November 19, 2006

Thought for the Day

"One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter and VICE VERSA." -- Lebanese blogger Josey Wales in the comments.

Updated to add: It's those last three words that are so often forgotten by those who enjoy the first (cliched) part of that statement.

Unlike most of us, Josey Wales grew up in a country that was blown up and dismembered by freedom fighters, er terrorists.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2006 01:06 PM
Comments

No, no, no. Josey is Wrong. It's a perversion of language and meaning.

Terrorists target civilians, freedom fighters target those who oppress them.

Total War fighters target both: Battle of Britain, Bombing of Dresden.

If your wife is killed by a drunk driver, or because she avoided a cat in the road by swerving into an oncoming semi, or because of a terrorist bomb -- she's dead in any case. But the intentions matter.

Because freedom has "rules", like Human Rights rules against gov't enforced Sharia, the term "freedom fighter" can only rightly be applied to those who are fighting to impose rules that are considered part of freedom.

Because "freedom" has different meaning for different folks, "pro-free speech & free religion fighters" are certainly different in intention and usually operation, than "pro-Sharia fighters".

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 19, 2006 02:25 PM

There is a line, and any "freedom fighter" becomes a terrorist if they cross that line. That line is attacking innocent civilians when there is no military objective involved, when those attacks are conducted by private or paramilitary organizations.

The presence of human shields does not turn an attack into terrorism. Human shields, such as the innocent Shia with Hezbollah missles under their homes, have been deliberately placed in harm's way. Those who own the weapons and who placed the human shields are the real criminals.

Attacks by uniformed military troops, acting under orders from a government, are not acts of terrorism, even when those attacks are against innocent civilians, with no military objectives. There are other terms for such despicable acts, but this is not terrorism.

Even in an age of information warfare, publicity is not a valid military objective. Attacking innocent civilians for the purpose of "standing up for our cause" or to "send a message" is still terrorism.

Posted by: diane at November 19, 2006 02:26 PM

It's a perversion of language and meaning.

The point is to neutralize the cliche that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Because one man's "freedom fighter" is often another man's terrorist.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2006 02:54 PM

If one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, perhaps we can all agree to call them "Freedom terrorists?"

Example: Hamas guy walks onto a crowded bus in Israel and detonates himself. It's an act of terror, but he did it for freedom, freedom to live in a Palestine without Israel, to live under sharia.

He's a freedom terrorist.

It changes nothing, and others like him and those that sent him out still must be eliminated.

Posted by: semite1973 at November 19, 2006 03:45 PM

but he did it for freedom, freedom to live in a Palestine without Israel, to live under sharia.

Now that's a perversion of language.

First of all "freedom from" is not freedom, it's completely unrelated meaning of the word. So a man fighting for freedom from Jews is certainly not fighting for freedom as such.

Second of all, a man fighting to impose Sharia onto his people is clearly fighting against civil rights and freedoms. By any reasonable standard, he's fighting for oppression.

That's not freedom just like black is not white, up is not down and night is not day.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 04:01 PM

Diane, Tom Grey,

The definition is "terrorism" is really very simple. It's the act of TERRORIZING a group or populace through one's actions. By this definition, blindly firing rockets at civilian population centers is just as much terrorism as the air force conducting mock air raids over a city.

Period. Full stop. End of story. :)

Posted by: bad vilbel at November 19, 2006 04:01 PM

Sorry,

But "freedom fighters" shouldn't be doing this:

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2006/11/islamic_jihad_i.html#more

Posted by: Alex at November 19, 2006 04:04 PM

Josh Scholar,

I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek when I wrote that post.

Posted by: semite1973 at November 19, 2006 08:44 PM

I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek when I wrote that post.

Someone should have told AFP that when they took a picture of Gaza after the Israeli pullout and titled it "Gazans' enjoying their first day of freedom"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 08:53 PM

BV, when the US nuked Hiroshima, it may well have TERRORIZED the population, and the leaders.

But the purpose was to cause them to surrender, so that democracy and "civilized freedom" could be imposed (by MacArthur and the US military).

If you want to call all bombing "terrorism", and all war "terrorism", and all effective self-defense efforts "terrorism" -- then you reach the pacifistic "all fighting is terrorism".

This is not a civilized position.

