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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » How to kill a child and get away with it (Page 5)

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Author Topic: How to kill a child and get away with it
Stone_Wolf_
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Perhaps you could explain further MrSquicky?
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Rakeesh
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Aris,

quote:
Stop saying that my arguments are "tricks". We need to form a basis for communication, so I need to be making simple statements.

When I say something simple, and e.g. ask you to confirm it, and you refuse to respond to even something as simple as that, then I'm forced to use even simpler arguments to you, which you then again refuse to respond to.

No, it was a trick. I explained why. I don't believe for a second you thought anyone else actually meant 'any degree of institutionalized racism is worse than any sort of individual racism, no matter how mild.' Nobody meant that. You were attacking arguments nobody made, and it neatly helped you avoid the actual issue we were discussing. Hence, trick.

quote:
How do you expect us to form a basis for complicated thoughts, when you refuse to deal with simple ones?
I formed the basis for complicated thought in the same way most others did: by recognizing that general statements rarely apply to extreme outlier situations, and rejecting such comparisons accordingly.

But since you're touting your honesty, let me ask you this: when you read 'institutionalized racism is worse than individual racism, obviously' did you really think that meant 'in all cases, even extreme on one end and minor on the other'?

quote:
I honestly believe you were downplaying it. It was not a lie. You may claim it *false*, if you disagree that this is what you were doing, but it still remains my honest impression that you were downplaying it.

And I'll state it again: You were downplaying it.

"lost some skin," "Of course it was horrible, but it's being investigated and nobody goes to a funeral home." "Well he isn't dead. " That's what someone downplaying something looks like from the outside. What did it look like to you?

Pointing out that one thing, while horrible, isn't as bad as another isn't downplaying. How about this: why are you downplaying Martin's death?!?!?!?!

quote:
It's a very muddled thought actually. You seem to confuse the concept of physical causality, with the concept of moral responsibility, and you seem to confuse both with legal responsibility.

For example you list lots of *legal* things that Zimmerman did, which nonetheless *causally* led to Martin's death; and you therefore assign *moral* blame to Zimmerman.

Even if the moral blame was Zimmerman's, you can't assign legal blame by listing things he did that were in themselves legal.

Seriously, after all of your whining about not being listened to, this is your response. I didn't say that those things amounted to legal culpability, nor that to be illegal is to be immoral and vice versa.

quote:
If you don't want me to think you stupid, don't treat simple sentences as if they're "tricks" meant to entrap you.
No, I expect you will regardless. It's not a problem either way-people who shout about how those who disagree are stupid...well, the foolish one in that conversation is generally the one ranting. General rule, mind, not universal:)

quote:
The witness confirmed Zimmerman's story.
The expert on the audio recording says there 48% chance it was Zimmerman shouting, so this is effectively a 50/50 chance, not "say otherwise"

I hope you're aware a single eye witness doesn't confirm the story-corroborates, sure. Simple thoughts now, Aris!

As for the audio, that's not what it means. They have said the footage is good enough that they ought to be able to determine his voice, and they cant. Not the same.

Now is this another 'honest mistake', bringing up the tally to what, three in this last stretch? Care to shout about how stupid others are some more?

quote:
Scott, you do realize that's exactly what I said, right?
Hey, here's another...'honest' mistake. That's not what you said. You said experts say it's 50/50. They don't.
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Rakeesh
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Hey, maybe Aris is better at math than internationally respected voice forensics experts, and can tell us what their findings REALLY mean better than they can! Just dig in, Aris. The important thing here is that even though you're obviously wrong, there's enough ambiguity between the 'maybe they were misquoted' and 'this math doesn't add up' to ensure you never have to acknowledge, 'Man, I was just flat-out wrong, and I shouldn't have been.'
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
don't believe for a second you thought anyone else actually meant 'any degree of institutionalized racism is worse than any sort of individual racism, no matter how mild.' Nobody meant that.
Some people, you parochial sheltered idiot, have the above quoted sentence as their entire political philosophy, which is why often you see some people launch murderous attacks against such things as "drawing a cartoon that disrespected the prophet Mohammed" or "disrespecting the Koran".

Some people, yeah, consider every and any amount of individual racism as merely a defense against institutional racism. If some anti-white black teens attempt to burn a white kid alive, that's a legitimate defense against white institutional racism in their own minds.

Some people don't even think that individual racism should even be called "racism". It has too bad connotations you see, and they approve of it too much.

