Is it "Horrific" To Analogize U.S. Drone Attacks with Sandy Hook? Why Might Someone Do It?

Economist Daniel Kuehn at his blog expresses his horror at unnamed and unlinked people who "think a crazy person targeting kindergartners is comparable to the military targeting al Qaeda affiliates."

I too have seen in the past couple of days casual comments in social networking feeds from antiwar folk making what could be seen as such analogies; not sure I've seen anyone do so in an extended way, and Kuehn, who took the trouble to blog about it, doesn't point you to anyone doing so. 

Here's the entire post:

You are welcome to be angry about a policy you don't agree with and you are welcome even to call its ethics into question. You are welcome to mourn the (dramatically fewer) innocent victims of drone attacks.

But to talk about these two things as if they're equivalent is something I find horrific.

Everyone is welcome to say anything they want, and to be horrified by whatever they want to be horrified by. But there are larger implications about foreign policy, and libertarianism in general, buried in Kuehn's comment worth teasing out, especially as I'm sure it's true that he speaks for many and almost certainly most Americans in expressing such horror.

First, it's worth noting that the most detailed attempts to answer the (surely unanswerable with unquestioned precision) question of how many innocent victims U.S.drone attacks have claimed come to the conclusion that Kuehn is wrong to call that number "dramatically fewer."[**See update below--Kuehn says I misread him]

As Ed Krayewski wrote about here the other day, the Bureau of Independent Journalism's count of child victims of drones in Pakistan is 176, substantially higher than Sandy Hook, though it is possible Kuehn wouldn't consider those dead children "innocent" even if he credited their existence. 

Indeed, just one reported drone incident from Yemen in 2010 alone exceeds the innocent victim number at Sandy Hook.

More details on these numbers from Wikipedia; a detailed Stanford Law/NYU School of Law Study on drones that takes the Bureau of Independent Journalism numbers seriously; a Guardian article on UN interest in drones which notes allegations from Ben Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur, that "since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners"; and this Atlantic article makes a good case that the sense of terror and unease the drones create might match or even exceed what the Sandy Hook killings have done to the U.S.; and Foreign Policy questions at length whether the Bureau of Independent Journalism's numbers should be considered fully verified, in a manner that still wouldn't necessarily support Kuehn's belief that the number of innocent dead from U.S. drones is "dramatically fewer" than the Sandy Hook victim number.

One might also consider whether the death penalty imposed with no safeguards or independent adjudication is indeed a just penalty for whatever it is even the "non-innocent" and/or adult victims are supposed to have done, especially when you consider, as Gene Healy wrote:

Another former Obama counterterror official toldEsquire: "It's not at all clear that we'd be sending our people into Yemen to capture the people we're targeting. But it's not at all clear that we'd be targeting them if the technology wasn't so advanced. What's happening is that we're using the technology to target people we never would have bothered to capture."

Yes, the U.S. government denies all this, but I see no particular reason to credit these denials, though as with everything about events happening beyond the reach of our own eyes or trustworthy video or photography, you are free to pick your own epistemological standards about such things, and certainly "the government is telling the truth about things that might upset their constiuents if they admitted to it and no one else their citizens are likely to credit will gainsay them" is one you are free to pick.

So, why one might make the analogy that horrifies Kuehn seems obvious enough: both our drone program and Sandy Hook involve mechanized killing, including of children. That similarity is obvious.

The difference that I imagine makes Kuehn horrified (beyond his likely mistaken belief in the "dramatically fewer" innocent victims part) is that the motive of the drone killings is one he approves of and thinks others ought to as well: attempts to kill people the U.S. government thinks or claims are part of Al Queda, an organization that has planned and executed mass murders.

As far as motive for Sandy Hook, we all seem to agree there was none other than a desire, for whatever reasons, to murder a bunch of helpless strangers, including children. That is a big difference. But is it enough to inspire horror that someone who objects to murder of innocents in general might find them similar in that respect?

