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Aug 15 2012

Violence is never the answer

The headquarters of the Family Research Council, a Christian anti-gay hate group, was attacked this morning. A gunman who seemingly disagreed with their stance opened fire and wounded a security guard. I don’t care how much I disagree with someone’s political and religious views – violence is never the answer. If we want to live in a civilized society, we need to let our ideas speak for themselves without the fear of murder. My condolences to everyone affected by this terrible act.

43 comments

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  1. 1
    skeptifem

    WTF is with all the shootings lately? Is anyone else getting freaked out about it?

  2. 2
    abadidea

    Someone who actually studies this stuff should make us some charts if there has really been more shootings than usual the past few months or if we are paying more attention to it for some reason

  3. 3
    ParatrooperJJ

    It’s not a hate group any more then the Secular Student Alliance is a hate group.

  4. 4
    Marta

    We’re paying more attention to the shootings. This is awful, I wish people weren’t this aggressive. I just got done with a conversation where people were saying that Kenneth Miller deserved to get raped in prison. Been told that we aren’t tough enough and was called a concern troll for calling that talk out. It’s honestly horrible to see people say things like that. I get it, the things we fight for make us emotional and angry, that doesn’t mean we lose our ability to be calm and rational.

  5. 5
    adamgordon

    The Souther Poverty Law Center (a prominent hate group tracking organization) vehemently disagrees.

  6. 6
    carpenterman

    Unfortunately, violence often *is* the answer. Violence has settled more issues than any other force in history. Violence, and the threat of violence, is the ultimate way to get people to do what you want. It works for street thugs; it works for churches; it works for governments. If you’re goal is obedience, why bother with persuasion when fear is so much easier?
    Is it legal? No. Is it civilized? No. Is it right, by any reasonable standard of moral behavior? No.
    Is it effective? Oh, yes. And that’s why it’s not to stop. Ever.

  7. 7
    baal

    Allowing atheists and humanists to meet more of the same is hateful?
    I suppose you mean that you think it’s hateful to have a separation of Church and State. I recommend you read up on the colonies pre-unification into the U.S.

    There was xtian on xtian violence in spades and religious tests for office. Whatever flavor of xtian you were, you probably only had 1 of the colonies to live in if you wanted to follow the established religion.

  8. 8
    baal

    um, no.

    Even so far as a threat of violence is useful, that usefulness stops the moment violent action is taken.

    Non-violence is the best way to do social and rights movements. c.f. US Civil Rights Movement, Ghandi and the arab spring. The least violent segments of the Arab spring succeed where the violent uprisings (civil wars?) are bogged down.

  9. 9
    punchdrunk

    Not exactly what you’re looking for, and doesn’t include the shootings since the Colorado movie theater violence, but there’s this:
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

  10. 10
    Kausik Datta

    [psst, baal, the word is 'Gandhi', not 'Ghandi'.]
    That’s it folks, nothing more here. Move on.

  11. 11
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Well, it’s not true that violence is never the answer. Actual self-defense, which this really isn’t, is legitimate.

    On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder why it is that we regard indirect violence – the use of economic pressure and legal persecution backed by the threat of violence by enforcers of discriminatory laws and the property law that maintains economic inequality – as more legitimate and less execrable than the forms of violence available to those who don’t have those levers of power to pull.

  12. 12
    Hatchetfish

    I read carpenter’s post as mostly concerning coercive violence from the powerful, ie violence as a means of maintaining power, in which case it’s tragically accurate through pretty much all recorded history.

    As a means for causing change, absolute agreement w/ baal. Terrorism isn’t ethical, it doesn’t work, and the (non-fiscal) cost is far too high.

  13. 13
    david

    Don’t you quote Starship Troopers around here.

  14. 14
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    It’s not a hate group any more then the Secular Student Alliance is a hate group.

    You must have a narrow definition of hate group then. Either that, or you don’t think their anti-gay campaign makes them a hate group.

