Re: Chomsky (was: Christopher Hitchens' Column)

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Sat Oct 06 2001 - 04:09:28 MDT

('binary' encoding is not supported, stored as-is) >Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 13:01:09 -0400
> Mike Lorrey <> Re: Chomsky (was: Christopher Hitchens' Column)Reply-To:
>Joe Dees wrote:
>> >Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 16:06:20 +1000
>> > Damien Broderick <> Re: Chomsky (was: Christopher Hitchens' Column) extropians@extropy.orgReply-To:
>> >
>> >At 12:40 AM 10/5/01 -0400, John K Clark wrote:
>> >
>> >> >Chomsky has contrasted the high-volume media coverage
>> >> >of the Khmer Rouge atrocities with the low-volume
>> >> >coverage of the atrocities committed in the same
>> >> >period by Indonesia's US-sanctioned invasion of East Timor.
>> >
>> >>All atrocities should be condemned but to do it by saying my holocaust
>> >>is worse than your holocaust shows a moral tone deafness that is
>> >>staggering to contemplate.
>> >
>> >Oddly, that's exactly Chomsky's point. He's noting not just the moral
>> >deafness of the major media (who effectively ignored the Timor atrocities,
>> >presumably on the grounds that they were someone else's holocaust), but the
>> >actual deafness thereby imposed on readers and viewers.
>> >
>> >Which is what John's cite from Jeff says.
>> >
>> There is still his problem of equating tens of thousands of deaths to millions of them, as if one Timorese death is worth a hundred Cambodian demises, which he does when he argues that it is unjustifiable that one atrocity received more media attention
>than another.
>This is specifically a problem of how you look at society. Chomsky and
>his anarcho-lefties look at society as one unit, thus an atrocity is an
>atrocity is an atrocity, no matter how many individuals were involved.
>To them, the individual is not as important as the group, so saying that
>one death here is equal to one hundred there has no meaning for them.
>Part of this is because of the difficulty in executing thousands of
>sentences on one perpetrator of an atrocity in court. How, for instance,
>do you impose a thousand death sentences on one person? Or a thousand
>life sentences? At best, in the current day, a person can do two to four
>life sentences before they die, so any more than that is a bit of
>overkill. Thus, mass crimes tend to be treated as one whole crime, and
>the punishment for each individual death is thus discounted as the
>death toll rises. After you've killed ten, what harm is there in
>whacking a few more, you aren't gonna be punished any MORE for doing so.
>Back in the middle ages in Scotland and elsewhere, a person could be
>tried and sentenced after their own death. In many cases, the corpse was
>brought into court and stood up in the docket in their casket to face
>the judge and jury... all without modern air conditioning...
>Unless, of course, we gain immortality. Imagine keeping a Hitler or
>Stalin (or bin Laden) alive for hundreds or even thousands of years
>purposely to keep him in prison, doing hard labor, for the thousands or
>more people they've killed. Perhaps even upload the minds of such
>criminals so that they can undergo eons of punishment in virtual
>reality. By this count, bin Laden would get 6,000 x 20 years, or 180,000
>years of incarceration for his crime. Hitler would get somewhere between
>300 million and a billion years of hard time. Sounds rather like the
>mythological hell, doesn't it?
>Yet to do less is to most certainly devalue the individuals who died in
>such atrocities. Many top Nazis got sentences ranging from 6-20 years,
>which puts the value of the people they killed at mere seconds of
>punishment for each death. The law today says that in such cases, the
>offenders serve their sentences 'concurrently', yet that is to, once
>again, apply standards of group crimes and group rights when none such
The point you make is amply illustrated by a quote from Timothy McVeigh; "I win - 168 to one."

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