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Author Topic: Occupy Wall Street and the sad state of American protesting
MrSquicky
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quote:
If you can safely subdue them and then maroon them on a desert island or something where they'll never be a threat again
I want to come back to this, too. Honestly, marooning them on a desert island sounds like a lot of work. Is there some level of burden where you are no longer under an obligation to not kill them. Let's say to maroon them, you'll need to learn how to sail, build a boat, explore around to find a suitable island, and then after you drop them off have to make regular food runs so they don't starve to death.

Do you have the obligation to do this instead of killing them?

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kmbboots
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I am not sure an individual would, but I think that society as a whole does. The police are acting on behalf of society as a whole.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
Because I know where my moral principles come from. And I don't accept this one.

If you're saying that it is so because you choose to believe it, that's fine, but that seem to me to be a pretty nonsensical foundation.

The reason I hesitate to give an answer is that there are many potential answers, and I'm not sure which is correct. And like I said, we're speaking hypothetically in the first place, since I actually think the right to life is broader than just the right not to be killed.

I'm not sure it's going to be fruitful to talk about my views, which are in some ways pretty far from settled anyway. My original intent was to object to your views. Unfortunately, the best way to object to someone's views in ethics is by reductio ad absurdum. But I tried that, and you just denied the premises (that is, you accepted what I see as the absurd consequence of your views), so I'm not sure what to say.

quote:
I want to come back to this, too. Honestly, marooning them on a desert island sounds like a lot of work. Is there some level of burden where you are no longer under an obligation to not kill them. Let's say to maroon them, you'll need to learn how to sail, build a boat, explore around to find a suitable island, and then after you drop them off have to make regular food runs so they don't starve to death.

Do you have the obligation to do this instead of killing them?

It is someone's life. But certainly there's some degree of hardship that would be too great, so the answer to the important question is yes, there is some level of burden where you are no longer under an obligation to not kill them.

[ November 29, 2011, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Destineer ]

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Destineer
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In fact, I think the idea that you have the right to kill someone, even though you could achieve exactly the same good end without killing them, strikes me as absurd right there. Normally if I were arguing against someone with views like yours, I'd say,

But doesn't your view have the absurd consequence that you're allowed to kill someone "in self defense" even when you can protect yourself just as easily without killing them?

But you started out asserting that position, so again, I'm not really sure what to say.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
But doesn't your view have the absurd consequence that you're allowed to kill someone "in self defense" even when you can protect yourself just as easily without killing them?
But you're not killing them solely in self defense. Yes, that goal is accomplished, but in my view, they've forfeited the protection offered by the social contract by violating that contact. At that point, you have no obligation to them to not kill them.

However, in our society, there is a separate obligation one owes to society because we delegate punishment of crimes to the judicial system. This is only goes into effect after the person is subdued, though.

So, as far as I can see it, you have no moral obligation to them or society to not kill them during the attack. I'm not sure what is absurd about that.

Again, that's not to say that you should. In fact, I'd say it is admirable to use non-lethal methods. But as far as I can tell, that's a personal preference and doesn't rise to the level of a moral obligation.

---

edit: I think part of this is also that, while there are some major practical problems with it, I have no theoretical objection to the death penalty. I'm assuming that you do.

If a society can morally kill someone as the result of judicial proceedings, then a person in a theoretical society without a judicial system can likewise do so.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
So, it's not a right to life, but rather a right not be killed.

If so, where does that right come from?

You keep conflating "killed" and "murdered," even though I specifically pointed out these are different quantities. It is *against* the social contract to kill someone when it is not necessary, or perceived as necessary, to do so. We call that, a killing which constitutes a violation of the social contract, a "murder."

But earlier I was arguing more specifically about police and government. In their cases, the line is much more clearly defined. We as citizens of the United States are afforded certain constitutional rights, among them the right to life, liberty, and property, not to be taken from us without just cause and due process of law. So a cop killing someone he doesn't have to kill is violating that person's constitutional rights- in the strictest terms. As I said before, proving that in court is one thing- it is not often that a true binary situation exists between "had to kill," and "did not have to kill," so "choosing" to kill is trickier than yes or no, especially for a cop.