As for what I thought *you* meant, I just believe you muddled in the head.

quote:
why are you downplaying Martin's death?!?!?!?!
Because I'm putting significant weight on the probability that he attacked Zimmerman with potentially lethal force, in which case his death should NOT be the cause of outrage it currently is.

There, that's why I'm downplaying Martin's death.

This is one more time I've answered your questions, while you keep refusing to answer mine.

As for the audio, it doesn't surprise me that having displayed such great intelligence earlier in this thread, you don't see any discrepancy between P(X)=48% and P(X)<10%

The ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time is a necessity for some people.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Hey, maybe Aris is better at math than internationally respected voice forensics experts
I just need to be better enough at math than whoever misquoted the "internationally respected voice forensic expert" in the article.

But it doesn't take much math to realize that you can't have P(X)=48% AND P(X)<10% at the same time.

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MrSquicky
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Wolf,
Sure. What you're looking at with forensic voice matching generally falls into what's known as an A-B discrimination. In this case, that means that you are comparing known exemplars (i.e. a recording you know came from the person) against an unknown exemplar (the recording you are trying to match). There are many different ways of doing this, but they all result in chances that that person made the unknown recording.

The part that I think may be tripping Aris up is that this is a measure of the individual exemplar comparison, not of absolute probability. If you took say three subjects and matched them against this recording, you could get a 48% match, a 35% match, and a 96% match. In that case, we'd conclude that the 3rd person was the by far the most likely person to have made the recording, with the other two almost definitely not.

This remains the case even if we only have one match. A 48% exemplar match chance is extremely low and the experts are right in saying that they are near certain that Zimmerman was not the one calling for help on the tape.

Does that make sense?

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
If you took say three subjects and matched them against this recording, you could get a 48% match, a 35% match, and a 96% match.
Then that would NOT correspond to the respective probabilities each of them had of being the match, because these three probabilities would have had to add to 100%.

Therefore the "48% exemplar match" WOULD NOT be "a 48% chance that it was Zimmerman crying for help on the tape", and the expert MUST have been misquoted.

Which is my exact point.

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Stone_Wolf_
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To Aris and Rakeesh:

You guys might want to consider taking some time away from direct contact with each other in this thread as your back and forth comments seem to be rapidly degradating away from useful discussion and moving into the realm of a personal argument.

Aris, it just isn't okay to call Rakeesh a "parochial sheltered idiot". It is against the TOS and beyond that, nothing good can come from it.

MrSquicky: Yes, that makes a lot of sense, thank you for the explanation.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Aris, if I understand MrSquicky properly the three subjects in this hypothetical are not slices of the same pie. They are puzzle pieces being compared to the missing piece of the puzzle.

So piece A fits the hole 48/100 ways, or 48%, piece B 35% and C 96%.

The likelihood that each piece is the correct piece is therefore calculated from those results.

For instance, if a suit fit you 48%, it wouldn't fit you very well, and would be a very low probability that you would purchase it.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Some people, you parochial sheltered idiot, have the above quoted sentence as their entire political philosophy, which is why often you see some people launch murderous attacks against such things as "drawing a cartoon that disrespected the prophet Mohammed" or "disrespecting the Koran".
Wait, so racism is why some Muslims allow themselves to be whipped up into a mob at 'offensive' cartoons? Who knew? Jeepers, I guess I am a parochial, sheltered idiot! (Man, Aris, you are such a good debater!)

quote:
Some people, yeah, consider every and any amount of individual racism as merely a defense against institutional racism. If some anti-white black teens attempt to burn a white kid alive, that's a legitimate defense against white institutional racism in their own minds.
This is an excellent example of something which is very irrelevant to the original question. Nice job!

quote:
As for the audio, it doesn't surprise me that having displayed such great intelligence earlier in this thread, you don't see any discrepancy between P(X)=48% and P(X)<10%
Here's what I did: I saw the blurb, and I was confused. Like you, my initial ignorant thought was 'wait, if they're 48% certain, why are they saying it's very likely it's not Zimmerman?' So I read the entire story where the actual voice forensics experts, not random schmucks on the Internet, explained what their findings indicate. And then, since I'm completely uneducated in the field whereas they're highly regarded, I believed what they said about their own work was likely true.

But don't worry! You can still keep refusing to acknowledge that you're full of crap. Still plenty of room to maneuver. The trick here will be to continue obfuscating the issue with sidebars into statistics you're not applying accurately, until nobody cares anymore. Your angry 'you're stupid!' rants really drove up the apathy already, so you're halfway there.

