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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Terrorism's gender (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Terrorism's gender
Dzuunmod
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This item from a Milwaukee newspaper asks the question, is terrorism male? And if it is, why?

The guy makes some good points, noting that he polled his colleagues about past female terrorists. One of the few names they came up with: Patty Hearst. And besides, he notes, "she had to be kidnapped and brainwashed into it".

Can you imagine women as terrorists? Why or why not?

Frankly, I'm disturbed by the fact that men, sometimes, seem so violent compared to women. I want to be proud of my gender, but some guys just make it so damn hard. Can anyone help me feel better? Even if not, just add your two cents.

There's a slightly interesting discussion thread on this topic over here.


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BruinDan
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A good point you've got there...I can remember vividly the day the Oklahoma City bombing took place. My former girlfriend and I had left school to go have lunch with her mother at home, and we walked in to see the aftermath on TV. The first words out of my mouth? "I hope they get the guys who did this."

I grew up thinking that men were the aggressors in both peacetime and wartime, and I watched enough movies with male antagonists to know that women could never wield bazookas. Of course not! It just couldn't be!

Until 1998. The FBI arrested a woman by the name of Sarah Jane Olsen near MizScarlet's hamlet in Minnesota. Olsen was formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, and had been a member of a violent terrorist organization known as the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970's. The SLA advocated violent resistance to local authorities and envisioned the complete overthrow of the US government. Based in Los Angeles, the group was responsible for shootings, small pipe bomb attacks on buildings, and the ambush deaths of several police officers. Kathleen Soliah was wanted for attaching several pipe bombs to the underside of LAPD patrol units. None of the bombs went off, but the attempt itself was enough to land her as one of the FBI's "Most Wanted" felons.

Only when she was caught did I realize that this was clearly terrorism that had both a male and female face. Rather than the Schwarzenneger-style movies which portrayed men as the violent ones, here we had Kathleen Soliah and numerous other women committing ambush attacks on police officers, placing bombs beneath patrol cars, and following heads of state around in an attempt to shoot them to death. Rather violent things indeed...and enough to prove to me that terrorism can work both ways, even if its far more common to come by way of male minds and hands.

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John Doe
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Dan is right Duz, there have been female terrorists, but the article is also right in that the vast majority have been male. In addition to Olsen, quite a few of Germany's Red Army Brigade of the 1970's were women. However, that is no reason not to be proud of your gender. Just remember, the vast majority of the firefighters who were rushing up the towers as everyone else was rushing down, were men. While all of them were professionals, for most of the country, firefighters are overwhelmingly volenteers. people who rush into burning buildings to save others and don't even get paid for it. Well over 95% of the volenteer firefighters in the US are men. There are evil men in the world, but there are far more brave and heroic men in the world. For every violent OJ, there are several Ron Goldman's, a guy who willingly sacraficed his life in an attempt to save a woman he hardly even knew. Is it possible that Nicole simpson would have done the same for Ron Goldman, yes, but it would have been extremely unusual. You do hear about women who risk their lives to save their children, but it is pretty rare to hear about women who risk their lives to save strangers. Women like that do exist, but they are rare, just like women terrorists are rare.
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Aria51
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Please, PLEASE keep in mind that there *are* female firefighters, police officers, soldiers, etc. Many of the firefighters and volunteers who helped out after the September 11th tragedy were women. Half of the volunteers in the fire department in my town are women. Almost all of the Red Cross volunteers in my town are women.

Heroic women ARE NOT RARE. Do not say such things unless you have solid evidence to back yourself up.


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KittenGoddess
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I'm rather insulted John, that was out of line. Look anywhere in history and you'll find heroic women. Women can, and have been, just as heroic as men have, and I find it highly offensive to hear someone say that female bravery is rare. In fact, it honestly makes me rather angry. Aria is right, back that up if you're going to make that kind of statement.

And as far as women as terrorists, yes, women can be terrorists. But I think alot of the reason they aren't automatically viewed that way was pointed out by the author of the article.

quote:
If these terrorists share the beliefs of the Taliban regime that protects them, it stands to reason that no women were directly involved. Their view of women is that they should stay home and do their best not to assert themselves.

