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RIP Vile Rat, EVE Online Diplomat, IRL State Dept Rep Killed In Benghazi (themittani.com)
539 points by HistoryInAction on Sept 12, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 261 comments

I'm an Eve player. I'm a TEST member so for quite a while I've been an allie to the alliance he was a member of but thats not why I know him. I knew VR because he was one of the most well know and well respected diplomats in the complex and amazing game of eve.

For those that don't play the game you have allies(who are called blues) and enemies(reds), and neutrals(greys) TEST(reddit) and Goons(SomethingAwful) always would joke about their ability to shoot blues(allies) for fun. But it would always require a trip to Vile Rat to sort it out.

I didn't know the man personally but I have respected him for a long time in a game that I really enjoy and from that I honestly feel personally connected to him. I have a lot of friends in this game who actually are personally connected to him.

Eve is fun, eve is empires with consequences, eve is taking a risk and losing it all. Something I think the traditional HN crowd would enjoy.

RIP Sean

And condolences to your family and your many friends around the world and all the people that have seen your messages, watched your diplomacy and looked up to your lead.

EDIT: for people up voting me for this. I appreciate the thought but I don't feel comfortable collecting virtual points for this. Instead of an up vote please just post a reply.

Having spent some time playing with VR (in goonfleet, I was part of his initial corp of diplomats), this was a shocking way to wake up. The guy was super dedicated to both Eve and his job. He used to share stories about the State Department (obviously, only what he was allowed to share) and explain various aspects of diplomacy.

It might seem silly, since this was just an internet spaceship game, but his knowledge of real world diplomacy made Eve very exciting. He was a lot of fun to play with.

Goonspeed Vile Rat, you were a pretty awesome guy to shoot internet spaceships with :(

Exactly this. I was in GoonFleet several years ago and was always amazed at the crazy behind-the-curtain machinations were going on all the time when I was just a newbie. But VR was a good guy and a good poster, and loved his job. He posted as much information as possible about new job postings in the Foreign Service Information department and answered everything that was thrown his way.

Can someone explain what diplomacy actually is, particularly in the context of Eve? I don't understand what he did in the game.

So, you can basically think of eve as a giant sandbox full of stars and spaceships. There is one game world, out side of china, and the Company that runs the game, CCP, lets the player play however they want. As a result, the game encourages underhand and terrible behavior by everyone in it.

Think of the whole thing as a pirate movie. Essentially betrayal and back stabbing are encouraged, expected, and generally considered to be inevitable.

In this sort of environment, you need some one who can get other groups to play nice with you. It is a fantastically difficult problem. You have a large group of players who are actively seeking to make a profit on other players misfortunes.

Now, its 3 am on a Tuesday, and a few of my guys get drunk and decide its a good idea to go out and blow some stuff up. They get excited and "accidentally" kill a friendly ship or half a dozen. Someone has to be around to make sure that this doesn't rapidly escalate out of control, pirate bar fight style.

Add to this the fact that the "friendly" assets in question can take literally months to produce in game and are simply lost with no recourse. This is to say when you die my guys took all the stuff you had on you and you restart with nothing you had on you. Suddenly, I need to have a point of contact to ensure that 3 drunk guys don't cause a huge war with my friends between now and when I log in at 6pm tonight.

This can, as usual, include major loss of assets for everyone in my group. This translates rapidly into actual US dollar losses in some cases.

That is what your diplomats do. Make sure that when I log in after work. That the whole galaxy is NOT trying to kill me. It is fantastically hard to do. I am obviously glossing over a large chunk about in game minutiae here.

Hmm, that does sound like a very hard problem. How would a diplomat achieve that? I'd imagine I'd be pretty angry if a bunch of drunken dicks destroyed things that had taken me months to build, so I can't imagine what someone could say to make me not want to nuke a ship.

Is it the standard "let's be level-headed about this and see what they have to say for themselves when they log on"? Or does the diplomat do something else in that case?

I played on VR's "corps diplomatique" for a while, and I can attest to it being a difficult problem.

In that situation, you have several tools at your disposal. If you are friendly with the corp (they are in your alliance, or allied in some way), you can offer repayment or replacement of the object. You can promise punishment of the perpetrator. You can allow the other corp to seek out revenge on the perpetrator (although this can escalate quickly and be bad). You can say "Tough shit, be quiet or we boot you from the alliance".

If it happened to a neutral corp/alliance, you can use the weight of Goonfleet as leverage. Goonfleet is huge, with a lot of friends, so not many people want to start a war.

Oh, I see, so a diplomat is someone who holds a position in a faction (or whatever the name is) who basically says "okay guys, we need to do X for people not to hate us".

I didn't realize diplomats were in factions, I thought they were sort of independent, which is where my confusion arose. Thank you!

(posting this here for easy access/eyeballs)

As a final closing post, here are further links of interest relating to VR's passing:

Goonfleet held a "candlelight vigil" memorial ceremony for Vile Rat, in which they fired cynosural fields (ship-launched jump portals) as a send-off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnfHJGDC_xE (at about 13:40 he shows the EVE starmap and the graphical effect of lighting that many cynosural fields in a single spot - http://i.imgur.com/TyNDi.jpg . There's also a little guitar solo and 10 minutes of silence, and at the end they start blowing each other up in remembrance of VR.)

Reddit thread on the vigil: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/zsu0u/eve_just_had_a...

Tribute from another old EVE diplomat and former CCP staffmember, 'Seleene': http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=7...

Article on Wired, quite comprehensive http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/vilerat/

Mention by Andrew Sullivan, on how Vile Rat's death was politicised by Mitt Romney: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/09/a-diplomat-i...

News coverage from the AP (and SMH)

-- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/libya-attack-victim...

-- http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/libya-attack-vict...

-- http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/vile-rat-ki...

(the SMH one has a picture of his dragon tattoo, the viletat)

Article on Forbes, with a Vile Rat quote from Reddit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/09/13/a-look-at-...

And a final farewell to a top goon (comic from a SomethingAwful member): http://i.imgur.com/NrZns.jpg

Off beyond that final jumpgate...

Diplomacy is essentially the same in EVE as it is in real life. EVE has a huge metagame element, where various corporations (guilds) and alliances are always making deals and breaking them. I wasn't playing EVE when this happened, but Vile Rat was instrumental in getting allies for Goonswarm during their early years, which enabled them to take down one of the largest EVE superpowers. That has hugely influenced EVE's political landscape. He also served on the CSM, a real world committee of EVE players that works with CCP to improve the game as well as act as an intermediate between the players and CCP.

I hope and trust that members of CSM have no delusions that they need to be honest and fair when dealing with CCP, and Residents main focused on their goal of ripping off other players for fun and profit.

EDIT: for people up voting me for this. I appreciate the thought but I don't feel comfortable collecting virtual points for this. Instead of an up vote please just post a reply.

In addition to showing agreement or appreciation, people may be upvoting to push the flamewar threads further down the page.

I am thankful that the first time reading this post I missed them. Vile Rat was a leader in an alliance in a game that was disliked by a lot of people. But even the alliances currently at war with his in game could take a minute to show appreciation for the man he was. He was a good man.

Wars, religious freedoms, whatever don't matter. What matters is that a guy who volunteered to work in the conditions he did from a sweet(and safe) job in the Hague died today. While trying to help a country.

I appreciate needless flamewars being buried. Since I can't stop the up votes I will give $10 for every one up to 3 that I receive to the family. And a further donation of $970 for everyone removing the distraction from this thread.

I played Eve in Goonfleet years ago with VR, but didn't know him all that well. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for doing this.

Since you don't want to be up-voted, let me just say thanks.

Don't think of it as "collecting virtual points." Think of it as "Thank you for sharing this with us, and this is the kind of thoughtfulness that we want in our community."

I was in TEST the entire time I played Eve (from day 1 of Dreddit until about a year later). I don't think I ever spoke to him, but had small indirect interactions - being in the same system during a siege, listening to him on voice chat, buying items from him in VFK.

He was a legend, and it's hard to overstate the impact he had on the game. His actions and words could and did affect the fates of literally tens of thousands of Eve players (really, most of the population). He was a large part of the reason Eve has the rich, complex, and unique metagame it has. It may sound silly... but for everyone who played, these things mattered.

I'm at a loss for words. RIP.

Vile Rat actually scammed me out of a few billion ISK, lol. All in the fun of Eve-Online.

My condolences, and rest in peace VR.

Well said re: your edit, though as the OP, I did think it was something that would resonate with the community. It did for me when I first read the post.

I appreciate the story being here and I'm glad to see it at the top of the page. But all I offer is a short memory/thought which doesn't deserve the same response hence my edit. I hope people read my post and think about or appreciate the man. I don't want anything for the memory I personally had of him though.

Personally I'm amazed at how high up this submission has made it on HN. I mean, VR wasn't in the hacker or IT community AFAIK; he helped run a big clan in a cult internet spaceship game. He was the victim of extremists in a dangerous region, like quite a few others. Yet a blogpost about him has risen to the top of HN.

There must be a good number of (ex-)EVE players here, or maybe it's because people strongly feel the immediacy and tragedy of an event like this even though they aren't part of the communities involved. Maybe they've even only heard about EVE on HN itself, but somehow feel like this guy was someone worth respecting - I don't know.

I don't really have a point to make, but I'm bemused and sort of glad.

Personally, I find it interesting and relevant here for two reasons:

1. It shows how mainstream computer games have become. There's still a stereotype that gaming is not for serious people, but here we have an actual honest-to-god diplomat working overseas who was also a hardcore MMORPG player.

2. One can actually be a big deal as a diplomat in an MMORPG. I had no idea that EVE could get that deep. I don't know if his real-world diplomacy informed his EVE playing, or the reverse, or if it was just a matter of being interested in that activity, but I find the whole concept of a real-world diplomat who plays a virtual spaceship diplomat in his spare time to be fascinating.

