Azure Priest on July 31, 2009, 02:44:08 am
As to the concept that noting points to YOUNG believing his life would be in jeopardy had he refused Harris' orders, I must strongly disagree.

Let's look at Harris' record, shall we?

1.) Fried EVERYONE (who did not immediately surrender) with energy weapons in the "Aboriginal" dispute mentioned by Reggie. This may include junior officers that did not follow orders to fire.

2.) Harris hurled sexist insults at Sov Stella IN VIOLATION OF UW LAW as if knowing he would not be prosecuted. This leads to the belief that for some time, he has been "protected" from the consequences of his actions and should he feel like killing an insubordinate officer, he could do so and the authorities would "look the other way" as long as they got what they wanted. Also, while he didn't DIRECTLY threaten Sov. Stella with bodily harm, it was implied. (He was cut off by being relieved of command.)

3.) The final statement as he was arrested by the captain of "The Gamma Conqueror" was "I'll have your heads, I'll have ALL your heads." It is reasonable to presume that he meant that literally.

All that aside, there are precedents in NAVAL command code for Young to feel his life was endangered by disobeying.

"I'll take full responsibility" in military especially naval command has a very different meaning then what the young executioner understood it to mean. In the naval command, when a superior officer makes that statement, it means "I have every reason to believe the order is a legal one, you WILL comply or face the consequences." I should note that in NAVAL legal precedent, refusing to obey an order under these circumstances, Young could have been charged with PIRACY and summarily executed by Harris. I point to Naval legal precedent all the way back to the Royal British Navy prior to the very founding of the US. (So people can't just say it's an "unjust AMERICAN law.") I also see no reason why the admittedly oppressive UW government would change or override that precedent.

Young's actions in questioning the initial order to fire was all he could legally do within the framework of the command structure where he found himself. Sadly, this poor man had no opportunity to state that fact. If anyone asks "why didn't someone relieve Harris of command earlier, especially upon giving such a grievous order as firing on civilians," the answer is, until Harris deliberately and recklessly threatened the safety of the ship, even the Captain had no authority to do so. Further as far as firing upon "civilian" targets go, there is a long and bloody history of guerrilla militants and na'er do wells using civilians as "shields" to protect vital military interests. Either by disguising as or surrounding with civilian structures in such a way that an attack capable of breaching the target would inevitably harm civilians in the process. (Nazi Germany is infamous for using this technique and Hirojima may have been a major city, but was also a weapons factory and where "Kamikazee" pilots were trained. There is also some word that Japan was building its own version of "the bomb" there.)

As for marines torturing "innocent" people, we're going to require proof that they were in fact innocent. This enemy is happily disguising itself as civilians as well as taking civilians by force, strapping bombs on them and driving them into crowded shopping malls as well as packing their own children with explosives and blowing them up to kill "infidels." Sorry, but I just can't accept the premise that under Obama's predecessors, the US was the source of all evil.

terry_freeman on August 01, 2009, 11:02:27 pm
The willingness of tyrants to blame others for carpetbombing and unleashing nuclear weapons has a long and bloody and terrible tradition, fueled in no small degree by "purple patriots" who can justify any atrocity performed by their "own" team.

Azure Priest on August 03, 2009, 01:34:24 am
The willingness of tyrants to blame others for carpetbombing and unleashing nuclear weapons has a long and bloody and terrible tradition, fueled in no small degree by "purple patriots" who can justify any atrocity performed by their "own" team.


I don't think anyone's disputing that.

Ike on September 03, 2009, 04:44:55 pm
In the context of the killings of Harris and Young, "execution" is just another word for "revenge", straight up.  Execution is a legal killing, but even there, a large component of revenge is present.  The only justification for the use of lethal force is to prevent the imminent use of such force against yourself or another person; perhaps the protection of your property as well, but I won't argue about that as it isn't presented in the case before the bench.

From another perspective:  self-defense is the only justification for the use of deadly force against another human being.  Self-defense requires that the use of deadly force be in circumstances where not to use it would have the consequence of yourself or another person being killed.  Once Harris and Young are captives, there is no imminence, no immediacy, hence no self-defense.  To prevent the escape of a perpetrator?  Not here, as that is a statutory law doctrine created in part to shield police and private citizens from civil and criminal liability in situations where it was not entirely clear that the person was killed to prevent the crime or as he or she was committing it.  Revenge is what you do to the perp after he or she has done their dirty deed and you have them restrained and in your control to pay them back for the evil they have done.  To educate other potential perps that you won't tolerate that sort of behavior.  But it isn't justice nor is it self-defense.