Granted, saying such a thing is a clear example of "politicizing the tragedy"--using our emotions about Sandy Hook to try to make a political point: that we as Americans should be horrified at the murder of innocents going on in our name via drone strikes. That strikes many as distasteful. But everyone is (naturally, and I'm not criticizing anyone for it) using Sandy Hook to make political points right now, mostly in the direction of "we need more gun control" (even absent any rational connection between any such consitutional or doable proposed law and something that would have prevented Sandy Hook as it occurred).

Indeed, the very reason why those opposed to U.S. drone strikes might feel it necessary to make that analogy that horrified Kuehn (and as I noted would undoubtedly horrify most Americans, if they'd heard it) is the very reason that it horrifies him: that people opposed to drone strikes find it very difficult to get their fellow Americans to understand that there might be something horrific and evil about a policy that murders children with bombs from the air, and that a moment where they are mourning and hating a crime involving someone murdering well over a dozen children with guns might be a moment they are open to understanding this; perhaps more so when they consider that unlike the one-time horror of Sandy Hook, with a dead perpetrator, this policy and practice is ongoing and may well result in more dead children.

The motives are surely different; but the anti-drone people seem to hope that they can get people to understand that murdering children is such a bad thing to do that the motive might not quite justify it. Kuehn and others like him might strike such a person, or a libertarian who often tries to get people to judge actions of state by the moral standards of the actions of individuals, as giving a justificatory pass to the state in the field of child murder that might be worth looking twice at; for the very reason that such an analogy between two actions that kill children brings to many people's mind not debate, or disagreement, but horror.

**UPDATE: Kuehn tells me that in the post of his I'm commenting on (which I quoted every word of) does not mean what I took it to mean in one key respect. When he writes "dramatically fewer" victims of drones in a post whose headline and text is about analogizing drone strikes to Sandy Hook, the "dramatically fewer" is a comparison not to Sandy Hook, but to conventional warfare, a point not mentioned in his headline or text. In Kuehn's judgment, my reading of his words is unfair to the point of malpractice. In my defense, the U.S. government's official line supports the point I argued against at length, and I've certainly met many people who believe it. Kuehn, however, is not one of them. Here is his response at his blog.

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  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Economist Daniel Kuehn at his blog expresses his horror at unnamed and unlinked people who "think a crazy person targeting kindergartners is comparable to the military targeting al Qaeda affiliates.""

    The jackoff is right, but not in the way he intends.

    There's really no comparison between a lone nutjob murdering 20 people and getting taken down or arrested or whatever and an elected official and his jackbooted cronies who abuse their authority and steal money to murder hundreds abroad without so much as a slap on the wrists.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yep, and as an economist Kuehn is obviously discounting the value of innocent non citizen's lives. By how much? The only rational reading of Kuehn is that his discount is somewhere between ,1,000:1 and 10,000:1.

    But don't you dare call him a amoral monster.

  • ||

    This is easy to parse out. We have 20 dead american children. That is a tragedy. 200 dead brown children don't really count. Because the counting says that a dead brown foreign child is only 1/200 of an american child. So, we are really talking about one dead real person. And regarding that only one dead real person, they shouldn't have been hanging around all those terrorist.

  • JeremyR||

    That brown thing is dumb, because what color are Serbs? They are as white as they get, yet there were no protests about us bombing them.

    Not to mention, most of the middle east are pretty much the same color as Italians and Spanish.

  • Patriot||

    Shhh, the cosmatarians need to feel like they are on the right side for once. Proffesing to care about dead brown people let's them think good about themselves, and feel included in the left.

  • UnionBuiltOhioRoads||

    This

  • Bill||

    No, because this douche-bag really thinks it is worse to kill 20 white kids than 200 hundred A-rab kids.

  • Lyle||

    Really, that's what he thinks and you know it?

  • Lyle||

    ... and Christians to boot.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Part of it is that Americans can see their own kids as victims of a SH type attack, but not a drone attack.

    But if the media were staging week-long coverage of child drone victims, far more people would be up in arms about it. A lot of people simply don't know it's going on.

