise when the neural activity stops.
posted by skallas at 3:57 PM on September 3, 2003


Its not like he had a personal vendetta with the doctor, e.g. this doctor aborted his girlfriend's baby long ago. This is all about stopping abortion through chill and terror.

Yes, he did have a personal vendetta, the unborn babies' death and future deaths by this doctor's ideology.

Murderer is what he was and sentenced by, death, yet don't always equate terrorism with killing & deaths. Do agree that terrorist/terrorism is not used correctly in the US's english language.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:10 PM on September 3, 2003


whoops...pastor's ideolgy.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2003


Add saw an interview with Paul Hill talking about his upcoming death, so to me it seemed he had a vendetta against this one doctor.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2003


Oh, won't he be in for a surprise when the neural activity stops.

Well...no. At least about that. Either way. That's the best part about us life after death optimists. We're the only ones who can't be surprised.

(I say flippantly, but I expect if anything really is on the other side, everybody is going to be surprised. Not least of all our Doctor Murdering Friend here.)
posted by weston at 4:41 PM on September 3, 2003


The rest is semantic hairsplitting.

Wellll... ok. I think it's interesting semantic hairsplitting though.

One of the elements of "terrorism" as it's been applied these past 2 years is: targeting the innocent to provoke a political change. Sounds to me like this psycho actually knew who he was targeting and sought to stop him from doing something specific.

This is one way in which he does NOT qualify for the term.

Of course, he did mean to make an example of this one murder to provoke political change, and to use fear to change the beahvior of others. By these criteria, he definitely measures up.

Also worth noting is that terrorism has become associated with attackers willing to commit suicide, because conventional military methods can't usually fend off these attacks (and the ferocious anger they imply strikes fear all by itself).

Paul Hill surrendered and welcomes the death penalty. I'd say it's about the same thing as a suicide attack.
posted by scarabic at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2003


It's funny though isn't it, insomnyuk, how people who are supposed to believe that only God has the right to judge, decide to make their own distinction between "innocent" people who shouldn't be killed, and "guilty" people who should. Not to mention that, according to further christian doctrine, all people (including babies) are born into sin anyway.

Who can deny that the world would be a hell of a better place if every fundamentalist / extremist of every religion was recalled to their maker today?
posted by Jimbob at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2003


Killing a doctor who is part of a large community of doctors that does something he doesnt like is the definition of terror

I'd nitpick that. Terrorism is, AFAIK, trying to achieve your goals by striking, well, terror into the hearts of the relevant populace if they don't do what you want them to. They're about making everyone feel nakedly unsafe wherever they are.

If Hill had been a strict, proper terrorist he wouldn't have shotgunned a doctor (and an bodyguard). He'd have set off large car bombs at subway stops and public squares and schools and hospitals and evil backsliding churches until people finally respected life. Eric Rudolph, assuming it was him who bombed the 1996 Olympics, is much closer to a strict, proper terrorist. Shooting someone you don't like, and their bodyguards, is more plain thuggery or a mafia-style hit than strict terrorism.

One of the elements of "terrorism" as it's been applied these past 2 years is: targeting the innocent to provoke a political change

I think it's more that they target everyone, an entire population, innocent or not, than that they're willing to kill innocents.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 PM on September 3, 2003


>If Hill had been a strict, proper terrorist he wouldn't have shotgunned a doctor (and an bodyguard).

Nonsense, and his words support the terrorism statement with his call to arms. He is a Christian terrorist and a psychopath. If his name was Abdullah and he killed a couple of political enemies, made statements about Allah, and called for more attacks I'm sure none of you would be nitpicking this.

Double standard strikes again.

See Also: Army of God.
posted by skallas at 9:06 PM on September 3, 2003


If his name was Abdullah and he killed a couple of political enemies, made statements about Allah, and called for more attacks I'm sure none of you would be nitpicking this

You may be sure, but that doesn't mean you're not dead wrong, since you in fact don't know me from Adam's housecat. The underlying reasons for his whacking people don't enter into it; I just don't like language to be muddy and imprecise where there's no need for it to be so.