--------

SW, I appreciate that, but shouted name-calling and dishonest evasions and putting words into people's mouths has been what Aris has been about for at least a couple of pages now. This is entertaining, now.

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Aris Katsaris
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Stone_Wolf, it would still mean that Owen was either misquoted or a buffoon. Look, there's no two ways about it. If the 48% represents a criteria match, and NOT a probability it was Zimmerman, then they misquoted him.

Rakeesh, you've refused to answer whether it would matter to you if Martin attacked Zimmerman first, or if Martin was bashing Zimmerman's head on the ground.

Given this amount of evidence, here's a few more question I bet you'll refuse to answer:
- Whether it would matter to you if it was proven to be Zimmerman's voice.
- Whether it would matter to you if Zimmerman was perfectly respectful to Martin during their confrontation, no racial slurs or anything like that.
- Whether it would matter to you if the entire thing went *exactly* as Zimmerman said, to the exact letter.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Wait, so racism is why some Muslims allow themselves to be whipped up into a mob at 'offensive' cartoons? Who knew?
Any type of "being oppressed" is good enough for those who want to murder some oppressors, whether it's whites oppressing blacks or infidels oppressing muslims.

quote:
Who knew?
Anyone who is paying attention. Not you.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Aris, if I understand MrSquicky properly the three subjects in this hypothetical are not slices of the same pie. They are puzzle pieces being compared to the missing piece of the puzzle.

So piece A fits the hole 48/100 ways, or 48%, piece B 35% and C 96%.

The likelihood that each piece is the correct piece is therefore calculated from those results.

For instance, if a suit fit you 48%, it wouldn't fit you very well, and would be a very low probability that you would purchase it.

The first part is pretty good, but the second not really. In this case, you have to realize that you're dealing with a lot of variability and random factors. So comparing it to the fit of a concrete object isn't really a good match.

The question we're looking at is what are the chances (taking into account the variability, noise, and random factors) that the source that produced sample A also produced sample B.

Like I said, this is somewhat similar to how we determine how likely a seeming pattern in a set of data is actually a pattern and not due to chance.

Thinking about it, I think you could sort of make the suit thing work, assuming you had only fuzzy data on the qualities of the suit. You could try to determine how likely that a person wore that suit and compare how you think it might fit him. A 48% chance in vocal matching is similar to a 48% in fit of this hypothetical suit.

In A-B discrimination tasks, it's important to have measure of probability of matching that is independent of the number of sources measured. I think the absurdity of doing anything else is pretty self-evident. Because of this, you'll get seems that seem counter-intuitive, like a 48% chance meaning that a match is actually extremely unlikely.

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Rakeesh
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I already did answer that, actually. All the way back on the first page, in fact it was one of my first posts in this thread. Go check it out, if you like.

As for #2, yes, that would be some trustworthy forensic evidence that would lend weight to his story. I'd be less disbelieving of him if that happened.

#3 would also matter to me, if it could be shown, as it would still make Zimmerman dangerously (with a gun, that is) paranoid, but not especially problematic in this scenario.

#4 well yes, obviously it would matter. It's just so very unlikely, and I see little reason to treat the man with a history of poor judgment as though he was speaking with total honesty, given how unlikely his story is.

Man, those were such devastating questions! I was sweating. They were probably so tough since I'm such a parochial, sheltered idiot.

Here's a couple from you. Perhaps you could condescend to descend from your ivory 'you are all stupid!' tower to humor me? 1, what will it take to persuade you the experts we've heard from so far actually are clear it's very unlikely it's Zimmerman's voice? 2, could you explain how racism is the motivating factor in the outrage in the Muslim world over defaced Korans and blasphemous cartoons? 3, in what way us a child who was viciously attacked but who survived with, thankfully, minor inuries as bad as a teenager who was gunned down by a self-appointed armed patrolman, if Martin didn't actually attack him? 4, are you aware that eyewitness testimony is less reliable than forensic testimony?

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Rakeesh
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*snort* So you're gonna stick to your racism is the motivator behind mobs angry at blasphemy, huh? Good grief.

Hey, yknow, I'm just SURE the sky is blue the grass is green, and clouds are white. I mean, I'm sure deep down. At this rate you'll tell me it's green, blue, and black.

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Aris Katsaris
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"1 What will it take to persuade you the experts we've heard from so far actually are clear it's very unlikely it's Zimmerman's voice?"