    The MSM truly is a horrible force in this society at this time. They're not at Pravda level quite yet but they're getting awfully close. And the sickening thing is, they're doing it willingly.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    They're worse than Pravda because a every Soviet subject knew that Pravda was full of shit whereas a sizable perecentage of the American public still believes everything that the media reports is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Hell, a non trivial percent of the public thinks that the government won't let the media report untruths.

  • Proprietist||

    It's seriously sobering to see how many people I have seen in the past week erroneously claiming that Fort Hood wasn't a gun-free zone, thus supposedly "disproving" the point that these mass shootings always happen in gun-free zones. The media and general ignorance of people on their soapboxes is truly shameful.

    The ironic thing is the one mass shooting that wasn't in a gun-free zone was a Democratic campaign event, which might as well be...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The Loughner shooting wasn't in a gun free zone.

    Cho, Hasan, and (apparently) Lanza had specific reasons for attacking the place they attacked that had nothing to do with its gun free nature.

  • ||

    It's willfully ignorant though to pretend that such zoning doesn't provide a false sense of security, and basically prove Chris Rock's point about clubs with metal detectors.

    You're only disarming those who are least likely to commit a crime, gun free zones are microcosms of the reasons gun control doesn't work. The best example of a gun free zone, of course, is pre-Heller DC. Not exactly a safe place to be, eh?

  • Proprietist||

    Yeah, I said that already - the Loughner shooting was the "Democratic campaign event" which "might as well be" a gun-free zone.

    The motivation FOR the attacks had nothing to do with the gun-free nature. However, the capacity to carry the mass killing out the way they did was probably thanks to the gun-free zones, and knowledge of the fact probably did not escape them. Had they NOT been gun-free zones, perhaps none of us would have ever heard of any of the three because they either wouldn't have happened or the threat would have been able to be quickly neutralized.

  • Patriot||

    How many brown children a day die due to war where we are not involved?

  • Patriot||

    How could this argument not also be applied by lefties and neo-cons who want to go to war in Syria. After all, they are our little brown bothers and we don't care about them, we HAVE to help them, else we racist.

  • ||

    Because it's "our" government killing them, not some dictator. See the difference?

    Nevermind, I can see you're hunting wabbits cosmotawians

  • RightNut||

    I'm against using a horror to bring attention to issue X, Y, or Z. As much as I think Americans need to be more informed about the issue of drone killings, trying to use Sandy Hook to change foreign policy(drones) is no better than trying to use Sandy Hook to change domestic policy(guns).

  • General Butt Naked||

    How about pointing out the hypocrisy of the lefties that raise nary a protest to the many children murder-droned by Great Leader, but after a shooting they're burbling and whinging on teevee ready to murder NRA members and suspend the constitution?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's different when it's affluent, White kids. Right?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Even worse, it's different when the dead offer an advantage in pushing their political agenda.

    If we had a republican president, you'd never hear the end of our drone program.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Nah, it's that the victims are cute affluent white people that look like the kids of the Ivy League assholes running the country.

    How many kids have been killed in Chicago in the last year or two? Several hundred. And know one in the media or government gives a shit.

  • Dajake||

    I believe the latest count of school age children being killed in Chicago is about 440. And that is just for this year.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    So you're against FDR using Pearl Harbor to change US foreign policy?

  • oldtimer||

    Well, it was a dangerous gambit, apart from the sailors and ships sacrificed. If Hitler hadn't taken the bait and declared war on the United States that very week, would the American people have accepted a Hitler First policy, or would they demand an all out war on Japan right away?

  • Sam Grove||

    What's really horrible is that while everyone is upset, rightfully, about the Sandy Hook killings, they are willing to give a pass on killings by their government.

    Political power is a means by which people can engage in such behavior with minimal personal consequence.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    We're more than happy to kill Pakistani children, but the double-dealing spymasters of Pakistan's intelligence service? They get prosecutorial immunity in the case against those who planned the Mumbai attacks

  • Cytotoxic||

    UNCONTROLLABLE VOMMITTING

  • ||

    Apparently, War on Terror also means protecting terrorists.

