Re: When it is OK to strike first.

Michael S. Lorrey (
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 12:22:32 -0500

Max M wrote:

> Comments a from Mike Lorrey and Dick Gray.
> > >"I do not advocate the initiation of force to promote social or
> > >political goals."
> I do believe it is a fine thing to live ones life after. Furthermore I
> believe that in most civilized countries it is the way things happens
> allready. But in real life it is not simple as the statement implies. If
> somebody comes running at you with a gun it is NOT force. It is an implied
> threat of the use of force. Stil I would stop him any way possible if given
> the chance.
> >Notice the statement reads "to promote social or political goals". This
> >doesn't in any way preclude defense of self or others from threat of
> >attack.
> But it is ok to use force for personal goals then? Either you use initial
> force or you don't. A war fought in another country can easily be thought of
> as a way to remove an implied threat. A war that might otherwise would have
> been fought in your own backyard.
> Or how would you define social goals?

A mugger is no different than a government, they are both interested in redistributing my money. Both have social goals, one is just a bit more immediate and personal than the other.

> >As the evidence shows, carrying concealed weapons has a significant
> deterrent
> >effect on the population as a whole, while openly carrying weapons deters
> crime
> >from the individual carrying. You don't need to initiate force to have an
> >effect.
> Carrying a weapon is an implied threat. If not, how else could you see a
> mugger/carjacker ... as a threat when they havn't touched you yet? I don't
> see much difference in the threat of using force and actually using it. Se
> my example above of the gun carrying mugger.

There is a significant difference. If we look at the national scene, what do you consider a worse act: a) allowing an agressor to wipe out its enemies with nuclear weapons, or b) maintaining a nuclear arsenal with a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction. Similarly, an implied threat signified by my concealed firearm is significantly different than someone actually pointing one at you and demanding your wallet. If it happened to you, you'd lose your wallet, and possibly your life, while I at least have the chance to put my hand in my pocket and shoot the assailant through the fabric of my jacket. If I carry my weapon openly, then criminals not only know that I have the gun and can avoid me (giving me near 100% protection from crime), unless they are really stupid, but the criminals will prefer to go after those not obviously armed. The only problem is a) how good guys can tell other good guys from bad guys, and b) how unarmed individuals can do the same when confronted by the same. Now, I would say that an unarmed individual faced with an armed individual in any sort of transaction, even just buying apples, for instance, may feel like they must compromise due to a feeling of implied force, however it is all a matter of trust in both directions.

I will not travel into an area I don't trust without a weapon somewhere on my person. I generally don't go armed in my local environment due to the high trust factor I have from living there. In my view, anyone who does not do likewise deserves whatever capital punishment they get for their stupidity.

> Organised crime probably benefits far more from the threat of violence than
> from actually violence. Carrying a concealed weapon is an implied threat, or
> else it would not have a deterent effect.

Of course it is an implied threat, but only against those who choose to agress against others. Anyone who does not agress against me has no fear of harm from me.

> >As 50 years experience showed, Mutual Assured Destruction did a fine job of
> out
> >blinking the potential agressors.
> Well the jury is stil out on that one. Most of the bombs, or at least
> enough, are still around and can be put to "good" use yet.

Don't you get it? It will never be 'over' so long as anyone thinks that it is a useful technology to force peaceful people into doing something they don't want. The fact that we are not all radioactive cinders yet after 50 years is proof enough that it works sufficiently well for our purposes.

> >> I can think of so many exceptions to this rule that it is hard to take
> >> seriously. It is a good ideal though, and one that I think many of us
> live by
> >> whenever we can.
> >Please come up with some more concrete examples of why this would not work.
> The
> >two you cited are obviously inadequate.
> The problem is defining "force". Is it only actual force or does it include
> the threat of force? If it includes only the actual use of force we would
> have to wait to defence ourself until we are actually attacked. This is
> clearly not yours or mine idea of intelligent behaviour.

