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On cowardly violence, courageous non-violence, dumb comments, and other facts of weblife

Over at TZP, I Make An Official Statement then muse on assassinations, revolutions and other generally bad ideas.

Don’t miss the latest by Nicki Kenyon (on the most recent hoplophobic idiocy out of New York) and Y.B. ben Avraham (on the revival of a sadly stubborn European tradition) while you’re there.

5 Comments

  1. Laird
    Laird February 23, 2015 8:34 am

    OK, I’ve spent the weekend thinking about your piece on assassinations, and have come to the conclusion that I don’t entirely agree.

    TPZ is certainly within its rights to ban comments calling for violence; indeed, that’s probably a very prudent policy. (As you say, you aren’t particularly excited about receiving visits from the FBI, BATFE, etc.) And I certainly won’t scream “censorship”, which is always and only a feature of government; private organizations can quite properly decline to publish whatever they wish. But if violence isn’t “the sure sign of courage or principles” (with which I agree), by the same token non-violence (even if it is not “non-action”) isn’t always a sign of wisdom or maturity; sometimes it is a sign of cowardice.

    You write: “There may come a time when defensive violence in the cause of American liberty is necessary once again. But that time is not now.” And perhaps you’re right; certainly I’m not ready to take that step. But surely everyone is entitled to make that decision for himself (and perhaps my personal reticence is simple cowardice).

    We can debate about when that time has arrived, and we can debate the specific tactics employed. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a blanket denunciation of violence in defense of liberty, which is how your criticism comes across (notwithstanding your attempt at “nuance” and the gentle suggestion that somewhere, sometime, such violence might possibly become necessary). Unless you’re prepared to offer a specific definition of precisely when you think violence would be appropriate, the comment is unhelpful.

    I remind you that, on his own, Ghandi would never have succeeded in freeing India, any more than Thomas Paine’s pamphlets alone would have freed the United States. Passive resistance by itself is rarely enough. In both cases, independence also required the violence of others. Why should this time be any different?

    An outright call for violence is probably beyond the pale in any public blog. But the defense of the right to make such a call surely is not.

  2. Claire
    Claire February 23, 2015 10:55 am

    “We can debate about when that time has arrived, and we can debate the specific tactics employed. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a blanket denunciation of violence in defense of liberty, which is how your criticism comes across …”

    Your comment is well said and generally right on, Laird. If I came across as making a blanket condemnation of violence in defense of liberty, I didn’t mean to. Though I hope violent revolution never comes to this country (and there have been countries that made huge change without it; e.g. most of the Eastern bloc in the late 1980s and early 1990s), I’m not opposed to all violence.

    The tricky part, as you note, is knowing when the time has come. Then knowing how to go about it.

    My post was primarily answering people who get online and talk about how they want revolution or think “we” (but never of course, they themselves) should be assassinating tyrannical officials. But in the broader picture, you’re entirely right.

  3. Ellendra
    Ellendra February 23, 2015 10:16 pm

    I think the only time we’ll know when that “time” is, is 50+ years after a revolution succeeds. For anybody without a crystal ball, all we can do is make our best guess based on what information we have.

    I wonder how many revolutions failed that would have succeeded just with different timing? No way to tell really.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2015 11:28 am

    Ellendra — You often make the most amazingly good observations.

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