Rocketman on September 03, 2009, 05:47:34 pm
Azure Priest make the point about "I take full responsibility..." and he is correct in it's use.  Having said that it's a pretty well known fact that one of the first things that a corrupt government like the UW typically does is rewrite laws that limit their power if not ignore them altogether when it's to their benefit to do so.  The "I take full responsibility..." may indeed mean in this context "I'm giving you an order and illegal or not, I expect you to obey it or I'll have you executed on the spot."  If you want to see a glaring example of this in a different context just read "Scalia's Catholic Betrayal" by Alan Dershowitz.  Apparently, some in the supreme court believe that if a man is convicted in a fair trial of murdering his wife, then even if his wife shows up later alive and well he's not entitled to a new trial based on the evidence that his wife is obviously alive!  Very Scary  :o

SandySandfort on September 03, 2009, 06:51:51 pm
In the context of the killings of Harris and Young, "execution" is just another word for "revenge", straight up...

You say it as though it were a bad thing.

Revenge is what you do to the perp after he or she has done their dirty deed and you have them restrained and in your control to pay them back for the evil they have done.  To educate other potential perps that you won't tolerate that sort of behavior.  But it isn't justice nor is it self-defense.

Actually, I think it is both. However, reasonable minds may differ. I respect your not wanting to kill people under these circumstances. You wouldn't, I would, Emily did. I don't see any moral inconsistency with the Zero Aggression Principle. YMMV

Ike on September 03, 2009, 07:47:49 pm
And here I thought it was called the "Non-Initiation of Force" principle.  ;)   My reading is that when you combine the Non-Agression Principle with the principle of self-defense then compare it with what happened in the story, the story does not exemplify self-defense.  It does exemplify the ordinary human desire for revenge and other base impulses which unfortunately underpin many, many of our present laws and practices.  When we act in such a way, we begin the process of becoming the thing we are fighting against.  And, yes, I am of the opinion that revenge is a bad thing as it erodes the character of one who succumbs to it.  As a retired soldier - you remember, that dreadful occupation of uncertain antecedents, entirely lacking in morality and of utterly no utility? - I know whereof I speak.  And I mean no offense, but while I am uncertain what constitutes justice, I am completely convinced that except in specific circumstances which equate with self-defense, deadly force isn't one of the constituents of it.

Brugle on September 03, 2009, 07:53:11 pm
But it isn't justice
The murderer was treated as he treated his victims.  How is that not justice?

Killing the murderer might or might not be revenge, depending on the motive of the killer.

SandySandfort on September 03, 2009, 09:15:02 pm
And here I thought it was called the "Non-Initiation of Force" principle.  ;)   My reading is that when you combine the Non-Agression Principle with the principle of self-defense then compare it with what happened in the story, the story does not exemplify self-defense.  It does exemplify the ordinary human desire for revenge and other base impulses which unfortunately underpin many, many of our present laws and practices.  When we act in such a way, we begin the process of becoming the thing we are fighting against.  And, yes, I am of the opinion that revenge is a bad thing as it erodes the character of one who succumbs to it.  As a retired soldier - you remember, that dreadful occupation of uncertain antecedents, entirely lacking in morality and of utterly no utility? - I know whereof I speak.  And I mean no offense, but while I am uncertain what constitutes justice, I am completely convinced that except in specific circumstances which equate with self-defense, deadly force isn't one of the constituents of it.

I'm not interested in getting into a long drawn-out dissection of the ZAP/NAP/NIF. However, though I do not agree with you, I think your interpretation is not unreasonable. So, I will just posit one scenario and ask you what you would do, and why. So I'm going to let you have the last word.

For this scenario, let's assume you catch an armed gang-banger in your home, whom you are able to disarm and capture. You have him tied to a chair and are about to call the police, when the perp says, "Call the police, but I'll be out in 48 hours. I will come to your home with my gang and rape, torture and kill you and your entire family. And there is nothing you can do about it. So if you are smart, you will cut me loose right now."

Do you?:

A.  Cut him loose.
B.  Call the cops and tell them about his (he will say, alleged) threat.
C.  Take him out in the woods, dig a grave, kill him with the shovel and bury the body.
D.  Other (please specify)

I certainly know what I would do, but I am wondering how you would deal with this not-so-unlikely scenario.