    The Family Research Council’s Senior Researcher for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg stated on NBC’s Hardball that gay behavior should be outlawed and that “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior” should be enforced. More recently, Sprigg has publicly suggested that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy would encourage molestation of heterosexual service members. When asked about Sprigg’s comments regarding the criminalization of same-sex behavior, FRC President Tony Perkins said that criminalizing homosexuality is not a goal of the Family Research Council, but did not denounce Sprigg’s statements. Perkins repeated the FRC’s association of gay men with pedophilia, saying that “If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children.” The opinions expressed by Perkins are contradicted by mainstream social science research on same-sex parenting and the likelihood of child molestation by homosexuals, and some scientists whose work is cited by the American College of Pediatricians, a small conservative political organization formed when the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed adoption by same-sex couples, have accused the FRC of distorting and misrepresenting their work.

    In the Winter 2010 issue of its magazine, Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the FRC as a hate group, saying that the organization “pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia”. FRC President Tony Perkins dismissed the hate group designation as a political attack on the FRC by a “liberal organization” and as part of “the left’s smear campaign of conservatives”. On December 15, 2010 the FRC ran an open letter advertisement in two Washington, D.C. newspapers disputing the SPLC’s action, ‘calling the allegation “intolerance pure and simple” and said it was dedicated to upholding “Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”‘ A section of the letter supporting the FRC and certain other organizations designated as hate groups by the SPLC had signers which included twenty members of the House of Representatives (including then soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner), three U.S. Senators, four state Governors, and one state Attorney General. SPLC issued a response by Mark Potok in which he emphasized the factual evidence upon which SPLC had taken the step of making the designation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Research_Council#Controversy

  15. 15
    Infophile

    My guess is that it comes down to System Justification (HT Crommunist):

    The psychological mechanism of this action is explained (quite brilliantly, I think) according to three competing psychological motives: ego motive, group motive, and system justification. The ego motive – the desire for self-esteem and acceptance – can be thought of in terms of “I like me”. Group motive refers to a desire to see those in your in-group in a positive light – “I like us”. System justification motive, however, refers to our attitudes towards the general state of affairs – “I like things the way they are”. These three motives are in competition with each other, and can be made more or less salient (cognitively available and subjectively important) depending on the circumstances.

    The authors of the paper point out that members of a group on the low side of a power divide are less likely to push for a change in the system if ego or group justification needs are not being met. Put another way, even those for whom the system sucks will tend to side with the status quo unless their desire for greater self-esteem (either individually or as a group) overcomes their inherent belief that the current social order is as it should be. If self-esteem can be maintained alongside the system’s integrity, people will find ways of rationalizing their position – whether they’re at the top or the bottom.

  16. 16
    Edwin

    So in your mind, students of a secular turn of mind meeting up on campus and discussing their similar interests is analogous to a national organization that maintains that homosexuals are abominations and paedophiles who are out to convert children and destroy religion?

    False equivalence is false.

  17. 17
    gworroll

    Violence is, at best, a lesser evil. It might stop the greater evil for a while, but it won’t fix the underlying problems that allowed the greater evil to take root in the first place.

    It might be necessary in extreme situations, but it’s never a fix. Just buys a little time to fix the real problem.

  18. 18
    Alyson Miers

    I was just thinking (and blogging accordingly) that the guard who was injured is probably going to land with a pile of medical bills that’ll be very difficult to pay.

    The shooter accomplished nothing except to put a working guy in the hospital. Which means that, depending on how he’s compensated, he could miss a lot of wages and that could mean a lot of trouble for his family.

  19. 19
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    And talking points for the Repigs.

    Someone really ought to check for false flag, just in case. >.>

  20. 20
    dougal445

    ‘Violence is never the answer’

    Errr . .
    Hitler?
    Getting Sadam out of Kuwait?
    USA independance?
    And so on.

