Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is Passivity and Forgiveness an Aphrodisiac for Murderers?

Since the Amish schooting, I have read articles such as this one discussing how the Amish have forgiven the killer who took the lives of five beautiful girls and injured six more before taking his own life. Forgiveness may be the Amish way, but frankly, in my eyes, it gives license to the sick and twisted, and cruel among us to continue their mayhem. What is appalling are comments like this--that compare the Amish reaction to the shooting with the tragedy of 9/11 in the following way:

The Amish show the power of forgiveness, a power that is given us by God. It's strength is far greater than the anger and violence with which we try to right the wrongs in our world. There is a lesson to be learned here. Just imagine what could have happened if the US were capable of forgiveness after the 9/11 attacks...


Yes, just imagine, we could have been perceived as even weaker by our enemies and further attacks might have followed, but instead, we have had nothing of the sort. Often, perpetrators can smell weakness a mile away--it is like an aphrodisiac to many of them-including terroists--even Bin Laden has laughed at the perceived weakness of the US.

In the case of the Amish school killer, he targeted the weakest people he could find who he knew would not fight back. I am not so sure that forgiveness and acceptance of the death of innocent girls is the answer to reducing future acts of violence such as the Amish shooting--in my eyes, it gives license to the next killer that he will be forgiven for his atrocities--yes, I understand that the Amish feel that what happens is God's will and that a violent reaction is against their religion--I am speaking to the rest of us.

In addition, this perception of weakness is enhanced with calls for gun control and passivity in response to violent acts. But perhaps reducing violent acts and protecting our citizens is not the point, but rather, it is feeling morally superior and denying the acts of the sick and twisted, or terrorists or other perps, for political gain--rather that be gun control, or a call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Passive solutions in response to violent actions can often bring more violence, not less. But passivity is most alluring to the most "humanitarian" among us, as with it, comes a very seductive psychological satisfaction--little call for responsibility and accountability, while feeling morally superior--even if it means that the next murderer will flourish in our midst.

103 Comments:

Blogger dadvocate said...

The Amish flourish in the U.S. because we are largely a moral and decent society. And non-passive law enforcement officials protect them. In some parts of the world they would be slaves or dead. In some ways I admire the Amish but their philosophy would not work as a foreign policy.

You are absolutely correct in how terrorists would react if we were passive and forgiving to their attacks.

9:46 AM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Robert Heinlein had a quote that really shows what "pacifism" is all about. I will find and post it later.

9:54 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Hey Helen, I respect the Amish, their faith and lifestyle is very brave. But there are other people who claim a pacifist lifestyle that are at best naive and at worst avoidant and frightened. The latter group dresses their lack of fortitude in that moral superior attitude you noted. Perhaps the superior attitude is what distinguishes the two groups. The Amish I have met are earthy, humble people. The passive geeks are on an ego trip. It is easy to smell out when you are near it.

Trey

10:04 AM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Passivity and Forgiveness an Aphrodisiac for Murderers?

No. Any more questions, you fatuous cracker-lover?

10:18 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:18 AM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're confusing forgiveness and endorsement. You may forgive a child for stealing cookies--but you still discipline her for her own good. Similarly, one may forgive a criminal--but he still needs to go to prison for the protection of everyone else.

10:58 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

I personally don't know any Amish (there are not many in suburban Boston) so I can't speak about their understanding or not of violence and defence-from-violence by the civil authorities. However, as the Amish are a sect based on Christianity and the New Testament, I would be surprised if they were not familiar with Romans 13:1-5

"Everyone must submit to the governing authorities,for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hole no terror for those who do right, but only for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of concience."*

My understanding of the Amish is that their forefathers came here because of persecution elsewhere, knowing that our pluralistic republic would provide the freedom and saftey for them to pursue their beliefs. I don't think they are under any illusions of how they would fare elsewhere. The early Christians understood that they had the ability to be pacifists because of the Pax Romana, and that they would face death and persecution elsewhere (as they did at certain times within Rome itself.) There is a distinct difference between secular pacifism and (true, faith-based) Christian pacificm. The first is in the hope that pacifism can be legislated over the majority, the second is the concious choice of those who know they are in the minority and who know that their choice can result in their own death.

*And before the flame wars start, please remember that in our society, participation of the public in the running of the government is part of the 'governing authority'. I am not trying to say that Christianity requires an islamic style submission.

11:04 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger George said...

Big, big difference between forgiveness, and passivity. WE can forgive them, but that does not mean they go unpunished. They suffer the consequenses of their actions.

11:14 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger TabithaRuth said...

Don't confuse forgiving with forgetting. You forgive so it doesn't eat away at your own self/soul but it doesn't mean you are a doormat willing to take it again.

12:08 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger mjc said...

It's a spiritual think, Helen.

1:00 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

The simple answer to the headline is "Of course it does". Passivity of the prey, once identified and attacked by a predator, almost always encourages and escalates the attack. Active defense generally discourages and causes the assailant to re-consider the attack. This is true of almost all forms of life.

Does the use of the word "aphrodisiac" refer to the psycho-sexual nature of many acts of violence among humans? I imagine it does; but regardless of the motivation, passivity and forgiveness may well encourage the next perp, and certainly will do nothing to discourage him.

In fact, to not fight back or attempt to inflict injury upon an attacker is simply contrary to nature and results in extinction. Virtually all forms of life, including plants and microorganisms, have some sort of defense mechanism against attack. Even the Amish have autonomic responses which help them fight off disease. They have chosen not to fight human threats, but as "dadvocate" points out, their survival is most likely enabled by a surrounding community which is willing to fight (use violence) for them.

There are many cases in nature where species have gone extinct because of the introduction of a foreign species which did not trigger their normal fear and defense mechanisms. The disappearance of the wooly mammoth upon arrival of human beings on the North American continent is an example. Many theorize that mammoths had no fear of humans, and hence were rapidly wiped out. Here in California, the Black Sea Bass, a fish weighing over 500 pounds, was nearly wiped out because they have no natural fear of humans, you can swim right up to them and harpoon them. Knowing this, scuba divers decimated their population during the 70’s, despite their imposing appearance.

Evolution has created a world in which virtually all life is protected by some sort of defense mechanism. As human beings, we have the unique ability to use our intellect to predict threats and take appropriate cautionary and preemptive measures to defend ourselves; and we should not be ashamed to do so.

