Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A few not-so-hypothetical questions


The following consists of three described scenarios, each with one or more related questions. I pose the questions out of serious curiosity as to how certain mindsets think about certain situations. If you do not find yourself in the named audience for a particular question, feel free to skip it or answer in some other way (for example, if I were to pose a question to a Libertarian and you aren't one, you might say "well, my friend is a Libertarian and I think he would say...").

Scenario 1

A man named Scott is accused of assassinating a civilian, for both political and religious reasons. While in custody, he claims that many similar acts are imminent around the country.

This question is most specifically for those who believe that the U.S. is justified and morally faultless when it subjects unrepresented and never-proven-guilty prisoners to "harsh interrogation techniques" (in seeming agreement with the likes of Dick Cheney and Jack Bauer).
  • If Scott is unwilling to give the police any and all information he has regarding other assassination plots, should he be tortured?

Scenario 2

Two men (both U.S.-born citizens), who do not know each other and are unrelated in any way, are each accused of committing a murder, coincidentally within 48 hours of each other. Both men have different (but equally fervent and extremist) religious and political beliefs. Both seem to have committed the alleged acts of murder for revenge against perceived wrongs and to frighten their perceived enemies into changing their behavior.

First question:
  • Based on just the above information, would you call either man a terrorist?
Additional information:

The first man, named Scott, is known to have been a member of anti-government and anti-taxation groups, one which has been involved in an armed confrontation with the FBI, and another group which denies the authority of the federal government. He has furthermore been convicted of possessing explosives (which his ex-wife says were intended to be used for similar goals as the murder he is now accused of). The site of his alleged act of murder was a church.

The second man, formerly named Carlos, has no criminal record and has not yet been proven to be associated with any extremist groups (religious, political, or otherwise). When apprehended, he was found to be in possession of three guns and approximately 175 rounds of ammunition. Some evidence suggests that he may have considered attacking religious institutions.
  • Now would you call either man a terrorist?
Here's even more information:

Scott has been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

Carlos has been charged with capital murder and fifteen counts of terrorist acts.

Oh, and Scott is a white Christian, while Carlos is a black Muslim.
  • Now would you call either a terrorist? And, given the above information, do the charges seem fair to you?

Scenario 3

Consider a man named William who lives in Indiana, where the age of consent is 16. Suppose that he somehow knows with some certainty that Mr. Taper, a 25 year old man living in his neighborhood, has been having completely consensual sex with different girlfriends, all of whom are 17 or 18 years old. Never mind that it's none of William's business, nor that it is none of the business of the rest of his neighborhood. Now, imagine that William is morally outraged. He gossips to his friends and neighbors, and posts fliers around town, accusing Mr. Taper of raping children, calling him "Taper the child raper!" Now, suppose some particularly emotional and volatile person(s) in the neighborhood assault Mr. Taper in a parking lot, landing him in critical condition at the hospital.

Thus, the following questions are for all, but are especially directed at viewers/readers/fans of such media personalities as O'Reilly, Hannity, Goldberg, Coulter, Limbaugh, et cetera.
  • Relative to the above situation, is William a liar?
  • Is he guilty of slander and libel?
  • Should he be considered, at the very least, somewhat responsible for his rhetoric?
  • Is it reasonable to expect William to at least consider the possibility that his dishonest claims might have had something to do with landing Mr. Taper in the hospital?

Obviously, my proposed scenarios and questions bare quite a bit of relation to the facts surrounding the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. I've purposefully tried to avoid the potentially incendiary topic of abortion. Perhaps a topic for another day.

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