For one thing, I automatically exempt men in uniform, from either side, from being called "terrorists". Rule of law requires enforcement, and enforcers rightly enjoy the privilege of using force -- but are clearly identified by their uniforms.
The terrorists in civilian clothes are different; though if they are freedom fighters in civilian clothes they are more terrorist like.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 20, 2006 01:06 AM

A freedom fighter is someone who fights for freedom. Murdering random people is not an effective method of promoting freedom, and I can't think of a single example of advocates of freedom doing it.

Posted by: Matthew M at November 20, 2006 01:07 AM

Why terrorists do not equal freedom fighters. (written in March of 2005)

:::

According to [Andre] Glucksman, one man's terrorist is not another man’s freedom fighter. War is bad, but genocide is worse. He says:

"…what do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common? After all, they support ostensibly very different ideals – the superior race, mankind united in socialism, the community of Muslim believers (the Umma). Tomorrow, it could be altogether different ideals: some theological, some scientific, others racist. But the common characteristic is nihilism."

The root element is the attitude that anything goes, particularly when with regard to ordinary people: I can do whatever I want, without scruples. Goehring put it like this: my consciousness is Adolf Hitler. Bolsheviks said: man is made of iron. And the Islamists whom I visited in Algeria said that you have the right to kill little Muslim children, in order to save them."

The nihilistic philosophy that a certain group of terrorists/oppressors can do whatever they want to "save" their society will eventually destroy the society. Glucksman calls this "belligerent hubris"

Wherever you go, this belligerent hubris is considered lethal. In the huts of the Amazon, young men are taught to conquer this capacity for excessive violence. You can fight together, but you cannot fight in any way that comes to hand, and you don’t set out to fight just anyone. The same idea occurs in the teachings of the Greeks, the paidera. All European education is based on the same principle.

All European education used to be based on that principle. The indigenous tribes of the Amazon know that terrorism is taboo but now France and the UN do not.

Most people are repulsed by terrorism for the same reason we’re repulsed by cannibalism and incest. It’s taboo, a crime against humanity, abhorrent because it can destroy a whole community, not just individual lives.

Society can survive war. War follows the established rules. Resistance movements [freedom fighters] target enemy combatants and their infrastructure [not unarmed civilians] Resistance movements like the American Revolution don't destroy a society. Frequently they create a better society.

In contrast, terrorists target toddlers, genocidal dictators target thousands of unarmed civilians. They don’t do this because they’re following rules, they’re doing it because they want to do it and no one will stop them.

A society built on terrorism or genocide becomes a culture of death. We saw what life was like under Taliban rule. We saw Palestinian society under Arafat, we see the genocide and slavery in the Sudan. If we decide to let Hezbollah have political power, we'll see the same effect in Lebanon.

:::::::::

Posted by: mary at November 20, 2006 07:07 AM

Diane, Tom Grey,
The definition is "terrorism" is really very simple. It's the act of TERRORIZING a group or populace through one's actions. By this definition, blindly firing rockets at civilian population centers is just as much terrorism as the air force conducting mock air raids over a city.

Period. Full stop. End of story. :)
Well, not so fast.
I think your definition misses something. It overlooks motive and results.
I think all would agree that the United States and the allies during WWII had moral rectitude over the likes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The allies had different reasons for resorting to violence, and their use of violence was intended to have specific results.
The allies used violence as a defense. It was in response to axis aggression. The axis powers used unprovoked violence to conquer territory and also committed egregious human rights violations, be they in Europe or China and the Far East.
Yet at the same time I have no doubt that allied bombing raids “terrified” German civilians. By your reckoning, however, the allies in WWII are just as bad as al-Qaeda or any other monstrous terrorist group.
To follow your logic further, imagine that a robber pulls out a gun in a bank. He says, “Everybody down!” But an armed security guard pulls out his weapon and shoots the robber in the head. Pieces of skull and brain and gobs of blood go flying everywhere, terrifying everybody in the bank. Thus, the security guard’s actions terrorized a group of people. The security guard is a terrorist.
Nah, doesn’t hold water.

Posted by: semite1973 at November 20, 2006 07:25 AM

The problem is not just that terrorists (and their supporters) abuse language by calling themselves "freedom fighters", but that "terrorist" has become an all-purpose insult, like "racist".

You can be evil and be neither a terrorist nor a racist. Words have meanings, not just connotations!

Posted by: Yafawi at November 20, 2006 09:34 AM

Well, I'll probably get squeaked at for this comment.

DISCLAIMER: I am not calling terrorists freedom fighters.