1:26 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had this conversation several times lately. Weird, huh? I submit that forgiveness is meaningless without repentance. That is, there is not point to forgiving a person who does not recognize, regret, and try to undo the wrongs he has committed. Forgiveness is meaningful only when it is sought by the offender from the offended.

I suppose this is why the Catholics stress repentance so much. It has to be strongly emphasized or nothing is gained by the offender who loses nothing and learns nothing by being forgiven without asking for or earning the forgiveness.

When my kids transgress, I expect an apology. Once I get an earnest apology, said kid is rewarded with a hug and kiss, but not before.

Thoughts?

1:44 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous TNP said...

What would unforgiveness gain the Amish at this point in this particular circumstance? To whom can they go to see justice done? The man is dead. Forgiveness could very well be the healthiest thing they can do for themselves. On the other hand, I can't believe someone within their own community could commit a terrible offense and have it easily shrugged off under the banner of forgiveness. Surely there are consequences.

1:55 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Troy said...

Forgiveness is not some materialistic exercise. It is transcendant in Christian worldview and theology and is not a solely pacifist sentiment. Maybe it is an aphrodisiac. So what? My charge is to forgive others who trespass against me. What he does with it is his business. Others have forgiven me when I didn;t deserve it or appreciate it. Forgiveness doesn't remove consequences either. Christ forgave the thief on the cross who later died on that cross. The promise of seeing Christ in Paradise did not equal an earthly pardon for the temporal consequences of sins or crimes committed.

And besides all that -- in this instance the killer is dead -- his consequences are set.

2:39 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anon 824 said...

What would be gained by NOT forgiving him?

Some smug sense of . . . what?

3:26 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Trey said...

Anon 1:44 left a great post in which they typed: "I submit that forgiveness is meaningless without repentance. That is, there is not point to forgiving a person who does not recognize, regret, and try to undo the wrongs he has committed. Forgiveness is meaningful only when it is sought by the offender from the offended."

My thoughts exactly! Only I have never written them so succinctly and eloquently. I wish you had signed this, it is lovely and touching prose.

In dealing with my abuse and the abuse others have suffered, this is the conclusion I have reached too. Too often in Christian communities, the perpetrator is brought before the victim (who generally seems to be a child in these scenarios) and the child/victim is lectured about forgiving the perp and giving him or her a hug. The child is pressured into it, they say something that they do not mean and give a hug to the person who raped them. Yech.

I have not heard one of these horrid immorality plays in which the perp asked for forgiveness. It was usually the elders or pastor who pushed the false conclusion to the perpetration, almost certainly because thinking about the perpetration makes them uncomfortable.

I take the words of Jesus seriously, and so I cannot abide the lies of that kind of shit. Anon's understanding of forgiveness, as a response to repentance (turning away from sin) satisfies my sense of truth and justice.

Trey

3:38 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

OK, who does not love a cracker now and then? I know I do. Those expensive stone ground ones, the classic Saltine, yum! Triscuit anyone? How about Waverly crackers? Heck, I even like Melba Toast on occasion. I think that people who do not love scrackers are fatuous.

Trey

3:45 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they jumped to announce their forgiveness rather early. Why couldn't they wait a year or so? It seems like moral preening, and seems disrepectful of the victims--their own kin.

4:57 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your headline falsely conflates forgiveness and passivity - they aren't the same thing. There can be active or passive forgiveness or grudgeholding (insert your own preferred antonym for forgiveness if desired).

As others have touched on above, Christian forgiveness does not mean lack of consequences or pretending no wrong was done. It is at least as much about helping the victim to heal by removing abiding hatred and resentment from the list of wounds caused by the actions of the perpetrator as it is any kind of gift to the wrongdoer. The phony rituals described by Trey are a parody of real forgiveness and an added cruel torment for the victim.

Remember, Christianity is all about undeserved forgiveness for everyone, but forgiveness in Christ usually doesn't shield the believer from the natural consequences of his sins (or mistakes, if you prefer).

All that said, the Amish lifestyle is an impractical one that depends on the kindness of stranges in more ways than just defense and law enforcement. "Christian" pacifism is not particularly biblical - when Jesus commended a centurion for his faith, he would have added that his profession was ungodly and immoral if that was his real teaching.

5:00 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

Trey,

I understand your revultion at the forced 'forgiveness' you have seen. That type of manipulation is criminal child abuse, in my view. One of the serious problems with forcing someone, especially a child to do such a thing, is that it will warp their view of forgiveness, possibly forever.

Forgiveness can exist outside of any response by the guilty party. Unfortunately there are often situations where there is no guilty party to punish, they are either dead or escaped without any trace. Should I create a canker on my soul over some other person's response to me? Forgiveness exists more for the sake of those who are harmed then for those who have done harm. I can not save your soul, I can only work to heal mine.

Here though, is the big HOWEVER. Anon 1:44 is partially correct in that forgiveness is meaningless for the perpetrator if there is no repentance. This is the part of the equation that gets missed. We have as a culture so destroyed the concepts of guilt, morals, and right and wrong that we have no standards. When every moral issue is reletive, how do you call someone on their guilt.

Until we are ready as a culture to once again draw lines in the sand, to call things "Good" and "Evil", then we will continue to fail at protecting our children from predators, and their hearts from torment.

As long as we fail to label evil for what it is, forgiveness will be meaningless.

5:09 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

"In fact, to not fight back or attempt to inflict injury upon an attacker is simply contrary to nature and results in extinction."

Which why forgiveness is a spiritual rather than a natural or biological response.

"That is, there is not point to forgiving a person who does not recognize, regret, and try to undo the wrongs he has committed. Forgiveness is meaningful only when it is sought by the offender from the offended."

Wrong. Forgiveness is not about the offender. TWhen the victim forgives the offender, the purpose of the forgiveness is to heal the victim.

"I suppose this is why the Catholics stress repentance so much."

Good but incorrect guess. repentance is not intended to ahve any effect on the victim. It is supposed to help the perpetrator accept forgiveness.

The point here is that the victim's forgiveness doesn't heal the perpetrator, because the victim is not in a position to judge the perpetrator in the first place, in the Christian worldview. No human is fit to make moral judgements of that kind. Jesus even reproached a man who called him good. The victim is in a position to that state a fact - "You hurt me!" - and that is all. "You are wicked." is not his to say. "You are a threat and I am going to have to eliminate you." is a lso his to say, but that is a prudential, utilitarian decsiosn rather than a moral judgement.

