NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 24, 2010, 07:40:48 pm
If I stay far away, how are they going to make such demands? 
A few members of the group are everywhere in the world.  They are all expected to look after the group's interests.  Some of them do - all of them pretend to the group that they do, and to outsiders that they do not - examples being communists and Muslims.

I'm going to ignore the "communist" and "Muslim" red herrings; they are both based on a flawed worldview promoted by those who wish to dehumanize some individuals, both inside and outside the sets of those who identify with the labels.

If some individuals demand, I decline, and watch for aggression.  If one or more individuals then attempts aggression, I respond.  If no one attempts aggression, I don't.  It may be that most or all of them won't.

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The question you ask assumes the group is a westphalian state that respects westphalian boundaries - but not every statelike group is a westphalian state, and westphalian states do not always respect westphalian boundaries.

I never said or assumed they were a westphalian state, other than the original scenario had their people "owning" some areas but not all. 

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And once they begin  "raiding lands" that they do not own, is that not aggression? 

  It is aggression by some members of the group - who cannot be distinguished from other members of the group.  Again, communists and muslims will cry repression, a complaint that always has some truth in it.
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The folks I have a problem with are those who are aggressive.  Mere group membership is irrelevant to me.  If one does not aggress against me  or threaten to,  I have no problem with them.  Life's too short to create extra, artificial enemies, no matter how much some would like me to.

J Thomas on September 24, 2010, 08:58:08 pm

I was not playing some sort of "gotcha" game; I don't trust the Potter Stewart standard ("I know it when I see it").

When you depend on "I know it when I see it" then for many people it matters a whole lot who's ox was gored.

That's why I always try to use the POS/POVI (Principle of Symmetry/Point of View Invariance) principle.  One can derive the ZAP from it.  I also use it to evaluate penal theory.

To the extent that this works, it's a good start for reaching agreement. I doubt anything will work all the time.

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But we don't have any good alternative. When people try to make rules that will apply to every case ahead of time, it falls apart. Look at Talmud. Look at the US legal code. Probably there is some way to apply Goedel's theorem, to prove that any legal system which actually covers all the bases will contain contradictions. I haven't done the proof, though.

Both the Talmud and the US legal code were indirectly designed to be both inconsistent and impenetrable.  I say "indirectly" because neither was truly designed with these as the direct goal; rather there was a total disregard for consistency and clarity.  As Tony Hoare remarked (paraphrased), "A [thing] can be either so simple it obviously has no defects or so complex it has no obvious defects."  He was referring to computer programs, but this applies equally well to other systems. 

My experience has been that tools which are so simple they obviously have no defects, allow *lots* of room for defects on my part when I try to use them. To make something truly foolproof you need to simplify your goals to the point that you never attempt any complicated result.

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It's better if people get a tradition that the right thing is usually to accept arbitration. Then whoever initiates violence instead, in front of witnesses, has some explaining to do. When there are no witnesses and only one survivor then his story might be the only one that gets told....

So, try to listen to the other guy and reach an agreement if you can. Try to agree on an arbitrator and be ready to explain your side reasonably to the arbitrator. If nothing works then you might have no choice but to fight him and he might not agree to any rules. If you won't stand up for yourself then maybe your friends or hid enemies or people who care about justice will stand up for you. Or maybe they won't.

I heartily approve of arbitration, but what principle(s) should be used in the arbitration -- especially in the case of making the aggrieved parties whole and the question of whether or not "punitive damages" should be included, and if so, how to determine them? 

I personally would start with the principles that people in some circumstances can reasonably assume that nothing bad will happen to them or their property but in other circumstances this assumption is not reasonable. That accidents happen. That people have a right to compensation for things that disadvantage them under some circumstances but not others. That it's better for people to provide compensation in a form they can afford, if possible. That it's better to find an arrangement everybody can live with if possible, but occasionally people can't live together in the same world and somebody has to die.

Nobody has to choose me for a mediator. If somebody else has different principles and they agree on him, that's fine.

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You might think it ought to always be obvious to everybody what's right. I guarantee it won't always be obvious to everybody. If there isn't a final authority that everybody has to obey, then you work things out the best you can.