I'm sure not all terrorist organizations have those views of women, but it does seem to be rather prevelant at the moment.

~KittenGoddess
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BruinDan
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quote:
You do hear about women who risk their lives to save their children, but it is pretty rare to hear about women who risk their lives to save strangers. Women like that do exist, but they are rare, just like women terrorists are rare.

Neeggaatttiiiveee...

Alrighty, hang on just a second there Mr. Doe. I think its high time we clarify a little something before this thread veers off into "BruinDan-has-to-shut-it-down" territory.

Not only is it not rare for women to risk their lives for strangers, it is in fact quite common and quite widespread. Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and genders, and I think it would be foolhardy to try and make the claim that women are intrinsically less likely to perform acts of heroism upon strangers than men are. Not only have I heard instances of female heroism over TV or radio newscasts, (including the two women who abandoned concerns for their own safety and instead slowly guided their critically-burned coworker down 87 flights of stairs to safety shortly before WTC Tower 2 collapsed last month) but I have witnessed female heroism with my own two eyes, and have even had women come to my rescue.

In late January of this year I was on Patrol when I was dispatched to a domestic disturbance. As I got onscene, I could hear screaming and yelling and sounds of an obvious fight in progress. As I rounded the corner to the apartment complex, I staked out a position where I could wait for my assisting unit to arrive and we could approach the scene safely. When I began to scope out the area, the dispute became louder and I began to hear sounds of someone hitting someone else. Since exigent circumstances were in effect, I had to abandon my position and attempt to intervene. No sooner had I reached the apartment doorway and broadcast a "clear the frequency" message over the radio to notify Dispatch that there was an emergency in progress, then I was confronted by a six-foot-six-inch man with a large knife in his hand. Not good. In one move I grabbed the microphone and called for assistance, and with the same hand I began taking steps to subdue the man who was about a foot taller than I was and easily outweighed me by 150 pounds. So the fight was on, and right about the time I was thinking, "Dear God, I'm going to have to shoot this guy before he kills me..." I heard the sweet sound of a siren, and then footsteps coming up the stairwell outside. It was a female officer who had come from an entirely different district halfway across town once she heard my request for assistance. She came in kicking, and as she grabbed one arm, I wrestled the knife away and the two of us held him in place until my district partner arrived and helped us take the very angry man into custody.

Was she a hero? Damned straight she was. Did I care that she was a woman? Hell no I did not. At that moment, when the chips were down and the fight was on, I was rescued by a heroic woman. She wasn't "just doing her job," her job was to remain in her district and take care of her side of the city. Instead, she hauled tail all the way across town to help me, a rookie officer whom she didn't even really know. Had she not been there, I would have had to wait for my district partner, who was fighting midday traffic and therefore greatly delayed. Would I have been killed? Who knows. Would I have had to kill him? Maybe. The bottom line is that things were ugly, and I had a woman there who risked her life for me.

And there are tons like her. There are stories about women who have pushed people out of the path of speeding vehicles. My training officer told me that when he was a rookie back in the 1970's, he had to handle a case where a woman had died while rescuing two people who had fallen into a flood-control channel. There are countless examples of this sort of thing, and making a blanket statement like you did defies conventional wisdom, and all logic.

In order to preserve my sanity, I am going to have to operate under the assumption that you just meant to say something else, John. Because I think a statement like that crosses the line of being completely unjustifiable, and borders on being blatantly ignorant. Let's tread carefully here, shall we?

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John Doe
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My point was not that their are not heroic women. Duz was getting depressed about our gender because of information about the majority of terrorists being male. Males being associtaed with aggression (true, testoseterone is associated with aggression) which if not channeled properly often leads to violence. However, that same aggressive tendency, that same testosterone, is very much involved in acts of heroism.
The essence of Duz's post was "look at all the evil men do". The essence of my response was, "true, but also look at all the good that men do"
There are female terrorists, but they are the minority. there are also female heros, but they are also the minority.
To assert that one gender is responsible for most of an evil in the world (ie terrorism), but not to look at where that gender produces the majority of a good in the world (ie life at risk bravery), ultimately leads to a distorted view of that gender.

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KittenGoddess
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quote:
Originally posted by John Doe:

there are also female heros, but they are also the minority.

