On holding everyone responsible for the actions of a few


The odious Rupert Murdoch has weighed in with a series of tweets that all Muslims are essentially responsible for the Charlie Hebdo killers, and author J. K. Rowling and others have responded ridiculing him. Jon Stewart and a panel of The Daily Show correspondents used the Murdoch episode as a springboard to discuss the double standard of those like Murdoch who demand that all Muslims denounce all acts of violence by any Muslim anywhere.

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Comments

  1. Brian E says

    I think Murdoch is responsible for the hacking of the dead girls phone. He sets up an environment where such things occur. It’s part of the business model.

    I do have a query. If, by the bystander principle, we are obliged to help in a situation where we can help, then to the extent that a member of a group can help, then shouldn’t they? I mean, I think all Catholics should stop going to church, that would end the protection cardinals, bishops and priests get via prestige and numbers and end the society that allows covering up child-abuse. That Catholics don’t stop, seems to me they share a tiny part of the moral culpability. Thoughts?

  2. says

    That Catholics don’t stop, seems to me they share a tiny part of the moral culpability. Thoughts?

    That seems reasonable If and only if one accepts the idea that a person can be blamed for another’s actions. There are interesting problems (as you point out) whether or not that represents a positive liberty.

  3. says

    I think the Catholic situation is different, since that’s an actual organization with direct ties from the individual parishioner and to the top. If someone merely considered themselves a Catholic, but never gave money to the church or supported them in any way, then it would be unreasonable to hold them responsible for what the leadership does.

    It’s the difference between just being part of a demographic, versus being a dues-paying member of an organization engaged in criminal activity. The former doesn’t make one responsible for what other people do. The latter does.

  4. Brian E says

    Luke, I meant, church going, fund giving Catholics who know of the abuse scandals. I remember my devout mum dismissing them over 2 decades ago, so it’s not like they aren’t known by believers. Who support the church. I’m technically a Catholic in that I’ve not written to a Bishop to have my name struck off baptism roll they keep. I’ve not been more than 2 times in a decade, and that was for a wedding and funeral.

    Marcus:

    That seems reasonable If and only if one accepts the idea that a person can be blamed for another’s actions.

    I meant, they’re culpable for their inaction. If you can stop a murder, and all things being equal, you let it happen, then you share in that culpability, not the majority of it, but some of it.

    Of course, the ‘all things being equal’ bit allows a lot of wriggle room. And believers might argue that their eternal soul is more important and if the kids are innocent, God will reward their suffering with eternal bliss. That was an emetic phrase…

    I’m thinking a bit along the lines of ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’, where the town is happy because some child must suffer a terrible life, and they know it suffers. A utilitarian, for the overall greater good, kind of thing. If you don’t leave Omelas, then your happiness makes you culpable for that kids suffering. Mutatis mutandi, if you don’t leave the church, then your happiness makes you culpable for lots of kids’ suffering. Of course, a child who attends church or a believer who has no knowledge of the scope isn’t among those culpable.

    Marcus, you have a better handle on philosophy of ethics than I, I’d like to hear your, and anybody else’s take.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ones_Who_Walk_Away_from_Omelas
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-responsibility/

  5. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    I think we should hold Murdoch and the NRA responsible for every crank who goes and shoots up a school, cinema or other public place. Those are far more frequent than Islamic terrorism.

    Murdoch is responsible for making sure every nut can get guns and he fills the air with hate mongering that is just as bad as the Jihadis.

    Murdoch is one of the principal authors of the Iraq war which caused a half million deaths. He is an advocate for the use of torture, a racist and a liar.

  6. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think the Catholic situation is different, since that’s an actual organization with direct ties from the individual parishioner and to the top.

    Agreed.

    Of course, nearly all Sunni and Shia clerics and scholars do embrace horrible, horrible stuff like death for apostates in this life … so I think it’s not completely different, and not all Muslims are Sunni or Shia, but I definitely see your point.

    If someone merely considered themselves a Catholic, but never gave money to the church or supported them in any way, then it would be unreasonable to hold them responsible for what the leadership does.

    Would you be similarly ok with someone identifying as a NAMBLA supporter, even if they don’t give them money or otherwise support them in any way? I don’t see much of a moral difference between the two any more. I’m sure NAMBLA has great community too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their members also organized sometimes to give to charity. I have to hold morally accountable to some small degree even those Catholics who offer no financial support to the Roman Catholic Church, because merely identifying as Catholic normalizes the behavior of identifying as Catholic – to borrow some concepts from rape culture.

  7. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think we should hold Murdoch and the NRA responsible for every crank who goes and shoots up a school, cinema or other public place. Those are far more frequent than Islamic terrorism.

    How is this different than standard procedure for criticizing those who support the NRA and/or gun rights? Seems pretty status quo and an uncontroversial thing to do if that’s what you believe about the NRA and gun rights.

  8. hyphenman says

    Then there is this:

    The official response to every jihadist-inspired terrorist attack in the west since 2001 has been to pour petrol on the flames. That was true after 9/11 when George Bush launched his war on terror, laying waste to countries and spreading terror on a global scale. It was true in Britain after the 2005 London bombings, when Tony Blair ripped up civil liberties and sent thousands of British troops on a disastrous mission to Afghanistan. And it’s been true in the aftermath of last week’s horrific killings at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

    In an echo of Bush’s rhetoric, the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy declared a “war of civilisations” in response to attacks on “our freedoms”. Instead of simply standing with the victims – and, say, the vastly larger numbers killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria – the satirical magazine and its depictions of the prophet Muhammad have been elevated into a sacred principle of western liberty. The production on Wednesday of a state-sponsored edition of Charlie Hebdo became the latest test of a “with us or against us” commitment to “our values”, as French MPs voted by 488 votes to one to press on with the military campaign in Iraq. To judge by the record of the past 13 years, it will prove a poisonous combination, and not just for France.

    Nothing remotely justifies the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, still less on the Jewish victims singled out only for their religious and ethnic identity. What has become brutally obvious in the past week, however, is the gulf that separates the official view of French state policy at home and abroad and how it is seen by many of the country’s Muslim citizens. That’s true in Britain too, of course. But what is hailed by white France as a colour-blind secularism that ensures equality for all is experienced by many Muslims as discrimination and denial of basic liberties

    Who benefits from these wars?

    How responsible for these wars are the citizens of France, Great Britain and The United States?

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