I'm now already convinced that they've stated they're clear on this. And that the article misquoted them.

"2. could you explain how racism is the motivating factor in the outrage in the Muslim world over defaced Korans and blasphemous cartoons?"

I was generalizing from "systemic racism" to "systemic oppression". And it's quite clear how ideas of being oppressed by Westerners or Jews play at creating enraged mobs in the Arab world. Whether you call anti-Semetism "racism" or not, is a mere linguistic triviality.

"3. In what way is a child who was viciously attacked but who survived with, thankfully, minor inuries as bad as a teenager who was gunned down by a self-appointed armed patrolman, if Martin didn't actually attack him?"

From a moral perspective, shooting an innocent 17-year old because you're a trigger-happy asshole who thinks *everyone* is dangerous, is less bad than sadistically trying to burn alive a 13-year old.

The former would be criminal irresponsibility -- and Zimmerman would be guilty of homicide or manslaughter or whatever you call it, but it would still not be sadistic evil of the sort you see in the latter case.

"4. are you aware that eyewitness testimony is less reliable than forensic testimony?"

That again depends on the quality and quantity of the eyewitness testimony, vs the quality and quantity of the forensic testimony.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
Stone_Wolf, it would still mean that Owen was either misquoted or a buffoon. Look, there's no two ways about it. If the 48% represents a criteria match, and NOT a probability it was Zimmerman, then they misquoted him.
Aris, there obviously is more than one way about it, as I've explained here.

Yes, this can be a somewhat confusing topic. It's also one that I and the forensic experts are trained in and it seems pretty clear that you are not. Could you do me a solid and consider that in this area that you know little about, things that seem to you to be obvious and thus easy to dismiss might actually be more complicated and are actually valid?

I'm not saying this to be derogatory, but rather to illustrate the sort of mistake I think you are making - this conversation reminds me of trying to explain evolution to someone who insists that it can't happen because monkeys aren't out there today turning into humans.

Look, I think I've established I know what I'm talking about here and I'm telling you, what was quoted in the article makes perfect sense. The contradiction that you are seeing is because you don't understand the differing contexts inherent in those statements.

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Destineer
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quote:

Look, I think I've established I know what I'm talking about here and I'm telling you, what was quoted in the article makes perfect sense.

The direct quote from Owen does, but when the article says that "there was only a 48% chance that it was Zimmerman crying for help," that has to be a mistake. 'Chance' is synonymous with 'probability,' and probabilities do need to sum to one, whereas (as you've pointed out) the 48% number doesn't need to meet that criterion.
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Dan_Frank
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What Destineer said.

Aris is likely right that the article misrepresents what Owen said. It's not that surprising, journalists aren't typically experts at anything, and routinely confuse details when trying to explain specialist data to laymen.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Dan, it seems you're allowing for an obligation or duty to avoid killing if possible, even in self-defense.

Do you agree that such an obligation also implies a moral duty to try to escape a fistfight, rather than "stand your ground," if that's clearly possible? (Assume the fight doesn't take place on your property, or anything like that.)

That's a great question!

First of all, I want to stress that I think the "anything like that" in your parenthesis should cover a lot more than just the fight taking place on your property. I don't think you should allow an immoral assailant to keep you from doing whatever it is you want to do, whether they're attacking you in a park or your front yard or a bar.

In the same way, I strenuously object to the typical police advice re: robberies. If you'd rather capitulate to the robber because you don't feel confident you can defend yourself, that's fine (heck, I probably would!) but you have zero moral obligation to do so in my opinion.

So, essentially, if you have to give something up in order to escape the fight, and you don't want to, then I think you're morally justified in "standing your ground."

But what if you don't? What if you're, say, walking down the street to a target destination? If you can escape and continue on your way, are you morally required to do so?

Hmm. There are still unmentioned factors to consider, I think. How confident are you that you can reliably and completely escape? If it's a situation short of you having a vehicle and them being on foot, it seems like trying to escape could put you in a more vulnerable situation. Probably not worth it, in those cases.

I don't think you're ever obligated to put yourself in more danger to protect your assailant.

The only other factor that immediately springs to mind is the fact that if you escape, it leaves a hostile, dangerous bastard still at large to terrorize someone else. At that point I don't think you're required to try and stop him or anything, but I'm a little reluctant to say that you're required to flee and let him hurt someone else.