What's the difference between these two groups. Many have said that its the issue of killing innocent civilians. However, I have had serious trouble finding any freedom fighters that don't target civilians that disagree with their POV. Even our dear American Freedom Fighters engaged in horrific behavior against civilians who were Torries. In some cases nailing them to the door of their home and leaving them for the family to find later.

So while I agree that terrorism is terrorism, is freedom fighting ever really free of terrorism? Could it be that terrorism is simply one of the tools that seem to fit in the "freedom fighter's" array of psyops?

I love history and I think we learn a lot through its study. If anyone is familiar with a revolution, civil war or guerrilla war where murder of innocent civilians was NOT on the roster, I'd like to get a reference to it.

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 20, 2006 09:39 AM

Tom Grey,

I disagree. Bombing Hiroshima had the purpose of TERRORIZING. Therefore it was an act of terror. Fullstop.

The motivations behind terrorism are a whole different matter. You might have the noblest of intentions (or the most vile), that does not change the fact that you are using terror.

One has to distinguish between the act itself and the intentions behind it. Two entirely different things.

As Yafawi said though, these words are somewhat overused nowadays, and the semantics of it all are not really as relevant to reality anymore. In the end, it doesn't matter whether you define this or that as "terror" to the victim. I have a hard time believing a regular Japanese civilian who lost a child at Hiroshima thinks "Oh well, those Americans did it with the noblest of intentions. So it's ok."

Posted by: bad vilbel at November 20, 2006 10:08 AM

Ratatosk: If anyone is familiar with a revolution, civil war or guerrilla war where murder of innocent civilians was NOT on the roster

Here are two that come to mind instantly:

The first Irish Republican Army war against the British Empire.

The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga war against Saddam Hussein.

Maybe the French Resistance against the Nazis, but I am not certain.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 20, 2006 10:57 AM

I partly agree with Bad Vilbel here. What would you say if the US turned Kabul, Afghanistan into a firestorm after 9/11? Or if the IAF physically destroyed cities and their occupants in Lebanon?

Terrorism may not be the right word, but we would be talking about some kind of war crime for sure.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 20, 2006 11:02 AM

Even our dear American Freedom Fighters engaged in horrific behavior against civilians who were Torries. In some cases nailing them to the door of their home and leaving them for the family to find later.

Why do you define 'Torries' as 'civilians' and not the 'American Freedom Fighters'? During the war of American independence, Torries were collaborators, enemy combatants, legitimate targets of war.

You can't fight a war without killing enemy combatants or destroying the enemy's infrastructure. You can't fight a war without terrorizing the enemy and their civilian supporters. Well, you can fight that way, but you'll lose.

The rules of war are by definition horrific and cruel, but history shows that societies can survive war. History also shows that societies can survive freedom fighters and revolution. But a society that's built on the deliberate targeting of it's own members, a society that's built on the massive oppression and murder of its own citizens tends not to survive.

Posted by: mary at November 20, 2006 11:19 AM

Mary,

There is a difference between killing enemy combatants on the battlefield, and performing specific acts to "send a message" (i.e. terrorize the rest of the populace), like nailing someone to a wall, or putting someone's head on a pike.

The truth of it is, all these notions of warfare are somewhat antiquated. It all made sense back when 2 armies met on a battlefield, somewhere in a big open space, and butchered each other until one was left. Back then, you could differentiate between "battle" (what I just described) and "terrorizing a civilian population" (say, when an invading army rampaged through a village, raped and pillaged and whatnot).

Today, warfare does not take place in a battlefield. It is often conducted INSIDE population centers. It is also conducted in a very indirect fashion (as opposed to hand ot hand combat). People flying planes that drop bombs. People firing katyushas, etc... So the whole warfare lexicon we're using here is somewhat obsolete.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at November 20, 2006 11:51 AM

Funny, no one mentioned stubborness.

After 35 years of exchanging terrorism between Israeli and Lebonese the initial effect of terrorism simply morphs into stubborness. No advance can be made.

If terrorism fails to get one or the other group to back down then it follows that one side must be eliminated or ethnically cleansed or its stalemate.

Is that what Iran is preparing to do now?
To eliminate one side of the stalemate?

Is that why Hizbullah tries to roust May 14 and take over Lebanon?

You young fighting Lebonese fail to see where your brave warrior terro . . stubborness is taking you.

I have seen the pictures and videos of old lebanese people begging you to stop the madness and negotiate peace. Your seniors see clearly where you are headed. Listen to your seniors.

Under the Hizbullah and Persian Shiia law, ALL your women will be walking in the black death hijab and the religion police will be everywhere.