But there remains an inherent distinction between murders, and killings. And the fact that a person has "broken the social contract," does not somehow excuse *you* from breaking it. That is the nature of the contract- it binds individuals in their own actions, it does not operate as some sort of club where some people are members, and others aren't. What you were describing is sort of like the Mafia.

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MrSquicky
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I'll try to get back to this, but I'm not going to have time for the rest of today.

I always feel kind of bad getting into stuff here, because usually don't have the time to participate in a meaningful way and I generally find that by the time I get back, the conversation has moved on or died.

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Destineer
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quote:
But you're not killing them solely in self defense. Yes, that goal is accomplished, but in my view, they've forfeited the protection offered by the social contract by violating that contact. At that point, you have no obligation to them to not kill them.

However, in our society, there is a separate obligation one owes to society because we delegate punishment of crimes to the judicial system. This is only goes into effect after the person is subdued, though.

One thing that's confusing me: how do you know the social contract doesn't govern when lethal methods can be used in self-defense? Couldn't there be a just civilization where people generally agreed that it was impermissible to kill attempted murderers in cases where they can be subdued non-lethally?

In fact, it seems like the society we live in has agreed that force should be limited even when one's life is in danger, as indicated by the California laws that Dan was originally objecting to.

quote:

edit: I think part of this is also that, while there are some major practical problems with it, I have no theoretical objection to the death penalty. I'm assuming that you do.

Nothing I've said implies this. It might be that the death penalty deters crime in a way that imprisonment doesn't, so that imposing the death penalty will lead to fewer murders. In that case, setting a society-wide policy of killing attempted murderers might be the right thing. (Although I don't know of a state where the death penalty applies to attempted murder, which is all the attacker in our example is guilty of.)

quote:

If a society can morally kill someone as the result of judicial proceedings, then a person in a theoretical society without a judicial system can likewise do so.

Yeah, if there's some morally good end they can achieve by doing so, and couldn't achieve in any better way. That's very different from saying that it's permissible to kill someone who is attacking you, even when there's nothing morally good to gain by doing so (which seems to be your position).
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Destineer
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That's cool, I'll be around tomorrow.
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Orincoro
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Meh, sucks for me living at GMT+1. I wake up in the morning and check stuff, and nobody in America is updating anything until it's already late in the day here, then I miss the evening convos on facebook, and catch everything later when it's 8 hours old already.
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BlackBlade
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When I was in Beijing it was interesting to wake up with truckloads of new posts, a dearth during the day, and then a small but ever increasing amount of posts in the afternoon/evening.
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Destineer
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To reply to Geraine:

quote:
I've seen protesters sticking their fingers in the face of police and screaming at them from just a few inches away, and the police have kept their cool. They know that if they make one wrong step there will be 20 people around taking pictures of it just to throw everyone into an uproar.
Good. That's their job. Unlike the police in these videos, the ones you saw were doing their job right. That's the minimum we should expect from our public servants.

quote:
Luckily we have had no problems whatsoever here in Las Vegas. The people here at Occupy Vegas have been MORE than willing to work with the police. The police have asked them to move, they simply do it. They don't argue, cry, or scream at them. They have their beliefs and make them known, but they are doing it in a mature way that doesn't cause harm to anyone.
If they were to stay put, rather than obeying police orders to move, that would harm someone?

quote:
Compare that to Oakland where people are firing off shots or the other protest (I think New York?) where they broke into Bank of America and vandalized it. Why on EARTH would I want to hear what someone who does that has to say?
Really? B of A is a scummy company, and also really lame. I have great sympathy for anyone who takes them on.
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kmbboots
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Geraine, would vandalism of, for example, tea bother you?
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Mucus
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Vandalism of tea always bothers me
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advice for robots
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Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

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rivka
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afr, completely agree.
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Destineer
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It's not OK legally. You should get arrested for doing it.