Wrong...wrong wrong wrong. Maybe you only pay attention to the male heros. I can almost certainly guarentee that for the name of every male hero you can give me, I can give you the name of a female who was equally heroic. If you're going to make those statements John, then you show me one hard statistic from a reliable source that specifically states that a majority of brave deeds are preformed by men. Nobody here was trying to make this discussion about one sex being better or more brave than the other, except you. Yes, both men and women can perform evil deeds, and yes, both men and women can perform good deeds. And from reading everybody else's posts, it's apparent that we all recognize that. I can assure you that saying that there are fewer heroic women than men will do little to nothing about making Dzu feel better about any acts that happened to be preformed by his gender. If anything, this cheapens the whole idea behind the discussion.

Look John, I'm going to be blunt with you here. Not all women are nasty evil feminists who are specifically out to get men and repress you. Get over it.

~KittenGoddess
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DarlingBri
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Thank God someone said that.

If you want to argue stats and use the WTC as a playground for figures, you're absolutely correct: fewer women firefighters were on the scene at the WTCP and died. You know why? Because there are fewer women applicants - girls are still bloody encouraged to go into "female" professions - and there are fewer women applicants who actually become firefighters or police officers.

Now why would that be?

Could it possibly be because racism, sexisim and homophobia run rampant in traditionally male bastions of firefighting and police services?

Do you think that could POSSIBLY be why?

Yes, there are departments who actively combat this and that's great, but don't pretend it's not a problem.

Women are every bit as capable of heroism as men are, and when we remove barriers to high-profile jobs, we'll see more of that. Women served "heoically" in the Gulf War:
http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvetsds.html

And they will serve "heroically" now in the current conflict. They leave behind husbands, families, and children - just like their male counterparts - and some of them won't come back.

As to terrorism, I don't see the need to argue for eqaulity on this one. Women are totally capable of doing horrible things - Rose West comes to mind - but there are statistically fewer female terrorists and serial killers than male. That's fine. That's great.


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John Doe
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Did I ever say that all women are nasty evil feminists who are out to repress me? I don't think so. However, when information is presented that posts men in a bad light (ie what gender is terrorism), I think it only fair to present the flip side.
As for stats, how about this, granted it goes aways back, and to an increadibly sexist era in history. Unlike how it was portrayed in the movie, the primary differential in who died, and who survived the Titanic was gender, not what class the passenger was traveling. 87% of the women in 3rd class (you know the ones who were portrayed in the move as being locked below decks as the ship was going down) survived. The same 87% of 1st class male passenger men died. I'd say that giving up your seat in the lifeboat as the ship is sinking into the north atlantic is pretty heroic. Of course that is not how it gets portrayed in the media.
The world has changed a lot since the titanic went down. But I wonder, if it were to happen again, would it still be "women and children first"? Isn't there still an attitude in this society, shared by both chauvanists and feminists that says men should be there to protect the women, that women are in need of special protection.

I am not out to attack women here. But Duz said "I want to be proud of my gender, but some guys make it so damm hard". i was trying to give him a reason to be proud of his gender.

[This message has been edited by John Doe (edited 10-11-2001).]


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Heather
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Due to the user agreemewnt and guidelines, I am this close to deleting several posts in this thread or closing it entirely, which would be a shame, since it was a valid question and an interesting topic, and one which Dzuunmod started WITHOUT generalizations, i.e., "men seem so much more violent. " "some guys," etc.

In short, please AVOID generalizations about groups of people, as rerquested in the guidelines. If you have a lot of actual data on things from viable sources, that's fine, as that isn't generalizing. Same goes for not stating your perceptions and feelings as fact, by using qualifiers like "IT seems to me," or "I have observed, in my personal experience that..." Otherwise, it is, and is is inaccurate and hurtful, and stands counter to the user agreement.

So, watch your steps, okay folks?

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[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 10-11-2001).]


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Lisa D
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Back to the original question at hand...

If Terrorism is indeed more often executed by men than women (as this seems to be the statistical evidence), what are your takes on *why* this is true? Obviously, we have the nature/nurture argument - but how much is biology? Is a higher level of testosterone to blame (ok, I'm being simplistic - Gummi - any ideas?) Is it the way men are socialized worldwide? what are your thoughts...