I don't mean to deflate your fascination, but he was actually an IT contractor/support worker for the DoS. I don't think he actually handled diplomacy, even low-level work.

With EVE, it's often the case that the leaders perform much higher-level tasks than they do in their everyday lives. I guess when people are given a chance in a new environment with different rules, new leaders and people of talent emerge. Maybe Vile Rat could have been a mover and shaker in the business or tech world if he had moved in the right directions.

A sad loss to his family, friends, country, and EVE.

"I don't think he actually handled diplomacy, even low-level work."

Diplomacy isn't like steel working where 'regular' people can't do it without a lot of equipment. There are really good diplomats in all sorts of places, from the president of the PTA to the stay at home parent with more than 2 kids. The guy's ability to see the problems and a path to solutions was legendary in the Eve community, so he wasn't negotiating who really owns what island in the south China sea, he was an excellent diplomat.

I've never played EVE and don't know anything about VR. I upvoted because this kind of personal detail for a guy who died of horrible circumstances exposes the mortality of everyday life.

One minute you're sitting at your desk shooting internet spaceships, and the next a psychotic religious fanatic is literally throwing a grenade through your window because he doesn't like the building you're inside of. Kind of makes me feel a little sick.

He wasn't a software hacker, but it sounds like he hacked the system to accomplish things. We celebrate people who take the rules, see the gaps, and exploit them.

Hats off to the guy and the antics he accomplished.

I say "sounds like" because I've never been in that community, so no clue of details beyond these threads.

Theres something missing from this all.

(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don't die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures

This is Sept 11, 2012.

This (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/09/20129112108...) article updated at 7:02(GMT?) reports the death. The video in that story was uploaded to youtube by Al Jazzera 9 hours ago which would be midnight Bengazhi time (EET) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcm_Ss0ExZg.

So at some point roughly after 00:00 EET when the Al Jazeera footage was shot, where we see what is described as 1500 protesters and thousands of riot police, and 7:00 EET an American IT worker is shot and killed in a consulate.

I don't see who gains from staging protests on a sensitive day and letting an American get killed. Of all the people who would be at a consulate the IT guy happens to be the unlucky one. I don't think this was a 'normal' protest.

Of all the people who would be at a consulate the IT guy happens to be the unlucky one.

Reports now say 4 people died; one of them the US Ambassador to Libya.

I'm having a hard time following the point you are making, especially since the Al Jazzera footage is from Cairo and Vile Rat died in Bengazhi.

You are absolutely right.

I just think this was carefully scheduled and coordinated to make sure people saw it.

There does seem to be clues of coordination, and of Queda involvement, on 9/11.

It doesn't require Al Queda to come up with the idea to do bad things to the United States on the anniversary of doing bad things to the United States. Anyone who hates America would naturally choose to act on 11/9.

I would choose a day likely to have non heightened security.

More info: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/09/20129112108...

Ambassador to Libya died of smoke inhalation during the attack, along with two US security personnel who were accompanying him, security sources told Al Jazeera. Another consulate employee, whose nationality could not immediately be confirmed, was also killed.

"I don't see who gains from staging protests on a sensitive day"

Did you miss that the protests were a reaction to an incendiary anti-Islamic video?

If I organize a riot involving thousands of people that I manage to incite into killing people, and I claim my reason is that I heard that some guy is Glasgow made fun of the American soccer team over beer... that guy is Glasgow is not the real reason. It doesn't even qualify as a metaphorical fig leaf, it's just a lie. When the excuse is this tiny, you shouldn't even give it the time of day.

Yeah so the NYT says an Israeli-American named Sam Bacile raises funds and directs an anti-Islam movie and posts the trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmodVun16Q4&feature=youtu...) on July 2. The first Arabic comments are from 2 months ago. 11k views and 2 months later protests erupt at the American embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi.

Edit: Video has been pulled from youtube but the account(http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4DjVszAn4GAyzgsjtkJONg) it was uploaded by links(ed) to this google+ account (https://plus.google.com/u/0/100558867757140477111/posts) of Sam Bacile who has one person in his circle. This man (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110003734376972911289/posts) Mohamed Hamed El-Sherbini according to his g+ works for something called the Arab Parliamentary newspaper and attended Mansoura University.

Wow. That trailer is breathtakingly bad.

The antiterrorist think-tank Quilliam says this is not true. The attack was planned and was not related to the protests.


I don't know if you're defending the actions of these people (I can hardly imagine), but I don't understand why people still defend Islamic protests at ALL. Back when that Dutch cartoonist drew an offensive picture of Mohammed, Christians throughout the Middle East and Africa were being killed, churches burned.

The entire region is laced with (or at least completely tolerant of) hateful, backwards savages. These "you made fun of me" protests are a way to stir up hatred and Anti-Western sentiment, and maybe get to kill a few non-believers.

I'm pretty sure he's not trying to defend them, just addressing the "this is not normal" part of the GGP.

FWIW, the West has similar savages, but they operate through a centralized military organization.

I didn't see it stated anywhere, but it could be ingame. Chats in EVE are usually timestamped in EVE Time, which is the GMT timezone.

"If you play this stupid game, you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by Vile Rat’s talent as a diplomat. No one focused as relentlessly on using diplomacy as a strategic tool as VR. Mercenary Coalition flipped sides in the Great War in large part because of Vile Rat’s influence, and if that hadn’t happened GSF probably would have never taken out BoB."

Sounds like a man who was good at his job. I feel a lot better about the State Department knowing they hire people like this. The comments say he had a family, I hope they're taken care of. RIP.

He was also a moderator at SomethingAwful.com. Here's the thread about his passing: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=350...

Corresponding Middle East thread (go to last page for coverage of the incident): http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=339...

There is an article in Eurogamer about him: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-09-12-us-official-kil...

I was on the other side of the war when Lokta Volterra was swept away and saw the carefully placed agents disrupt and cripple the defense and organization. Those events pretty much killed EVE for me as I lost everything in the game and had no desire to rebuild.

Looking back 6 years later, it's fascinating how we touch each others lives through these communities. While I never knew VR, I can't help but to feel connected to this State Dept official in Libya. RIP.

RIP Vile Rat. I didn't know him personally but I feel like I did, through being an SA forums member and playing Eve Online in Goonfleet for many years. He was a moderator on SA and well known for being a great, helpful guy. Truly a sad day.

He was a bad mod, with an awful tattoo. He was exceptionally good at eve online diplomacy.

The point is not that he was a unique and amazing human being without fault, but that he was our human being and he's gone. Over a shitty video that no one sane thinks is relevant or impressive.

Rest in peace.

RIP Vile Tat.

That tattoo was truly something awful.

There's a mass rename of a great number of "outposts" in the game to honor Vile Rat: http://evemaps.dotlan.net/outposts/changes

This is really sad (I remember trying to play EVE from Baghdad, but the latency made combat really painful, so instead I just read kindle books...).

I wish DoS had more "continuous" force protection levels; they seem to go from ~nothing (relying on host nation) to absurd overkill, with nothing in between, unlike DoD and others who have multiple levels.

>I wish DoS had more "continuous" force protection levels

I imagine they will, now.

I think State's head of diplomatic security hasn't been doing his job very well...

What happened was they never had staffing appropriate to the mission, so they switched to using contractors for PSD (far more than DoD ever did; for DoD, contractors were support and logistics and low-level on base security).

The triple worldwide security contract (Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy) seemed ok, but then there were political/PR issues with Blackwater.

Considering the new US embassy in London (special relationship! BFF!) will have a frigging moat, I think they try too hard most of the time.

It's actually ridiculous how they got caught out so badly in such an unstable country. Surely you wouldn't rely on "New Libya" military to buy you a packet of crisps...

They try too hard in places which are permissive, and have no real idea how to operate in non-permissive environments (Libya!). Semi-permissive they also don't do well (if you built a 30 year building, Yemen was semi-permissive back in the day, but is now someplace I'd define as non-permissive for US forces).

If London ever gets to the point of needing a moat to defend the US embassy, we're pretty screwed overall.

Part of this is hiding CIA crap in the embassy, but a lot of it is just ego and committee rule (no one gets fired for adding security features...)

The 9th paragraph from the end of this article on Salman Rushdie (I'd recommend the whole thing)discusses the British security approach versus the American. Big presence versus almost no presence. Rushdie is oddly relevant here... http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/17/120917fa_fact_...

underlies the fact that state is chronically underfunded compared with DoD...regional commands tend to conduct their own diplo missions w 100s of millions of discretionary funds

RIP Vile Rat. I didn't know him, but as an Eve player I've felt the impact of his influences there.

Didn't expect to see this on HN. Interesting the differences in comments between here and /r/eve.

Terrible. RIP. :(

What can we do to stop things like this from happening again? There's clearly no quick-fix overnight solution, but there should be some set of actions we can take to slowly reduce/eventually eliminate this kind of violence. Any ideas?

Fight religious extremism in all its forms. Let it be known that, as a civilized people, we will not tolerate the barbaric intrusions of emotionally and intellectually stunted children who can be whipped into a murderous frenzy by some priest or imam prattling on about God. Their "culture", such as it is, is simply incompatible with ours, and ours must win.

This is why the isolationists and non-interventionists are so gravely mistaken, and why the homicidal infants have a leg up in this fight: the latter understand that this is a war of cultures, and that only one will survive. They've already infiltrated Europe and demanded their right to Sharia law, their right to blow up embassies because of cartoons or, as in this case, movies, their right to bomb subways.

If we are to preserve the Enlightenment values that have raised humanity out of the dark ages and so improved our lot in life, if we are to continue to progress as a species, then we must be willing to fight for what we believe. We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force.

We didn't start this fight, and let no liberal or pacifist tell you that the suicide bombings and attacks on liberty are the result of our foreign policy; they are not. They are the result of the inherent incompatibility of freedom and fundamentalism. Freedom isn't free, and if we aren't willing to fight to preserve our liberty, then we will deservedly lose it.