  21. 21
    Phillip Helbig

    Assuming this is true from my perspective of living in a country which is actually civilized, how can a country in which someone is shot (on the job or not, for whatever reason) end up with medical bills? While something like 40,000 people are shot each year in the USA (in all of Europe, with a larger population, the total is probably less than 1000), as bad as this is, how many die from lack of health insurance?

  22. 22
    Rory

    I have heard that these kind of things can be contagious–one person’s act gives another angry, unbalanced person a template to follow–but I can’t claim to be aware of any genuine scientific evidence supporting this. I guess statistically you could assess the risk of a mass shooting as a function of time since the last one, but it would require a robust definition and you’d never be able to control for all the potential confounders. Potentially interesting.

  23. 23
    Rory

    I’m not nearly knowledgeable enough to weigh in on this, but I have heard some people make the argument that the non-violent Indian independence worked in part because the threat of violence still existed. Likewise I have heard some people say that Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have been successful without Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

    Again, I have no idea how credible these claims are. I can see some situations where violence might have an impact, but also others where it only strengthens the opposition and cedes the moral high ground.

    Regardless, what happened was terrible, and the only good thing I can say about it is that at least more people weren’t hurt.

  24. 24
    Rory

    Probably none of them. I believe it’s a law that any hospital which receives federal fundings is required to provide emergency care to anyone who walks in, regardless of their ability to pay. So they’re not supposed to boot you out while you’re bleeding to death.

    But, depending on what kind of insurance he has (likely provided through his employer, whether that’s the FRC directly or the firm that provides their security) he might have to pay a high deductable for the care he received, or he might have co-insurance which requires him to pay a portion of whatever the cost of care is. He could also exceed his annual coverage limit, which would leave him responsible for any costs beyond that (although this isn’t likely for an uncomplicated gunshot wound).

    If he has no insurance, his situation could be far worse. If he is poor enough he might qualify for Medicaid, but I don’t know how good their coverage is. If Medicaid doesn’t apply, he’d be paying for it all out of pocket. Which, you don’t need to tell me, is pretty awful. I would go so far as to say that if he ends up with a big bill here I would be okay with chipping in to pay it, if only for the good PR for atheism (similar to the collectiongs Hemant Mehta has organized to pay for church vandalism).

  25. 25
    Reginald Selkirk

    Well, it’s not true that violence is never the answer.

    I agree, it depends on what the question is. Likewise, I frequently see bumper stating “War is not the answer.” Once again, it depends on what the question is. What if the question is, “what is a three letter word for large scale organized aggression?”

  26. 26
    firstlast

    The Nutty Rifle Association is partly to blame: sell guns, kill people, sell MORE guns, kill MORE people…

    Every time someone gets shot, they ramp up the rhetoric and more stupid people go out and buy guns and shoot people.

  27. 27
    ParatrooperJJ

    The SPLC jumped the sharp a long time ago. It exists solely to line Morris Dee’s pocket.

  28. 28
    Dave

    The superior swordsman wins without ever drawing his sword.

  29. 29
    StealthBadger

    One, you really should attribute the first part of that comment to Heinlein. Second, violence does not solve problems, it picks up the table the problem is sitting on and throws it across the room, leaving you with a dozen more problems plus whatever survived the throwing.

    In much the same way that W.W.II set the stage for the cold war (and many of the tensions supposedly “solved” there are playing out again in the slow-motion disintegration of the EU), violence is just a rough shuffling of the deck.

  30. 30
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    All gods demand sacrifices.

  31. 31
    PatrickG

    Just a quick note on that, ER’s are required to stablize your condition (i.e. as you say, they can’t let you bleed out.

    If you need physical therapy or ongoing care, and don’t have insurance, you’re (he is) basically fucked. I hope he has insurance. :(

  32. 32
    PatrickG

    *stabilize

    My fairytale kingdom for a 30s edit button. :)

  33. 33
    Georgia Sam

    Hear, hear!

