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Wednesday, January 07, 2009 

Rewriting the definition of terrorism

Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos would rewrite the definition of terrorism in order to condemn Israel and to support the Palestinians. His dislike for Israel and those who support this country knows no bounds. His latest column in the Rocky shows just how out of touch this man is. Just what is his angle and what has he been smoking.

CAMPOS: Defining 'terrorism'
By
Paul Campos, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Published January 7, 2009 at 12:05 a.m.


Rocky Mountain News editorial pages editor and columnist Vincent Carroll has taken exception to my observation last week that - especially in the context of contemporary Middle East politics - the word "terrorism" is gradually being drained of meaning.

I observed that in practice "terrorism" is coming to mean something like "violence targeted at people with whom I sympathize." Carroll thinks this is "rubbish," and that terrorism has a clear meaning: "Violence that intentionally targets noncombatants for political purposes."

That is a neat definition in theory, but in practice - in other words, in the context in which violence actually takes place - things get very fuzzy very fast.

The meaning of every term in that definition - "violence," "intentionally," "targets," "noncombatants" and "political purposes" - is open to multiple, controversial interpretations.
Consider, for instance, the idea of "intentionally" targeting civilians. Intention is, in this context, a particularly slippery idea.


How true, the word terrorism is being lessened and changed. But not by those Campos would have you believe. The definition is being changed and the meaning of the word and act is lessened by Paul Campos himself.

Trying to redefine an act that is clearly black and white, by making it fuzzy is what Campos is trying to do. There is no slippery slope here. No social implication as Campos implies.

When someone points and fires a bullet at someone who is innocent is an act of violence. It is not open to interpretation. It is a crime. This is what is happening in the Gaza. Hamas is pointing and firing bullets , rockets and planting bombs intentionally. Not by accident!!! The sole purpose is to kill anyone who is Jewish or Christian.

In its narrowest sense, one can use "intentionally" to mean "doing something for the primary purpose of bringing about a certain result." But there's no particular reason why the term need be used in such a narrow way, and it often isn't.

For example, in American law, an outcome is generally treated as intended by whomever caused it if the relevant actor knew the outcome was either certain or likely to result from his actions, whether or not he actually desired that outcome.

Thus a factory owner who operates his facility in a way that he knows will emit pollution is said to be polluting intentionally, no matter how much he would prefer for the factory not to cause any pollution.

OK, that is correct. An intentionally act that results in the desired outcome is by definition intentional. So why then is he reverting to the liberal thought of no it isn't when he clearly defines it as such. Oh wait this is why. The liberal thought process of "I am not responsible for my actions" it must be someone else's fault prevails Campos thinking.

No where in his rant, and excuses for the terrorist does he elude as to why the Israelis are responding to them. His only offered acts of violence are those of the Israeli response.

* The Israeli air force drops a one-ton bomb on the home of a Hamas leader, killing him, his four wives and several of his children.


* Israeli army tanks shell a U.N. school being used for shelter by refugees from the fighting, killing several dozen of them (the Israelis claim they were being fired upon from the building - a claim that's impossible to verify independently, as the Israelis are blocking journalists from entering the Gaza Strip, in defiance of an Israeli supreme court order).

Do either of these incidents involve the intentional targeting of noncombatants for political purposes? It seems that, unless one is using an extremely narrow - and far from self-evident - definition of "intentional," the answer is yes.


Those carrying out these actions know perfectly well that, by carrying them out, civilians will be killed, and that indeed the killing of civilians might prove to be a useful deterrent to further resistance on the part of the enemy.

Paul Campos conveniently leaves out the fact that the Israelis had warned for two weeks prior of their intentions. Giving more then ample time those who did not want to be killed a chance to clear out.

He conveniently leaves out the fact that there was documentation provided that the TERRORIST were using said school to launch attacks from. A strategy that is in the play book of terrorist world wide. Hide behind the innocent and use them as shields.

The claim or innuendo that the Israelis are hiding their acts by refusing so called journalist to enter a combat zone must mean they are the ones who are committing crimes is ridiculous. Paul is more then welcome to don a flak jacket and go over there to see for himself. There are embedded real journalist covering the story. Oh wait they are from FOX, therefore they are accomplishes to crimes. We all know that FOX is biased (yeah right, rolling eyes).

Of course the vast majority of Israelis would prefer not to kill Palestinian civilians, if it were possible to achieve their military and political goals without doing so. But in this sense the Israelis are probably no different than most Palestinians, who after all are not sociopathic sadists. (This isn't to deny that some people on each side are sociopathic sadists, who consider the slaughter of as many people on the other side as something desirable per se).

Unfortunately the vast majority of Palestinians are complacent in their actions and attitudes towards those who are TERRORIST. The Israelis do however hold their own to the law. They do arrest and take to trial those who commit acts of violence. Unlike the Palestinians who hold criminals in a HERO WORSHIP status.

Now, none of this is to deny that there's a difference between shelling a school from which a sniper is firing and a suicide bomber walking into a cafe with the goal of killing as many civilians as possible. And, needless to say, I never denied that.

What an absurd comparison. One who walks into a cafe and explodes a bomb they are caring and a sniper who hides in a school full of children being used as a human shield to protect himself from retaliation. To imply that the taking out of said sniper is an act of terrorism redefines the definition of terrorism. Making any police department in the world that has a S.W.A.T. team terrorist.

What I do deny is that the moral and practical distinction between these actions is nearly as great as people imagine it to be. Condemning terrorism while - however regretfully - defending the dropping bombs on houses full of women and children is the kind of fine analytic distinction that tends to collapse when the bombs are falling on you.

To Campos there is no difference in a military action that has casualties and deliberate acts of TERRORISM VIOLENCE perpetrated upon innocents. Under Campos logic it is a crime to defend yourself if you are being mugged, raped, or murdered. His logic would dictate that if you do anything to protect yourself you are the same as the criminal.

This guy is a law professor? A law professor with tenure? No wonder the youth in this country is so screwed up.

Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. He can be reached at paul.campos@colorado.edu.

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  • I'm Devious Mind
  • From Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Good judgemnt comes from experiance. Experiance comes from bad judgement. Karma, its a bitch.
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