> ours must win

Yes that's exactly what religious extremists, you are so violently vocal against, say about western culture. This saddens me, I so wish I had the power to downvote.

>We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force

So you are using the death of Vile Rat, a person who believes in diplomacy more than strong-arming, to promote your own (and forgive me for being judgemental) twisted ideology. Don't you think that sounds a little too similar to religious nutbags who often twist religious saying to promote genocides, suicide bombings and wars.

I just hope that you were being sarcastic about how extremists act, I will give you an upvote for that.

>Yes that's exactly what religious extremists, you are so violently vocal against, say about western culture.

Yes, they do. They believe that their fundamentalist beliefs must triumph over liberal democracy, and they're willing to blow people up in order to see that happen. We have no choice but to respond to this.

>This saddens me

Me, too. That doesn't change anything, though.

>So you are using the death of Vile Rat, a person who believes in diplomacy more than strong-arming, to promote your own (and forgive me for being judgemental) twisted ideology.

I'm using yet another instance of religious extremists committing murder because they didn't like what someone said to highlight the fact that we cannot continue to act as though our cultures are compatible.

>Don't you think that sounds a little too similar to religious nutbags who often twist religious saying to promote genocides, suicide bombings and wars.

Not at all. I abhor the first two, and simply recognize that when war comes to you, you had best be willing to fight or surrender.

> Me, too.

No sir, your stand saddens me.

> you had best be willing to fight or surrender.

Or tackle things like adults. I come from India, I know wars do not solve problems. War based on culture and religion, never still. Your reaction will only bring more devastation to those who are not involved in these actions. Most of us non-westerners do not care what you say about our God(s) unless and until you are saying it just so as to be disrespectful. And even then, a unbelievably vast majority of us will probably only choose to withdraw our economic/political/social support that we would have otherwise entrusted you with. Killing is NOT our thing. And please don't go point out some article in a magazine showing how backward we are in terms of social equality; because we know we do and we don't want your intervention on it. Our governments are acting on it and the newer generations are all for equality. We are also less religious, just so that you know. So the war that you are throwing on the rest of us, we don't want to be part of it. We don't deserve to be a part of it.

And I don't get it, how will a war solve anything. Is there going to a genocide where you kill all those who don't agree to you western culture and ideologies or just our leaders - cultural and political? May be you will start with embassies that represent our sovereign on your soil for you probably see them while going on work and they remind you of how incompatible we are to your culture.

I'm sorry, but you seem to misunderstand my position. No doubt this is due to my failure to communicate it effectively.

I am not saying we are at war with Muslims, or Arabs, or Persians, etc. I am not saying we are at war with Islam. I'm saying we are at war with religious fundamentalism. It is fundamentalism, not any one group or another, that threatens Enlightenment values. It is fundamentalism that causes people to behave so barbarically, and it is fundamentalism that we, as a species, must defeat.

Why is fundamentalism bad, and why is it ok for you to be fundamentalist in your anti-fundamentalism?

At the risk of offending, I think Sam Harris explains this well.

As I recall he puts it, it is not fundamentalism itself that is the problem. A fundamentalist Jain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism) is far less frightening than your average Jain (not that they are frightening in the least either) because the fundamentals of Jainism are extremely pacifist. As a Jain, the more fundamentalist you become the safer you become. The problem then is what the fundamentals of some fundamentalists are.

Not really. Many violent fundamentalists belong to religions with prohibitions against violence that they have to rationalize away, and they tend to be quite good at it. The only reason there's no violent Jainist fundamentalists right now is because it's too tiny and powerless to have any.

Also, think about what redthrowaway is saying. He complains that religious fundamentalists "believe that their fundamentalist beliefs must triumph over liberal democracy, and they're willing to blow people up in order to see that happen", yet despite this abhorrence to violence he's quite happy to blow other people up in order to make sure that his beliefs win. Violent religious fundamentalists justify their actions in exactly the same way - you could swap the two sets of beliefs around and this would make perfectly servicable al-Qaeda propaganda!

You're putting words in my mouth. I never said we must bomb those whose beliefs run counter to our own; I said we must respond to force in kind in the defence of that which we hold dear.

If I was in favour of bombing every religious fundamentalist, I would be advocating that we nuke the Amish. Clearly, I'm not. Our response to the intrusions of fundamentalism into our lives must be proportionate to the nature and magnitude of that intrusion.

You may be interested in Karl Popper's (famous mostly for the importance of falsifiability) 'The Open Society and Its Enemies'.

Choice quote from it:

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."

It is not a perfect book by any stretch, but I think it covers certain topics particularly well.

History is stuffed to the brim with examples of violent fundamentalists belonging to powerless religions.

There are multiple reasons why they don't come to mind during these conversations though. Perhaps most obviously is that violent fundamentalists without numbers tend to be eradicated fairly quickly, leading to an obvious selection bias that makes us think that violent fundamentalism is something fairly unique to major religions.

I think though the more important cause is that when violent fundamentalists lack numbers there is little to no social pressure to tolerate them. Instead of calling them fundamentalists and making excuses for them, we label them cultists and call a spade a spade.

"rationalize away, and they tend to be quite good at it."

I think there comes a point in time when you have to ask why exactly fundamentalists of Abrahamic religions seem to find it so easy to "explain away" the "peacefulness" of their religions.

I believe I can answer that.

Christian fundamentalists wish to take control of the US society, as well as government. We only have to look towards a religious-economic theory called Dominionism.

Dominionists wish for religious (of their brand) education taught in schools. Not only that, they wish for the 'laws of the land' to represent what they see fit for laws.

Others have discussed the evils of fundamentalist Islam more eloquently than I.

The underlying idea is fundamentalists of all types wish to force their rules, edicts, and etiquette upon others whom do not wish it. Fundamentalists need to be stopped, especially in cases the individuals being forced do not have enough power to defend themselves.

An example: I am effectively a pagan. I have certain beliefs and practices. I do not want to force my beliefs on others, up to and including wearing a pentagram on the inside of my shirt. However, I meet people regularly who try to preach the 'word of christ'. Is your faith that weak that you have to sell it like a used car dealership or auctioneer?

Yet, politically, we have rules enshrined that say one cannot hold state offices if one does does not believe in the "1 true god". Or politically, rules that allow Christians in classrooms but not of other religions. One only needs search google for countless examples.

I don't want other religions to bother me. It's like philosophical spam.

Well, that's the problem with living in a democracy. If most people only feel comfortable when the legislators and judges are fellow Christians and the schools teach creationism, then that's what you're going to get, and depending on your interpretation, maybe that's what you should get.

Perhaps the reason you feel so accosted is because you are don't see proselytizing as important, and consequently, have no support because your fellow believers are so few.

     Well, that's the problem with living in a democracy. If most people only feel comfortable when the legislators and judges are fellow Christians and the schools teach creationism, then that's what you're going to get, and depending on your interpretation, maybe that's what you should get.
Not quite. We live in a constitutional republic.

Next, creationism isn't science. It's justifying a bible story as where people and the earth came from. Many (if not all) religions have creation stories. The christian story has been perpetrated as some sort of pseudo science garbage that one does not need to prove to teach.

So, just to understand you: Because I don't try to shove my beliefs down others throats, it is my fault that others try the same to me?

     Perhaps the reason you feel so accosted is because you are don't see proselytizing as important, and consequently, have no support because your fellow believers are so few.
No. I have my unique set of beliefs. And in certain cases, I have proof. I can't demonstrate that proof, and I don't really need to. I'm probably the only person on this planet to have these very specific set of beliefs.

Why does my belief have to be challenged? I don't questions yours: I only say "Keep your practices to yourself, unless somebody else asks."

Why does it matter if creationism is science? Art and literature aren't science either, but they are taught in schools because people think it will make the students better off. Religion is no different.

If part of your belief was that spreading your belief to others helps them, then you would do it. Religions that have such a belief will grow faster. Nobody's "at fault", that's just how it turns out.

"how backward we are in terms of social equality; because we know we do and we don't want your intervention on it"

Good. Then don't ever ask us for our help in terms of money or aid.

"And I don't get it, how will a war solve anything."

Because at some point, this is the only thing that will stop extremists. You need to force their hand until they stop. It's your type of thinking that has allowed these barbaric actions to continue for 100s if not 1000s of years.

Look at what happened in WW2: The counties that tried appeasement got crushed.

"Is there going to a genocide where you kill all those who don't agree to you western culture"

An extremist that kills people for talking about their religion is much different than anyone that doesn't believe in "western culture and ideologies".

It is my belief that if a society truly wants to be free, they will fight for it. If not, they aren't ready. The US should really stop giving aid to any of these countries.

I'm just curious how many people need to die before people get sick of living this way.

>Let it be known that, as a civilized people, we will not tolerate the barbaric intrusions of emotionally and intellectually stunted children who can be whipped into a murderous frenzy by some priest or imam prattling on about God.

A profoundly poor sentence.

You're ravings are better suited somewhere else, soon you'll be talking about the gates of Vienna and protection of enlightened Christian Europe.

>We didn't start this fight, and let no liberal or pacifist tell you that the suicide bombings and attacks on liberty are the result of our foreign policy; they are not. They are the result of the inherent incompatibility of freedom and fundamentalism. Freedom isn't free, and if we aren't willing to fight to preserve our liberty, then we will deservedly lose it.

I never imagined I would see something like this written in HN. Yes, the even is sad. The death and circumstances around it are terrible, but to take such a narrow one minded view only fuels the fire. These people have legitimate grievances which people in the west continue to fuel because they believe their moral values are more 'enlightened'.

Tell me, do you really think your post sounds like something coming from a 'civilized' person?

>A profoundly poor sentence. You're[sic] ravings are better suited somewhere else, soon you'll be talking about the gates of Vienna and protection of enlightened Christian Europe.