You can be forgiving of weaknesses and attacks and at the same time and completely ruthless in preventing further occurrences.

6:59 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger David said...

There are a lot of people around who care more about their own sense of moral superiority than about what happens to actual human beings.

7:48 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Troy said...

Not true David. It's not superior to forgive and in any case it's not for me to forgive this guy. We're much better off now that he's dead, but if he were to have been captured instead of a suicide -- the Amish parents of the victims would have a duty as Christians to forgive -- regardless of whether the killer gets his rocks off. Forgiveness is also not passive and does not, in any orthodox (lower case "o" intentional) Christian theology of which I'm aware, exempt the forgiven from temporal consequences attached to the bad act. Unfortunately for today's post modern society -- forgiveness requires some judgment on the part of the one doing the forgiving so charges of moral superiority abound (which -- ironically -- is a form of moral superiority in itself is it not?).

7:57 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Troy said...

david -- if I mischaracterized what you were trying to say I apologize.

7:59 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please Dr. Helen, if you do not understand, ask for help to understand. Do not condemn things. It conflicts with everything else you say here.
I guess that the question really boils down to the whole of Christ's statement on judgement.
"Judge not lest ye be judged with that same judgement"
I am commanded to forgive. That does not mean I have to not be on guard to protect myself or those I am responsible to or for. If knowing that I will forgive is an "aphrodisiac" so be it. I will not bear the mark of my inability to forgive. I will also not bear the mark of failure to do my duty.
Finally, anyone who uses any intentional modicum of force on anyone else, except in self defense, is denying his faith, at least in the God I worship.

8:26 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

Helen,

Thomas Paine's response to Quaker anti-activism was not so different then yours.

In the main, I concur. Response to thugs and bullies must be met head-on & with force. The question is where and how. American's have a knack for sensing the violence but not the solutions. It comes down to our leadership, no longer levened in the ranks who've been tested in combat and understand the risks, probabilities & unknowns is no longer up to the task.

This seems to apply to civilian leadership as well. To paraphrase an exchange of Clancy's Red Storm Rising--there is a civilian with a brilliant grasp of modern warfare--those who have experienced war (or criminal violence in this case) are best prepared to end it.

8:57 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger J. Peden said...

"Is Passivity and Forgiveness an Aphrodisiac for Murderers?

No. Any more questions, you fatuous cracker-lover?"
anon, 10:18 am.

Rather ironically conceived, as it comes from a generic Parrot, after all.

Or does not the enhancement of an ecological niche create more of the same, including perversions?

Does feeding you more crackers of "peace, love, and understanding" not also excite you, my good Parrot?

9:46 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki Small said...

Some problems are just not so simple that they can be fixed with bandaids or even duct tape.

The Christian is supposed to turn the other cheek and forgive. But as you said, Dr. Helen, perceived weakness often invites attack; I know this personally, as a formerly shy and oh-so-compliant child who was targeted for molestation. And as you mentioned, Bin Laden had a good laugh over the weakness shown when our military folks were ordered to back off.

Now and then, we hear of bereaved parents who forgive, and testify on behalf of the killers of their children, seeking mercy for them. I tip my hat to them, but I don't know that I could find that kind of grace in me. If the Amish community can do that, at least corporately, I will pray that God will pour out great comfort on them--well, either way, really. But all that they believe and stand for would be wiped away, if they were to respond differently. That's a high price.

10:42 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger David said...

Troy...I was speaking, not of forgiveness in the religious sense, but of failure to take action because of unwillingness to take a moral risk. Consider, for example, the German resistance against Hitler. There were a surprising number of people, including military officers, who were willing to risk their own lives by opposing Hitler, but were unwilling to commit murder (as they viewed it) by killing him. Thus, they were putting their own moral purity above the lives of millions of other people. I believe much pacifist thinking is of a similar nature.

11:00 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Mike Johnson said...

Forgiving a murderer won't turn him on. Giving him a gun will.

12:50 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Troy said...

david... I recommend to you a German Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was hanged at Flossenburg concentration camp in April 1945 after it was confirmed that he was involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler. He refused to leave Germany as late as 1940 because it was his job as shepherd of his flock to remain with them during this dark time.

Anyway -- I agree with you about pacifism. The Amish misinterpret the "turn the other cheek" item I believe -- or at least stretch it out of proportion.

1:52 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger jw said...

The five forms of Amish do practice some "aggression." They expel those who sin: They no longer speak to them, they do not even see them (as if the person no longer existed).

Their passivity and foregiveness is quite real and serves a function within the human community.

Those things said, they also need the police. In our town with a LOT of Amish we know that theft is a big problem for the Amish: The creeps will steal from the Amish because the Amish have money (and generally speaking do not use banks).

The Amish I speak to are well aware of their need for the police, while at the same time desiring to keep contact with such things to the minimum. Thus, they pay their taxes with the clear idea that those taxes pay others to protect them. That protection is not as good as it should be ...

So, their passivity, while real, is also tempered with the very real knowledge that they need protection.

Their culture is based on the idea of keeping contact with the things of this world to a practical minimum.

Bert whatzisface, one of the local leaders, served in WW2, infantry. He is neither proud nor ashamed of that ... it simply IS and happened BEFORE he took his vows. That is the best way to see how the Amish think.

4:47 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Mike Johnson,

Yet another Greg Kuperberg sock puppet--how charming....and this type in male form. What happened to Andrea?

5:57 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen:

It's like you're a troll on your own blog. I haven't commented until now, but you make this comment to lure me out.

And here I am falling for it. Sheesh.

Mike Johnson's comment, whether I agree with it or not, is a fair comment and was certainly not rude to you or anyone else. Yet, you make this snarky remark--that doesn't address his comment and is rude to both him, greg kuperberg, and me.

Psst. Your colors are showing, darling. Clearly, you are unable to rationally and intelligently defend your position or to even gracefully accept dissent.

Andrea

7:37 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a sock puppet. My name is. . . er . . . Keg Gruperberg!

8:25 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Philip said...