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Destineer
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Does any of this change if the assailant is a child (or an adult with the mind of a child, or someone with otherwise impaired faculties)? If a severely retarded guy starts beating on you for some confused reason, and you can get away from him but would rather continue on your way to your favorite bar, is it OK to just blow him away?
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Stone_Wolf_
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But if you do get away, who's to say the next person that this mentally impaired person tries to attack won't die from it?
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Dan_Frank
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I'm honestly not sure what the best solution would be in that situation, Destineer. There's a few ideas there I think I need to consider.

One, it occurs to me that if you shoot your assailant, whatever plans they were interrupting are shot too. You can't enjoy the park or bar or whatever, because now you've killed someone, need to make a statement to the police, and probably need to spend some time wondering if you made the right choice.

So, there's that. If your top priority is continuing on with your life with minimal interruption, escape is actually going to be a better way to achieve that most of the time.

Or perhaps some sort of nonviolent neutralization. Stone Wolf likes pepper spray, but it's got some pretty big problems. When we have phasers we can set to stun this issue will be substantially easier! I don't have any specific affinity for lethal force, it's just that our nonlethal options today are dramatically sub-par compared to firearms.

Anyway, some of this applies to mentally handicapped people, too. I'm going to set aside milder forms of "impairment" that are largely explained by the impaired person having bad ideas (angry, tired, impulse control, etc.), because I think that my views on a pretty significant subset of supposed impairments is controversial, and not really something I want to get into right now. [Wink] So for now, only focusing on severe impairments, as you indicated.

Okay, so, severely mentally handicapped person begins attacking me for some unexplained reason. I can foresee a couple issues now. Do I know he's handicapped? He's just some crazed angry assailant at this point. If I can't tell he's handicapped, I don't think anything changes.

You know, I'm going to backpedal a bit here, because I've just unpacked some implicit ideas I have about this, that go beyond mental handicaps.

If I have reason to believe that the assailant is attacking me for easily solved, confused, or misunderstood issues, I think my responsibility to avoid lethal force as much as possible goes up dramatically. If he's shouting that I killed his mom, and I did no such thing and in fact have never met him before, I should make a significant effort to delay lethal force and try to get that data across to him.

Ultimately, he's still the aggressor, so I shouldn't put my life in serious jeopardy to do so, but I think it would be reasonable to accept a lot more risk in that scenario than in one where the guy is shouting that he's going to kill me because I'm a filthy Jew.

I think some handicapped assailants would likely fall into this category, and not others. "Mentally impaired" is such a catchall that it's sort of going to end up being a judgment call based on the behavior of the assailant.

I think most child assailants would obviously fall into this category though. (Maybe not indoctrinated African child soldiers, I don't know.)

Whew, that was interesting! I hope that sort of answers your question.

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Destineer
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Yeah, I see the differences you're drawing between the cases. I'm just having a hard time thinking of an ethical principle that would support this approach to self-defense. Clearly you don't think the most important thing in a situation is to act in such a way as to bring about the most beneficial overall outcome for all people involved, or else you'd support a duty to retreat under more kinds of circumstance. But you also grant that there is a responsibility, at least under some conditions, to avoid harming your attacker--even though the attacker has violated your rights.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I'll take a stab at it:

It is morally preferable to avoid causing any permanent harm to your attacker when defending yourself as long as it is not at the expense of receiving any permanent harm.

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Kwea
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Interesting edit, isn't it?

Looks like he was bleeding as well, as he (and the police) originally said he was....

[ April 04, 2012, 02:44 AM: Message edited by: Kwea ]

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Rakeesh
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Yup. That was always a possibility. Corroborates a small portion of his story. I still see no reason why anyone should think him very trustworthy, though. He had a history of terrible judgment and has the best possible reasons to be less than truthful here if necessary.

Here's an idea related to the topic at hand: mandatory drug screens for BOTH parties, alive or dead, whenever a firearm is used to kill or maim someone, period. We permit that kind of thing with automobiles already-anytime you come to the police's attention in your car, you can expect to be required to blow or walk if they want. So we're already comfortable as a society with this sort of thing

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Dan_Frank
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I've generally been trying to stay out of the actual topic at hand, but I'm curious Rakeesh: What history of terrible judgment are you referring to?

I'd heard it reported that he'd called the police 40something times in the last year, but then I read that was later determined to be incorrect (it was actually 40something times in the last 10 years or so, which, if he was regularly involved in neighborhood watchy sorts of activities, doesn't seem outrageous to me).