Have fun. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 20, 2006 11:53 AM

Mary,

Why do you define 'Torries' as 'civilians' and not the 'American Freedom Fighters'? During the war of American independence, Torries were collaborators, enemy combatants, legitimate targets of war.

Not exactly, at least no moreso than you could say that a Shiite or Sunni, by virtue of their label are enemy combatants.

America, during the revolution had several political views in play. The most obvious were the revolutionaries. Jefferson, Franklin, etc. etc. For the most part they were landowners, somewhat wealthy and quite active politically and philosophically. They were also, by far, a minority (at least according to the records we have available). The second obvious group were made of of Loyalists (also known as Torries) that were Actively fighting for England, they also tended toward some wealth, though mostly tied to British interests. Third, and the majority (by far) were the average individuals who didn't really want there to be a War, and didn't really care one way or another.

Out of the third group, you had people that sided with the Revolutionaries or the Crown, but they weren't actively doing anything... just more or less, voicing their opinion. Those who supported the Crown in this way were known as Torries and not differentiated much from the active Loyalists.

In documented cases, American Revolutionaries killed Men, women and children who were loyal to the crown, but not at all active against the revolution. In a number of cases there were people nailed to their doors, their only sin being that of holding on to the idea of being loyal to the government they knew, as opposed to the government that a minority wanted.

You can't fight a war without killing enemy combatants or destroying the enemy's infrastructure. You can't fight a war without terrorizing the enemy and their civilian supporters. Well, you can fight that way, but you'll lose.

I agree. When a group fights a war, they have two choices, beat around the bush, or do what they think will win. In most cases, as far as I've been able to tell, terrorism fits into the latter category for most groups... particularly when those groups are based on an insurgency, revolution or civil war.

Though Michael does provide two examples above where this didn't happen. (Though to be fair, the French didn't have any non-military targets while they were under occupation).

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 20, 2006 12:18 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Good point. Col. Hammes (USMC) calls the current type of Warfare "4th Generation" in his book "The Sling and The Stone".

Fantastic book, by the way.

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 20, 2006 12:20 PM

Today, warfare does not take place in a battlefield. It is often conducted INSIDE population centers. It is also conducted in a very indirect fashion (as opposed to hand ot hand combat). People flying planes that drop bombs. People firing katyushas, etc... So the whole warfare lexicon we're using here is somewhat obsolete.

Yes, but the basic rules remain the same. Target the other side, don't kill your own. Don't think that God/Allah/the Proletariat/humiliation/etc. gives you the right to randomly slaughter anyone - the neighboring tribe, commuters on a train, tourists, cafe patrons, etc.

Breaking those basic rules is recognized by most societies as an abomination, as destructive as incest or cannibalism. It is possible to build a society on a foundation of terrorism, the oppression and mass murder of random unarmed civilians, incest and cannibalism, but that society will be diseased and short-lived

Posted by: mary at November 20, 2006 12:27 PM

It's spelled "Tories", guys, not "Torries".

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 12:37 PM

And why the debate about the term? Terrorism is a tactic whereby spectacular violent acts are committed by irregular forces, intended to terrorize a population in order to achieve a particular political aim. Those who use those tactics are terrorists, whether "freedom fighters" or not.

And, for the record, there have been several extremely successful societies that were based on violence, cruelty, and suppression that did very well. The Roman Republic and Empire, for example, endured for almost a thousand years.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 12:43 PM

I agree. When a group fights a war, they have two choices, beat around the bush, or do what they think will win. In most cases, as far as I've been able to tell, terrorism fits into the latter category for most groups... particularly when those groups are based on an insurgency, revolution or civil war.

Though Michael does provide two examples above where this didn't happen...

My grandpa fought with Michael Collins in the first Irish Republican Army (army intelligence). I've been reading some of his memoirs and I recently visited relatives in Ireland. If you ask them about that time, you'll get an earful.

There are some interesting comparisons between that war and this one. In the first Irish war of independence, the British and the mercenaries they sent into Ireland (the Black and Tans) used terrorist tactics. They relied on random atrocities against civilians to assert their power. The terrorist Black and Tans were comparable to Hezbollah, a well armed militia supported by a foreign regime, generally hated by the population.

The first IRA fought asymetrically, using tactics like assasination and sabotage, but unlike the Black and Tans, they targeted combatants. They won by making calculated, surgical strikes against a stronger enemy. According to my relatives, the Irish won against the British by being smarter, not stronger (although that opinion may be biased).