I haven't read the comments so am only commenting on the original content. The author mentioned is confusing the forgiveness of an individual with the responsibility of the country. A country isn't an individual and has different responsibilities. Can an individual declare war? The problem this country has is that the individuals put a damper on the ability of the government to protect and fulfill its proper role. Enemies see this as weakness, and that only emboldens them.
As for the politicians, I'm so sick of them playing for election rather than the good of the country. The problem with our system is that individuals need to take interst in the country and act accordingly for a change to take place. Until that happens, we're stuck with the few voices providing the impetus for the wrong actions or lack of action as the case may be.

10:04 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea - you have to be a troll and an idiot to say that Mike Johnson's comment was a fair comment deserving a serious response. Go see a clinical psychologist - it will help you deal with the fact that most people dont agree with your crazy ideas.
HeWhohatesCrazyStupidWomenLike Andrea

11:13 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

"So, their passivity, while real, is also tempered with the very real knowledge that they need protection."

JW, I understand that when the Amish were moving west through Pennsylvania, they were subject to attack from Shawnee or some such group. Fortunately for them, another group was moving into the area, the Scots-Irish, who were anything but defenseless. They basically saved the Amish. The modern-day situation you descibe sounds like a very civilized division of labor.

"As for the politicians, I'm so sick of them playing for election rather than the good of the country. "

Philip, it's called democracy. The politicians play to the crowd. It's a mass market. It's up to the voter or the customer, not the salesman or the politician, to decide what is good for the country.

11:46 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger David said...

Troy..Indeed. Bonhoeffer quoted Luther's admonition to "sin boldly" to emphasize the importance of taking action, even at the expense of moral purity.

I'm particularly intrigued by those German military officers who despised Hitler and wanted him overthrown, but were unwilling to be involved in killing him. They were not cowards, given the risks they were taking by participating in anti-Nazi planning, and they were clearly not pacifists, given their choice of career--yet, somehow, the deliberate killing of this particular individual seemed beyond the pale to them. I find this mentality to be extremely difficult to understand.

12:12 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

david - I suppose the Nazi officers you refer to must be like the guys I meet at the coffeeshops of Ann Arbor. They know in some way that extremist Islam is a menace to us all inthe long run, but, they couldnt be bothered to do anything about it, or even support the people who do, becasue then they will loose all the priviledges that being identified as a lefty Bush-hater brings in this town. So these folks will do anything to stay part of the crowd they are comfortable with, even though in their hearts, they know that rooting for the insurgents to kill more US soldiers, or rooting for Ahmedinejad to go nuclear is clearly against their best interests.

2:14 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me Reg Gruperberg!

2:30 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If passivity is such a turn-on for murderers, then why is an Amish murder case so remarkable? Shouldn't we be reading about dead Amish daily, if so? It would be like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel, wouldn't it? Someone even stated that they lack adequate police protection against property crimes. Why isn't there a ring of potential slayers surrounding Lancaster County?

2:59 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 2:59:

Luckily, mass murderers like Charles Roberts are rare--that said, when they do go after victims, how many shoot ups at police stations around the US can you name?

3:07 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

There was the one in the movie "Terminator".

3:50 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Tomcal,

Yes, I remember that--but it was fiction.

3:52 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

Yes I know.

Well, I'm off for now. I have to go down to the county to submit plans for a firearms training facility I am building. It's going to be cool because it will be the only one within 100 miles of here (except on the military bases) where you can set up 360 degree live-fire threat simulations for training.

4:01 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger David said...

ronin...the guys I was talking about were a very different breed from the denizens of the Ann Arbor coffee shops...they were actual members of the conspiracy, and were willing to overthrow the regime by force at great personal risk. They just couldn't get past the perceived "evil" of murder. It was all tied up with an aristocratic ideal of honor.

4:45 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

Mr. Miyagi: Why do we learn to fight, Daniel-san?

Daniel-san: So we don't have to fight?

That's the gist of it, really. And it tends to work. Presentation of the right kind of firepower in superior quantities tends to make bad guys think twice.

The problem is what comes up when you've got guys & girls who've gone off the deep end & fallen into Hiltlerian delusions of grandeur, maddened rage or rational dislocation from all human sympathy--they remain sane. They just don't care what happens to other people.

This last group is the scariest and hardest to understand. That someone could become twisted into a monster as a consequence of cumulative trauma, a second-degree effect of previous violence which finds new expression, this I can at least comprehend.

In any event, once people fall this far, it's hard to bring them back. It's like dealing with wild animals that develop a taste for human flesh.

You just have to deal with them, by whatever means are most expedient & most merciful.

But it's still worth the while to trace back their journey to the dark side.

Maybe next time, someone with sharp eyes will catch the guy before he falls.

Maybe.

5:02 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was more touched by the fact that the Amish leaders have requested that a fund be set up for the wife and children of the killer.

The photograph on the news today of him with his wife and baby was so tragic.

But back to the original question, I don't think it applies here. The guy is dead. Some righteous anger is a good thing in order to seek justice. But he's gone to his eternal judgement. Forgiveness is what they do to move on, and in particular reaching out to his family who are also victims.

6:05 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

anon 6:05,

Well said. Some years back I briefly dated a girl who was going to a boarding school in Lititz, PA.

(Don't run out of gas in Amish country, btw...)

Anyway, my exposure to the local Amish population was limited, but what I saw, the people I spoke to...let's put it this way:

The Pennsylvania Amish practice what they preach. They're the sort of God-loving people who can shake the faith of an atheist's absence of belief in a Higher Power.

They were gentle, generous & once a couple in a buggy even found me a gas station when I was running on fumes.

Granted, in subsequent years there was something of a meth epidemic amongst Amish youth in the area (pretty sure it was meth, might have been heroin), but on the whole, these were some of the most decent, civil, loving people I've ever met in my life. They are vulnerable to cruelty because, in the main, they truly do seem to be innocent. They have great faith & if it blinds them it also sustains them.

That this event happened is an evil thing. That it happened where it did, amongst these people, makes me very, very angry.

That this cultural possesses the courage and integrity to maintain its faith and its innocence is extroardinary. Violation of innocence is always heinous.

This is somehow worse.

That these people have a capacity for forgiveness that extends to reaching out to the family of the murderer in such a practical, direct & human fashion makes me wonder what it is that they perceive, what I fail to see.

Human beings have human emotions, but there is something at play here which is truly remarkable. Death seems to hold little power over these remarkable people. They accept it. It passes through. The living remain.

Clustered willows, they bend to the wind, the roots hold their space.