This is entirely in agreement with my position that we need principles to cover penalties, rather than using the "Potter Stewart" approach.

If you get a group of people who agree on principles then that makes it easier when they deal with each other. They may occasionally disagree about how the principles should be applied.

You will inevitably find yourself dealing sometimes with people who do not agree with your principles. Then you can negotiate an arrangement with them that you both can accept, that might in some way seem to bend your principles or might not. Or you can get your group together and tell the other guy he has to live by your principles or your group will do something to him. Or you can live with him until he does something you can't accept and you choose to kill him. Or you can decide he's a menace or something, and kill him now.

Say you get your group together and tell him he has to agree to your legal principles when he doesn't want to. That looks like the start of a government to me. But if you don't do that, you *will* find yourself interacting with some people who don't agree to your principles. Maybe a lot of people. So I say, principles are nice when you happen to agree on them. And failing that, work out some way to coexist even without that agreement. And if you plain can't coexist, it's good if you can find a way to kill him that won't scare your other neighbors. Maybe your family will be better off if people think he wrongly killed you, than if they think you wrongly killed him. It doesn't have to go that way but it might.

jamesd on September 24, 2010, 10:37:51 pm
If I stay far away, how are they going to make such demands? 
A few members of the group are everywhere in the world.
If some individuals demand, I decline, and watch for aggression. 
So what did you do on "everrybody draw Mohammed" day?

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The folks I have a problem with are those who are aggressive.  Mere group membership is irrelevant to me.
So you treat Christian requests for respect exactly like Muslim demands for respect?  Riiiiiight.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 24, 2010, 10:57:31 pm
If some individuals demand, I decline, and watch for aggression. 

So what did you do on "everrybody draw Mohammed" day?

I don't recall; I know I didn't draw Mohammed; I don't draw. 
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The folks I have a problem with are those who are aggressive.  Mere group membership is irrelevant to me.

So you treat Christian requests for respect exactly like Muslim demands for respect?  Riiiiiight.

Well, I've never had anyone both identify themselves as Muslim and demand respect; I would also tend to treat someone who demanded respect differently than someone who requested respect.  I do have a modicum of respect for Islam (they are only one step away from enlightenment and tolerate their gnostics, as opposed to Christianity who tried to wipe theirs out and probably as a result are  waay off in terms of enlightenment.  I've also experienced persecution by aggressive Christians, and none to date from Muslims (aggressive or otherwise).  Nevertheless, by and large I've not had difficulty dealing with those associated with either group, and have shown respect for them and received the same.

The problem with many Muslims is that they fail to differentiate between residents of the US and the government of the US.  But that's also the problem with many non-Muslims as well.

quadibloc on September 24, 2010, 11:03:13 pm
The folks I have a problem with are those who are aggressive.  Mere group membership is irrelevant to me.  If one does not aggress against me  or threaten to,  I have no problem with them.  Life's too short to create extra, artificial enemies, no matter how much some would like me to.
This is very reasonable and just. One wishes to deal with people who are trying to harm you, not innocent people they happen to look like.

But could it not happen that this might not be good enough?

After all, it wasn't possible to determine, on September 11, 2001, that the hijackers were going to be hijackers when they were boarding their flights. So not letting people you know to be hijackers on airplanes... that policy was already in effect, but it didn't prevent the deaths of thousands of people that day.

On the other hand, if no one of Arab descent had been allowed on an airplane flying over United States airspace, the terrorist attacks on that day would have been prevented.

If one holds that for an innocent person to be barred permanently from flying over the United States is a minor inconvenience, while death is permanent irreversible annihilation, and thus the death of an innocent person is a horrible and unacceptable tragedy... then this seems to be an entirely reasonable precaution, which we were only prevented from taking because of hysterical extreme left-wingers who shout "racism" at every opportunity even when it makes no sense.

The sort of people who think it's "discrimination" to only allow male sports reporters into the locker rooms of male football players, for example.

The idea, basically, is that since the terrorists are willing to commit suicide in their attacks, punishing them after the fact won't deter them. To prevent a terrorist attack, we have to keep the terrorists away from their targets. But we don't know who the terrorists are. So we have to keep everyone who might be a terrorist away from those targets.

And then the bleeding-heart liberals come along and say, well, that's everybody, and so you would have to keep everybody away from everything.

But the fact is that while the risk of another Timothy McVeigh might be impossible to avoid without shutting everything down, the risk posed by terrorism associated with Islam is avoidable. (And that risk actually is higher, per passenger, in the case of people from that part of the world - otherwise, we could refuse to allow left-handed people to fly, in order to avoid the risk of airplane hijackings by left-handed people, which presumably we could also manage to do without.)

Besides the argument that the unfairness involved in that is miniscule compared to the unfairness of a terrorist attack to its victims, there's also the claim that there actually is justice in such a wide-scale restriction: because the Islamic world has failed to raise its children right, it didn't teach them to respect members of other faiths as equals, it taught them to think that God intends for Muslims to lord it over non-Muslims, and to fight against any attempt to overturn this natural order.

This sort of thinking, of course, comes naturally to those people who feel that no one - except a police officer, a security guard, or a trusted close personal friend - ought to be allowed in their presence with a firearm.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 24, 2010, 11:39:18 pm
The folks I have a problem with are those who are aggressive.  Mere group membership is irrelevant to me.  If one does not aggress against me  or threaten to,  I have no problem with them.  Life's too short to create extra, artificial enemies, no matter how much some would like me to.
This is very reasonable and just. One wishes to deal with people who are trying to harm you, not innocent people they happen to look like.

But could it not happen that this might not be good enough?

After all, it wasn't possible to determine, on September 11, 2001, that the hijackers were going to be hijackers when they were boarding their flights. So not letting people you know to be hijackers on airplanes... that policy was already in effect, but it didn't prevent the deaths of thousands of people that day.

The problem here was that the hijackers failed to look at individuals rather than groups.

 They had a very legitimate case against members of the US government aggression  throughout the Middle East (setting loose numerous "Butcher Harris" clones).  While many strains of "penal theory" may find that this was a disproportionate response, it is worth noting that there were peaceful objections, then local attacks (Lebanon), and only later a response in the US.

Were I to think in terms of groups rather than individuals, I would have to find the hijackers' actions totally appropriate and acceptable, if largely unsuccessful.  However, I do not.  I do find them individually guilty of mass first and second degree murder of the crews and passengers of the flights, and those in the World Trade Center.

However I also hold many in the US government (now and in the past), as well as the puppet thugs they empowered in the Middle East equally culpable.

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On the other hand, if no one of Arab descent had been allowed on an airplane flying over United States airspace, the terrorist attacks on that day would have been prevented.

This is your proposed solution? Harm even more people in more ways?  Give the thugs even more power?   Reward the initial aggressors? 

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If one holds that for an innocent person to be barred permanently from flying over the United States is a minor inconvenience, while death is permanent irreversible annihilation, and thus the death of an innocent person is a horrible and unacceptable tragedy... then this seems to be an entirely reasonable precaution, which we were only prevented from taking because of hysterical extreme left-wingers who shout "racism" at every opportunity even when it makes no sense.

Orwell couldn't have said it better.

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\The idea, basically, is that since the terrorists are willing to commit suicide in their attacks, punishing them after the fact won't deter them. To prevent a terrorist attack, we have to keep the terrorists away from their targets. But we don't know who the terrorists are. So we have to keep everyone who might be a terrorist away from those targets.

No, the best way to handle it is to resolve the legitimate claims of those who become the "terrorists".  Gather up all the war criminals still alive in the US and turn them over to the victims (or their families in the case of those who were killed)., and let them stand for their aggression.   Where restitution is called for, fund it out of the property and estates of those who were guilty (starting with the Presidents and members of Congress, then the executive bureaucrats and military officers, then those in "middle management" down to the front lines, as needed).  Do that, and those who recruit terrorists will find it far, far more difficult to recruit, and the legitimate victims in the US (or their families....) will have the credibility to seek jjustice.

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Besides the argument that the unfairness involved in that is miniscule compared to the unfairness of a terrorist attack to its victims, there's also the claim that there actually is justice in such a wide-scale restriction: because the Islamic world has failed to raise its children right, it didn't teach them to respect members of other faiths as equals, it taught them to think that God intends for Muslims to lord it over non-Muslims, and to fight against any attempt to overturn this natural order.

This is neither point of view invariant, nor viewing individuals as such.  One could just as easily argue that the unfairness of the terrorist attacks was miniscule compared to that of the innocent victims in the Middle East.

wdg3rd on September 25, 2010, 12:26:08 am
My experience has been that tools which are so simple they obviously have no defects, allow *lots* of room for defects on my part when I try to use them. To make something truly foolproof you need to simplify your goals to the point that you never attempt any complicated result.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like your thumb.

Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

wdg3rd on September 25, 2010, 01:03:37 am

This is neither point of view invariant, nor viewing individuals as such.  One could just as easily argue that the unfairness of the terrorist attacks was miniscule compared to that of the innocent victims in the Middle East.

Sometimes, NeitherRuleNorBeRuled, I'm almost willing to cut my own throat.  We keep having to deal with individuals who insist on considering other individuals as members of groups rather than as individuals.  Or considering theirselfs as members of groups rather than as individuals.  The mind fucking boggles sometimes.

Your nom is similar to a slogan I adopted decades ago and I forget who originated it:  "I am no man's master and no man's slave".
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

wdg3rd on September 25, 2010, 01:16:09 am
Will somebody please stop the forum software from changing f u c k to f r a c k?  Everybody around here is an adult (or would be in a libertarian society).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

jamesd on September 25, 2010, 02:26:19 am
No, the best way to handle it is to resolve the legitimate claims of those who become the "terrorists".  Gather up all the war criminals still alive in the US and turn them over to the victims (or their families in the case of those who were killed)., and let them stand for their aggression. 

So what war crimes have Thais, Filipinos, Nigerians, Swiss, and so on and so forth committed against the terrorists?

Islam has been making war on infidels pretty much continuously for fourteen hundred years.  The only thing that provokes them is that we do not submit to Islam, and the only thing that has ever successfully stopped them was measures of quite horrifying brutality.  We are at war with Islam, not "terror".  You may not think you are at war with Islam, but Muslims think Islam is at war with you.  To stop Islam from making war on us, we have to commit substantially greater terror than they do.  In fourteen hundred years, it is the only thing that has ever worked.

The only time we have ever had peace from Islam was from 1830 to 1960, when there were western colonists on Islamic lands.  Just as the Gaza settlers protected Israel by taking the violence, those colonial settlers protected the west by taking the violence.


mellyrn on September 25, 2010, 09:15:48 am
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On the other hand, if no one of Arab descent had been allowed on an airplane flying over United States airspace, the terrorist attacks on that day would have been prevented.

Quite apart from the possibility of stolen identities, if no one of Arab descent had been allowed into the Murrah building in OK City, that attack would have gone right ahead.  (I got rather a kick, admittedly macabre, after OK City by sniping at my shorthaired clean-chinned friends:  Grow a beard, ya look like a terrorist!)

Forget your "bleeding-heart liberals" -- I dislike "racial profiling" because it's stupid:  it will only maybe stop that one sort of harm, while leaving the profiler open to a false sense of security.

There's a reason why a "land of the free" MUST be a "land of the brave" -- only the brave dare live free.

quadibloc on September 25, 2010, 10:51:08 am
No, the best way to handle it is to resolve the legitimate claims of those who become the "terrorists".
The trouble with that is that there never were any such claims.

Jews came to Palestine, when it was under British rule (of course, I suppose one could argue about the legitimacy of that), and bought land through voluntary transactions.

Violence was instigated against them, and in response to the violence, the U.N. authorized the Jews of Palestine to separate the area in which they lived from the government of all Palestine, so that they could defend themselves through controlling movement into the areas in which they lived.

This resulted in the states surrounding the new nation of Israel descending on it to push it into the sea.

They failed - just barely. It is only after that failure that Israel grew to include areas where Arabs lived; Arabs who had moved out of the way to facilitate the attack on Israel. This is where the original Palestinian refugee problem came from.

So this is the great historic injustice about which the Islamic world complains to this day.

The Jews had the effrontery to deny us our God-given right to kill them and rape their daughters whenever we felt like it. We reacted to this by attempting to wipe them out, and they compounded their crime by pushing back. I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for this complaint.

Look at how Coptic Christians are treated in Egypt, just as an example. We are dealing with a group where this kind of garbage is what is taught to the children... and hardly anyone dares to speak out. To deal with them as individuals instead of as a group, we would need to occupy the countries involved in order to break the back of the ability of the Islamic supremacists to intimidate everyone else into acquiescing to this doctrine.

Of course, this is the favored justification for colonialism. Sadly, neither the American Indians, nor the Australian Aborigines, nor the people of sub-Saharan Africa, had time to study the Treaty of Westphalia or the Geneva Convention (well, that hadn't actually been written yet) before the Europeans came, and so when defending their lands against intruders, they perpetrated a few excesses... which the colonists then used as the justification for almost wiping them out and taking nearly all their land.

Taking from a savage his "unimproved" hunting grounds is not unlike denying someone the right to breathe the air - so I don't buy Ayn Rand's facile attempt to justify the seizure of much of the world by European colonists. I'm just not sure that being revanchist on the claims of indigenous people would, at the moment, really lead to a better world. The existence of the U.S. may rest on a historic wrong - but it kept the Nazis and the Communists from world conquest, so I think we should keep it around for a little longer.

I know this makes me a cowardly person unworthy of freedom, but I have bigger worries.

Since Israel has now admitted as immigrants the Jews from poor countries that no one else would take, and the refuseniks from Russia... if the U.S. or Australia just accepted the Jews of Israel as immigrants, it would be a way to buy peace in the Middle East, even if it could be felt this rewarded bad behavior or was unjust. Take the other non-Muslim minority members out of there too, and build a big wall around the Islamic world so that one could just forget about it for a few centuries. That is what the most tempting solution is right now.

J Thomas on September 25, 2010, 12:14:52 pm

Jews came to Palestine, when it was under British rule (of course, I suppose one could argue about the legitimacy of that), and bought land through voluntary transactions.

Violence was instigated against them, and in response to the violence, the U.N. authorized the Jews of Palestine to separate the area in which they lived from the government of all Palestine, so that they could defend themselves through controlling movement into the areas in which they lived.

Etc.

This is a moral fable designed to make one government look justified in whatever they choose to do.

Nasrudin was made a judge for his piety, but he didn't know much about law. On his first case, the plaintiff was so persuasive that Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!" The scribe patted him back down. "Now now, Judge Nasrudin, you have to listen to the defendant first." So Nasrudin listened, and the defendant was so eloquent that Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!" The scribe patted him back own. "Now now, Judge Nasrudin. They can't both be right, now can they?" Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!"

Shouldn't you listen to the defendant first?

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The Jews had the effrontery to deny us our God-given right to kill them and rape their daughters whenever we felt like it. We reacted to this by attempting to wipe them out, and they compounded their crime by pushing back. I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for this complaint.

This is not a very good parody.

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Taking from a savage his "unimproved" hunting grounds is not unlike denying someone the right to breathe the air - so I don't buy Ayn Rand's facile attempt to justify the seizure of much of the world by European colonists.

But you do buy it from Israel.

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Since Israel has now admitted as immigrants the Jews from poor countries that no one else would take, and the refuseniks from Russia... if the U.S. or Australia just accepted the Jews of Israel as immigrants, it would be a way to buy peace in the Middle East, even if it could be felt this rewarded bad behavior or was unjust.

I agree with that. I don't care if it "rewards" bad behavior. Not like other groups will see us rewarding Israelis and do the same thing hoping we'll reward them too. I'm a little concerned that if the more "moderate" Israelis come to the USA, that will leave a larger proportion of hotheads deciding about nukes when they feel desperate.

It would make a lot of sense to accept palestinians into the USA too. Compared to Palestine or Israel the USA is truly a land of opportunity. And there are plain too many people there for the water table to support. It would be too many people if it was only Israelis, and it would be too many people if it was only palestinians.

quadibloc on September 25, 2010, 01:28:55 pm
Nasrudin was made a judge for his piety, but he didn't know much about law. On his first case, the plaintiff was so persuasive that Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!" The scribe patted him back down. "Now now, Judge Nasrudin, you have to listen to the defendant first." So Nasrudin listened, and the defendant was so eloquent that Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!" The scribe patted him back own. "Now now, Judge Nasrudin. They can't both be right, now can they?" Nasrudin stood up and said, "I believe you're right!"
I am concerned about how Palestinians are getting pushed aside for settlements in the West Bank too.

But this story reminds me of something unrelated when it comes to my political views.

The left winger comes to me, and tells me about the sad life of a child born to poor parents, and how poverty causes suffering to innocent children. And I say to the left winger, "I believe you're right!".

The conservative comes to me and tells me it is unfair for people who work hard, and have only a few children, to be taxed heavily, and thus be prevented from achieving their ambitions for their children, for the benefit of other people who chose to have many children, even though they didn't have the resources to support them. And I say to the conservative, "I believe you'r right".

And someone reminds me that these two views contradict each other. Here, while I acknowledge this is generally believed, I say that we can think outside the box.

So what the government should do is perform a vasectomy on every 10-year-old boy, and then reverse the operation for those who can prove financial responsibility when they are married later! (There was an author in Britain who proposed something sort of like that, but with an older age, back in the 'sixties.)

Both the left-wingers and the conservatives would, of course, howl in rage at this kind of government intrusiveness.

And then I can grin back at them and suggest, therefore, that they might consider reaching a compromise, since both their moral arguments are "right", but attempting to follow both at once is even worse than following just one and ignoring the other.

J Thomas on September 25, 2010, 04:07:03 pm

....
And then I can grin back at them and suggest, therefore, that they might consider reaching a compromise, since both their moral arguments are "right", but attempting to follow both at once is even worse than following just one and ignoring the other.

Yes.

People generally have not thought much about these issues.

Once I wanted a cat, so I went to the local SPCA in San Francisco. They had cats each in a carpeted "apartment". About 100 square feet each, split-level with toys and swings etc. They wanted $200 for a cat, and they demanded to inspect my home to make sure it would be suitable for a cat, and to do a background check to make sure I would be a good cat-owner. They insisted that I promise I would keep the cat indoors all the time. All of their cats were neutered.

I didn't want a neutered cat. The woman explained that there were far too  many cats in the world and so they suffered. The pound collected lots of cats that could not get homes, and they had to kill them. Barrels and barrels of dead cats. Unless cats were neutered many more cats would be born to suffer.

I disagreed. I wanted my cats to have a chance to have kittens and I would try to find homes for them. I wanted my cats to be successful. She could not see that point of view, she insisted that it was irresponsible and she got pretty emotional about it.

I almost gave her the same offer, but out of practicality I didn't say it out loud. "Here's the deal. If you agree, I will take you home. You will never leave the house. I will feed you and pay for your collar and leash and kibble and everything you need. I will have you neutered. I will do my best to give you a pleasant life as my pet, and when you get too old I will have you painlessly euthanised. What do you say?" But I was concerned she might freak out while completely missing the point.

Cats are evolved to not be at the top of the food chain. They have four or five kittens a year, and in good years they have two litters. On average no more than 10% or so of them live to reproduce. These people want to subvert that, to catch as many wild cats as possible and convert them to neutered domesticated cats. They want the surviving cats to be the ones produced by human breeders.

I agree with RA Lafferty, "Ishmael into the Barrens". It's better to have a short life than no life at all. It's better to have a real life with some pain than to be irrelevant.

Trying to create utopia for cats is completely unworkable. One pair of unneutered cats can have 30 kittens over 3 to 6 years. It just does not make sense. Making a utopia for human beings where nothing bad can happen is similarly unworkable.