J Thomas on September 03, 2009, 10:30:52 pm

All that aside, there are precedents in NAVAL command code for Young to feel his life was endangered by disobeying.

"I'll take full responsibility" in military especially naval command has a very different meaning then what the young executioner understood it to mean. In the naval command, when a superior officer makes that statement, it means "I have every reason to believe the order is a legal one, you WILL comply or face the consequences." I should note that in NAVAL legal precedent, refusing to obey an order under these circumstances, Young could have been charged with PIRACY and summarily executed by Harris. I point to Naval legal precedent all the way back to the Royal British Navy prior to the very founding of the US. (So people can't just say it's an "unjust AMERICAN law.") I also see no reason why the admittedly oppressive UW government would change or override that precedent.

Young's actions in questioning the initial order to fire was all he could legally do within the framework of the command structure where he found himself. Sadly, this poor man had no opportunity to state that fact. If anyone asks "why didn't someone relieve Harris of command earlier, especially upon giving such a grievous order as firing on civilians," the answer is, until Harris deliberately and recklessly threatened the safety of the ship, even the Captain had no authority to do so.

Yes, military structures are built on the idea that you are safer if you follow orders than if you don't, no matter what the orders are. If you are doggedly loyal then so long as your side doesn't lose your chance of survival is much better than if you are in some way disloyal.

It follows that if you want to be free you cannot also try to maximise your chance of survival.

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Further as far as firing upon "civilian" targets go, there is a long and bloody history of guerrilla militants and na'er do wells using civilians as "shields" to protect vital military interests. Either by disguising as or surrounding with civilian structures in such a way that an attack capable of breaching the target would inevitably harm civilians in the process. (Nazi Germany is infamous for using this technique and Hirojima may have been a major city, but was also a weapons factory and where "Kamikazee" pilots were trained. There is also some word that Japan was building its own version of "the bomb" there.)

It's vaguely possible that US military intelligence did not know that the japanese nuclear effort had completely collapsed. The big value for Hiroshima was that for multiple reasons it hadn't been bombed yet, so we could get a good clear look at what damage the nuke did without having to look at previous bombing to muddy the issue. Far more important than the military justification, was the experimental value.

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As for marines torturing "innocent" people, we're going to require proof that they were in fact innocent. This enemy is happily disguising itself as civilians as well as taking civilians by force, strapping bombs on them and driving them into crowded shopping malls as well as packing their own children with explosives and blowing them up to kill "infidels." Sorry, but I just can't accept the premise that under Obama's predecessors, the US was the source of all evil.

The US military is quite capable of going to war with ROE like a football game, if that's the kind of war it happens to be. When we get into wars with truly evil opponents then it's only natural to suppose that we should be more evil than usual in response.

Better for us to stay out of that kind of war, if we can avoid it. We aren't particularly good at it, and the strain of doing things we find repellant and then going home and lying about it is not good for our troops. When we get into wars where we have to torture people -- even guilty people -- or it will make victory too difficult, we're probably going to lose regardless. Like the french in algeria. Ten percent of the algerian population died while the french played hardball, and then the french had to pull out and the algerians killed another 10% fighting each other. What good was it?

So, how long will it take us to turn things around in afghanistan? Thirty years minimum, right? And each time we get a new president there's a chance he'll choose to pull out, and that's at least 3 new presidents in that time, and more likely 6 than 3. It's a mug's game.

The only justification to stay in there and fight a dirty war is that we have to, that unless we do it, the consequences will be even worse than not doing it. Unless we rebuild afghan society, the awful result will be ....

Well, but the problem here is that our evil enemies are intimidating people into doing what they want. So we need to stop them with US soldiers, and we need to torture suspects to find out the info we need to stop them....

What if instead we just gave away weapons to anybody who wanted them. If the afghans were armed they couldn't be intimidated. Unless they were unwilling to die when facing superior firepower. But a small group of evil people couldn't intimidate the mass of the population. Except -- the afghans mostly *are* armed. What we're trying to do is set up a strong central government with a strong army and a strong police force to keep the people in line....

Ike on September 04, 2009, 11:54:44 am
At the risk of not playing fair, I have to say that my SOP for dealing with robbers and other specimens of criminal who break into my home does not include disarming and capturing them for the police and our so-called "justice" system to deal with them.  By the point in the episode where your hypothetical assumes I am, he would be dead - or I would be, depending upon circumstances.  Since I was able to disarm and capture him, it would seem most probable that he would be dead.