Morally, it might be an OK thing to do, and I would probably want to hear out the complaints of someone who vandalized a Bank of America.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Morally, it might be an OK thing to do

Wow. No.
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Destineer
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What if the protestors are right that large US banks are, in fact, instruments of oppression?
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Destineer
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Keep in mind that I'm replying to Geraine's incredulous question:

quote:
Why on EARTH would I want to hear what someone who does that has to say?
I think there are many situations in which protestors commit vandalism as an expression of legitimate complaints that we the public ought to pay attention to. Environmentalists sometimes do this kind of thing too, for example.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
What if the protestors are right that large US banks are, in fact, instruments of oppression?

I still would disagree that vandalism is a morally acceptable method of highlighting that.
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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
What if the protestors are right that large US banks are, in fact, instruments of oppression?

If that turned out to be the case, then by all means, viva la revolucion. Change the name of the movement to Burn Wall Street and pass out the torches.

Assuming the OWS movement is largely peaceful and the vandalism is being done by radical fringe elements or just plain immature kids, I'm not sure the opinions of the perpetrators would hold a lot of value to me. I also don't think hating the bank gives me any moral justification to perform violence against it.

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Destineer
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Why is vandalism necessarily worse than committing other crimes in the name of civil disobedience? Because it's a property crime with a clear victim?
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

Ok. I'll ask you, too. What if the private property being destroyed were tea?
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advice for robots
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Because it's the equivalent of peeing on the carpets when there's a perfectly good bathroom available. Because it crosses the line from civil disobedience to keep the protest going to civil disobedience for its own sake. Because it costs the movement the sympathy of the general population--making it look more like dangerous, hotheaded ranting than a legitimate movement for change.

Even when the protesters are granted permission to occupy a park or square, their continued presence there results in significant wear and tear that costs plenty of money to clean up and repair (love the rhyming there). Vandalism is an added expense and risk to the city and will more than likely result in the city clamping down to protect area businesses.

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

Ok. I'll ask you, too. What if the private property being destroyed were tea?
I have no opinion on that. Feel bad for the tea company? I'm not by any means a member or sympathizer of the Tea Party movement, if that's what you're driving at.
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kmbboots
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It isn't. Even those of us who are not fans of the current Tea Party movement, generally consider people like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty to be patriots. At the time, they were considered vandals and destroyers of private property. Which they were. History is written by the victors and time has a way of white washing and romanticizing actions that seem crude and violent in the present.

Sometimes, people are justified in the destruction of private property. Time will tell if this is one of those time.

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advice for robots
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Time, and whatever the victors write to whitewash and romanticize the actions of the vandals, I guess. [Smile]

I still see neither the moral justification nor the point behind vandalizing a bank, nor do I see it as being representative of the OWS movement as a whole.

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kmbboots
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I don't think it is representative either. I am just saying that destruction of private property is not some sacred line that good people never cross. Sometimes we have considered it the right thing to do and the people who do it to be the good guys.
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Mucus
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I'm not a big fan of either Tea Party for that matter.
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advice for robots
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I can see vandalism being used carefully and effectively by cool-headed people to make a statement that absolutely needs to be made or risk hardship and oppression for large swathes of the populace. I don't think we're anywhere near the point where that is needed and justifiable, however.
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kmbboots
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And you may be right. In fact, I think that, in this case, you are. That is a far cry, though, from, "Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though."
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advice for robots
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True. And what I said was in context of the vandalism of the Bank of America branch by members of the OWS movement. Vandalism crosses a line that OWS has no justification to cross or condone. That line must be crossed with great care and a really good reason.
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kmbboots
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Thanks for the clarification.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

Ok. I'll ask you, too. What if the private property being destroyed were tea?
I see what you're doing and I like how clever it is, though.

I dislike how it is a manipulation of the general disconnect from the lessons of our own history that makes it clever.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Why is vandalism necessarily worse than committing other crimes in the name of civil disobedience? Because it's a property crime with a clear victim?

Since nobody else seems to have answered this question...
Yes!

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

Ok. I'll ask you, too. What if the private property being destroyed were tea?
I see what you're doing and I like how clever it is, though.