If you'd like to make a point, I'd be happy to respond to it.

>These people have legitimate grievances which people in the west continue to fuel

Really? These people just bombed an embassy because a movie offended them. These people earlier bombed embassies because cartoons offended them. These people, earlier still, sentenced an author to death because they were offended by a segment in one of his novels, in which a paranoid schizophrenic hallucinates that he is the archangel Gibreel.

These people are barbaric, violent, and emotionally stunted. These people react to people saying things they don't like by blowing them up, and these people think it their right to force their beliefs on the world at the point of a sword or muzzle of an AK-47.

>they believe their moral values are more 'enlightened'

Our values are more enlightened, in case you hadn't noticed. Your attempts to draw false equivalences between a culture which enshrines freedom and equality in law, and one which attacks same at every turn, is both laughable and deplorable.

My point is what are your values?

Democratic due process? Tell that to the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas in a free and fair election only to be shunned.

Freedom of speech? Tell that to the numerous people arrested and imprisoned around the world under sedition/hate speech because they talk about Jihad or defending their countries.

Freedom? America has the biggest imprisoned population in the world. Assuming you are American. Freedom is a cliche term thrown around with such little weight that it pains me to tears.

Who was it that shot down a civilian airliner but never apologised? Which countries invaded the middle east? Which countries colonised and looted most of what is now the third world. Which country kills journalists and bombs news broadcasting stations? Which countries bombed a environmental protest ship, killed crew and never apologised, yet in the same breath has the audacity to talk about a liberté, égalité and fraternité.

I mean your narrow, one sided, hypocritical and arrogant opinion is directly why some people get so angry. Consider the fact that all the things I mentioned before were performed by governments, not unruly mobs in anarchic post revolutionary states. Who is truly barbaric?

>Tell that to the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas in a free and fair election only to be shunned.

I hate to pull out this one, but Hitler was democratically elected, as well. Just because a government was chosen by its people does not mean that it is legitimate. Hamas seeks the eradication of a state and its people; it is rightly shunned. Now, I'm by no means pro-Israel. The Palestinian people need to have their own contiguous, viable state, despite how dim that prospect looks at present.

>Assuming you are American

I am not, and you'll find no support for the current American legal system from me. I do, however, highly value the American Constitution and the values it represents. It saddens me that those values are not better defended at present.

What I take from your post is that you seem to think I am some neocon imperialist. I am not. I despise injustice wherever it occurs, and my sentiments are distinctly post-statist. That said, Western civilization faces an existential threat from an enemy who despises its very foundations, and it is our very pluralism that blinds us to this threat. Too often, too many commit the fallacy that damns cultural relativism: that we must be tolerant of the intolerant. To this, I say no! We cannot tolerate that which attacks the very ideals our society is based upon. If we truly believe the foundations of our society to be morally superior, then when must defend them. It falls to those who deny this claim to show how a society predicated on subjugation and inequity can be morally equivalent to one predicated upon liberty and equality.

I feel it necessary to further clarify that I do not defend the actions of any particular Western country wholesale, rather I defend the precepts upon which Western civilization is based. Were the religious fundamentalists (of any origin) content to keep to themselves, I would have no problem with that. The fact is, they aren't. For them, it is not enough that they follow their beliefs; others must follow them too. This brings them into direct conflict with us, and it's a conflict they started. If we wish to maintain or, better yet, improve our society, we must first defend it against those who would see it remade in their likeness.

> Just because a government was chosen by its people does not mean that it is legitimate.

Actually, it does.

One can't argue the Nazi's were illegitimate. They were legitimate (for a short time). One could argue they were evil and needed to be deposed by external force.

> This brings them into direct conflict with us, and it's a conflict they started.

They started it? That's cycle of violence rhetoric, and partly why you're getting pushback.

>They started it? That's cycle of violence rhetoric, and partly why you're getting pushback.

This argument is simply wrong. Those who engage in terrorist attacks against us do not do so because we invaded there lands, or any such thing. This is a dangerous fallacy. One of the most ridiculed statements of the Bush administration is actually the closest we've come to the truth: they hate us for our freedoms. Truly, they do. The islamic fundamentalists view western civilization not because of our military imperialism, but because of our cultural imperialism. They hate that our values and culture turn "good muslims" into crass, liberal swine.

Now, certainly there are those in the middle east who hate our interventionism, and with good reason. They have legitimate complaints. But they are not the ones blowing themselves up, nor are they the ones encouraging same. OBL didn't give a rat's ass about our military intervention in the middle east; he hated the liberalization and secularization of Arab countries. One of the worst lies told by the left (of which I proudly consider myself a member) is that terrorism is a response to our imperialism. It isn't. It's a response to our values.

OBL isn't the issue. The thousands or millions of followers, who suffered under CIA power plays, who think OBL's ideas are better than anything else not putting food in their mouths. OBL was a US ally before he was an enemy. The US supported th Taliban against the Soviets.

Do you really believe that anyone who is not exactly like you or do not believe exactly like you do should be killed?

I guess this follow the "anyone who isn't us are them" attitude. Them, the wrong people, and us, the right people. The right people who is white, christian, catholic, no wait Protestant, capitalist, West, Aryan and rich. The wrong people who is black, red, non-christian, Protestant, no wait catholic, communist, east, non-Aryan or poor.

This is not a war of cultures. Neither would such a war preserve Enlightenment values. Enlightenment require us to use reason rather than tradition or faith to handle the situation. It is unreasonable to act intolerant. It is unreasonable to react with violence where diplomacy and peaceful actions can resolve issues. It is unreasonable to react to culture with walls, bared doors, and hostile attitude.

>Do you really believe that anyone who is not exactly like you or do not believe exactly like you do should be killed?

What part of my post suggests anything of the sort? I said we are in a war against religious fundamentalism whether we like it or not, and we had damned well better win. Your attempts to cast it as some racist diatribe are at best misguided, at worst malign.

Desist. This will only generate a further flame war.

Restraint and control of your emotions, and control over your ability to incite the emotions of others is the more fitting action to pay tribute to his death.

He died precisely because someone privileged emotions over logic. Your actions and speech is in exactly the same vein.

On a logical level - these comments add little to the discussion.

They condone the asking of vague and undefined questions to subjects which are vastly nuanced, and complex.

They generate further simplistic answers from people creating knee jerk reactions to your comments.

My point is simply that Western civilization, and the Enlightenment values that underpin it, faces an existential threat from religious fundamentalism. That further, our society is not compatible with this fundamentalism, and must be defended against it.

I fail to see how saying this is "privileging emotions over logic".

I'd disagree. I thing Western civilization and Enlightment values do face an existential threat from extremism. Your opinion of "us vs them" is just another example of it.

>My point is simply that Western civilization, and the Enlightenment values that underpin it, faces an existential threat from religious fundamentalism.

Closer to home is the threat to Enlightenment values comes from lobbyists buying off our politicians and slowly transforming us into the kind of third world shithole that fundamentalism thrives in. Maybe more of a high priority than evil Muslims on the other side of the world, eh? Less dramatic, though, so you can't feel all messianic about it and beat your chest from your armchair.

I never said it was the only threat we face, but lobbyists, as far as I'm aware, don't blow people up for saying things they don't like. It's a fundamentally different degree of danger.

You seriously feel in danger of getting blown up by Muslims? You're way more likely to get hit by a bus or get shot by the police.

>You seriously feel in danger of getting blown up by Muslims?

Not at all. My argument is not predicated upon mortal danger to my person, but rather the existential threat to the beliefs I hold dear posed by those who meet criticism with indiscriminate murder. That they tend to be Muslims says something about Islam, and about the breakdown of civilization in that part of the world. However, I by no means lump the actions of a few extremists in with the billion other Muslims who don't murder innocents whenever they feel slighted.

>You're way more likely to get hit by a bus or get shot by the police.

A Big Mac is far more likely to kill you than either of those. Again, this is not about individual mortal danger, but rather about winning the culture war that we have no choice but to fight.

"We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force."

"Culture war" or use of "force"? Or does "culture war" involve force?

Whatever a culture war may or may not entail (I choose to remain optimistic, no matter how foolish that may be), it is certain that it will not be won by curbing our words to avoid offence. There are things that must be said about certain aspects of modern society that simply cannot be said politely.

Culture war? Watch this...


"evil Muslims on the other side of the world"

If only they were the only fundamentalists we had to worry about...

I really thought you were more intelligent than this from some of your other posts. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your having a bad day.

I actually had a great day today. My views on this matter are strong, but they are the evolved result of several years of reading and careful consideration. Certainly you would never have found me espousing such views during the Bush administration, but I've come to reevaluate my previous convictions.

We find ourselves in a clash of civilizations. On the one hand, we have the progeny of the Enlightenment. Despite our flaws, humanity has achieved unthought-of progress as a result of these ideals. On the other, we have fundamentalism characterized by our worst impulses: profound immaturity evidenced by the "you insulted me so now I'll hurt you" behaviour of these people, as well as unthinking supplication to unworthy authorities and adherence to their dictates.

It's worse than that, though. The people who called for and carried out this attack and others like it were not seeking to hurt those who insulted them. Rather, they perceived some offense and so struck out blindly, murdering innocents. This is the very height of immaturity. It is supremely childish, and is behaviour that would be distressing even in a toddler. This is what fundamentalism reduces us to: unthinking animals frothing at the mouth and indulging in our most base tendencies. It strips us of all semblance of civilization, and in so doing degrades the species as a whole.

These two paradigms, civilization and barbarity, are utterly incompatible. They cannot coexist. The unfeeling cruelty engaged in by these fundamentalists is anathema to the very foundations of our society and the human progress it engenders. Where the two cultures meet they will inevitably clash, inevitably with violence.

We must decide whether our values are worth fighting for. Education and economic liberation can only take us so far. Where the scions of hatred and ignorance come at us with arms, we must be prepared to respond in kind, or lose what our forebears fought for.