Well, we can also look at how an individual behaves toward others. If dork A attacks wimp B, and I am gun-nerd C, I have a reasonable idea that dork A is likely to agress against me as well at some time in the future, so acting in the defense of or paying retribution for the attack on wimp B is also in my own future self interest. Wimp B is wimp B rather than gun-nerd B because a) he's an idiot who is hopelessly optimistic about everyone, or b) he doesn't want to go to the bother and wants to put the expense of his defense on others. His motivations are irrelevant, but he does act as a good indirect signaling system for armed individuals who do not agress to detect those who do agress.

> If on the other hand it also includes the threat of force we will be on the
> same slippery ground as real life politics are now.
> 1) If you firmly believe that someone is going to hurt you or your loved
> ones you will stop them. But maybe you are wrong. Then you have initiated
> force.

Belief unfounded in any facts is indefensible. If you have any reasonable facts to base the beleif on then your actions are not an unwarranted intitiation.

> 2) When you are trying to stop another country from attacking your country
> you are initiating force against innocent civilians. This can be an evil
> nessecity.

Depends on the losses. Here we deal with abstract concepts like commiting the lesser evil: sitting by an watching millions die, or initiating a premptive strike and only thousands of the other guys people die.

> 3) When you are in a police force and trying to solve a crime. You sometime
> has to intiate force to bring in a suspect while solving the crime. The
> suspect might be innocent, if so, then the police force is initiating the
> force on behalf of you. And I do believe some kind of police force is
> nessecary.

As in scenario #1, reasonable amount of fact to support a suspicion of guilt is defensible in the initiation of force. You must assume that those who are agressors lose rights when they initiate force, so initiating force against an agressor who has not attacked you personally is morally better than letting them continue agressing.

> 4) Somebody kills somebody you love by negligence. You want them punished.
> Can you do this without initiating force? The culprit didn't do anything,
> thus no intiation of force, but what he didn't do killed somebody.

Just as in the above case, you can say that not taking action against an agressor is negligence. Failure to act rightly can be as wrong as acting wrongly. They both involve choices. Making a wrong choice in judgment when landing a plane and causing it to crash is as wrong as a mugger making the wrong choice of choosing to mug you or I. It is also as wrong as the wrong choice of an agressor nation chosing to agress.

> 5) somebody in a group of known violent offenders (Mobsters, Bikers ...)
> walks into your store and tells you that you live in a dangerous
> neighbourghood and they would love to protect you for a fee. You refuse.
> Your shop catches fire and your wife dies in the flames. The police
> investigations shows that it was a fire that somebody had set deliberately,
> but they cannot show who did it.

Obviously extortion. While they may have not intended to kill my wife in the fire (i.e. negligence) most jurisdictions have a law that when anyone dies during the commission of a felony, there is automatically a murder charge brought against the perpetrators (i.e agressors), and if there is a death penalty in that state, it is usually a capital murder charge that is required.

This charge applies if two people decide to mug me. I shoot and kill one of them, and apprehend the other. Guess who gets the capital murder charge? The guy I apprehended, even though I was the one that killed the other crook.

> Somebody you know about has initiated violence but you cannot proove that it
> was them. How are your feelings about revenge here? is it an intialisation
> or is it a retributal?

Well, since I have nothing left for the bad guys to protect, then I can easily inform the police of their activity, which will immediately put them under suspicion. The police can then set up a sting operation to arrest the guys, then get one of them to turn and testify against the others on the murder charge involving my wife.

If there were no real police, then I would merely have to prove that there was a clear and present danger from the extortionists at the time of the fire, which is why there isn't that much extortion going on in most cities. If someone threatened me, the first thing I'd do would be to set the fire myself and blame them (of course I'd keep my wife out of the building, most likely.... ;)0).

> The phrase: "I do not advocate the initiation of force to promote social or
> political goals." is an absolute. I don't support many theories of
> absolutes. It's usually impractical rethorics and farfecthed ideals.

Refusing to advocate intiation of force also means that you will actively oppose those who use it as their primary modus operandi. Failure to oppose agressors is as bad as being an agressor.

> Real life happens in a grey zone where you can only strive to do your best.
> and in that situation the above sentence is a good ideal to strive for when
> possible.

Its all a matter of semantics. Try this:

"I oppose the initiation of force for the promotion of social or political goals."

Mike Lorrey