I dislike how it is a manipulation of the general disconnect from the lessons of our own history that makes it clever.

Eh. I didn't think it was all that clever - or that subtle. Just a reminder that, sometimes, we as a country have approved of the destruction of private property in order to make a political statement. We tend to think of the Boston Tea Party as a blow against England when really it was the destruction property that belonged to a company.

ETA: I doubt that corporate vandalism is necessary here, but I don't see a big moral difference between the property of BoA and the property of the East India Company.

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advice for robots
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FWIW, I considered posting some of my thoughts on the original Boston Tea Party in response to your question about the tea, but didn't think that was what you were getting at. Guess I was wrong. [Smile]
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kmbboots
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I assumed that "tea", "Samuel Adams" and "Paul Revere" might have been clues.
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No, the post before that. About how I would feel if it were tea being vandalized.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Vandalism of a bank office is OK in the course of a protest as long as the bank is scummy? I don't see how that's a good enough excuse.

I can see refusing to leave a park as an acceptable level of civil disobedience by protesters. Seems like condoning the destruction of private property crosses the line, though.

Ok. I'll ask you, too. What if the private property being destroyed were tea?
I see what you're doing and I like how clever it is, though.

I dislike how it is a manipulation of the general disconnect from the lessons of our own history that makes it clever.

Eh. I didn't think it was all that clever - or that subtle. Just a reminder that, sometimes, we as a country have approved of the destruction of private property in order to make a political statement. We tend to think of the Boston Tea Party as a blow against England when really it was the destruction property that belonged to a company.

ETA: I doubt that corporate vandalism is necessary here, but I don't see a big moral difference between the property of BoA and the property of the East India Company.

Insofar as B of A is a monopoly, propped up and supported by the full military might of the US... that is, insofar as BoA's relationship with the US mirrors the EIC's relationship with the British Empire... you're totally right!

That is to say... there is a shred of truth here (see bailouts, ML acquisition, etc.)... but you're still wrong.

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kmbboots
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What would be the wrong part? [Wink]

Heh. I don't suppose that BoA is peddling opium. That we know about.

[ November 30, 2011, 06:10 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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scholarette
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kmboots, I wouldn't put it past them.
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Mucus
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Growing opium, smuggling opium, and then invading and colonizing in order to continue selling opium when caught is somewhat difficult to compare to selling fraudulent mortgages.

You'd probably have to do some mashing together of Citigroup (to match the political connections), of Halliburton (to get mercenary armies), and the CIA (selling drugs in Central America) to get anything really comparable.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
kmboots, I wouldn't put it past them.

Smoking opium is what would explain some of their fees and policies.
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Dan_Frank
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It's cool to be legally allowed to offer my opinions of Bank of America on a forum again! [Big Grin]
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Geraine
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Kmmboots, I really think your comparison is absurd.

Should we throw environmental terrorists in jail? Should we try to stop attacks such as 9-11? Afterall, these are just groups that disagree with the way this country is headed and they are just trying to express themselves and get attention!

If you want to peacefully demonstrate, I'm FINE with that. I'm actually ok if you want to participate in civil disobedience. Taking over pieces of property and causing them to become unsanitary, building on them, and not respecting the property, is vandalism.

Ask yourself this: Are you more willing to listen to someone that is peaceful and respectful or someone that is violent and loud?

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Mucus
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Comparing OWS with the tea party is absurd, you should compare them with Al Qaeda!
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Orincoro
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Mucus, calling yourself an expert on comparisons is like Netanyahu golfing with Adolf Hitler.
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kmbboots
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Good heavens! And you think my comparisons are absurd! Certainly, property destruction is vandalism. It is not necessarily violent nor is it mass murder. Again, can you say that the Sons of Liberty (who often btw engaged in more violent activities than property destruction) were wrong to toss that tea? What about my comparison do you find absurd?

I am more likely to listen to someone who gets my attention. Sometimes that can be done without disturbing people; often it cannot.

[ November 30, 2011, 08:09 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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