Do you seriously not see the irony of claiming that fundamentalism reduces one to their most base of tendencies, while espousing exactly such behavior as a response?

We were all once barbaric (in many, many ways, still are). How did we get out of it? Education, not by some enlightened assholes blowing us up. Please take a step back from your emotion and think about what you're saying.

He is simply saying that you should not bring a lollipop to a knife fight. Verbal confrontation and physical confrontation are very different. Trying to educate your opponent might work in a discussion on the merits some technical issue but will only serve to further provoke that drunk guy in the bar that wants to smash your face in. For some of us this lesson is hard to learn. But if we die because we did not learn it, it is the ultimate game over - you cant retry with a different perspective to win the argument, you lost. This changes the risk/reward scenario and being "nice" will not cut it. You will need to do everything in your power to prevent such irrevocable loss, including those things you would prefer not to do.

Again, I'd ask you to reread what I'm proposing. I am not proposing the wholesale slaughter of those who believe differently than I, nor am I saying we must force our values on others. We must, however, defeat this foe. Where education and economic freedom can accomplish these goals, we should use them. However, the true nutbags will not be deterred by these means, and in fact actively fight against them. You can not educate away the Bin Ladens of the world; he in fact was very highly educated in Western schools. Where religious fundamentalists seek to destroy our culture with violence, we must be prepared to respond in kind.

Again, we didn't start this fight and we cannot coexist. This is not a matter of live and let live, as they won't let us live. The fundamentalists are expansionist, and are not happy unless everyone believes as they do. Take this attack, for instance. In Islam, you are forbidden from insulting the Prophet. Fine. If you're Muslim, then don't insult the Prophet.

That's not enough for them. They want everyone else to follow their dictates, too. Where they are not followed, these people think it entirely reasonable to murder innocents unconnected to the original "offense". Our only options, here, are to either respond with force or acquiesce. If we choose the latter, we have abandoned our values of free speech in favour of their values of adherence to their dogma. This cannot be.

Keep in mind that there's a well-argued view that the worst excess of enlightenment thinking is totalitarianism, and that the American Revolution was in part a Counter-Enlightenment revolution.

Of course there is no one "Enlightenment" to point at - but the point is that one can take reason too far, to the point it has the same effect as religious extremism: "you are logically wrong so I'll hurt you".

Ultimately the point of many religious faith is a constant reminder we are all fallible and do not have access to absolute truth. Many fundamentalists forget this, preferring to focus on morality over faith.

Good lord, things will never change because we will never learn. It's exactly this "fight X in all its forms" that causes the problem to begin with. Help people, educate people. If they don't want your help or your education bit them adieu and walk away to help someone else.

But what ever you do, don't start a fight and certainly don't start an idiotic idealogical fight ("X in all its forms!"). That's what got them here and it's what got us here.

Sorry, but they've already started the fight. If only they would keep to themselves, I'd have no quarrel with them. The Amish are incredibly religious, but they keep to themselves. I would never say we have to get rid of the Amish Church.

Fundamentalist Islam, like Evangelical Christianity, is not like that. The first threatens our values with bombs, the latter with ballots. Both seek to unmake Western civilization, and remake it in their image. Both must be defeated. The only difference is that the Evangelicals are not yet blowing people up, and so our response to them need not be so firm. Make no mistake, though, our society simply isn't compatible with religious fundamentalism, and so it must be subdued and eradicated. In most places, we can do that with education, dialogue, and economic development. In others, it will require armed resistance.

Good lord, you sound as frothing-at-the-mouth radical as any extremist I've ever heard. Subdue and eradicate those who behave or think different than us? Like the Jews for example?

False equivalency. When Jews launch an aggressive campaign to kill those who merely disagree with them, you'll have a point.

Aggressive campaign? They killed about 3k of our people. We've killed over 100k people in response. Which of those sounds more aggressive?

From their perspective, we started the fight. If only we'd kept to ourselves, they'd have no quarrel with us. There's been a huge amount of really violent and nasty and selfish Western intervention in Africa and the Middle East and indeed most of the world since before you were even born.

Instead of "fight[ing]," which seems to perpetuate the us-vs-them problem, why not focus on using enlightenment itself to preserve these enlightenment values? Instead of attacking magical thinking, promote rationality. Instead of attacking extremist religious belief, promote its antidote, a thirst for knowledge.

What would be really cool is if someone can figure out a way to trick the part of our brains that craves a Disney-style magical reality into contributing to its own demise. In other words, say to people, "Want a magical world? Join us in the use of science and technology to build it for ourselves."

>Instead of attacking magical thinking, promote rationality. Instead of attacking extremist religious belief, promote its antidote, a thirst for knowledge.

Both are necessary. We must bring the fruits of the enlightenment, and the very real individual benefits thereof, to the people who would otherwise be ripe recruits for fundamentalism. To be blunt, however, we must also kill those who promote and carry out terrorist attacks against us.

>What would be really cool is if someone can figure out a way to trick the part of our brains that craves a Disney-style magical reality into contributing to its own demise. In other words, say to people, "Want a magical world? Join us in the use of science and technology to build it for ourselves."

While the second sentence seems suspect, I really like the first one. There would be a sort of cosmic beauty in using the vagaries of human consciousness that lead us to magical thinking to cure ourselves of same. Noe that would be a worthy hack.

To be blunt, however, we must also kill those who promote and carry out terrorist attacks against us.

I'm not yet convinced of this. Maybe there truly are some people beyond redemption (with current technology), but I question how large that set could be, and doubt it encompasses every single member of any group designated by various governments as a terrorist organization (like Wikipedia).

I'm past the editing time limit, so I'm responding to note that "Wikipedia" should be "Wikileaks". Firefox and my KDE color scheme interact badly, creating black-on-dark-gray input boxes. Custom user style sheets don't help.

Must we also kill the guests and bride at a wedding that took place kinda sorta near a location where we think a terrorist is hanging out? Do you see the problem with this approach?

> If we are to preserve the Enlightenment values...

Which ones? If you want these people to become civilized, you have to reject at least one value that masquerades as one from the Enlightenment: self-rule and self-determination. These people must be subjected to the rule of law, it will not spontaneously emerge even if we set up the structure for it and create for them a government with a constitution modeled after our own. Bring on another round of colonialism! We would also have to step it up with the manner in which we deal out punishments. Apart from the 2003 invasion of Baghdad by the US (and that's really stretching it), we haven't fought with our "gloves off" for a long time. That has to end, too.

That's an interesting and cogent point. I think it true that we cannot merely present our values, and expect that they will adopt them. There will, by necessity, be some force (hard or soft) applied. How we accomplish this while remaining true to our values is a challenge in need of discussion.

The US has no interest whatsoever in fighting religious extremism. It fights to secure resources and strategic interests that primarily benefit the wealthiest members of its society. When it furthers US 'interests', the most brutal, oppressive, and religiously intolerant regimes on the planet are lavishly supported.

Promote free exchange of culture.

When we eliminate the feeling of "us vs them", believer vs non-believer, west vs east, I believe most kind of nation wide violence disappear. The easiest way to do so is to allow music, video and communities to be shared.

I think we can be rather sure that few if any of the religious lunatics that participated in the attack was part of the EVE community. Had one been in it, its likely he would had thought "Wait I know who works in that building, he is good person. lets go somewhere else.".

>What can we do to stop things like this from happening again?

The best way? Kill this stupid mentality of "what can we do to make sure this never happens again". It is exactly this mentality that lead to his death: 911 happened so we started a war against a concept and started invading people's countries, killing good people from both sides.

Norway is the example we should all follow: when something terrible happens, morn and punish those directly responsible but don't change anything about yourself and don't go off with lunacy like fighting ideals.

End neo-colonialism and imperialistic power grabs by the US? Not so much Egypt (every country is different) but in the Middle East, it's far more political anger than it is religious anger - the religion is just a vessel.

Build good schools. Send people to them.


Come on, one-liners are fine.

There is correlation between education and happiness and world well-being. Hans Rosling has plenty of great talks on TED about it. No-one can say his analysis is shallow.

What is interesting though is that Egypt and especially Tunisia did invest heavily in education. The result is countries with highly-educated under-employed generation and, eventually, peaceful(ish) revolution.

In a global Adam-Smith scheme of things, what can a country like Egypt or Tunisia export? Where can jobs come from?

They could export microchips and software, like Israel does.

Get the first world to stop meddling in the third world. Especially, stop overthrowing their governments.

The jihadi loon "freedom fighters" who are now running around in Libya and Syria were created in Afghanistan when James Bond, Rambo and Zbigniew Brzezinski decided that it was a really good idea to annoy the Russians by giving Stinger missiles to Osama Ben Laden. What could possibly go wrong?

Note: AlQaeda are Islamo-Reaganites, not Islamo-Fascists. Mussolini wasn't much involved.

ADDENDUM: Let's overthrough Ghaddafi and leave Libya in jihadi militia-ridden chaos, What could possibly go wrong?

Nothing will go wrong. War in Asia and Africa is great for the American economy.

SA mod too, all around nice guy.

Didn't know him personally at all, but I thought he had done excellent work in what must be one of the hardest jobs on the internet; voluntarily moderating a political forum. Soar in the wild blue yonder, Vilerat.

I don't remember why anymore but I always had a good impression of Vile Rat through his forum posts (been a long time since I was in GF). His skills, attitude, and achievements, in both the realms of politics and hilarity, made an impression on me. It's a sad, sad day.

RIP VR. Our memories will preserve your legacy. GF, keep shooting blues forever.

I remember playing Eve with him three years go. Crazy this happened

Strange times we live in. Blessed to be able to learn from and interact with amazing souls, no matter where they are in the physical world.


A major norwegian newspaper just published a picture on their front page of someone being dragged out of there.