  • ||

    No big deal, this is just the traditional recipe for a Pakistani Omelet.

  • JeremyR||

    The answer is "yes" because there is a Democrat in the White House.

    I was in college during the late Bush and early Clinton eras. When Bush bombed someone, there were protests. When Clinton, not a peep. And we're seeing it again. Bush = HItler, Obama carrying on the same policies = Jesus and a Nobel Prize winner

  • mr simple||

    My oh my; I do declare. It sounds like our Mr. Keuhn has a case of the vapors.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    But to talk about these two things as if they're equivalent is something I find horrific.

    Well excuse me, Grand Moral Arbitor. I will, in future, endeavor not to step on your fragile fucking feelings.

    It's not at all clear that we'd be sending our people into Yemen to capture the people we're targeting. But it's not at all clear that we'd be targeting them if the technology wasn't so advanced. What's happening is that we're using the technology to target people we never would have bothered to capture.

    The reason he has no clarity is because all of the clarity in America was taken to create the MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION EVAH!

  • XM||

    One big difference (for what it's worth) is that people who operate drones probably don't intend to kill innocent children.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Isn't there a saying on here about this?

  • A Serious Man||

    "Er, what is that? A child playing or a terrorist crouching to dig a hole for an IED? Let's hit it just to be safe."

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    One is morally responsible for foreseeable consequences of one's actions, whether they are intended or not.

  • Randian||

    Do a majority of drone strikes kill innocents? Do you know?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Tulpa "knows" a lot of things that are complete bullshit.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I never claimed that a majority does, not sure where you're getting that from.

    Even though most traffic signal violations do not result in a collision, we still hold the violator responsible when there is a collision.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Yes. The estimate is 36 civilians per targeted person.

  • Cytotoxic||

    AQ and the Taliban are responsible for the consequences of their anti-American actions ie collateral damage in America's War of Self-Defense.

  • iggy||

    And we sure have defended the shit out of a couple hundred children, haven't we?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Didn't take long for you to drop the pretense of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, did it.

  • pmains||

    One is morally responsible for foreseeable consequences of one's actions, whether they are intended or not.

    Fuck off, Tulpa. Your pathetic attempt to rewrite RC's Law failed. His worked and was accurate so long as you understand what intent means in the context of a court room. Yours is awkward and forgettable.

  • pmains||

    Here is Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s explanation, from Lecture IV of The Common Law:

    intent was found to be made up of foresight of the harm as a consequence, coupled with a desire to bring it about, the latter being conceived as the motive for the act in question. Of these, again, foresight only seemed material. As a last step, foresight was reduced to its lowest term, and it was concluded that, subject to exceptions which were explained, the general basis of criminal liability was knowledge, at the time of action, of facts from which common experience showed that certain harmful results were likely to follow.

  • General Butt Naked||

    There was an article about drone operators and a time they accidentally murder-droned a kid. Everybody was like totally bummed, and stuff. They were all like, "Was that a kid? Did we just kill a kid?"

    They still made it in the next day to do it again.

    With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

    Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

    "Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

    "Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

    "Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

    Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

    They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?
  • Jerryskids||

    I think that may have been the distinction Kuehn was trying to make, that there is a huge moral difference between deliberately targeting children by a civilian and accidentally killing them during war time.

    Of course, to be outraged by such a comparison, you would probably also have to be outraged by anyone making the argument that the President's drone program of targeted executions without any sort of oversight is illegal on numerous levels. After all, since killing someone during the commission of a crime doesn't buy you a pass on a murder charge if you argue that the killing was accidental, it seems entirely appropriate to compare Obama to any other murderer if you believe the drone program as it is operated is illegal.

  • CE||

    I must have missed it. When did we declare war on Pakistan and Yemen?

  • AlmightyJB||

    But how can you shoot women and children?
    Easy, ya just don't lead 'em as much.

  • A Serious Man||

    + 1 Full Metal Jacket

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Just checking again if the world has ended.

  • ||

    Yeah, it did about 20 min. ago or so.

    But it's better now.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    "I don't want to go in the cart"

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    and my axe!