7:04 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

To Graham Strouse:

Very well said. The innocent and those who chose to set examples for the rest of us by choosing pacifism and non-violence as a way of life are always inspiring. Their choice to forgive those who have inflicted so much pain upon them is truly admirable; and they, like Gandhi, Christ, or the Dali Lama give us all food for thought.

But we cannot forget that they survive to remind us of what humanity can, and should, aspire to, only because others are prepared to lay their lives on the line and if necessary, protect them with the use of FORCE.

I believe that both sides, those who will turn the other cheek under any circumstances, and those who will ultimately step in to protect the cheek-turners at the risk or sacrifice of their own lives, are necessary for the long term survival of humanity as a whole.

11:41 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger jw said...

YES! The Amish serve a function within society that function is to be a mirror reflecting what could be.

They show a way of life which has its own merits, they show peace as it should be and they show foregiveness as it should be. Thus, they are an important part of society.

BTW: The meth & heroin use is part of the Amish in an off-beat way: At 16 Amish kids are turned lose. They need to decide whether to vow the Amish way of life or to go to the world. Thus, 16/17/18 year old Amish tend (or are often) to be a bit on the wild side. Most rejoin the Amish community as adult members within a year or two.

3:54 AM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Auld Pharte said...

Nice people, the Amish. How long do you think they would survive under Muslim law? Tiny little isolationist groups like these can exist because there is a United States, and a United States military. That's what their normally quiet community really signifies. Freedom to practice a passivist religion and way of life isn't free. Someone paid, actually many someones, or that freedom wouldn't exist. Anyone who believes that the world would be a wonderful place if we just disbanded our military and disarmed our police is living in a warm and fuzzy childish fantasy. Our society allows a free ride for such as the Amish, who should be grateful. I suspect they are.

7:54 AM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen, the Mail commenter doesn't understand the complementary natures of forgiveness and punishment. To forgive isn't to absolve; it's to acknowledge the limit of man's judgment. This murderer's crimes are well within that limit; absolving him would deny justice.

It's very possible, and in fact right, to love the sinner as you try, convict and hang him.

8:56 AM, October 07, 2006  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

You can forgive someone, while still prosecuting them. Or, in the case of the terrorists, we attempt to keep hatred out of our side of the equation. We do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our families. We do not attack them because we hate them. We attack them to preserve ourselves. It is a sorrowful, but necessary thing.

10:14 AM, October 07, 2006  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Feeling good about themselves trumps mere consequences with these folks.

12:11 PM, October 07, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Anonymous 8:26 PM

"Judge not lest ye be judged with that same judgement"

You do understand that the meaning of that statement is, if you are content with being judged by the same terms you judge others, it's ok, right?

I find child killers to be loathsome, dispicable beasts for whom I have no sympathy whatsoever and would have them zapped and done away with. I am also perfectly content to suffer the same judgement if I kill children.

See how that works?

2:36 PM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous triticale said...

Forgiving a murderer won't turn him on. Giving him a gun will.

Maybe so, but giving his intended victims guns and the will to use them will surely turn him off.

3:52 PM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*points up*

See, THAT is a good response.

12:11 AM, October 08, 2006  
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1:18 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

I am glad you posted this. Your comments add significantly to the debate on this subject. Unfortunately, I have visited many blogs where comments have idealized the Amish response compared to America's response to 9/11. I suspect it's easier now, 5 years later, to feel safe. However, based on my recollection of the period immediately after 9/11, the urge to act militarily to protect Americans was a universal response. In my view, it wss particularly remarkable that people were far more concerned with safety than revenge. We even made sure that the bin Laden family members were allowed to leave the country, and very few people objected to that. In other words, maybe we are more like the Amish than we give ourselves credit for.

1:50 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

By the way, I also appreciate the many thoughtful comments here, especially from Dadvocate (as usual) and Jerub-Baal (I never considered the difference between secular and Christian pacifism but I think you are correct). It's nice to read a blog where the comments are more rsepectful and thoughtful. On the other hand, I was surprised to read that Greg Kuperberg is using sock puppets named Andrea and Mike Johnson. If so, that is disappointing. My suggestion to any online puppeteers is that they consider Glenn Greenwald's website where sock puppetry is apparently de rigueur.

1:57 PM, October 08, 2006  
Anonymous Len said...

Right on!

8:17 PM, October 08, 2006  
Anonymous Len said...

Bullies are control freaks who thrive on passivity. I have been a Christian all of my life, but if this were truly a Christian ethic then I would immediately stop being a Christian.

After years of the idiotic police advice of not trying to defend yourself, studies have shown that self defense stops an enormous amount of attacks, especially on women. Len

8:27 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger Kip said...

I hear a lot of people say things like 'the Amish exist because there is a United States for them to exist in'.

Isn't the opposite?

...doesn't the United States exist because of Christian sects of great purity, just like the Amish?

10:17 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger CJ said...

Regarding the Anabaptist take on use of force, self defence, etc: Anabaptists (Amish, Mennonites, et al) believe in complete separation of church and State, and they believe that a Christian should be completely non-resistant. In other words, Christians are forbidden to join the military or even defend themselves or their families from agressors; however, from the Anabaptist point of view, it's alright for the State to fufill these functions. They believe that the State government and the military is composed of pagans, whom God uses to keep order and to protect and defend the Christians (Anabaptists) who live among them. But they believe that even though the State is fufilling God's will by doing this, it is still under God's condemnation, since it is essentially secular and thus of the World and not of God; since they believe that the Bible forbids Christians to bear arms, hold office or use force, they believe that anyone who does so is onder God's condemnation, even though they are serving His will by so doing. In other words, people who serve in the military or work for the government are good enough to protect the interests of the Anabaptists, and it's God's will that they should do so, but they are still a bunch of pagans who are breaking God's laws and are likely headed for Hell.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CJ

11:44 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

From an interesting website:
_______________________

The Amish do not use electricity or modern conveniences, yet they have a website. How can that be?

This website is not maintained or created by the Amish themselves. However, those involved in this website are directly in contact with the Amish and Mennonites, either by heritage, friendship, or business relationships. This website has been created in an effort to pass along information about the Amish and their chosen lifestyle
_______________________

If the Amish interpret the Bible literally, how do they relate to Christ's command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?

