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[liberationtech] [FoRK] [zs-p2p] Thank you for choosing cyberpunk dystopia.

Stephen D. Williams sdw at
Sun Jan 1 19:18:23 PST 2017

On 1/1/17 5:58 PM, Rich Kulawiec wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 12:16:41AM -0800, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> If we all find a way to solve the anti-terrorism problem, or at least
>> carve out space for it to be solved, we'd be less at odds for protecting
>> privacy etc.  There are some promising ideas I think, but all solutions
>> so far involve painful and often unacceptable tradeoffs.
> A rather obvious -- but nearly entirely overlooked -- approach is
> to refuse to be terrorized.  That is, after all, the point: blowing up
> buildings or planes and killing people are merely tactics in pursuit of
> that strategic goal.  While the immediate targets of terrorist acts
> are those involved in the incidents themselves, they are few in number --
> and many of them end up dead.   The real targets are you and me
> and everyone else because (a) there are a lot more of us and (b) we're
> not dead.  The goal is to make us afraid, and thus to provoke
> ill-considered/hasty/self-destructive responses.  (Why do you think
> that terrorists take pains to make sure their acts are well-documented?
> Terrorism that nobody notices or pays attention to doesn't work well,
> even if it does a great deal of destruction and kills a lot of people.)

I completely agree.  And we should engineer how it is reported to minimize the psychological encouragement to other potential
actors.  I would further denigrate and vilify terrorists in subtle but effective ways to make it clear that they are and will remain
considered the worst human beings.  It is tempting to consider letting potential terrorists know that people they care about will at
least be scrutinized and made uncomfortable, although that's problematic too.  I would at least publicize the anguish that parents
and others related to past terrorists have experienced.

The deeper problem is the humanity gap between different groups and societies.  That is an education and familiarity problem,
enabling the fundamentalist rationalizations.  Tougher to solve, but something already resolved in many situations in the past.  We
know how that works generally.

> Terrorism is an attack against our emotions, leveraging the fact that
> we have evolved to have strong fight-or-flight responses and those
> are wired very deeply into our psyches -- so deeply that we have
> difficulty overcoming them with rational thought.
> And so far, it's working beautifully: look at the insane response of the US
> to the 9/11 attacks.  Their perpetrators could not possibly have hoped for
> a better outcome.  No, I don't meant the destruction of the WTC etc. --
> that's entirely unimportant.  I mean the collective national response
> over the past 15 years, which has been to give these terrorists exactly
> what they wanted *and* to pay for it with our blood, treasure, privacy,
> and freedom.
> The correct response to 9/11 -- which I'll admit that I didn't realize
> at the time -- was for everyone to get up the next day and go to work
> like nothing happened.  Clean up the mess, bury the dead, and keep right
> on going.  Refuse to be intimidated or provoked, refuse to be manipulated,
> refuse to be afraid, refuse to play along.
> Of course that doesn't defeat an act of terror: but it defeats terrorism
> as a strategy.  And that is something that can't be done any other way.
> Only we can do it.  By individually and collectively refusing.
> Let me give you a case study: Erika Brannock.  Erika was standing
> near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, waiting for her
> mom to run by, when the bombs went off.  She (and her sister) were very
> badly injured.  Erika lost a leg, and endured a long, slow recovery in
> hospitals and physical therapy and everything else that you might expect.
> Her mom went back to run the Boston Marathon in 2014 -- one year
> after the bombing.  And Erika went back to watch.
> That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's done.
> ---rsk


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