If we wanted to win an asymetric war by fighting asymetrically, we should learn more about the tactics used by Collins, the Kurds or any other group that effectively used resistance methods to fight a brutal, well armed, well-financed opponent.

Posted by: mary at November 20, 2006 12:58 PM

Mary: During the war of American independence, Torries were collaborators, enemy combatants, legitimate targets of war.

Some were, but the majority were simply supporters of the legal government at the time, and that was enough for them to be arrested, tarred and feathered, or lynched.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 01:26 PM

I found a great video about November

Posted by: Thomas at November 20, 2006 01:50 PM

Terrorism can be limited with open identity too. No Burka!

The law should ban the concealment of face and identity in public for very reasonable and logical purpose. Security.

Armed robbers,the KKK, Muqtada Blackshirts, and Hizbullah conceal their face with fabric to commit crimes with impunity.

Police, customs workers and social service agencies along with airport, rail and other security workers must be able to match picture ID to the holder*s face.

Thousands of public security video cameras , [ generally approved by the public], are thwarted by those who would hide behind a Burka.

The sooner the Netherlands style No Burka Law comes into effect in Canada and all of North America, the better. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 20, 2006 03:01 PM

The sooner the Netherlands style No Burka Law comes into effect in Canada...

Wouldn't that be fairly nannyish? How often have people in Burkas used them to commit crimes in Canada? Should we pass a no turban rule as well? How about facepaint? Hats? Sunglasses?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 03:15 PM

No clothes!

That will go over well in the winter.

Actually I would support a no burka law.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 03:20 PM

Actually I would support a no burka law.

And people thought that communists were statists.

Hey, you in the Burka! You are wearing clothing deemed illegal by the state! Off to jail!

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 03:24 PM

Heh, Michael Jackson was spotted wearing a Burka so that he can sneak around Dubai (but doing a terrible job of it apparently).

In Israel's war for independence, Arab fighters sometimes wore Burkas, pretending to be women so they could get close to the soldiers. Of course Arab media sensationalized the results as "Jews shoot at women!"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 03:35 PM

Either we allow all forms of dress or undress in public or we do not.

I would also support a law that allows all forms of dress as long as nudism was included. Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned the overly dressed whose oppression of women offends me can be outlawed along with the under-dressed!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 03:52 PM

I would also support a law that allows all forms of dress as long as nudism was included.

I live in a nation with such a law. We have a nude beach twenty minutes from downtown.

And we haven't had anyone using a Burka to conceal themselves while committing a crime. As soon as we have some of those, then it might be time to discuss the issue. Until then, not so much.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 04:20 PM

How about we prohibit men from forcing "their" women to wear burkas? That would put such a law in a different class from the banishment of sunglasses, etc.

If a woman wants to wear a burka, on the other hand, that's her business.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 20, 2006 04:22 PM

How about we prohibit men from forcing "their" women to wear burkas?

Think we already have that one too.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 20, 2006 04:31 PM

"By this definition, blindly firing rockets at civilian population centers is just as much terrorism as the air force conducting mock air raids over a city.

Period. Full stop. End of story. :)"

I disagree, mock air raids don't kill people. Randomly dropping bombs on the civilian population would terrorize people in the same manner as random rocket attacks. Firing dud rockets would be the same as a mock air raid, it's possible that one might land on someone or give someone a heart attack but the intention is not to randomly kill civilians.

Posted by: mikek at November 20, 2006 04:38 PM

mikek, I think you are missing the very definition of terrorism.

Terrorism is not really aimed at the people it kills, it's more a message for the people that are still alive.

The guys who flew planes into the twin towers did not simply look to kill 3000+ people. They wanted to instill fear and TERROR into the rest of us. THAT is terror. Terror is not the act of killing innocent civilians, that's called something else (massacre, mass murder, etc.) the "terror" part is actually what's aimed at the rest of the population.

Hm. Did that make sense?

Posted by: bad vilbel at November 20, 2006 07:51 PM

No, not really. I know what Terrorism is, but your comparison was incorrect. Simulating an air raid and making rocket noise would be comparable. Shooting rockets at people is an act of war imho, because you are trying to kill people. If the Israeli's decided to drop a few bombs on random people it would be the same.

btw, I am assuming you are lebanese, you should spread the word that killing american civilians builds hate not terror. The current battle plan that some, a small minority I am sure, arab/muslims are running is a horrible idea. I can't think of a worse idea for that/whoever/your/someone's side than to create a situation where civilians are targets. It's insane.