Back to playing fair:  I would kill him, even though it would not necessarily reduce the threat of his gang attempting to avenge him.  I wouldn't take him out in the woods, just kill him right there and stage it in a way to reduce the chances of being charged myself with a crime.  Bad karma?  Definitely, but my experience is that shooting one dead acts as a deterrent to the others, rather than inciting them to further acts of violence.  Best of all, of course, is to convince them in advance of any problems that you're barking mad and entirely willing to kill without hesitation or compunction.  To defeat the enemy without a battle is the height of generalship; or something like that from Lao-Tse.  I do not pretend this is justice, nor fairness nor particularly moral, but it is utterly practical and necessary in society today, where criminals are excused and given both opportunity and justification for further attacks on the rest of us.
Thank you and I'll just lurk from now on.  :-X

Sean Roach on September 04, 2009, 05:05:53 pm
I'd have to say that if the admiral were left alive, he'd either be a continued threat, or a drain.
You can't send him home, the people who gave him those orders wouldn't even make an example of him.  They'd give him a ticker tape parade.

As to the gunner, I'm still uncertain.  I think he could have been salvaged, or at least shipped off to someone who'd tell him what to do, but wouldn't tell him to attack Ceres.


J Thomas on September 04, 2009, 08:19:37 pm
I'd have to say that if the admiral were left alive, he'd either be a continued threat, or a drain.
You can't send him home, the people who gave him those orders wouldn't even make an example of him.  They'd give him a ticker tape parade.

They don't give ticker tape parades to an admiral who loses an aircraft carrier and has 20% of his force defect to the enemy. In the best case for him he would not be forced into retirement, and would still have devoted sponsors who would get him tasks that might help rehabilitate his reputation. So he could still be dangerous.

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As to the gunner, I'm still uncertain.  I think he could have been salvaged, or at least shipped off to someone who'd tell him what to do, but wouldn't tell him to attack Ceres.

It was a cultural thing. What he said was "I was only following orders. He said he would take responsibility." He asked her not to kill him but he didn't ask for forgiveness or apologise or even say he was sorry. He didn't even say that he wouldn't do it again. Not an effective defense in a libertarian society.

This is one of the things that governments do fairly well. Without government some people fall into multi-generational feuds and vendettas, and that's bad for the society as a whole. Governments come in and reduce that. They separate the central actors from the situation for awhile and generally act to defuse the threat. To the extent that people believe some justice has been done that helps, but reducing the provocation helps more.

The OT claims that in ancient israel there were some towns set up for murderers to go live in. If you commit a murder you have to live in one of those towns for 7 years and nobody gets to kill you while you're there. You aren't in circulation encouraging your victim's relatives to kill you. So the chance of a vendetta cycle is reduced.

This glimpse of the Ceres legal system doesn't give much hint how they handle that. Somebody informally captures a murderer and ties him up, and lets him discuss it with the victim's family? All informal.... And the family member who shoots him gets no repercussions from his family? They don't informally capture her and tie her up and give him the chance to discuss it before they shoot her?

The story did a very good job of describing the parts of the society which were important in that particular context. I don't want to criticise it for not showing everything at once. At any rate, they let the survivor decide whether to kill the murderer, and presumably if there had been more than one survivor each one would have gotten the chance to kill him, and if they all declined there was somebody else on hand who would also make the choice.

My natural thought is if I killed somebody on Ceres, I'd want to shoot anybody who tried to informally capture me. I'd rather take my chances weapon in hand than be tied to a chair and talked to by a series of people who will only not kill me if it's unanimous.

SandySandfort on September 05, 2009, 04:51:01 pm
It was a cultural thing. What he said was "I was only following orders. He said he would take responsibility." He asked her not to kill him but he didn't ask for forgiveness or apologise or even say he was sorry. He didn't even say that he wouldn't do it again. Not an effective defense in a libertarian society.

Bingo.

This is one of the things that governments do fairly well. Without government some people fall into multi-generational feuds and vendettas, and that's bad for the society as a whole. Governments come in and reduce that. They separate the central actors from the situation for awhile and generally act to defuse the threat. To the extent that people believe some justice has been done that helps, but reducing the provocation helps more.