I see terrorism as (trying to) strike terror into some entire populace, trying to make an entire city/state/nation fear for its lives. Do you really fear for your life because a whack job is shooting physicians who perform abortions? I can't see much rational reason to be stricken with terror unless you're actually a physician, or their bodyguard or immediate family. There's no general terror going on there. Hill's killings didn't lead to cities with empty bars and restaurants and streets because the citizens were staying home where it felt safe instead of going out into the terror-filled world, and there's no evidence I'm aware of that that was Hill's goal.

Words have meanings, and we communicate more clearly when we use them in accordance with their meanings. Calling anyone who kills someone they don't like a terrorist is like calling anyone whose political positions you disagree with a fascist or commie. I'd just call him a murderer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:25 PM on September 3, 2003


>There's no general terror going on there.

Nonsense. Let's see guidelines for talking about abortion in the media.

Influence in government.

More on publishing abortion doctor's home addresses

Get your head out of the sand. Yes, his terror attempt wasn't gradoise but that doesn't mean he isn't a terrorist and arguably part of a terrorist organization. Read up on the Army of God.

>Calling anyone who kills someone they don't like a terrorist

I call bullshit on thee. This isn't some guy who freaked out and shot his old lady, this was a planned murder for political reasons with support and an infrastructure of loosely connected ideologues who support him.

>You may be sure, but that doesn't mean you're not dead wrong,

From the way you're defending this guy I think its getting obvious that your attempts at semantic gymanstics shows a bias to only consider certain groups terrorists and keep others as just plain-old fashioned homemade baked fresh everyday murders. You're dead wrong on that count.

Can you say terrorist epidemic? Can you say chilling effect? Can you say violent means to poltical ends?
Since 1977, there have been over 80,000 acts of violence and/or disruption at clinics, including:

* 7 murders
* 17 attempted murders
* 41 bombings
* 166 arsons
* 82 additional failed bombing and arson attempts
* 373 physical invasions of personal and business properties
* 1042 acts of vandalism
* 100 butyric acid attacks
* 654 anthrax threats, of which 480 happened since September 11, 2001.
* 125 assaults
* 355 death threats
* 3 kidnappings

Source: National Abortion Federation (NAF), Violence and Disruption Statistics, March 2003. Figures include incidents from both U.S. and Canada.
source
posted by skallas at 1:30 AM on September 4, 2003


Murder, bombings, arson, kidnappings. Yeah, just a regular night on the town. Nothing to see here folks.
posted by skallas at 1:31 AM on September 4, 2003


What skallas said.


Its true that many pro-life people are also pro-death penalty. This is not contradictory, in theory, however, because in the case of abortion innocent children are being killed, and in the case of the death-penalty, supposedly guilty adults are being killed.


Bullshit. Try fetuses are being aborted. Innocent children being murdered my ass. Don't take my word for it. Ask the medical professionals. Ask the courts. Can we stop this anti-abortion bullshit rhetoric and stick to the accepted parameters? Same thing for terrorism. Just because you happen to agree with the cause doesn't mean it isn't terrorism. Why must fundies always be such hypocrites?
posted by nofundy at 4:57 AM on September 4, 2003


Fenriss: I was referring to the early AP wire copy, which called Hill a minister but didn't mention his excommunication.
posted by gd779 at 6:30 AM on September 4, 2003


Double standard strikes again.

Yes, it's a crying shame that those on opposing sides of the political fence don't refer to eachother's pet psychos properly. Yet another case of "my asshole is better than your asshole." Throw 'em all in the same pit and be done with it. Paul Hill, Osama Bin Laden, Eric Rudolph, Baader-Meinhoff, whatever...the same fanaticism, bloodlust, blind faith and intolerance of difference. I could do without them all. POlitics makes no difference, really. If they hadn't of latched on one cause or faith it'd be another, it's all about the rage, kids.

We now return to your regularly scheduled picking of fly shit out of pepper.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 AM on September 4, 2003


There's no general terror going on there.