Was there some other example I missed? (I admit I haven't been following the details too closely.)

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Rakeesh
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http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/327330-george-zimmerrman-911-call-history.html

This is actually enough for me to demonstrate awful judgment, Dan. There's also the carrying a concealed weapon for neighborhood watch because you fear break-ins (hell, a frequent horn and shouting would be enough if he actually SAW one), and his rejection of 911's remarks that be doesn't need to follow. Just a quick gander a page or two down, would someone calling 911 over an open garage door be someone who's judgment as to what was an emergency you'd trust?

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Dan_Frank
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That's fair. Thanks for letting me know! [Smile]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
edit: I've been trying not to do that.

Look, what he said made sense to me. I think if you look into what was said and learn a bit about vocal matching, you'll see that it does actual make sense as quoted.

You're trying to compare statements about chance from very different contexts. I can get that if you don't understand that these are different contexts, the statements can look contradictory, but I can assure you that they are not.

I'm just popping in to say I concur with MrSquicky. There are a lot of things about statistical testing that are far from intuitively obvious and this one of them.
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The Pixiest
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Y'all are obviously just racist against Latinos.

(obvioustroll.jpg)

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Dan_Frank
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I miss your posts, Pix. [Smile]
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Yeah, I see the differences you're drawing between the cases. I'm just having a hard time thinking of an ethical principle that would support this approach to self-defense. Clearly you don't think the most important thing in a situation is to act in such a way as to bring about the most beneficial overall outcome for all people involved, or else you'd support a duty to retreat under more kinds of circumstance. But you also grant that there is a responsibility, at least under some conditions, to avoid harming your attacker--even though the attacker has violated your rights.

First, I'll comment on your overall post:

I think SW did a passably decent job of trying to distill it, though I'm not sure the best overall moral approach to self defense really needs to be distilled to a single principle like that. I probably gave the wrong impression earlier, because I was specifically trying to identify a consistent general principle for whether or not self-defense was justifiable as a counter-argument to what I perceived as very inconsistent judgments.

Put another way, and as I've said before, what I was mainly doing was objecting to the idea that the moral burden is put on the person being attacked simply because they attempt to defend themselves with a lethal weapon.

Now, I want to comment on the bolded part:

I do put a higher weight towards desiring a beneficial outcome for the innocent party whose rights are being violated, no question. More than that, though, I think that I put substantially higher value to parties with moral/rational wants.

So, for the victim, I think getting them precisely what they want (which should be along the lines of "Not getting hurt or killed or chased or raped or robbed") is extremely desirable, unless they themselves have an irrational/immoral want (like "Killing this uppity black kid").

If it seems the best way for them to get what they want (the good wants, mind you) is for them to shoot their attacker, I think that's what they should do. I don't think they generally have a moral obligation to protect their aggressor.

On the side of the aggressor, in most situations they will have de facto immoral/irrational wants (to rape this person, to take this person's wallet, to beat this guy up because he called me gay, etc.) They'll presumably have implicit wants too, like "not experiencing any negative feedback for my behavior."

In general, I don't see any value in creating an "overall beneficial outcome" if that is defined as both parties getting as much that they want as possible. Some desires are rational and moral, some aren't, and that lends itself to a pretty direct hierarchy to my mind.

It's true that the aggressor also has the implicit want of "Not dying." And that one is rational! That's why, all else being equal, nonlethal neutralization seems better to me. If they live, it might be possible to help them change all their irrational desires to rational ones, and then everybody wins. But I don't think that servicing this one basically rational inexplicit desire of the aggressor is worth jeopardizing the many rational desires of the victimized party.

Now, a place where all this starts breaking down is when both parties are acting more rationally based on incomplete or incorrect information. A man who shoots his wife, believing her to be an intruder, is a great example of the type of scenario I am thinking of.

An understanding of fallibility and the possibility of incomplete information should always inform our decisions, so if there is considerable uncertainty (again, e.g. the man attacking you is shouting about how you killed his mother) then identifying more facts in the situation prior to taking action is the best solution, assuming that's possible.

It won't always be possible, of course. If the guy who mistakenly thinks you killed his mother is about to shoot you, you may need to shoot him first, and you're still in the right because he was the aggressor, but it's more tragic, because it's a result of an irrational idea that would have probably been a lot easier to refute.

That is, it's likely easier to convince him that you didn't murder his mom than it would be to convince someone not to rape you, since the bad ideas the rapist is likely suffering from are much more deeply entrenched.