I am not going to link it because nobody should have to see that. Especially not anybody who knew him.

Every picture that could mean someone is identified is usually blurred out before being published, but not today apparently. Seeing the picture made me feel sick and disgusted with how the media operates.

I did not know Sean but as an former EVE player I have heard of him.

My thoughts go out to his family and loved ones, and to those of you that knew him. I am truly sorry for your loss. :(

RIP Sean

Reports are that was the ambassador, who is now also reported as having been killed in the attack.

Comparing the stock photo of the ambassador with the picture of the man being evacuated from the burning building suggests that it was indeed Christopher Stevens, who later died of smoke inhalation.

You think the photo is of someone trying to help him? Hmmm. Could be. Hadn't seen it that way at first.

I think so, yes. They really don't look like an angry chanting mob to me. Besides, it's also a good default assumption before jumping to any conclusions.

And now the US ambassador to Libya has been killed. Another successful foreign intervention ...


Aweful, just aweful. May he rest in peace.

Positive violence feedback loop. Nothing good will ever come out of one.

RIP Sean

I had the joy of talking with him often in EVE / on Jabber and will never forget the fun we had together.

A massive number of stations are changing their names in memorandum - http://evemaps.dotlan.net/outposts/changes

Statement from Secretary of State: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/09/197630.htm

RIP Sean.

RIP Fella. Saw it on the news and thought it was a dick-move by the Libyans to burn the Consulate.

Former player here. A huge loss for everyone, in game and out.

Religion poisons everything.

I was saying back in the day in another HN post that the so called Libyan "protesters" were a bunch of crooks and mercenaries picked up and supported to topple Khadaffi. The Libyan case had nothing like the _real_ popular protest in Algeria, Egypt etc.

Why? Because Libya was stable under Khadaffi (as stable as those kind of places get) and people had it relatively very good. And yet he was portrayed like some Dr. Evil plotting to takeover the world, so that the western masses will cheer when he got toppled and foreign interests get the oil and natural resources.

And the very thing was hailed as a "triumph of democracy" etc (what a democracy, when foreign leaders cheer when an adversary is beaten to a pulp -- gone are the days when even Nazi generals were treated with respect by the western officers when captured).

Well, it didn't last long, now, as predicted, Libya will get to be another unstable, civil-war, dogmatic islam nightmarish country.

The unfortunate truth is that some of these dictators and their military was all that was keeping their countries from turning into bastions of religious intolerance. To a zealot anything is an offense and any offense is an excuse.

Egypt isn't exactly improving, if anything they are moving backwards at the hands of religious zealots. Algeria is in a better state as its government is still in place.

Yeah, Libya under Qadafi had the highest human development index rating in Africa.


Iran ended up going Islamist after a monarchy installed by the US and Britain, unseating a democratically elected government, failed. Hopefully Libya won't go that way, but wouldn't be that surprising.

Actually, you are wrong. Libyans overwhelmingly supported the revolution. My family, friends and family friends are from Libya I just spent a month there this past summer.

These actions have been pretty clearly condemned by Libyans and don't represent the whole country. But nice try flogging your conspiracy theory.

Yeah, and after 1945 all Italians had been "resistance fighters", of course; saying otherwise would have put your life in danger. Every revolution has its special tribunals.

I suspect, 10 years from now, the well-educated youth who grew up in secularist and nationalist Arab regimes, will think they made a big mistake when they toppled them. Like Coptic Christians who badmouthed Mubarak in Egypt, they didn't know how good they really had it.

You don't 'have it good' if you depend on the government oppressing, torturing and disappearing others.

If the alternative is oppressing, torturing and disappearing YOU, I'd argue you have it quite good indeed.

EDIT: to clarify, I'm not saying that murderous dictators are a good thing. What I'm saying is that, by toppling them with all-out revolutions, they've probably thrown the baby out with the bathwater, because they've discredited the whole nationalist/secularist argument.

Considering Qadafi and Mubarak were getting very old, it would have been much better to negotiate a gradual transition to parliamentary rule, like they've had in Spain or Chile.

The only way to make sense of this is by taken a super long term perspective. I can see some point, that with a lot of luck one of the next generations might become more tamed down. At least I honestly can't make any other sense of this "yeah, so we removed the dictator, now do whatever you want" approach.

What I find hardest to accept is how readily the US and its NATO pets, with all their intel, will accept and propagate the "popular uprising turned freedom fighters" narrative. Also how fervently and without a shred of doubt our news sources will drill that narrative into its viewers so that in your own social circles you're damn near proclaimed a heretic if you cast some doubt on the plot. The whole thing stinks to high heavens.

That tune isn't being sung where Syria is concerned. And it's one hell of a scary sad mess there. Edit: corrected the auto-correct.

As an aside ~ I find it an interesting convergence of 'our future' that the man used social engineering / diplomacy / subterfuge to excel in the most cut-throat and blood-thirsty game on the market, where sociopathic tendencies are often required to 'win'.

Oh, and he played EvE well, apparently.

[He "worked IT" for an embassy in a war zone, and modelled complex 'interpersonal' relations in a vast virtual world. We've come a long way from Pong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loren_Carpenter]

For reference for the negative score ~ " . " is a common mark of respect, denoting a loss. I see it was removed / formatted out. (Original comment started with " . " one line).

Are we to Ignore the fact that it's commonly known that the higher levels of playing EvE are notorious for ruthless / sociopathic behaviours, and that praising his on-line skills <i>might</i> have irony to it?

I'm not sure being remembered as "that total bastard from GoonSquad" is expressing <i>quite</i> what you all intend.

[Out of Thread] [.]

Translat title to English, please.

Rest in peace, "Vile Rat", a virtual diplomat in the game EVE Online, and in real life, a State Department representative killed in Benghazi

Couldn't have happened to a nicer racist apologist for imperialism. RIP Viletat

Africa would have been subjected to a bloodbath of proportions unseen in history if the white man hadn't destroyed their culture first.

Examples I point to are as follows -

The Zulu nation was happily destroying not only all of it's neighbors, but many of their own people as the leadership happened to be certifiably insane. Shaka for example had a small penis (actually historically accurate) and killed thousands of people because of it. The zulu empire was actually not the bad one as the Matabele under Mzilikali after his loss to the zulu, took his tribe and conducted a scorched earth campaign across the lower section of africa destroying all in his path.

Lets not forget the laughable Xhosa girl Nongqawuse who said she saw visions that if everybody killed off their cattle and burned their fields the dead spirits of their ancestors would grant not only tenfold cattle in return, but destruction of the new white Anglo/Boer civilization in the southern cape. Needless to say after they slaughtered and burned everything no ancestors were forthcoming and 25 thousand of the Xhosa tribe died. The tribes of africa were largely barbaric and vicious groups of people who really only understood killing for the most part. There were exceptions to the rule as there always are, the hottentots, and various smaller tribes, but for the most part african culture was set up to destroy other cultures to begin with.

I'm not going to say that they are better off having been colonized by the europeans, but the alternative was pretty vicious as well.

Wow. Utter disbelief. A foreign more technologically advanced people came in with weapons and technologies that were basically magic to these hunter gather/pastoral people. These people took up a last ditch desperate idea rather than submitting to the holocaust by the Voortrekkers of the Dutch. "The tribes of africa were largely barbaric and vicious" The incoming Dutch tribes were vastly more barbaric and vicious despite having had a 400 year head start and education and technology. Tag on to that the subsequent Anglo-Boer war which Boers still describe as their holocaust and you can't distinguish between any of these tribes. Humans are just a nasty evil species when they agglomerate.

Tell that to the author of that post. Oh wait....

To provide some context, the above is a quote from a post written by the decedent.


I guessed. IT was written in the vein of a troll bait post I could easily see someone from GF/SA come up with.

Without context though, its effectively trolled everyone who reads it. A tribute to him I guess.

No, see, that was the "cool" thing about Vilerat. He wasn't just some Joe Goon "ironically" shouting racial slurs. He was the moderator of the "serious" discussion subforum on SA, where he frequently expressed such terrible opinions in complete seriousness and actively suppressed discussion that "hey, maybe you shouldn't share opinions with the BNP, just a thought" as moderator sass.

This is the man whose funeral Obama will solemnly attend and whose death Romney will use as the rallying cry to up the US government's murder-rate of non-whites. A terrible little internet nazi cum computer janitor for imperialism.


Zulu were a war like nation engaged in successful conquering of SAfrican tribes yes. Just like many many others before throughout the world.

If they had learnt to build the infrastructure of civilisation like others before then sub Saharan culture could have had one united pan- culture and developed just like others before it.

But we destroyed that - apparently doing them a favour

Japan shows an excellent example of how to absorb technological advances without getting wiped out - and offers an alternative to your rather insulting White conquer or self destruction theory.

Why are you encouraging debate on a comment which is irrelevant to the thread topic?

You are quite correct

I'm sorry, but this is largely irrelevant. There's a reason North Africa is usually included as the latter part of, "Middle East and North Africa".

Take up the White Man's burden-- Send forth the best ye breed-- Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild-- Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden-- In patience to abide, To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride; By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain To seek another's profit, And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden-- The savage wars of peace-- Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease; And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought, Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden-- No tawdry rule of kings, But toil of serf and sweeper-- The tale of common things. The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread, Go mark them with your living, And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden-- And reap his old reward: The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard-- The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:-- "Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden-- Ye dare not stoop to less-- Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness; By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do, The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden-- Have done with childish days-- The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise. Comes now, to search your manhood Through all the thankless years Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!


Religion is not the root, it is just a tool that is used to create the usual "us-they" opposition, and in its absence there are plenty of other ways to create the same opposition, like "patriotism" and so on. In fact you yourself just created such an opposition, "it's all because of those religious people" and it is already the top comment, showing how eager people are to blame some "they" for all the evil.

