of the incompetent” — Isaac Asimov
Many things these days remind me of Asimov’s observation. He first said it through a character in his original Foundation series, but he endorsed the sentiment personally in a couple of biographies, and I’m told by those who met him, in person. For what it’s worth, Asimov remains my favorite science fiction author. But it is his observation on violence which I discuss at the moment.
Domestically, consider our response to any sort of criminal activity. It’s violent, isn’t it? Deadly force as a first choice is advocated in Facebook posts by a neighbor of mine from time to time. Deadly force is pretty violent, and, according to Dr. Asimov, putting it first on your list of responses to an attack makes you, you know, incompetent. And it’s true that there are many ways one can deal with an assault that do not involve killing the assailant. Especially a black kid in a hoodie eating Cheetos, if you get my drift. That incident truly did demonstrate incompetence. Maybe they let him off out of pity? And the thing in Ferguson is just as bad. I see apologists talking about how black people assault white people and nobody in the press says a thing. Well, yeah, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that an armed, paramilitary man shot an unarmed kid six or more times as the kid was trying to surrender. We pay cops to act better than that, but hey, we also instill in them the attitude that deadly force is an appropriate response to a threat. Or, put Asimov’s way, we train them to be incompetent. A competent (read well-trained) cop would take a minute to think about the situation before he pulled the trigger. Six times. Against an unarmed kid. With his hands up. Here in Vegas, Metro (what we call “the police”) has gone from killing unarmed handicapped kids to being cited as a model of restraint in that regard. They still would a lot of people, but they don’t kill very many any more, and when they do it’s usually pretty clear that they weren’t given a choice. And that’s the crux of the argument: if you have a choice other than deadly force, use it first. Deadly force is your last resort. There are countless examples here at home of violent attitudes, but I’m actually moving on a foreign relations target. You know, ISIL, which for some reason we call ISIS.
As someone pointed out on Facebook, ISIS is the moronic organization to which the character ARCHER belongs. Maybe that explains it.
But to get to my point, that group is baiting us with videos, chopping off a few heads, that sort of thing. They are good a social media, and the Arab states are stupid enough to try to censor the Internet. China censors the Internet, which is why there are new dummy sites every day from which someone in China can get to any site he chooses. China, and the Arab states, could use the Internet, but that would require more flexibility and creativity than a government can generally whip up, so they don’t. The worst thing about ISIS baiting us, though, is that we are rising to the bait. A competent people would assess the situation and use whatever alternatives were available before resorting to deadly force against a bunch of what are, on the world scale, petty criminals. But, as usual, being manipulated by media is what we do best, so our first response to a threat is, you guessed it, violence. Thus ISIS gets to laugh at us and, quite rightly in the eyes of the world, call us a bunch of incompetents. Swell!
Oh, well, that’s my post for today. Hope you enjoyed it. Do me a favor, and try something besides violence as a first resort against a threat sometime. It won’t kill you.