Nonsense. Let's see guidelines for talking about abortion in the media.


What you're pointing out is that physicians who perform abortions are, quite rightfully, afraid of being killed by whackjobs who kill physicians who perform abortions. How is that the same as instilling a general terror in an entire populace? When Hill did his crime, did that inspire widespread and general terror in Pensacola? Were great masses of people, including and especially those who have no connection to abortion provision on either side, afraid to leave their homes for fear of being killed by abortion-hating crazies? Do you really believe that Hill was trying to achieve his goal through inspiring general terror in the population of Pensacola?

Look -- if "terrorism" is going to mean something different from "murder" or "mass murder," it's got to be something different from plain murder at whatever scale in some clear, identifiable way. I think that what makes terrorism different from murder is the randomness of the attacks in their attempt to get their way by instilling a general, widespread terror in the target populace.

This isn't some guy who freaked out and shot his old lady, this was a planned murder for political reasons with support and an infrastructure of loosely connected ideologues who support him.

You seem to think terrorism is different from murder in that it requires more organization and planning, as well as some number of people behind the scenes. A different definition, which is fine. But I don't really agree == except for the motivation, your definition sounds more like a mafia hit to me than anything else. Are the Gambinos terrorists? Is a drug-war hit a terrorist strike that's equivalent to a bomb in a pub? If you're willing to say that a drug-war killing is the same as Hill is the same as the IRA or ETA or Eric Rudolph, fine. I see the IRA/ETA/Rudolph using different methods from Hill.

Or is it the political motivation that's central for you? Is any killing where the murderer(s) have some political motivation terrorism? Me, I don't much care about what motivations people have when they're killing other people; no possible motivation could erase the stain of their crime, and no possible motivation makes their victims more dead than the victims of people with different motives.

From the way you're defending this guy

That, me bucko, is a grave and deep insult, as well as a lie about my writing here. Were you to have stated this in print, it would likely be actionable libel. I defy you to find any instance where I defended the murder of physicians.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:09 AM on September 4, 2003


How is that the same as instilling a general terror in an entire populace? When Hill did his crime, did that inspire widespread and general terror in Pensacola?

Do you not think that every pregnant woman seeking an abortion was awfully nervous about visiting a clinic for a few weeks following the murder?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 AM on September 4, 2003


Skallas, the question was about one man. You have brought a lot of other stuff into this post. You want Christians to embrace Muslims yet you make it clear a Christian's God does not exist. Yet you don't put down Allah, double standard. Then you tie any criminal behavior done to an abortion clinic to this one man.

Like I point out to woman whom want to argue pro-life with me, I'm a man can't have an abortion, so stop wasting your time converting me. My belief in abortion is base in the Bible. Are you that scared they are going to take abortion away? If you are why? Seriously, and add the argument that for medical reasons an abortion is needed is weak since I've never met a woman yet whom had to have this happen(not saying it hasn't). Yet met many women whom's body rejected a fetus on its own, miscarriage.

This man was tried for murder, sentenced for murder and paid for it by death. If you think he was a terrorist well tell the police they arrested him on the wrong charges. Maybe we can retry him for terrorism, since he says he will live for eternity.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2003


>You want Christians to embrace Muslims yet you make it clear a Christian's God does not exist. Yet you don't put down Allah, double standard.

I want no such thing. As an atheist I find them all to be wrong.

>Then you tie any criminal behavior done to an abortion clinic to this one man.

Nonsense. There is a larger epidemic regarding terror against abortion clinics and its staff. That is the point: terror.

>Were you to have stated this in print, it would likely be actionable libel.

This is print, it ain't called web publishing for nothing. Of course you're an anonymous web poster and I use my real name. Funny how that works.

Let's see what's on google news:

Abortion Clinics Fear Execution Fallout


Yeah, I'm must be some kind of conspiracry theorist nutcase!