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'm still here. I think. If I ever was.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've been making the comparison myself specifically in response to Barack Obama's statement in his Sandy Hook speech.

    "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"

    ----Barack Obama, December 16, 2012

    Barack Obama has killed dozens of innocent children.

    He rationalizes the children he's killed as the price of our freedom.

    Pointing out the hypocrisy of the president isn't just okay--it's probably our duty as libertarians.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    He rationalizes the children he's killed as the price of our freedom.

    Does he? I'm not sure. He's never been asked to address the topic by our brave free press.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There must be some rationalization.

    He can't claim he didn't realize that children might get killed in his missile strikes.

    That would be ridiculous if he claimed he didn't know.

    So, there must be some reason why he thinks the dead children are worth it. Especially if he keeps ordering missile strikes.

    And if there's some reason why Obama thinks his missile strikes are worth it despite all the children he kills, then that's a rationalization...

    Yeah, Barack Obama MUST rationalize all the children he kills. ...or if killing innocent children doesn't bother him, then he's a freaking psychopath.

  • ||

    It's the most favorable way to view his actions. What does that say?

  • Randian||

    Barack Obama has killed dozens of innocent children

    I object to that statement. The person who pushed the button killed those people.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There's blame enough to go around, Randian. Ordering someone else to kill a person is equivalent to killing the person yourself.

  • Randian||

    No it's not. Orders are just words. Only one person makes the conscious decision to pull the trigger.

  • ||

    can't tell if serious...

    I guess this lets Hitler and Manson off the hook.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yeah, sort of a reverse Nuremburg defense.

    "I was only giving orders!"

  • CE||

    There's a rope for that. And a tree. If not, we'll build a platform.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I object to that statement. The person who pushed the button killed those people."

    It was Obama's decision.

    Barack Obama is responsible for the choices he makes.

    Just like the rest of us.

  • Randian||

    If your friends told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?

  • Ken Shultz||

    How do you point out the president's hypocrisy without making reference to the thing he's being hypocritical about?

  • Randian||

    I just objected to the active verb "killed"

  • Ken Shultz||

    Ordering a missile strike that unfortunately kills some innocent children isn't the same as a psychopath intentionally killing children in an elementary school, but that wasn't the comparison I was making.

    I wrote this elsewhere:

    "If Obama didn't want people talking about all the children he's killed in the name of freedom, then he shouldn't have condemned his fellow Americans for standing up for their freedom despite the tragedy at Sandy Hook."

    Look at the quote. Look at what Obama said:

    "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"

    ----Barack Obama, December 16, 2012

    Barack Obama was attacking defenders of the Second Amendment. If defenders of the Second Amendment continue to stand up for their gun rights despite the tragedy at Sandy Hook, then Barack Obama is no way morally superior to them--considering that he, likewise, continues to order missile strikes despite them having killed dozens of innocent children.

    That's the comparison. It's not comparing Obama to the murderer at Sandy Hook. It's comparing Barack Obama to the defenders of the Second Amendment. Obama rationalizes child deaths, too. He is not morally superior on the issue of dead children.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The defenders of the Second Amendment didn't order Adam Lanza to shoot up a school. BO does order drone strikes on structures and locales that are likely to contain innocents.

  • Contrarian P||

    According to many of the proponents of gun control, if you listen to their rhetoric, the defenders of the second amendment might as well have put the gun in the guy's hands and told him to go get em.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I just objected to the active verb "killed"

    More semantics! Yay.

    Within an hour, Randian will have eroded away any remaining meaning from his original post.

  • Sevo||

    "But to talk about these two things as if they're equivalent is something I find horrific."

    Yeah, because the anointed one kills more people while the other is the result of, what? An unelected whacko.
    You're an idiot.

  • MJGreen||

    I've brought it up a couple times, but the distinction and context I use is in Obama's capacity to change things. When the WH said now wasn't the time to talk about gun control (in the immediate aftermath; they've apparently started talking about it), a bunch of Obama voters were pissed that he wasn't going to take on gun control. Meanwhile, they show little anger at Obama's drone policy (e.g. many cheered when Obama won reelection). But Obama has direct control over the latter policy, while there is little or nothing he can do to even lessen the chances of the former happening again.