Oh, and before we get off and running, remember, there are a very small percentage of people who commit terrorist acts (when considering population ratio) so we aren't pointing the finger at men - just trying to understand terrorism better...


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Confused boy
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They are very complex reasons for this. I am not sure if I personally like this direct linkage between gender and activities like this. Its all about individuals and the culture surrounding them. Perhaps a very slight genetic reason is involved but, if it is, it is very indirect and probably due to tiny things that might make men very slightly more susceptible to violent action.

A non individual based theory is as follows:-
In the case of Islamic terrorism its almost not even worth saying: women are not respected and not expected to be strong in their culture. Therefore the men are the soldiers of Islam and are the ones that are expected to lay down their lives for their religion.

For Fascist based terrorism (I would include American Patriots under that from what I know of them): usually fascists believe in traditional values and that usually involves women looking after children and preparing food. Therefore, female terrorists are against their idealogy and they would be very suspicious of "pro-active" females.

For Communist/Socialist based terrorism I would imagine it is more evened out since Socialism advocates equality of the genders. Since Communist based terrorism is very low at the moment, that would more or less account for the lack of female terrorists.

AND without resorting gender stereotyping (just Cultural)!

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John Doe
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CB,
I know what you mean by "American Patriots, ie the Tim McVeigh types. But please try to use a different phrase, such as the maltia movement, or the survivalists. At this point in time, the phrase "American Patriots" encompases the vast majority of americans. Most stores are having a hard time keeping American Flags in stock.

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Milke
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At least to many people, terrorism has a race too. The WTO disaster has lead to some remarkable discrimination, and to attacks on groups not even slightly associated with the suspected terrorists, which I find incredibly disgusting. We've got to be extremely carefully about generalizations like that.

Interestingly enough, there was a fictional book about female terrorists published in the early seventies. It was called The Girls In The Band, and was about a feminist (duh) group that got involved with another, more militant one who wanted to gain liberation through blowing stuff up. As it's been some time since I read it, and my copy succumbed to serious water damage, I can't recall the author, or too much else about it, and I can't find any information on the internet, but while it was an interesting concept, it was a really lousy book. I think it was intended to be comedic, but it just came off as anti-feminist and petty. I suspect that if women-as-terrorists were an idea people were more comfortable with, or found more logical, it might have done better, and there may have been more media on a similar theme. I don't think very many people want to think of women in a violent way, which makes it much easier to ignore or excuse acts of terrorism committed by women.


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Beppie
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I agree with what a lot of people have said about terrorism being seen as predominently male due to the fact that the cultures in which it occurs tend to see men as the more capable of genders. I would also ask people to remember however, that terrorism is not resticted to fundementalist Islam, facism and communism, but that it can also be commited by those from Western/Capitalist cultures, such as those to which most people here belong. And our cultures do often see women as less likely to commit terrorism and fight, because they are seen as less capable of dying for their beliefs or for the sake of someone else. In short, when you trace it back to the root cause of things, it is because women are not seen as heroic (and while we see it differently, most terrorists believe that they are doing something heroic).

Interestingly, this leads me to speculate that if the men in power, notably those in charge of the armies, began to see women as equally heroic (because indeed the majority of heroism does not belong to any particular gender), then it would be more likely that women would be drafted, seen as potential terrorists etc. One might speculate that assertions that men are more heroic than women and should see this as a source of pride, could actually perpetuate the inequality that they face on this issue.

As with many issues, I think that addressing the gender inequality problem that women face would take care of the corresponding mens' problem.


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BJadeT
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This could be a totally irrelevant and pretty stupid comment, and please forgive me if it is, but I think it also comes down to the cause that the terrorists are fighting for. Whilst religious/nationalistic movements seem to attract mainly men, it could be said that, for example, militant animal rights groups (who often do, in effect, perform acts of terrorism) have larger proportions of female members. I don't have any statistics to back that up or reasons why it might be so, but I think the reason behind the terrorism is something that needs to be taken into account as well.
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DarlingBri
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We're being awfully quick to throw this word "terrorism" around here.

terrorisim{ The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

The IRA is a terrorist organisation. The Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organisation. Militant animal rights organisations are not terrorist organisations.