Early Anabaptists, the ancestors of Amish and Mennonites, were very evangelistic, going everywhere preaching and teaching. This was a sharp contrast to the Christian society in which they lived. Persecution followed and many Anabaptists died for their faith and their zeal for evangelism. In the years that followed, missionary zeal decreased. The church succumbed to persecution and discrimination. Gradually Amish and Mennonites became known more for their traditional practices and their quiet, peaceful way of life and less for their active evangelism. This trend continued until it seemed almost wrong to send members out of the close community to evangelize. Old Order Amish, along with some Old Order Mennonites, have retained this position and desire to remain the quiet in the land. However, missionary zeal experienced a strong rebirth around the beginning of this century in Mennonite circles and more recently among the Church Amish. As a result of this rebirth of evangelism, Mennonites today number more than one million people in over 60 countries around the world and speak 78 different languages.
_______________________

I understand the Amish belief in nonresistance and pacifism. Does this principle extend to personal situations where you are confronted with imminent evil -- say a known murderer confronting you and your family in your home? Can you use force to preserve your life in this situation? To what extent? What is the Biblical basis for your position?

Both Amish and Mennonites are committed to a lifestyle of peace and non- violence. Yes, this pervades every aspect of life. However, no one can predict with certainty how anyone would really react to an absolutely unprecedented crisis such as described above. Emotions as well as thoughts are involved and the situation is personalized. Having said this, we would hope that as people who have practiced a lifestyle of peace, we would not resort to force and violence in a crisis situation such as the one described.

We must briefly make several points:

1. There is no assurance that use of force would save my life or the life of my family if confronted by an attacker.
2. We could recall many accounts of unhoped for deliverances, whether by mediation, nature, or divine Providence, when Christians refused to use force when confronted by an attacker.
3. If the result is death at the hands of the attacker, so be it; death is not threatening to us as Christians. Hopefully the attacker will have at least had a glimpse of the love of Christ in our nonviolent response.
4. The Christian does not choose a nonviolent approach to conflict because of assurance it will always work; rather the Christian chooses this approach because of his / her commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.

The analogy to war in the situation described above tends to break down when we think of the vast preparations for war -- accumulation of weapons, training of the military, etc. War is planned and seldom is aggression so clearly defined with the defense staying on its home turf.

Some of the Biblical references for peace and non-resistance are: Matthew 5:38-48; John 18:36; Romans 12:18-21; and I Corinthians 6:18.
_______________________

Do the Amish look upon the rest of society, those who are not of an Anabaptist tradition, as heathen?

The Amish have deliberately made decisions as to what will or will not be allowed among members of the Amish community. The Amish do not pass judgment on outsiders.
_______________________

http://www.beliefnet.com/frame_offsite.asp?pageLoc=http://holycrosslivonia.org/amish/amishfaq.htm)

12:39 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Ginny said...

The Amish response is a communal one. I come from a quite small town as does my husband. I believe the Amish (as did the towns we grew up in which are considerably more worldly) see themselves as extending love to the family of the man who killed their daughters - a family that is also a part of that community. This has nothing to do with passivity in the face of evil (which this surely was) but an understanding that that evil, followed by that suicide leaves the family. And the community is supposed to do what to his family? The man is dead; his family mourns those killed by him as well as their loss of him. In the villages in which we grew up, this was understood. That does not mean that a jury made up of those villagers would not sentence the man, even to death, for what he'd done. The sense that this happened within a community to people that community recognized as members seems totally lacking in this discussion. (And so, my husband's friend's father killed another friend's father - the two would meet at our house and speak - even though, of course, that grim murder & suicide would forever haunt both of them. They were,nonetheless, members of the community and both were loved by that community.)

Of course, when a suicide isn't a part of the terrible moment, the whole drama becomes quite different and quite public. I suspect that feelings would be considerably different. And I don't even want to think about what the greater publicity of today might have done in those cases.

2:14 AM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

There are a great deal of Amish and Mennonite folks here in So.Mo. Most of them are good people; the Mennonites more than the Amish in my opinion.

To those spreading the "gospel" about the Amish non-violence, simply Google "Amish + abuse". They are people like everyone else and do bad things as well, some of them pretty friggin' horrible. They may very well have a remarkable lower incidence of violence in their community. BUT, it is dependant upon which community.

Here in So.Mo., they are known for beating their children with rods and whipping their women.

Try not to elevate them to some sort of sainthood.

10:39 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

In the case of the Amish school killer, he targeted the weakest people he could find who he knew would not fight back.

That's a stretch at best, at worst, a lie. He targeted the closest structure likely to contain girls of the right age. Don't assume their pacifism as a reason they were targeted when their proximity will suffice.
Luckily, mass murderers like Charles Roberts are rare--that said, when they do go after victims, how many shoot ups at police stations around the US can you name?

Just because killers aren't stupid enough to attack the hardest of targets doesn't mean they are inevitably drawn to the softest. Mass murders are rare, but not extinct, and, if their passivity was that attractive to a mass killer, then one of the dozen or so mass killers most people can name off the top of their heads, or the hundreds they can't name, would have targeted the Amish before now.

Nice people, the Amish. How long do you think they would survive under Muslim law?

Quite a bit better than the rest of us, actually. They pretty much conform to all the moral precepts of Sharia, such as modesty of dress, and, as someone else pointed out, they don't evangelize. Finally, their passivity and non-resistance means they would be less likely to resist dhimmitude.

5:22 PM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

Here in So.Mo., they are known for beating their children with rods

Yet another way the larger society could learn from their example. After all, do their children go on to become mass murderers as a result?

5:25 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Dweeb:

"That's a stretch at best, at worst, a lie."

Look--disagree with me if you want--but leave the part where you basically call me a liar out of it. It is rude, disrespectful and not necessary. You can make your points without the accussations.

I have worked with people who are violent and watched and listened to the way they think and talk about their victims. My impressions are that many of them subconsciously or consciously prey ruthlessly on people whom they perceive to be weaker. Did Ted Bundy go after men who were strong--no he met up with women who showed a weakness for his broken arm etc. Did Jeffrey Dahmer go after large macho guys with weapons? No, many were very young men--some were barely teens and he got them drunk which further put them in a weak position.

6:24 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"Yet another way the larger society could learn from their example. After all, do their children go on to become mass murderers as a result?"

Puh-lease. They have had murder, they have had child abuse, they have had rape, they have had wife abuse. Beating with rods -- real, actual rods -- is unnecessary for the production of good people.