    He can literally stop the destruction of children overseas with a single word, but he has little control over crazies here at home. For rational, reality-based, practical bleeding-heart lefties, that's a vital difference. Or rather, it should be.

  • Sevo||

    "He can literally stop the destruction of children overseas with a single word..."

    Much as that lying bastard could stop the feds from convicting those who smoke dope.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You're right.

    A lot of kids have died in the drug war, who wouldn't have died without it.

    And not just in Mexico.

  • Randian||

    The policy is not wrong just because children die. You guys are doing the exact same thing the Proggies are doing with respect to Sandy Hook.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Killing children != not making it impossible for other people to kill children

    The people bringing up the drones now are doing it in response to BO's crocodile tears about the children at Sandy Hook. It's not the same dynamic at all.

  • Randian||

    So "dead brown kids" hasn't been a thing here well before Newton?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Are you saying that you can't bring up innocent deaths when arguing against the drone attacks?

    Kind of a handicap, dontcha think?

  • Randian||

    Not as your first or even a main argument, no. Because the existence of dead children is not wrong in and of itself.

  • ||

    Firing missiles at innocent children is wrong in and of itself. Does that clear things up for you?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I guess that gets the cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death off the hook, since the existence of a dead homeless person is not wrong.

  • Patriot||

    You can't make it the sum total of your argument unless you are willing to go into the gas chamber.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Really?

    What constitutional right are we trying to dump?

  • Randian||

    So wave a bloody shirt so long as your cause is just? That's what they think too.

  • A Serious Man||

    Yes, but it would be immoral and illogical to deprive people of the right to self-defense because of the actions of a deranged individual. That's what the gun-grabbers ultimately want to do with this tragedy.

    Our interst here is at the very least calling attention to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent children by our government.

  • Randian||

    Indiscriminate and slaughter aren't remotely accurate here.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If it's not indiscriminate, that means the kids who now exist in a dead state, or whatever euphemism you're using this minute, were the targets. Do you think that makes things better?

    And Mr Lawyer, are you familiar with the meaning of the term "manslaughter"?

    And you better not come back and nitpick your words if you're going to say "aren't remotely accurate".

  • CE||

    "Slaughter" is pretty accurate. "Indiscriminate" is certainly a stretch.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    So wave a bloody shirt so long as your cause is just?

    Sure, what's your position that the value of the cause is irrelevant and only the tactics used matted?

    That's what they think too.

    And they're fighting for slavery and death.

    I'm fighting for peace and freedom.

    Are you really this morally obtuse?

  • Ken Shultz||

    The policy isn't wrong just because children die.

    And that's why Obama is wrong.

    He's using dead children as a prop in his comedy routine. But when people point out his hypocrisy on dead children, suddenly we're ones who are stepping over the line.

    Right, the point isn't that every policy that unfortunately sometimes results in dead children is necessarily always wrong. Maybe nuking Hiroshima was the right decision. Maybe bombing terrorists is a good idea despite the fact that innocent children are sometimes killed in the process.

    Maybe we shouldn't ban automobiles despite the fact that more than 30,000 Americans die in car accidents every year--many of them children. Maybe there's an upside to having gun available--even if a psycho goes nuts every once in a while.

    But Obama doesn't get to play the dead children card only when it's in his best interest to do so. It's like talking about a candidate's kids during an election. I don't think we should go after a candidate's kids generally--unless the candidates makes a campaign issue of how great a father he is. Then whether he really is a good father becomes a campaign issue.

    If Obama didn't want people talking about all the children he's killed in the name of freedom, then he shouldn't have condemned his fellow Americans for standing up for their freedom despite the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Seems like the Cosmos are buying into the idea that any criticism of Obama is racist and beyond the pale.