True. Instead, governments send you off on their own vendettas, to kill little brown people who never did you any harm at all. Private vendettas are rare in anything like an advanced society. They may kill dozens; governments kill tens of millions. lI can point to other things governments do reasonably well (at least good enough for government work), but at what cost? Government is not a Chinese menu (one from column A, one from column B...); it is a "set meal." You have to buy the whole package, eat everything on your plate and then do the dishes.

This glimpse of the Ceres legal system doesn't give much hint how they handle that. Somebody informally captures a murderer and ties him up, and lets him discuss it with the victim's family? All informal.... And the family member who shoots him gets no repercussions from his family? They don't informally capture her and tie her up and give him the chance to discuss it before they shoot her?

Here we go again; Ceres does not have a "legal system." There is no system and what does exist are not laws. I got excoriated by Perry Metzger, because Ceres didn't have "rules." He pointed out--quite correctly--that anarchy means "no rulers" not "no rules. What Perry and others have missed is that the obverse is not necessarily so. Just because anarchy can have rules, it does not follow that it must have rules. Ceres has customs and voluntary dispute resolution mechanisms and that's it. It has not "evolved" to the point of having a more sophisticated "system." Mars, by the way, does have something that looks a lot like a legal system, but it is still run along anarchist lines. I hope to show that in action in upcoming adventures.

The story did a very good job of describing the parts of the society which were important in that particular context. I don't want to criticise it for not showing everything at once. At any rate, they let the survivor decide whether to kill the murderer...

But there is no "they." So nobody let Emily Rose decide. She decided and nobody objected. Admittedly, Reggie et alia, facilitated her ability to decide, but that is just what they decided to do as their personal choices. I'm sure if Perry Metzger had been there, he would have objected and tried to stop the execution, but at the end of the day, the results probably would have been the same. What happened to the Roses could have happened to anyone. I cannot imagine a Cererean who would give a flip about Harris, and not much more about Young.

Why? Because the culture of the Belt, to the extent there is one, demands that people take personal responsibility for their actions. Kids can say, "it was his idea," but that won't carry much water with their parents. Adults who blame others get shunned, ostracized or worse.   

My natural thought is if I killed somebody on Ceres, I'd want to shoot anybody who tried to informally capture me. I'd rather take my chances weapon in hand than be tied to a chair and talked to by a series of people who will only not kill me if it's unanimous.

This was a one-off event. The justice wasn't democratic, there was no vote. Daniel's widow, was satisfied to let others do what they thought best. Of the people at the execution, probably only Reggie would have stepped up to the plate had Emily declined. BTW, he also would have killed them both. In some was the "I was only following orders" defense was worse than Harris' crime.

As it was, please note that Emily blamed Harris more. She shot him in the heart so he would feel his death happening. Young was spared that with a bullet to the brain. Personally, I would have shot them both in the head, but I'm not Emily.

Sean Roach on September 05, 2009, 10:02:18 pm
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They don't give ticker tape parades to an admiral who loses an aircraft carrier and has 20% of his force defect to the enemy. In the best case for him he would not be forced into retirement, and would still have devoted sponsors who would get him tasks that might help rehabilitate his reputation. So he could still be dangerous.
I wasn't saying they'd give him a ticker tape parade because he did what they asked.
I meant they'd give him a ticker tape parade as part of the spin.
Quite frankly, I doubt Harris' superiors had much to say for him either, but if your man gets beaten and humiliated, YOU get beaten and humiliated.  They'd give him a parade, he'd be a one week celebrity, then he'd be quickly shuffled off somewhere before he opened his mouth and embarrassed those who matter.  He'd be on the cover of Time, and a government speechwriter would have final review of the article, overriding the editor.

Even dead, they probably would give him a state funeral, and shout for the death of the Cererian rebels during the eulogy.  That is, if they thought they could take them.

It doesn't matter that he was a bloodthirsty egotistical nitwit.  What matters is the cost of his failure, and what could be done to minimize that.  If the only part that could be minimized was the publics negative perception of the events, then that part would be minimized.


Example.
You have an employee who, for some reason, you CAN'T fire, but who you desperately want to, (he's a screw up, he's abrasive, he's ...whatever).
He has found another potential job, and wants a reference.
For whatever reason, you know you will NEVER be called to account for any lies you say about him, that is assuming you choose to lie.

Do you.
A. write him a scathing recommendation, that either covertly or blatantly lays out his flaws, or
B. write him a glowing recommendation, that gets him to quit sooner?