Some of you need to face the fact that there are Christian terrorists out there, and Hill was one of them. This is cultural bias, many Arabs, Irish, etc would be insulted if you called certain groups they happen to agree with terrorists. Yet the methods are the same - a systematic attempt at political change and chill on certain activities through violence aimed at those in the other group. Hmm what does m-w.com say:
Main Entry: ter·ror·ism
Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
Function: noun
Date: 1795
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion
Time for some of you to remove your heads from the sand.
posted by skallas at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2003


Time for some of you to remove your heads from the sand.

And where would we be without you to enlighten us, o wise one? Now I know why your an athiest, religion would take away from your self-worship.
posted by jonmc at 12:01 PM on September 4, 2003


jonmc, make an argument or leave. Your "i make and keep things personal" style of posting is annoying at best.

I've made and backed up many points that justify calling Hill and his ilk terrorists, you take a cheap shot at me for expressing myself. Thanks for contributing.
posted by skallas at 12:32 PM on September 4, 2003


fff: good point, thanks.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:34 PM on September 4, 2003


jonmc, make an argument or leave. Your "i make and keep things personal" style of posting is annoying at best.

I made several arguments more or less agreeing with you (or saying that the whole distinction was so small as to be pointless). And your smug, know-it-all, holier-than-thou, I've-seen-everything-twice-and wasn't-very-impressed style of posting is grating and obnoxious at best. Even when I agree with you, you make me wish I didn't.
posted by jonmc at 12:40 PM on September 4, 2003


I've got to agree with jonmc on this one, skallas. I like you (or I did) but for months now your posts have been just incredibly vitriolic. You seem angry all the time, and I think it damages you ability to persuade.
posted by gd779 at 1:11 PM on September 4, 2003


You seem angry all the time, and I think it damages you ability to persuade.

I think you've hit the heart of the matter, gd779. If you express an opinion in a manner so vitriolic (and belittling to those who disagree) that persuasion becomes impossible, you've got to wonder what the purpose of the statement is.

If it ain't to persuade it must be to publicly congratulate yourself on your own superiority, which I find very distasteful. Plus some of the people you've offended are online freinds of mine who didn't deserve it. I'd link to where he vitriolically attacked bunnyfire, but the thread seems to be screwy
posted by jonmc at 1:24 PM on September 4, 2003


>You seem angry all the time, and I think it damages you ability to persuade.

Some things are worth getting angry about, especially when something as obvious as terrorism is played down because of cultural bias.

As far as "coming off" as a certain way, I can't feel but think of interviews with swing voters who dismiss the facts of the situation or what was actually said for "vibes" or "because I didnt like his tie."

Also, persuasion ideally comes from the argument not how many emoticons and smileys someone can toss into their post. To each his own I guess. Lastly, I dont post here to make "on-line friends." I post to express myself. Don't like it? Too bad. To some people everything is a popularity contest. Jonmc can troll all he wants and derail this thread with his personal bickering but at least I got a few words in why Hill and his buddies are true and blue Christian Terrorists. The rest is mefi personality nonsense that belongs in metatalk.
posted by skallas at 1:40 PM on September 4, 2003


As far as "coming off" as a certain way, I can't feel but think of interviews with swing voters who dismiss the facts of the situation or what was actually said for "vibes" or "because I didnt like his tie."

People have been given (or evolved or whatever) gut instincts for a reason. When somebody come across as too slick, you're inclined not to trust them. If someone comes across as too vitriliolic, you wonder when they're gonna turn that anger on you. People are emotional organisms as well as intellectual, and for good reason. To think that everyone decides everything on the cold hard facts is naive and just plain dumb. It's like replacing religious fundamentalism with political fundamentalism.

Don't like it? Too bad.

This may have proved my point for me. With that attitude you obviously don't come here to listen, or even to try to convince others of your points. So that leaves, what proving your intellectual superiority. You wanna do that, go show your parents your report card.

Jonmc can troll all he wants...

Anyone who disagrees with you is a troll, huh? Get a new writer.
posted by jonmc at 1:52 PM on September 4, 2003


Jesus, jonmc take it to metatalk already. You don't need to derail this thread because your feelings are hurt.
posted by skallas at 2:08 PM on September 4, 2003


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