  • Hugh Akston||

    nnnnnno. See we're consistently condemning the murder of children, whether it's done deliberately by a looney toon with a rifle or completely by totally unavoidable accident by brave and righteous government videogamers.

    The kids at Sandy Hook died because some whackaloon abused a right that the vast majority of people exercise responsibly.

    The kids in Pakistan/Afghanistan/Libya etc etc etc died because dozens if not hundreds of people were involved in writing a policy that views them as collateral damage in the pursuit of some vague political goal.

  • Randian||

    But we get mad at the Progs for waving the bloody shirt to change gun policy and then we so it to change war and drug policy.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    My god you are superficial. You really don't see the difference here, do you?

  • Randian||

    You think it's ok to use dead kids as props because your cause is just. If I don't see the difference it could be because there isn't one.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Or it could be that you're just trying to start an argument to make yourself feel like a great rhetorician or whatever?

    Nearly everything people say about my so-called contrarianism on this blog is true of you in spades.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I was right Tulpa's projection is entering transcendence.

  • crazyfingers||

    Wow you can't actually be this stupid. The difference is the U.S. government kills innocents in our name, with our money, and will continue to do so.

  • ||

    Stupid is not quite the right word. Try, "insufferably pedantic."

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But we get mad at the Progs for waving the bloody shirt to change gun policy and then we do it to change war and drug policy."

    I think pointing out the president's hypocrisy here can be read just as easily as criticism of waving a bloody shirt around.

    Some of us are just pointing out the president's inconsistency. To Barack Obama, apparently some dead children are more equal than others.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Fair enough. Anything to make his supporters out to be the unscrupulousboobs they are.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's right!

    He's not the secular Jesus.

    All those prog personality cult victims need to see him for who he really is and what he's really done.

    Any time we shock those people out of their programming for a few seconds, it isn't a completely wasted effort.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No sorry Ken it is ALL wasted aside from entertainment value. These people are insane. And they are like a quarter of the population.

  • Cytotoxic||

    libertarianism =/= teary eyed opposition to child death

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sorry, I must have misinterpreted all that stuff about the inherent value of human life and people being ends in themselves.

  • Ken Shultz||

    When I got my decoder ring, nobody said I had to put my heart in cold storage.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Well you do.

  • CE||

    Isn't there something about a Zero Aggression Principle?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Yes Skywalker, let the rationality flow through you...

  • Randian||

    I was at this philosophical point long before you, padawan.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Your philosophy is weak old man.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Cytotoxic will show you the true nature of objectivism.

  • Cytotoxic||

    NOW I am ready to let the world end. Hopefully much like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2jPCQbl0Lc

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The policy is not wrong just because children die.

    I was so caught up in the previous argument I breezed past this little horrific statement. WTF, Randian? A policy that directly causes children to die better be justified by an extremely strong reason why it's necessary for our national security.

  • Randian||

    Right, and if it was justified, killing children would also be justified. You just proved my point.

  • Cytotoxic||

    *Tents fingers, smiles*

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And if Adam Lanza had justification for killing those kids, Sandy Hook would be justified too.

    The point is, we know quite well that the justification is simply not there, in either case. So cut the crap.

  • Randian||

    And since I said JUST because, I was only arguing that limited point.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yawn. More semantic games.

    Follows the usual rut you've fallen into in the past few months. Make a broad statement to provoke a reaction, then claim you never meant it to be that broad and everyone is just too stupid to understand you.

    I'm curious to see how you're going to walk back the claim that we're just as bad as the people using Sandy Hook to push for gun control. I'm guessing you'll just hope we forget about that in the commotion.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Is...Tulpa projecting again?

  • ||

    No, he's just a fellow bullshitter calling out your bullshit.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Around and around we go where Tulpa's circular arguments go nobody knows!

  • MJGreen||

    But killing children requires a stronger justification than, say, violating another state's sovereignty. Focusing on the most extreme consequences of an action - those which require the greatest justification - is the most sensible strategy. Why start an argument from a weaker position?

  • Sam Grove||

    It's wrong for other reasons. That children are killed thereby illustrates consequences for wrong policy.

