Monday, December 28, 2020

"So Much Depends..."

As a matter of criminal law, I get the distinction here. But "political intent" is not quite the bright line denominator this discussion assumes.  Why else does one set off bombs, if not for "political intent"?  I mean, setting off fireworks is setting off explosions; but it ain't the same thing as blowing up a city street, is it?  Reports are (unconfirmed, probably, and will we ever know) that the bomber in Nashville was motivated by a 5G conspiracy theory.  I don't even know what that is, and I don't have the bandwidth to care.  I do know the distinction between that and "political intent" rests on a very thin distinction, one you have to insist upon in order to make it.  Consider the lunacy of the support for Trump right now. That's not terrorism, but it is an expression of political intent; but only because it references the sitting POTUS.  Otherwise, it's just kind of insane.  Now, presume the 5G conspiracy theory involves a nefarious cabal between cell phone companies and the FCC (why not?).  Now is it "political"?  Why not?

Again, I understand the elements of a crime in a court of law, but this is not a discussion constrained by the requirements of the law.  Maybe it should be, viz:
It's a sound point, and these days especially we through around the term "treason" far too lightly (thanks largely to our sitting POTUS. I wonder if his use of the term is "political intent" and constitutive of terrorism?).  But the fact is, we've been using the term "terrorism" in common discourse for far too long to put that genie back in the bottle and declare it a holy term to be used only by the high priests of the law.  Maybe we should be careful how we use it.  But Charlie Pierce is right:  if the bomber in Nashville was not white, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

And that's the real issue.

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