On calling people terrorists.

Boston is looking at an open wound tonight, and I don’t want to diminish anything that’s happening there.

We have to watch our use of the word terrorist.  Merriam-Webster defines terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion”.  Let’s think about that for a moment.

What happened on 9/11 was coercion: Muslims around the world were encouraged to shed Western influences by using direct force to expel Americans and shock and disorganize their enemies on foreign shores.

What’s happening in Syria is not coercion, no matter how many times Bashir al-Assad says it is.  It’s civil war.  In the same way, what happened in Libya was revolution and civil way, despite all of Qaddafi’s statements to the contrary.

What happened with Timothy McVeigh in the 1990s was not terrorism.  It was the deranged act of an asshole bent on homocidal expression of his personal rage; there was no coercion to his way of thinking.  [Note: I opposed his 2001 execution.]

What happened with Eric Robert Rudolph during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics wasn’t terrorism.  People barely knew that Rudolph wanted to advocate against abortion.  They just knew that he was an asshole.

We throw “terrorist” around too freely.  Could this be a product of al-Qaeda or some other international terrorist that wants American influence removed from the Middle East?  Yes, and if that is the aim, I think that we can safely call it a terrorist act.  But if this is the work of a deranged asshole or team of deranged assholes who decided, “How do we wake a great day in Boston and fuck it up?  Let’s find the largest public outdoor gathering of people and kill and maim a bunch of people!”  You don’t have to be a terrorist to be an asshole, but you do have to be an asshole to be a terrorist.  Unless they are terrorists, let’s don’t give the motherfuckers the pleasure.

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