  34. 34
    Phillip Helbig

    “he might have to pay a high deductable for the care he received, or he might have co-insurance which requires him to pay a portion of whatever the cost of care is. He could also exceed his annual coverage limit, which would leave him responsible for any costs beyond that

    If he has no insurance, his situation could be far worse. If he is poor enough he might qualify for Medicaid, but I don’t know how good their coverage is. If Medicaid doesn’t apply, he’d be paying for it all out of pocket.”

    Note that none of these would apply in most “first-world” countries. Any deductible or co-insurance, if it exists at all, is negligible (limited to at most 2% of salary). Annual coverage limit? Never heard of it. Not insured? Difficult when insurance is compulsive. (Note that countries which have compulsive insurance either finance it out of taxes or it is a percentage of one’s income, i.e. it is never the case that it cannot be afforded.)

    What, if any, of these things would change if Obama managed to get his health-care concept implemented?

  35. 35
    littlejohn

    Why shoot the security guard? He’s a poor guy with a dangerous job, minimum wage and almost certainly no insurance. I’ve been a security guard. It sucks. He will receive no help from his employer with his wounds. If he fights them in court he’ll never work as a guard again. Raising money to help with his medical expenses is the sort of thing WE ought to be doing.

  36. 36
    trewesterre

    Hitler attacked Poland before anyone else attacked Hitler. Defence of self or allies isn’t the same as randomly attacking people.

    Also, Canada managed to get independence from the UK without violence. We even get membership in the Commonwealth. :P

  37. 37
    Rory

    That’s an important clarification. Thank you.

  38. 38
    James

    According to an article on CNN he’s both Security Guard and Manager. He was also only shot in the arm.

  39. 39
    Taylor

    I think getting shot on the job would qualify for coverage under Workers Compensation, if the FRC falls under that law.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers%27_compensation

    “In the United States, most employees who are injured on the job have an absolute right to medical care for any injury, and in many cases, monetary payments to compensate for resulting temporary or permanent disabilities.[17] Most employers are required to subscribe to insurance for workers’ compensation, and an employer who does not may have financial penalties imposed. “

  40. 40
    the_innkeeper

    These are all “no true Scotsman” arguments.

    Violence does solve problems, yet people do not wish to see that. We gnash our teeth and wring our hands over the loss of lives, or of the action that was taken, but in the end, violence is a solution to a problem. Warfare is the application of force in order to bend an adversary to your will (to further paraphrase Heinlein). Violence in the personal area is no different.

    “Shuffling of the deck” is much less efective than burning the deck down. Violence as a method to deter a thought or political activity/policy has been continuous throughout human history. It was used to remove Nazism from its position of power. It failed to remove communism from its position of power, entirely. It can be used to affect policy and agendas. Malcolm X was mentioned. Was King able to walk softly because X had a big stick?

    We did not have a nuclear exchange with the USSR, despite some serious attempts at it, because the threat of the use of violence was so great.

  41. 41
    lirael_abhorsen

    The part most likely to change under Obamacare is that the guy would be more likely to have health insurance in the first place, as that’s a big part of what Obamacare was trying to fix. As of 2010, 16.3% of the US lacked health insurance (the number goes up quite a bit in certain communities of color, and certain states are hideously worse). But in Massachusetts, the state whose health care system was the inspiration for Obamacare, the uninsured percentage is only 4.4%.

    One thing I will note about Medicaid is that while someone with Medicaid in one state is supposed to be covered in another state under the law if they get hurt there, in practice that often doesn’t happen. I don’t know this security guard’s living or insurance situation, so this point may not be relevant to the specifics of his case, but many people who work in DC, where he was shot, live in Virginia or Maryland.

    Yes, it’s a broken system. I suspect you’re preaching to the choir when you say as much in this forum, as people here tend to skew in certain political directions.

  42. 42
    lirael_abhorsen

    I do want to add, though, that there’s a pretty good chance the guy’s health care is covered under workers’ compensation.

  43. 43
    Landon Senate

    Not only does it punish responsible owners, but additionally add to already overcrowded pet shelters which often just wind up killing the dog.

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