That is not to say that particular religious beliefs can not be harmful, but there are plenty of religions and in most of them hatred is not part of the doctrine or ritual unless abuse is made by people in power who would otherwise use any other set of outlooks for the same purpose. There are in fact religions that do not involve "imaginary friends" and interfere little with modern scientific outlook. It could be good to think a bit why religion appeared naturally in different places of the world independently, what psychical needs it fulfills and is there any other way those can be fulfilled. It is a complex and interesting topic, Dawkins-style atheism leads to a "there is no evidence for god so we can just forget about religion" type of stance which makes most "rational" people nowadays not understand the first thing about religion and its role.

You are absolutely right. As much as I hate religion (and I hate it very much), outbursts of violence are not exclusive to religions. Think Breivik or Ramil Safarov, who cold-bloodedly killed two guys because they were Armenian [1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramil_Safarov

[edit]: I stand corrected, Breivik was actually islamophobic.

As much as I hate religion (and I hate it very much)

I don't know why you hate religion. You might have a valid reason. However, I think hared is never good.

Logic teaches us that it is impossible to proof anything without making assumptions. I believe in science, but I do recognize it as a belief system which is based on assumption no more or less rational than any other belief system. For instance, the assumption that the simplest hypnosis is the most likely.

Any major religion today leaves much room for interpretation, but I think it is clear that the values that they represent are generally good. I think we should pity the murderers of Vile Rat for misinterpretering their own religion instead of letting this create more hearted.

> I don't know why you hate religion. You might have a valid reason. However, I think hared is never good.

I hate religion for its brainwashing. "Hate" might be too strong a word, let's say "strongly disapprove".

To be honest, I don't care particularly, if god exists, or if other people believe that god exists. There were a lot of good people who were religious and did no harm. However, in modern world there are still trials (Pussy Riot in Russia, numerous Sharia trials in islamic countries) or killings happening as a consequence of cultivating religion. I think this is a perfectly valid reason to dislike religion as institution.

But again, that's not exclusive to religion.

Honestly, I think this is not a valid reason to dislike all sects of all religions. You are creating just another us-versus-them mentality.

You are creating just another us-versus-them mentality.

No, just pointing out two things:

1) In the marketplace of ideas, ideas that work should be able to outcompete ideas that don't work.

2) In the modern world (as opposed to the ancient world), religion's purpose is to keep that from happening.

I don't know why you hate religion.

(Shrug) I'm only human. When I'm right about something, I don't like it when I have to compete with someone who's not.

In my opinion, the purpose of religion is to tilt the playing field in favor of people who are wrong -- or who at least refuse to be held to the same standards of proof that I am. What's not to hate?

If you by Brejvik means Anders Behring Breivik, I feel compelled to correct you because of the gravity of your error (even though this is off topic).

Breivik is/was a Christian, and his main motivation for the terrorist attack was religion, specifically Islamophobia.

> Breivik is/was a Christian, and his main motivation for the terrorist attack was religion, specifically Islamophobia.

Thanks for corrections.

That's weird, though, because I remember certain videos of his, mentioning communists and/or marxists plotting world domination.

To be fair, it's tricky to use people like Hitler and Breivik to back up any point one tries to make in these discussions. Those guys were psychotic assholes, first and foremost, so whether they were Christians or atheists or anything else was of secondary importance.

This comment - no matter the intentions - is going to lead to further flaming.

I recommend removing the comment, before it ends up attracting further commentary.

I think this is obvious to most people. No need to feed the trolls.

I hoped people would read the last two sentences as well and really gave some thought to those issues for a while.

I couldn't agree more. Anything that promotes a powerful authority can be used for evil.

I remember a few wars that fueled by primarily nationalistic propaganda (e.g. World War II). Sure there were shades of religion beneath it, but it was more riding on the coattails of nationalism than being the true source (unlike Crusade Wars).

> Religion is the root of all evil.

There's massive amounts of atrocities committed by not-particularly-religious people in human history. How do you support a comment like this? Why do you feel the need to hurt lots of good people who also happen to be religious?

In debates like this, things often turn out into a flamewar between militant atheists like yourself (I'm assuming here, but I think you've made it pretty clear), and convinced believers on the other side. It goes "religion kills!", "no! religion saves lives and makes us happy!" (but then unfriendlier).

But what if there's no strong correlation between religion and evil at all? What if religious organisations don't make the world a whole lot better, but not really much worse either?

If you'd plot out all commited atrocities in history against the strength of the perpetrator's religious beliefs, would we find correlations?

Let's do a little thought experiment, and map some evil-doers to their being reli-nuts or not: Osama YES, Hitler NO, the crusadors YES, Genghis Khan NO. The list goes on, and evil-doers from both "sides" are in great supply. In fact, this would be a great game for the kids in the back of the car.

Anyhow, you can see that I didn't do real stats, but it feels about 50/50 to me. What if this were the case? Could that get all the militant atheists and the militant reli-nuts to lay down their weapons and do a little group hug? That would be nice.

Some people are good and some are bad. Certainly.

But to get a good man to do evil things, religion is needed.

Emphatically disagree. Religion may give a "good" man a convenient excuse to do "evil" things, but it doesn't take religion; all it takes is authority, of which religion is just a particular flavor.

The Milgram experiment should have proved that beyond question.

The Milgram experiment should have proved that beyond question.

Careful that you don't undermine your own point here. What Milgram demonstrated was that authoritarianism works.

Experimenters like Milgram and Zimbardo were trying to illuminate the motivations and mechanisms of the Holocaust, an event that could have been stopped by the moral authority of religious leaders including the Catholic Church but was not. Instead, what happened in their constructed scenarios was not that different from what happens in a church: an unaccountable authority tells ordinary people to do debatably-ethical things in order to achieve a goal or carry out an assigned role, and a majority of the audience is receptive to these orders.

The only surprise is that someone actually had to do an experiment to remind us just how gullible we are.

Or political power, or money, or culture, or society, or what-have-you. Look at the Roman empire, more "good" men did evil deeds as part of that organization than we will ever be able to account for, but did they do it for religion? Hardly. They did it because it's easier to rape and maim and pillage the weak than it is to stand up to the power structure you are within.

Plenty of examples of "good" men doing bad things in the name of survival or just maintaining status.

Bad things, yes.

Evil things, no.

If your family is hungry, you might steal some bread. But you wouldn't burn down the bakery after you've had your fill.

Read a little about the settlers in the old west. Many reportedly good people given their past conduct slipped right over the line.

or money... or leverage or the right amount of manipulation at the right moment.

Edit: or ignorance or any number of things. Good men do evil things all the time.

Actually it's greed. Religion, is a tool sometimes used as a means to an end: greed. It easy to manipulate the "true believer" or the "weak minded" or the "fearful".

And you're taking a typical American point of view on who is an evil doer (though Hitler is a universal choice).

By the way, Genghis Khan was religious. Actually he was a true master of war. He didn't need to use religion and declare a "holy war" to move his troops around Europe and Asia.

He didn't need to use religion and declare a "holy war" to move his troops around Europe and Asia.

Really? If he convinced his foot soldiers to die for his cause, then there are only two possibilities. Either his forces were strong enough to turn any battle into a cakewalk, or he used religious rhetoric and imagery.

My own pet theory is that patriotism is the penultimate refuge of a scoundrel. Religion was invented when patriotism proved insufficient to the task.

No. He used another base motivator: greed. After he began expanding (winning), Khan himself became the motivator.

I don't often meta-comment around here, but the above post is textbook trolling (successfully). If you want to argue big-picture political issues, go right ahead. Just don't stand on a man's coffin while doing so.

> "If you want to argue big-picture political issues, go right ahead."

From the guidelines [0]

"Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them."

Argue big-picture political issues if you have genuine contributions to make. If you just want to say something boring like "religion is the root of all evil", it doesn't belong on Hacker News in any thread.

[0] http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Stalin, Pol Pot, the leaders of North Korea, etc.

Actions of people are the root of all evil. Blaming anything but the people who carry out acts like this is an apology for their individual actions. No matter what a person believes, they make the choice for themselves of what actions they take.

Stalin, Pol Pot, the leaders of North Korea, etc.

Bullshit. Communist personality cults are about the best example of religious thinking run amok that we can point to, in recent history.

Same mental bug, different exploit.

Calling an anti-religious organization "religious thinking" points to misuse of the word "religious" more than anything.

Go to North Korea and call their citizens "atheists" or "irreligious." They will send you home in a box.

They don't worship god(s) as we tend to think of them in Western culture, but the personality cult of the Kim family is as much a part of their spiritual lives as Christ or Muhammad is to Christians and Muslims. They are atheists only in the narrowest of technical senses.

You cherry picked.

So, to summarize our disagreement, you're going to stand there and tell me, with a straight face, that these images all depict different social phenomena.





Cherry picking is one thing, but when cherries fall from the sky, at some point you have to wonder if you've stumbled into a cherry orchard.

It's human nature to see patterns and to generalize, but your bias is that you see religion as nothing but a brainwashing and control mechanism for the weak-minded, and you equate all such mechanisms with religion. It's not that I disagree with your original post, but "religion" is not essence of the problem.

but your bias is that you see religion as nothing but a brainwashing and control mechanism for the weak-minded

Actually I see it as a brainwashing and control mechanism for almost everyone. If I were accusing 90% of people in all walks of life of being "weak-minded" you'd have a good point. Instead, my experience is that intelligence is almost completely orthogonal to religiosity.

It seems clear that both theistic religions and human personality cults take advantage of a bug in our mental OS that shuts down our critical faculties in the presence of authority figures who adopt a certain psycholinguistic posture.

The religion bug was undoubtedly a useful feature at one time. ("Hey, dumbass. Refrigeration won't be invented for another 2,000 years. Don't eat shrimp or pork." "Uh, why not?" "Well, because, um, because God said he will kill you if you do.") However, it now serves only as a root exploit for use by hackers with less-than-honest motivations. We still have the bug in the code base because of how important it was to our survival in the distant past. It must be 'fixed' at a conscious level, because it isn't going to be deselected by evolutionary forces anytime soon.