Some of these groups will have no female members because they repress women as part of their ideaology. You're just not going to get an active female member of the PLO.

You may very well get an active female member of the IRA, however, or the Red Brigade. "Active" can mean many things, not just planting bombs or what have you. Couriers between cells, informants, stash keepers... these are roles that are sometimes filled by women in Western terrorist organisations.

Upon refelction, I think it's more accurate to say that there are female terrorists, but they tend to be less jigh profile in their organizations, for whatever reasons.


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DarlingBri
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BTW, here are some definitions of terrorism for anyone interested:
http://www.terrorism.com/terrorism/def.shtml

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John Doe
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I don't get how militant animal rights groups are not terrorists from your definition. they attempt to intimidate govenments into passing laws against things like animal testing. they certianly use and threaten to use violence against property of corporations which do not follow their political beliefs.
One might also include movements like the Earth Liberation Front as a group of terrorists, one that may or may not have a substantial number of female members.
I think the distiction about the aim that the terrorists wish to achive is a very useful one. One can clearly see how there would be fewer women terrorists for causes like militant islam. Even if they belived in that sort of interpritation of the Koran, that belief would cause them to take a back seat to men in fighting for it.

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DarlingBri
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Perhaps you know more about the animal rights movement than I do - that's very likely. If you blow up a lab that's working on monkey stem cells or what have you, that's not terrorism in my book. That action is aimed at a particular company to get them to stop testing on animals. I don't see that as a societal or government target, I see it as a corporate target.

If you blow up your state's capital building to get the legislature to ban animal testing in your state, then I guess that's domestic terrorism. I just don't see it as terrorism, but that's a personal interpretation.

I don't see a lot of that here; we're too busy being bombed by the PIRA. My view is just going to be different.


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Lisa D
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John,

PETA is an organization that utilizes legal outlets, such as print ads, letter writing campaigns, peaceful protests, and political lobbyists to work for their cause.

However, Fringers from PETA might take it upon themselves to commit illegal activities, such as the destruction of property, and in those cases you'd have to call the acts "terrorist," but not the organization, as they don't condone those types activities.

It's like saying that Christian Fundamentalism is a terrorist organization, because some radical members have bombed medical clinics, or shot doctors. Do you see my point?


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John Doe
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Bri,
Corporations and the people who work for them are not part of society?
Lisa,
I never called PETA a terrorist organization. It does have goals which are simalar to those of some animal rights terrorists, but that does not make the organization a terrorist one. The NAACP shared many goals with the black panthers, but that did not make the NAACP a terrorist organization. the only oganization I named was ELF, which does actively advocate the use of terrorist tactics against those who it sees as not being enviornmentally friendly. that does not mean that I see the Friends of the Earth or the National Audobon society as a bunch of terrorists.

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DarlingBri
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John, they are. So are governments. But if you blow up a Glaxo lab, your target is not the society in which you live, but a specific, narrow, corporate identity.

I'm pretty much done arguing semantics now. Thanks for listening.


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Confused boy
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I think that it is often easier to label people who we are not affiliated to as terrorists. I would say that many Animal Rights activists could be considered terrorists (they have done some pretty nasty things over here) but perhaps that is just because I dont like these sort of activists politically.
Interesting thing i heard elsewhere with this conjugation:
I am a freedom fighter
You are a rebel
He is a terrorist (the furthest removed from yourself)

PETA is more like the propaganda branch of these violent organisations. They have sent out some very misleading information to small children about drinking milk. They say it will make them grow fat and ugly! I find that very callous considering how even small children are now becoming paranoid about their appearence. I therefore equate PETA to the level of cynical marketing departments who target naive children for their products.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


Posts: 711 | From: England | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
John Doe
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Is there a moral difference between blowing up a Glaxo lab and blowing up an abortion clinic. I'm assuming that most people here would consider those who blow up clinics to be terrorists. I know I do.
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Confused boy
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Well not under Western morals no, definately no difference.

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DarlingBri
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Confused Boy, what're you doing, speaking for the whole Western world? [ ]

I personally don't consider blowing up an abotion clinic, laboratory, or church to be terrorism. To me, those are hate crimes. Yes, they inflict terror, but that doesn't make them "terrorist activities" in my definition.

