Re: Pies in the face (was Re: PDAs are searchable was Re: blah blah blah)

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Sat Feb 10 2001 - 09:35:23 MST

On Sat, Feb 10, 2001 at 01:15:45AM -0000, zeb haradon wrote:
> I'll take this opportunity to point out a common mistake people make during
> a debate.

> ..... If I am
> wrong, it is either because I misunderstood the premises from which you
> derived support for such-and-such, in which case you should now explain your
> premises more clearly, or because I mis-applied logic in getting from your
> premises to the conclusion of murder, in which case you should point out
> where. What you understood by my statement, however, is that I was trying to
> just use an emotional tie-in between murder and such-and-such, to get people
> to reject such-and such].

Okay, granted.

Trying to get to the root of things: what set me off was the assumption
that, if a group decides to use cream pies as a form of protest, it is
appropriate to treat this as serious assault or to sue them into bankruptcy.
This struck me as a deeply inappropriate, excessive, response ...

> Of course, it is just a pie. I can think of a few peices of real damage it
> would cause. First, it's going to ruin your shirt.

Which is my point. A flan in the face is going to seriously annoy you and
maybe ruin your clothing (although most clothing is quite capable of
surviving being doused in soap -- it should normally be nothing worse
than a dry-cleaning bill). Responding to it with assault charges and
demands for hundred-kilobuck fines and/or prison time is ridiculous. That
sort of response should be reserved for serious offenses.

(To paraphrase: minor offenses deserve minor punishments. There's the
apocryphal tale of the Chinese emperor who instituted a draconian penal
code under which everything from rebellion to turning up late for work
had the same punishment -- death. One morning, his most gifted general
was late in to work due to a hang-over, and thought "what the hell ..."
Shortly thereafter, there was a new emperor.)

-- Charlie

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