Tuesday, March 28, 2006

But I don't WANT to die

The Kang & Kodos Readers Brigade

I wanted to post a few thoughts on the topic of suicide, and whether giving up your life for the good of others is of moral equivalency to someone who has "just had enough with everything" and hangs himself, as my great-grandfather did. My first dilemma comes from my Christian faith. There are a great many things in the Bible that I wish (in my worst moments) weren't there, including Jesus' statement that whoever wants to save his life will lose it. I might even wonder out loud why more Christians aren't giving up their lives, with this apparently strong necessity, as opposed to Muslims who, as far as I can tell, can make it into heaven even if they don't give up their lives. I also tend to see a sort of psychological issue at play, in that I meet agnostics and atheists who seem more willing to give their lives up than I do, even though I have an eternal hope that they don't. I wonder if there exists a potential pool of would-be suicide bombers in every society, and that certain societies are better able to draw them out. That is, I might disagree with Pape's thesis that suicide bombing is an effect of a democratic and stronger government occupying a certain nation, and suggest instead that certain people are psychologically suited to suicide bombing, and some cultural leaders (Palestinian, Japanese in WWII, the Tamils) are just better at finding such people and utlizing them.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

"I wonder if there exists a potential pool of would-be suicide bombers in every society, and that certain societies are better able to draw them out. That is, I might disagree with Pape's thesis that suicide bombing is an effect of a democratic and stronger government occupying a certain nation, and suggest instead that certain people are psychologically suited to suicide bombing, and some cultural leaders (Palestinian, Japanese in WWII, the Tamils) are just better at finding such people and utlizing them."

We're obviously just speculating here, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that certain people would never sacrifice their lives for God or country, regardless of the importance or justice of the cause. However, Pape suggests (and supports, to some degree) that there isn't a set of psychological or demographic characteristics that necessarily sets those people apart from those who would--in which case, his list of occupier characteristics really does seem to be the main factor. It was interesting to note the table where he listed the family and friends of the suicide bombers who had died at the hands of the occupiers, but then again, there are many thousands more people with the same stories who don't become suicide bombers.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

It's my understanding that the primary motivation for suicide is depression. So I wonder how significant the recruiting pool would be, since suicidally depressed people would be difficult to recruit to a cause. Terminally ill people might be a better group to choose from, but that presupposes that you have the means in your society to come up with and give this diagnosis to your citizenry.

"...agnostics and atheists who seem more willing to give their lives up..."

Yes, but like many big huge things like suicide, the apparent inclination/willingness to do it is quite different from actually doing it. There are all sorts of "failed" suicides - suicidal episodes, they are often called, since they're less about self-destruction and more about a cry for help. Since the act of suicide bombing is the cry of Rage Against The Occupier, I think it's in a class by itself.

1:15 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

What is the difference between a suicide bomber and someone who goes to a party in Seattle and shoots six of his friends and then himself?

Were they Canadians on his native soil?

I think the two are more similar than they are different.

I believe the term Pape used was "altruistic terrorism." I wonder if suicide bombing (to go in a totally different tangent, one in which maybe Pape went and I didn't catch on to) is merely a perversion of an actually good thing. Perhaps the psychology of someone willing to sacrifice one's self, seen in the Mother Theresa's of the world; can, when motivated in a certain way, turn one into a suicide bomber. If that were true, though, I'd wonder why they weren't more Mother Theresas, or perhaps we just don't know about them.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"What is the difference between a suicide bomber and someone who goes to a party in Seattle and shoots six of his friends and then himself? I think the two are more similar than they are different."

Depends on how you look at it. If you look at it from the standpoint of how they died - killing themselves while taking others with them - then it's exactly the same. The Seattle suicider may have been an "altruistic suicide," as Pape describes ("motivated by a sense of duty"), but still wouldn't fit the mold of a suicide terrorist, which is distinguished by Timing, Nationalist goals, and Target selection (Pape, chap.4).

Clearly I haven't yet returned the library book(s). Jeff, I promise I will do that today. Incidentally a copy was left at my place - I think it was Tim's? It had no dust jacket.

9:42 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

But Pape's definitions are arbitrary. In both cases someone killed others and killed themselves, and, at least as far as the Tamils are concerned, had no "nationalistic" goals of their own, given the secularism of the organization itself.

1:28 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

That is, the Tamils have nationalistic goals, but the suicide bombers are merely dying. They are a more Marxist group who have recruited out of Hindu homes, yes? I wonder if the Tamil has more in common with Mr Seattle than he does with Al-Qaeda. I realize that Pape has the PhD and teaches at Chicago, but I don't think the religious element, or lack thereof, can be dismissed so easily, and I really don't think that people killing others and then "turning the gun on themselves" is so very different from someone blowing themselves up at a train station.

incidentally, germanicus, thanks again for the ass whooping.

1:30 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Since I can't edit, replace "Tamils" with "Tamil suicide bombers" with my argument about nationalist goals. The tamils do, but those who kill themselves are not looking for the great Sri Lanka in the sky, are they?

1:32 PM  

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