Taking the KKK as an example, I consider that an extremely evil organisation filled with hideous people, but I still would not call it a terrorist organisation.


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Gumdrop Girl
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umm, but what is the difference between many terrorist acts and hate crimes? do both not inflict terror on a group of people? are both not the product of specifically-directed hate?

the september 11 bombings were as much a hate crime as an act of terrorism. yes, they terrified a nation of people. and the motive for the attacks was sheer hatred of american people.

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Dzuunmod
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Well, Gumdrop, I think that last part there is debateable. At the risk of steering the conversation horribly off-topic...

I was reminded by a newspaper columnist here a few weeks ago that, to the best of my knowledge, the people believed to be responsible for the attacks have never said that they don't like jazz, apple pie or American elections. They have said, however, that they don't like American sanctions on Iraq, American troops in Saudi Arabia and American support of Israel.


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sapphirecat
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I tend to think of terrorism as externally directed... blowing something up over there as opposed to blowing something up here. Semantics...

Another important thing to consider in aggression is cultural learning. Who usually has the gun in the movies?

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I don't use the term "straight". It implies its opposite is "crooked".


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Confused boy
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The definition of terrorism is not something affected by where it takes place. The WTC is terrorism on a global scale. ETA in Spain is a very local terrorist group. With the IRA they tend to live in the UK and they tend to attack the UK. Terrorism is quite a large umbrella term in this respect.

Culturally, that is definitely true. You see there is still in most cultures a general belief that women are weaker than men. In some coutries it is taken to the extreme: in the West it is just insinuated through the media.

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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dzuunmod:
I was reminded by a newspaper columnist here a few weeks ago that, to the best of my knowledge, the people believed to be responsible for the attacks have never said that they don't like jazz, apple pie or American elections...

Except for Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind of the operation, who was investigated (but not arrested) for "making criminal threats." In a dispute with a neighbor over a parking space, he told that neighbor that he "hated Americans and would kill them all if he could" (per CNN, September 28th). But the threat was deemed not credible enough to be a criminal violation and he was not arrested at that time.

Just for info only...

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Jeffrey
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Yeah, it's no problem to say that "terrorism = male because there are more male terrorists" but when you say "heroism = male because there are more male heroes" the flames begin to roll.

Wow... I really think a lot of people owe John Doe an apology. Just read over his posts carefully, then look at yours, maybe from a different perspective. Seriously, trust me, and do it. Then make your opinions again and tell me if I'm wrong. Anyways, this might help you see what I'm getting at:

"Heroic women ARE NOT RARE. Do not say such things unless you have solid evidence to back yourself up."

Uh, no one is saying they're rare... Simply that there are more male heroes than female. You honestly think there's an equal number of male and female fire fighters, police, etc.?

"Look anywhere in history and you'll find heroic women."

Again, it's all relative. Look in your history books and you'll find more male heroes than female.

"Not only is it not rare for women to risk their lives for strangers, it is in fact quite common and quite widespread."

Compared to men? I'm not so sure about that. I think you missed the point. No one is saying that there are no heroines, simply fewer than male.

"I can almost certainly guarentee that for the name of every male hero you can give me, I can give you the name of a female who was equally heroic."

Ok, how about great mathematicians, scientists, computer geniuses, war heroes (hehe), policemen, nobel prize winners, firefighters, etc. Oh well, when I think of "hero" I can barely think of a single female hero, yet countless male names pour through my head. If you really want a competition, you're on :P.

"Look John, I'm going to be blunt with you here. Not all women are nasty evil feminists who are specifically out to get men and repress you. Get over it."

Did someone say that? Quote please?

"Women are every bit as capable of heroism as men are, and when we remove barriers to high-profile jobs, we'll see more of that. Women served "heoically" in the Gulf War"

That's not the issue at hand... At all. Women are equally capable at terrorism, too. Why is it so bad that when I associate "hero" with "male" yet "terrorism" with "male" is no biggie.


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Aria51
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I don't recall anyone ever saying females can't be terrorists. That whole argument has been done with for a long time. Let's not start anything new, eh?
Posts: 1287 | From: Missouri | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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