Saturday, May 09, 2015

Goaded into violence

Gino and I have a disagreement about the meaning of the event in Texas, in which two gunmen traveled to kill the organizer of a "Draw Muhammad" contest, Pamela Geller. I'm willing to stipulate, for the sake of argument, that Pamela Geller is a shameless provocateur who has built a career out of her animus toward others. I wouldn't want her hanging around my house and she'll never see a dime from me.

Now that we've established the baseline for this post, let's consider something Gino wrote earlier this morning in a comment to an earlier post:
once again, her free speech was never violated. it was defended and guaranteed against the peeps she goaded into violence.
I think there's a larger question at play here. Do the "peeps," Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi, have any moral agency? Or is someone else, namely Pamela Geller, responsible for their choices?

Simpson and Soofi lived in Phoenix, Arizona. The event that Geller staged took place in the Dallas suburbs. It's a pretty long drive to get from one place to another:

It takes rather a lot of goading to get someone to travel 1,078 miles to commit violence. Perhaps Geller is just that odious. Or is something else going on here?

Do you blame someone else? Some would argue that Simpson was under a different spell:
About the time of the attack Sunday, on a Twitter account with the name “Shariah is Light” that has since been suspended, someone posted using the hashtag #texasattack. The profile picture on the account is of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant imam killed in a 2011 American drone strike in Yemen.

Mr. Awlaki repeatedly called for violence against cartoonists who, in his view, insulted the Prophet Muhammad. The Twitter post says that the writer and the man with him have “given bay’ah,” or pledged loyalty, “to Amirul Mu’mineen,” a title meaning commander of the faithful that was used by early Muslim rulers and has been claimed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State. “May Allah accept us as mujahedeen.”
So, do you blame Anwar al-Awlaki? He's been dead for four years. Do you blame al-Baghdadi? Or do you agree with Simpson's father?
The father of one of the suspected gunmen in the Garland, Texas, shooting told ABC News that his son "made a bad choice."

"We are Americans and we believe in America," Dunston Simpson said Monday. "What my son did reflects very badly on my family."
Provocateurs will always be among us. We choose how we respond to provocations. Dunston Simpson is correct: Elton Simpson made a bad choice. I don't believe it necessarily relects badly on his family. A 30-year old man makes his own decisions. Elton Simpson had moral agency. It doesn't matter how odious you find Pamela Geller -- the owner of Elton Simpson's fate is Elton Simpson.


Gino said...

you are responding to a point nobody has argued in favor of. we all agree the attackers were wrong.

some want to focus on geller the patriotic victim of terror. others, like me, are seeing a larger picture where the victim isnt so innocent.

i'm see a whole body of work that says she's asking for it, and in the process puts others (like anybody within a bomb blast) at risk.

Anonymous said...

"She's asking for it."

It seems to me that there are a WHOLE DAMN LOT of people who are asking for it these days. The internet is full of odious jerks. The president lies and misrepresents to provoke his enemies into overreactions. Is he "asking for it"?

It seems to me we are living in a society where people are behaving badly. The question becomes, "Do I behave badly in order to keep pace with my opponents or do I leave the field to them?" If I'm not mistaken, Gino, you've sometimes said that Republicans need to fight like the Democrats do. So what's the distinction here?


Mr. D said...

some want to focus on geller the patriotic victim of terror.

Not me. I guess that would be responding to a point nobody (here) has argued in favor of. ;)

And Picklesworth grasps the nettle -- how do you respond?

Gino said...

yes, the GOP needs to fight like the dems, or at least effectively counter in similar ways.

but as far as geller goes, she's now a rising face in your movement. enjoy that...

Mr. D said...

she's now a rising face in your movement. enjoy that...

Not my movement.

Anonymous said...

She's the face of Christianity? I thought that was Jesus. ;-)


Bike Bubba said...

You're going to have "outliers" on both sides of every question, and the question is what is going on when outlier 1 is met by outliers 2 & 3 from 1000 miles away. Why did he, and not some of the thousands of Muslims in the Lone Star state, decide to pay outlier 1 a visit?

Lot of interesting questions and answers there that might merit investigation if anyone's interested.