Posted by: mikek at November 20, 2006 09:02 PM

I live in a nation with such a law. We have a nude beach twenty minutes from downtown.

Way to miss the point.

If they want to make burkas legal only on designated beaches, then I'm OK with that too.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 09:31 PM

Think we already have that one too.

Except that this would be coercion inside a family, where the law probably can't see, not very effectively.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 09:54 PM

Terrorism may not be the right word, but we would be talking about some kind of war crime for sure.
-MJT

You're very close.

War crimes are committed by soldiers in violation of an order, law or treaty forbidding such action. The soldiers responsible are clearly associated with a national government and are part of a chain of command that can be used to establish who is accountable for the action.

Terrorism is committed by non-soldiers*. They are not clearly associated with a national government, and their chain of command will not be used to establish who is accountable for the action.

That's the difference right there. With soldiers, you know what government is responsible. With terrorists, the point is to avoid the consequences of the act.

*calling combatants 'civilians' just because they're not in uniform is asinine. If you're fighting, you're a combatant.

Posted by: rosignol at November 20, 2006 10:29 PM

If they want to make burkas legal only on designated beaches, then I'm OK with that too.

Way to miss the point. The law doesn't just effect designated beaches. Try to keep up.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 21, 2006 09:30 AM

Ungood, are you saying that it's legal to go to the mall nude, where you live?

What country and state or province is that?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Malls have dress codes, JS, just as restaurants do. Being privately owned, they are entitled to set the dress standards, are as most private homes.

In general, people who intend to dress (or not dress) to shock or to be sexually provocative are committing an illegal act. But general benign nudity is not illegal.

For example, a few years ago, most Canadian provinces declared it unconstitutional to prosecute women for being topless in public, as men have enjoyed that right for some eighty years or so.

I don't think I've heard of a case of someone being prosecuted for simple nudity in quite some time.

At any rate, it's moot. No one is going to make certain clothing illegal here. Too nanny-statish.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 21, 2006 01:00 PM

For example, a few years ago, most Canadian provinces declared it unconstitutional to prosecute women for being topless in public, as men have enjoyed that right for some eighty years or so.

How can the constitution, or rather its charter of rights and freedoms apply in only some provinces?

Anyway, you were at least exagguring. Since topless is not nude, although it's a step.

I'm reminded of bits I've read recently where Islamists are complaining about how dangerous they think naked women are, by which they mean woman showing faces, necks and arms.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 21, 2006 03:46 PM

In general, people who intend to dress (or not dress) to shock or to be sexually provocative are committing an illegal act.

Funny that's just what I want to see protected.

Otherwise we might as well agree with the Islamic radicals. A friend of mine went to Yemen, where young girls and old women are not so covered and cloistered, but young women are, because they're "sexually provocative". He couldn't bring back pictures of women because even children would stop him from taking any pictures. In theory he could have been arrested for taking pictures of a woman.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 21, 2006 03:51 PM

Funny that's just what I want to see protected.

Every culture has its standards for what is sexually disruptive. Naturally, I prefer my own culture's standards, but its useful to remember that by some historical standards, we're complete prudes and fanatical about covering up our bodies.

In any even, the illegality of sexually provocative nudity is to stop things like naked prostitutes on the street.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 21, 2006 04:04 PM

In any even, the illegality of sexually provocative nudity is to stop things like naked prostitutes on the street.

I think it was the combination of security problems and hostile social separation that actually prompted me to say I support a Burka ban...

But ultimately I'm for the ending of all laws against victimless crimes and would support a constitutinal ammendment to that end. I feel much more strongly and much less conflicted about that than I do about supporting any nanny-state laws, even ones in my favor.

So yes, naked prostitutes on the street: in favor of allowing that.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 21, 2006 04:54 PM

Solution,

Burkahs from the neck down are fine anywhere, especially beaches and malls to reduce undue arousal in young men like Josh and Double.

No face covering allowed however. Public Security, we understand. When in Roma. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 21, 2006 09:27 PM

I don't think I've heard of a case of someone being prosecuted for simple nudity in quite some time.

That's because you live in Canada. Being nude in Canada is stupid- if frostbite doesn't get you, the misquitos and blackflies will.

Posted by: rosignol at November 21, 2006 10:32 PM

I don't think I've heard of a case of someone being prosecuted for simple nudity in quite some time.

That doesn't happen much anywhere, even in countries where nudity is completely illegal.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 22, 2006 07:10 PM
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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn