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October 25, 2015

Avoiding Accountability via the Wartime Dialectic of Civilian Death

I was never fond of diagramming sentences, but it has it's place. There's a wave of statements being made in Pittsburgh in the aftermath of a driver causing a chain-collision and killing a cyclist. The statement goes like this:

It's tragic (Susan Hicks) was killed ,but I know a lot of cyclists run red lights.
It's sad (the cyclist) is dead ,but I see a lot of (them) behaving badly. I ride bikes too!

Here's the pattern:
{regret}  (individual)  [outcome]  ,but  {credibility}  (many) of  [other- tribe]  misbehave.

{regret}(individual) [outcome] ,but {credibility} (many) [other- tribe] misbehaveassertion of balance
{It's a shame}(Fireman Jones) [died] ,but {we all know} (many) [firefighters] drink too much Some of my friends are firemen.
{How sad that}(Johnny Gammage) [died] ,but {my cousin the cop says} (the majority of) [black drivers] have drugs & guns in the car. I do support the 2nd Amendment though.
{How sad that}(Andre Gray) [was murdered] ,but {I know that} (so many) [homosexuals] live a risky lifestyle Some of my friends are gay.
{What a loss,}(13 year-old Abdel Rahman Abdullah) [was killed by soldiers] ,but {we all know} (a lot of) [Palestinian kids] throw stones at soldiers.What do they expect?

And we could go on with other examples. It's pertinent to note that the [other- tribe] is always a group that the speaker does not belong to.

What these statements really say in code is:

The death
 of  Susan Hicks
Johnny Gammage
AR Abdullah
 is  acceptable
 because  (many)
[other- tribe]
drink a lot
live risky
throw stones

This is a pernicious bit of rhetoric. It says: What happened to the individual is understandable and not-outrageous because of the way their tribe acts. It says: taking innocent, uninvolved individual lives can be justified by the behavior of other members of their tribe.

The only time Occidental Culture is supposed to justify individual deaths because of tribe-group identity is during warfare. How did we come to this?

Why do we tend to devalue the loss of life based on membership in another tribe? Why do we invoke the rhetoric pattern of warfare in civilian deaths? Because then we don't have to hold a member of our own tribe accountable for it, which would reflect on: ourselves.


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