This all seems so obvious to me that I believe (there's that word again!) that the burden of proof lies with anyone who disagrees with me. Maybe I have a similar bug, myself. :)

“Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.” -- V.I. Lenin

Yes, for the same reason that a company selling Macs necessarily uses propaganda against PCs.

Stalin didn't want to get rid of religion. He wanted to get rid of competition.

Although Stalin's USSR didn't technically believe in a deity, it still has many religious elements:

* Violently throwing out competing religions, like Christianity

* Belief in a single god-king (Stalin)

* Total faith in the power of communism as the most perfect solution to the world's problems

* Harsh punishments handed out to those who question the orthodoxy (gulags)

* Obsessed with submission of the individual before an institution

Blind, violent faith in bad ideas could reasonably be blamed for a vast amount of the world's problems.

s/faith/{dedication, ferver}; and even if faith is an acceptable term there, faith != religion.

Again: same bug, different exploit.


Something like that. Look carefully at the roots of the word "passion." It involves suffering and sacrifice.

maybe not "passion" per se, but the bug is people's willingness to believe things on insufficient evidence because it gives them a sense of purpose or binds them to a bigger group.

All of the people you listed were leaders of cults of personality, that is, they were the heads of their own religions.

This way you can call every organization, every movement a religion. Hell, following that, r/atheism is a religion, a cult following of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and Facebook.

The figures of a cult don't actually have to be present for a cult to develop around them. People are inherently tribal. Sometimes tribes become more controlling or violent. This happens in secular tribes just as regularly in religious tribes. That's his point- r/atheism, to name one irreligious tribe, can be thought of as a cult of personality around their favorite atheist icons.

If NdGT asked for faith-based thinking and had doctrino-moral systems that the followers were required to obey, I think it would be fair to say that.

Hell, following that, r/atheism is a religion, a cult following of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and Facebook.

Is it really helpful to define the word "religion" that broadly, though? I don't know about Facebook, but when's the last time Tyson or Sagan threatened you with exile to either hell or Siberia for asking too many questions?

It's painfully obvious that personality cults are religious in nature -- see my other post ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4513391 ). But I don't see the same unquestioning adoration being offered to NGT, CS, or Mark Zuckerberg, at least not post-IPO. :)

Isn't Kim Il-sung technically still the leader of the country, making NK a shining example of a modern day necrocracy?

Whatever anyone may personally think of the situation, this man believed in the power of diplomacy enough to risk his life to use it to make a better world.

He knew where he was going when he accepted assignment to Benghazi, which is not among the more stable locations in the world. But he went there to try to make it so. He quite literally put his life on the line for it.

So could we please take a moment and remember him for that? And honor his life and what he was trying to do with it.

Notably he did the same in years past to Iraq. As the author says: "FUCK MORTARS" is a tongue in cheek way of remembering VR.

It is not religion that is the root of all evil but religious authority.

If you are religious but don't give a dime about what the religious leaders claim, then you will never be led down this path.

In general, humans are wired to find authority figures and follow them. Sometimes, this causes us to make great progress towards a common goal. Sometimes it causes very many people to do something very stupid.

We, even the religious among us, should raise our children with some manner of scepticism towards our authority figures. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In many cases, I suppose you might be correct; but, religion is often just a crutch or reason for people to get behind some very ... dedicated? evil? twisted? sociopathic? person's plans and do terrible things.

I downvoted you because religion is not the root of all evil, it's just a visible source of some of the evils in this world. But not all.

Rest in Peace, VileRat. You were called out of this world sooner than any of us expected or wanted...

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." --Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999

That's very pithy, but it's patently false. It doesn't take religion to make "good" people do "bad" things. It just takes an authority figure.

It doesn't take religion to make "good" people do "bad" things. It just takes an authority figure.

Exactly (see my other comment in response to yours).

If you're a wannabe authority figure with grand ambitions but no sound arguments, what's your next step? You either invent a God, claim the favor of an existing one, or (in the case of the Communist personality cultists) become one yourself.

When someone like me says that they "hate religion", what we are really saying is that we hate this process, and wish it would stop working so well.

Your question is the genesis of a flame war, as you have already realized.

It assumes/implies that there is a set of roots to "evil".

Take a uniform/symmetric orderly system with rational actors. Now introduce random events to the system.

This will immediately create asymmetric results which are unevenly distribute load or resources to different actor/parts of the system.

This is with a uniform system. Ignoring things like control structures, monopolies, and rational actors or any level of complexities from real life.

Religion is just one among many flags of convenience for assholes and monsters.

I think "the root of all evil" is, in general, not a good choice of phrase. I understand the vehemence with with you speak, but I think it's a bit overly hyperbolic and creates quibbling over the word "all". Saying that religion is the cause of much evil (which far outweighs the good) would be sufficient.

I actually agree with you.

I thought my post would be downvoted anyway, so I didn't care about being a bit hyperbole.

I really didn't want such a huge discussion here, I'd rather have people talk about Vile Rat, the State Dept Rep who got killed for nothing. He deserves all the attention, not the quibbles of people disagreeing here.

> "I thought my post would be downvoted" ... "I really didn't want such a huge discussion"

Let's call this what it is: trolling. Please don't do that.

"Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them." - http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

The debate you touched on is Ancient. It is complicated, nuanced, and difficult. It is also extremely charged, and polarizing.

Your statement was akin to bringing tinder to a powder house.

In a way, it is its own worthy lesson.

It's got nothing to do with religion and everything to do with politics.

The trigger event was completely religious in nature. It's a movie that's supposedly insulting to Mohammed. How can you say that religion has nothing to do with it? Your claim is trivially false.

You are both right, but your analysis is trivial and his is slightly less so.

A fuller way of combining both would be:

The showing of a movie, specifically to rile up people who would otherwise not have cared, is the application of power to send a political message.

Yes - the message is being generated by a system that uses religion as a major ideology. ~~The system is also populated and maintained~~ edit: The system contains both actors actors who care little for religion, but completely for economic/political/personal gain, and actors who are acting irrationally under a set of irrational data.

Either way, this chain of thought is more likely to immediately generate a flame war, in a thread mourning the loss of Vile Rat.

I'm sorry, I really can't see how something can be more trivial than, "It's not religion, it's power, lol." It's not an analysis at all, it's just a straight up falsehood.

I had posted it earlier in the growth of the thread in the hope that it would prevent a flame war.

Both the answers are simplistic responses to a complex problem which covers geo politics/religion/culture and all sorts of real world barriers.

As distasteful as analogies are - if an engineer said the internet was 0s and 1s he would be correct.

But it wouldn't be usable for long run discussions, and vague enough to generate tonnes of noise over signal.

Your analysis is superficial. Religion is used as a tool for power. It's just an excuse.

And all of them are tools to move atoms around! So it's not really about power or religion, but atoms! This is an example of false reductionism: just because it is about one thing does not mean it's not also about a subtype of that thing. Superficial though my analysis might be, it is at least not contrary to fact.

post hoc ergo propter hoc

Religion is in the chain of events, but it's just a carrier. That's why I think it's not about religion but totally related to the political tensions. They just needed an excuse to take violent actions. It could have been something totally different for the exact same effect, an official insulting an inhabitant, a driver doing a hit and run, a cultural misunderstanding...

I'll admit my original reply was a little bit of an aphorism for the sake of the punchline.

Yes, and power is used as a tool to kill. Your point being?

Yes, why on earth would a population subjected to invasion and ongoing occupation by imperial western powers find an attack on their culture objectionable and representative of their entire daily situation?


Because the US (or any other "imperial western power") has invaded Egypt and Libya? Damn, I should start watching the news a bit more!

Or are you suggesting that the invasions of Iraq / Afghanistan can be seen as "attacking their culture"? If that's your point, you've actually demonstrated that the root cause is in fact religion, because there really isn't much else that Afghanistani and Iraqi culture share with Egypt and Libya..

How else do you define a group led by royalists and other rich western expats, backed by the IMF and armed and supported by NATO, taking over the country and installing themselves as a puppet government in service to western interests? Is a South American coup not a US assassination just because the CIA only supplied the training, money, coordination, and intel and someone else pulled the trigger?

Gaddafi was hardly a beacon of good government, but debt-slavery to the IMF and open doors to the ransacking of national resources by western corporations is hardly an improvement. Not to mention little things like the incidents of ethnic cleansing.

I define them as winners in a civil war that are far more open to personal liberty and democracy than the predecessor.

Anyway, I reject your premise. To win that war they had to have wide support from the general population of Libya - there were no foreign troops on the ground, it was Libyans fighting Libyans.

Don't see how this is relevant to my observation that the violence was in fact religious in nature.

He's saying that there are motivations at play, as important if not more than the religious one.

I didn't say there weren't other motivations, I just pointed out that it's false to say religion wasn't one. So the comment is definitely irrelevant, or he meant something else.

Well you opened a Pandora's box. Expect many apologists would appear below, at best.

I'd go further and say all systems based on cult are the root of all evil.

No, religion is the root of much evil.

Does this statement add to the discussion? Or does it add to a flamewar in a thread where someone who died to runaway emotions is being mourned?

Wow - calm down, and read the comment in context. It doesn't add to any flamewar. It modifies of the claim made that "religion is the root of all evil".

Go read 'Violence and the Sacred' - there is a deep link between violence and religion - but religion is not the origin of the other.

Don't attribute to God what the devil does.

Attributing anything to god or the devil is a rediculous concept...

Either God created the devil, or someone else did. If someone else did, then God is not the sole creator of the Universe that he's said to be. If God did, then I can hardly be held responsible for the misdeeds of his creation.

Really, this stuff was pretty much settled a thousand years before Christ showed up.

That statement implies an impotent God.

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