As a brief aside, I think these explanations also account for why I don't think killing a kid who hits you is reasonable. The kid most likely has lots of rational wants (to stay up later, or play a video game, or get some candy) that are already being stymied, and the irrational idea that hitting you will facilitate him getting what he wants is just the tip of the iceberg. You can easily get your one desire (not getting punched by a 5 year old) fulfilled without impairing his ability to get any of his rational desires, simply by holding him at bay.

So... there's my attempt to explain it for you, Destineer. Enjoy! [Smile]

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Chris Bridges
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The outrage is not because a white guy shot a black guy, or even because a Hispanic guy shot a black kid. Yes, both are terrible, but if Zimmerman had been arrested that night it would not have made the national news. It likely wouldn't have been reported outside the area.

What sparked the outrage was that Zimmerman was not charged. Or drug-tested. Or tested for alcohol. Or disarmed. Or interviewed by a homicide detective on the scene. What sparked the outrage was the sense that he could shoot a black kid and the Sanford cops didn't care.

(Edited to add: I know the lead investigator wanted to arrest Zimmerman that night but the State Attorney's office told him there wasn't a case, I'm talking about the perception, and the Sanford PD already had a rep for bias.)

That's why the other cases people keep bringing up, horrific as they are, don't engender the same level of outrage, because so far in every case the people who committed the crimes were caught, arrested, tried and sentenced. As it happens I do think the systematic torture of one person is worse, relatively speaking, than the unfortunate, stupid and possibly accidental killing of another. But the people who did it faced justice.

The people marching for justice for Martin are also marching because they're tired of spending their lives assumed to be guilty.

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kmbboots
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That was very well put, Chris.
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Rakeesh
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Oh, man, the list of things people are tired of. Well that presumption of guilt is a big one, of course, possibly the biggest.

Probably followed closely by 'Well...' when someone presumes guilt and then is called on it, there will invariably be shades of 'hey, I understand what he means' which is likely quite tiresome too. And then there's the invariable 'it's a race thing!' being proclaimed in the very rare instances when someone shooting a young black man actually achieves national prominence-as though the distinctly noisy silence when so many OTHER young black men are killed wasn't also a race thing.

Or that when people call for the guy to be punished severely, there will be complaints that it's a race thing, and yet quite a lot of apathy when blacks are more likely to be incarcerated longer, represented less effectively, and treated less humanely by the police than a white person on the same offense. It's just the way things are for the latter, just a sad aspect of our society that will, someday, change we hope. But when it's the former, then it's a race thing.'

I would probably say that at heart, what most people are tired of is the veiled, and sometimes not veiled at all, assumption that the 'race problem' in this country has been licked. It's not really a thing anymore, and can we stop having to hear Al Sharpton because he's just SO obnoxious! ...without examining the fact that, hey, while he is obnoxious he didn't spring up out of nowhere, either.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I'd bet money that had the young man out at night been white in a hoody instead of black that it would have gone down the same way. Not saying that racism is non existent, just saying Zimmerman's vigilanteisum seems to have been the problem not the victim's skin tone.
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Orincoro
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That's money you might very well lose. Expressed racism is less often the cause of, shall we say "race related" violence or confrontations than passive, subconscious motivations based on racial perception. For instance, scientific studies of various methodologies, some of which I have cited here in the past, show that most people (and this is regardless of their race), make subconscious connections between the color of a person's skin, and the nature of that person. A black face primes the average person with a larger number of negative associations than a white face, so that when you see a black face, yes, even you, you subconsciously connect it to images common to our shared culture: gang violence, petty criminality, joblessness, drug use, lack of education, and every other image you have been exposed to on TV.

The associations are fairly strong, and effect us in ways we are not aware of. The average person, black or white, has more difficulty in laboratory conditions, making an association between a "good" button, and a black face, than a "good" button and a white face. We also find it easier to associate "bad," and other related terms, with black faces. However, we are also able to train ourselves to resists these negative associations. Studies have also shown that practicing positive associations with blacks, such as by studying famous black people, artists, historical figures, athletes or politicians, we can neutralize our bias in laboratory conditions.