Very mildewy straw ye strew about, English.

7:12 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger CJ said...

Anonymous said,
"The Amish have deliberately made decisions as to what will or will not be allowed among members of the Amish community. The Amish do not pass judgment on outsiders."

Wanna bet???
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CJ

7:32 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger CJ said...

www.amishabuse.com

Read all about it, straight from the pen of people who lived it. And I live and work in central PA, where Amish are everywhere. I've heard a thing or two myself.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CJ

7:37 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Micajah said...

Forgiving a man who died before the Amish even knew all he had done is not the same as forgiving people involved in planning, supporting, and carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

The Islamic radicals who didn't die in those airliners continued to have the ability to attack us.

For their own sake, the Amish have forgiven the dead murderer.

For our sake, we must act to defend ourselves. It's not a matter of revenge, or really even one of justice. It's simply to get them before they get us -- and, if we're lucky, put an end to their murderous hatred.

We can forgive them once they're gone.

10:25 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Graham Strouse said...

oligonicella--

I don't think the idea is to sanctify the entirety of Amish culture, simply to respect an aspect of their culture which is, in this context, admirable.

I have a great deal of respect for the expertise and acumen of Israeli military culture--Israel was a bad idea from the go in many ways, but once you build a country, it's sort of hard to make it go away. Or expect them to just go away.

Israeli Jews have perfected the art of aggressive defense to a level that could almost be described as sublime. They're fiercely independent, yet cohesive, they watch each other's backs--2,000 years of pograms and having 30% of your people wiped out in six years (there are 14 million practicing Jews left in the world) can make you a little tetchy.*

And for the record, I never thought that giving back strategically important territory on the West Bank to people who really, really want to kill your people was a very good idea.

But in the main, I admire Israeli military culture in its place, as it is, and for what it brings to its people for the same reason I admire Amish passive defense. It's also worth noting that the Amish have a ritual where they send teens out into the world so they can decide whether or not they prefer this century or the last minus one.

Now if they could just get out of the habit of hitting their kids with big sticks and deal with the meth problem...

But I digress. Again.

Different cultures, different situations, different necessities. I evaluate the moral qualities of a community/culture/religion based on how it reacts to the situation at hand. And I feel comfortable praising certain elements and criticizing others.

I know, that's not very American of me. Us Yanks don't do well with complexity. We tend towards binary thinking.

But I don't.

*****

*Jewish culture, of course, is rather more expansive then this number would indicate.

10:25 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Passivity is not admirable, it's simply a trait. And, it's a trait that can only exist because others will protect the passive. While I would, and have, stepped up to defend the either defenseless or passive, I do this not so much because of admiration for them as for comtempt for the agressor. And yes, because of my size and expertise, I consider it my job as well.

I do not condemn their passivity. I also do not blind myself with their self-promotion and ignore the fact that they, as a people and culture, are not actually passive. It is a face, not a trait of their culture, else wise there would be no rod beatings, teeth pullings, etc.

As an aside, I don't think any peoples tend towards binary thinking. I believe that's simply a perjorative.

7:50 AM, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

Look--disagree with me if you want--but leave the part where you basically call me a liar out of it.

No one called you a liar. I characterized the STATEMENT, not the speaker. That ridiculous assertion has been all over the media and blogosphere, and there's nothing in what I said ruled out the possibility that you were repeating someone else's claim without adequately skepticism. The assertion in question is as I characterized it. I have no doubt that some people are making it with the full knowledge it is false, but I put forth a range of possibilities, and you placed yourself at that end of the range.

It is rude, disrespectful and not necessary. You can make your points without the accussations.

And you can read what's on the lines instead of assuming what's between them. If you want to assume the worst possible interpretation of everything said, that's your problem.

I have worked with people who are violent and watched and listened to the way they think and talk about their victims.
No, you have listened only to the way they talk about them. You can only speculate on the way they think based on their words, and your reaction above does not inspire confidence in this speculation.

My impressions are that many of them subconsciously or consciously prey ruthlessly on people whom they perceive to be weaker.

Ruthlessly? Why the emotionally loaded terms for something like simple logistical/tactical optimization? This is like your use of the term aphrodisiac. Modern psychologists go on all day about how Freud got it wrong, but here you are, eroticizing what is essentially a pragmatic approach. Is there some aphrodisiac value in using a hammer to drive a nail instead of the heel of a boot, or even one's bare hand? Is there some psychosexual pathology behind choosing the shortest route between home and work? Why is it, when people plan for success in approved activities, it's a matter of being smart, but when they try to maximize efficiency and minimize effort in evil endeavors, there has to be some bizarre, convoluted, quasi-symbolic psychological twist behind it?

Did Ted Bundy go after men who were strong--no he met up with women who showed a weakness for his broken arm etc.

And who were swayed by his good looks - something far less probable in even the weakest man.

Did Jeffrey Dahmer go after large macho guys with weapons? No, many were very young men--some were barely teens and he got them drunk which further put them in a weak position.

Sure, so what? If I give you a choice between sitting down and ordering in a restaurant, or being dropped in the jungle with a piece of sharpened flint to hunt your food, I'm not going to attempt to pathologize your choosing the former. It almost sounds as if you believe bringing a knife to a gunfight is a sign of being well adjusted.
OK, so the fact that he wanted to kill these girls means he had a screw loose, but that doesn't mean he wasn't as capable as you or I of assessing the most practical approach to successfully realizing his twisted goals. Crazy and stupid are two different things.

10:12 AM, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

Puh-lease. They have had murder, they have had child abuse, they have had rape, they have had wife abuse.

With the same frequency as the outside world that demonizes corporeal punishment? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Beating with rods -- real, actual rods -- is unnecessary for the production of good people.

Bet that kid in Singapore hasn't spray painted any more cars since the first time.

12:50 PM, October 11, 2006  
Blogger Crimefile said...

I wrote about this issue in my own blog. I believe in self-preservation and deadly force in defense of a third person as a god given instinct and right. To not protect your own life and that of innocent others is an affront to our creator.

At the same time understand and respect the incredible power and example of forgiveness. I especially admire the love and support the Amish have extended to the madman’s innocent widow and children.

2:17 PM, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

I wrote about this issue in my own blog. I believe in self-preservation and deadly force in defense of a third person as a god given instinct and right.

Free speech is a right, but there's no major religion that lacks a prohibition on blasphemy. It's not about rights; it's about choices. There were no storm troopers in the Garden to stop Eve from eating the forbidden fruit.

1:04 PM, October 12, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"Yeah, I didn't think so."
Correct, you don't think so. You castigate Helen for reading into her patients, yet you read into the Ahmish. By the way, I don't demonize corp pun and the "outside world" doesn't as much as you appear to think. Don't be fooled by academia.

"Bet that kid in Singapore..."
Again, you presume instead of know. There are others who have been beaten who have continued on with crime. Single cases are not relevant to applying methodologies to groups anyway.

P.S. Webster's - ruthless: without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless

Merely a "simple logistical/tactical" description of his optimized actions. What he did was without pity or compassion and it was cruel and merciless. Sounds correct to me.

P.P.S. Nice trolling. Something to do over coffee.

9:01 AM, October 13, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

You castigate Helen for reading into her patients, yet you read into the Amish.

No, I don't read anything into them. In today's world of overzealous social services workers, with a predisposition of suspicion toward religion AND conservatism, if they had these problems in anything approaching the outside world's frequency, it would be all over the media.
By the way, I don't demonize corp pun and the "outside world" doesn't as much as you appear to think. Don't be fooled by academia.

Who's looking at academia? I'm looking at what happens to parents who try it, and if you don't demonize it, perhaps you've jumped into the wrong disagreement.

Again, you presume instead of know.

Actually, I 'bet' implying an ability to stake something of value on it. Your claim of presumption rather than a factual rebuttal means you don't know either, but you're not willing to assert that I'm wrong with any conviction.

There are others who have been beaten who have continued on with crime. Single cases are not relevant to applying methodologies to groups anyway.

Actually, societies with such policies enjoy far lower rates of such crimes.

P.S. Webster's - ruthless: without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless

And your point is? It's an emotionally loaded word in actual use, regardless of what Webster's says.

Merely a "simple logistical/tactical" description of his optimized actions. What he did was without pity or compassion and it was cruel and merciless. Sounds correct to me.

That he optimized his chances of success in no way establishes that he lacked pity or compassion, nor does planning for success require cruelty or lack of mercy. Would you suggest that military leaders lack compassion or pity, and are cruel and merciless because they seek to achieve their mission objectives quickly and with minimum casualties? Would you say that if sexually arouses them to condition their actions for success, as Helen implied with the aphrodisiac comment in the title?

P.P.S. Nice trolling. Something to do over coffee.

The cheapest of ad hominems, all because I don't subscribe to the social/pseudo-scientist's penchant for turning everything into a psycho-sexual chinese puzzle. It's funny, what first drew me to this blog was the post "Who Stole Psychology?" which suggested that Helen had broken out of the mold of her profession, but it seems this incident has brought out her real nature, as demonstrated by this and the latest post on the subject.
Oligonicella, sounds like you're another of her ilk. Tell me, why have all the problems the social sciences promised to solve increased in lockstep with the number of social scientists?

5:38 PM, October 13, 2006  
Blogger Rowena Hullfire said...

I worked at a Quaker boarding school. The Quakers really did a number selling their ideas to the teens, appealing to prideful superiority about how pacifist and religiously tolerant Quakerism is. I pointed out the historical necessity: William Penn's Pennsylvania was religiously tolerant so that the other religions would do the fighting for the Quakers, enabling their survival. (Frontier Indians at that time.) Hmm, perhaps those positions were from dire and pragmatic necessity and not moral purity?

A mass murderer doesn't need to target an Amish school to find defenseless targets. All US schools are under gun-free school laws. All schools are sitting ducks.

1:44 PM, October 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm viscerally revulsed by "forgiveness-mongering" in the face of evil. Perhaps that's because I've been a victim of it more than once (most saliently, a child sex abuse case, involving multiple teens and pre-teens in several Mormon wards in the mid-70's, covered up by three Mormon biships in collusion with the parents of the victims because those parents, including my own, cared much more about their church and their social position than their children).

I think that most people who reflexively peddle forgiveness when evil crosses their path really are quelling their deep anxieties about their own cowardice. Coercing others to forgive is frequently the sanctimonious public face of a ruthless Quisling spirit. The forgiveness-mongers sound to me like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.

Several posters here have talked about how you can forgive but not forget, or that you can still punish while forgiving. No, you can't. If forgiveness means anything real at all, it includes renouncing further punishment or reparations. You don't forgive after punishing--you forgive INSTEAD OF punishing. There is more to forgiveness than just this, but this is an essential part.

Refusing to forgive does not mean forever holding a grudge, unless you deep down don't really believe that punishment should fit the crime.

(And, yes, I am talking about all you people who nod approvingly to statements like "God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." If you didn't accept such an absurd theory of justice as the idea that eternal damnation is appropriate punishment for the most venial sin, you wouldn't have to twist yourselves into knots to counterbalance that absurdity with the idea that the most horrible crimes must be forgiven.)

Forgiveness is never morally mandatory, and it should be undertaken only by a person who has actually been wronged. Others have the obligation to at least passively support or to enforce justice until a victim freely renounces his claim. To forgive "on behalf of" a victim or to coerce a victime to forgive is vile. And, yes, telling someone that it is wrong or psychologically unhealthy or spiritually immature not to forgive is coercion.

In this case, the murderer is already dead. So while talk about forgiveness is still kind of icky, it's moot. Were he still alive, awaiting trial, I'd be REALLY annoyed by the forgiveness-mongering going on.

1:43 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Trey said...

Anon 1:43 wrote: "I think that most people who reflexively peddle forgiveness when evil crosses their path really are quelling their deep anxieties about their own cowardice." I am not sure about "most," but I recognize what you are talking about. And it happens a LOT when abuse is involved. It is uncomfortabloe to even THINK about abuse, and too many people seek a "faux" forgiveness as a way of avoiding feeling uncomfortable.

"Coercing others to forgive is frequently the sanctimonious public face of a ruthless Quisling spirit. The forgiveness-mongers sound to me like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space." Well said. The Dr. Smith reference is most appropriate. Coercing others to forgive is an extension of the abuse. Forgiveness cannot be forced any more than love can.

Great post. I hate what you are talking about because it SO damages the survivor. You rock.

Trey

2:10 PM, October 17, 2006  
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