The connection between these subconscious biases and our actions is complex, and difficult to parse, particularly in an individual case. The question has to be asked over and over again: would Zimmerman have been suspicious of a white person in the first place? If so, would he have followed a white person? Would he have felt justified in approaching a white person? Would he have felt endangered to the same degree by that white person? Would he have been willing to shoot a white person in the same situation? And on Martin's side, another set of biases: would he have been truculent (if he was truculent) to a black man? Would he have attacked (if he attacked) a black man? Would he have run from one? Would he have run were he a white boy instead of a black one? That question alone is significant: when is it acceptable, culturally, for a black youth to run away from someone, as opposed to a white youth? Or does our culture accept the concept of black youths running away from danger, and denigrate it among white youths? Are these images racially specific in films and television? Are they the same values, and if not, how different are they? You don't know any of these things, but they could have profound effects on the outcome of any particular encounter.

My point here is only to say that, really, race has a huge effect on how most people see most other people, most of the time. And though enlightened people do not engage in active stereotyping and do not express racist attitudes, and do not believe, intellectually, that other races are inferior or bad, or dangerous, the truth is that racial tension, simply as a product of our subconscious minds, is very prevalent. And its effects are very difficult to gauge.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'd bet money that had the young man out at night been white in a hoody instead of black that it would have gone down the same way.
I'd take that bet.
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Dobbie
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
My point here is only to say that, really, race has a huge effect on how most people see most other people, most of the time.

That depends on the race. Members of some races, like African and Asian, tend to see people primarily in terms of race. Members of my race, on the other hand, don't even really notice race; we judge people solely as individuals.
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Orincoro
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Yes it does depend on the race.

But, you're quite wrong in thinking that members of certain races are not subject to the same effects. Experiments show that they are.

It is not likely, whatever your race is, that you "do not notice," race. And if you are culturally an American, then your own race has rather less to do with it than one can comfortably imagine.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
I'd bet money that had the young man out at night been white in a hoody instead of black that it would have gone down the same way. Not saying that racism is non existent, just saying Zimmerman's vigilanteisum seems to have been the problem not the victim's skin tone.

You might be right. Zimmerman might have called in and followed a white kid. But I do think that race likely complicated their responses to each other and to the situation.

Also this:

http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/03/zimmerman-neighbor-fmr-neighborhood-watch-captain-prior-burglaries-were-by-young-black-males-if-you-plant-corn-you-get-corn/

quote:
Taaffe continues, “All of the perpetrators of the burglaries, the prior burglaries, were young black males.”

When O’Brien presses on how this comment relates to Trayvon Martin, Taaffe responds, “There's an old saying if you plant corn, you get corn.”


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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Dobbie:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
My point here is only to say that, really, race has a huge effect on how most people see most other people, most of the time.

That depends on the race. Members of some races, like African and Asian, tend to see people primarily in terms of race. Members of my race, on the other hand, don't even really notice race; we judge people solely as individuals.
Please tread lightly Dobbie. Generalizations about race is an extremely risky topic.
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Dobbie
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I guess so is irony.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
And though enlightened people do not engage in active stereotyping and do not express racist attitudes, and do not believe, intellectually, that other races are inferior or bad, or dangerous, the truth is that racial tension, simply as a product of our subconscious minds, is very prevalent. And its effects are very difficult to gauge.

That sounds fair. It is possible that "race" played a part, or was even big part. However I can say this with certenty: It is a problem when someone with violence in their history gets a carry permit and then takes their gun out to patrol the streets.
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Orincoro
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That was clearly too subtle even for me. My response was more "???"
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
And though enlightened people do not engage in active stereotyping and do not express racist attitudes, and do not believe, intellectually, that other races are inferior or bad, or dangerous, the truth is that racial tension, simply as a product of our subconscious minds, is very prevalent. And its effects are very difficult to gauge.

That sounds fair. It is possible that "race" played a part, or was even big part. However I can say this with certenty: It is a problem when someone with violence in their history gets a carry permit and then takes their gun out to patrol the streets.
Clearly, you can't break down the racial component to a binary value in this situation. You can ask a series of binary questions to probe the value of considering race as a component, and that yields only interesting questions. As to the overall, "did race play a role in the outcome of this situation," I think we can safely answer that it probably did. Certainly, as we delve into the police response, the DA response, the media response, and the public reactions to all of these ensuing events, we can say with certainty that race plays a strong role in how these events are later perceived. However, identifying the fact that race plays a strong post-hoc role in the public digestion of such an event, does not obviate the question of whether race played a role in the event itself.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Dobbie:
I guess so is irony.

Yes, irony is a good deal more difficult to detect online than in person.
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Scott R
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Timeline of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
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