  • Randian||

    Yes that is correct.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The dead drone children are the moral burden of our enemies, not the USG.

  • Randian||

    I don't have any enemies that need droning, so don lump me into your collectivist fantasies.

  • Cytotoxic||

    AQ and the Taliban have lumped you and me and the whole world in their collectivist Islamist fantasies, which are a threat to our individual rights. The USG is morally required to terminate that threat at all costs. A policy which is plainly succeeding.

  • Randian||

    I don't care what Al-Qaeda did. The fact that they are collectivist makes me want to be even less so.

  • Cytotoxic||

    You don't care, but they do. With initiation of force to put bow you to Islamism.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Neocon bedwetting FTL.

    Funny that the guys with the biggest warboners also have the least faith in the superiority of our system.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Lies, wrong, and red herrings.

  • MJGreen||

    I'll take my chances, thanks. I have a feeling I'll be juuuust fine without the USG's "help."

  • A Serious Man||

    AQ and the Taliban have lumped you and me and the whole world in their collectivist Islamist fantasies, which are a threat to our individual rights.

    The Democratic and Republican parties have done more damage to our rights and liberties than the towelheads have. So with your logic that such people ought to be terminated, would it be morally permissible to wipe out all collectivist political leaders in a similar fashion?

  • Cytotoxic||

    We should only use violence where necessary. Against AQ and the Taliban, there is a (decreasing) need for violence. It's not yet the right conditions for the GOP and Dems. But you are right about the relative threats to our freedoms.

  • A Serious Man||

    And you don't see the irony in that your zeal to empower the state to wipe out enemies to liberty in other countries have also greatly empowered the enemies to our rights and liberties in this country?

    Of course Objecivists don't view the state as an inherently immoral agent, so you know, they think they can wield Sauron's Ring without any problems.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Your premise is wrong. Empowering the state to wipe out the enemies of liberty has not empowered the state. At least not nearly as much as the 'eternal war' noninterventionists/moderates would put us through. See 'Iran'. Didn't invade in 1980, lead to increasing terrorism, and thereby increasing statism. It is exactly because War is the Health of the State that we must have the state terminate those who wage war on America.

    The state is not the Ring. Altruism is.

    You can't have freedom without the state.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    So your contention is that if we'd invaded Iran in 1980 we wouldn't have had the problems with expansion of government since then?

  • A Serious Man||

    It is exactly because War is the Health of the State that we must have the state terminate those who wage war on America.

    But that's circular logic, both in theory and in fact. War is the health of the state. Absolutely, but your solution is to have it wage more war, and better yet, trust politicians and the people in the media to identify who is unfit to exist.

    That's a lot of faith you are putting into corruptible men to be hyper-rational and only target the 'bad' people without incresing their own power at the expense of liberty.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Nope. You would have 'more war'. You would just call the situation peace even though it is not.

  • A Serious Man||

    How is that any different from the proggie logic that if government doesn't take action against guns we'll have more shootings?

    And yes, even as a firm supporter of gun rights, I know that shootings will inevitably happen. Just as a firm believer in a non-interventionist foreign policy, I know that there will still be people out there that mean us harm.

    Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the cost of government action is of greater detriment to liberty than inaction.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Cytotoxic| 12.21.12 @ 1:32AM |#

    Nope. You would have 'more war'. You would just call the situation peace even though it is not.

    Do you get tired of constantly living in Munich 9-30-1938?

  • CE||

    You can't have freedom without the state.

    So, an entity that routinely steals your money, enforces regulations with armed agents on how you live and conduct business, and claims the right to kidnap your children and draft them into its armies is necessary to be truly free.... Got it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Translation from bedwetterese: we should only attack people who can't fight back.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Note here that Tulpa, faced with unassailable argument, will simply replace his opponent's argument with one made of straw. This is one of the many strategies of Trollus tulpas.

  • Patriot||

    Sure, raising our taxes is worse than murdering 3,000 of us. Sound reasoning there.

  • Jordan||

    I take it you've never heard of the PATRIOT ACT? NDAA? FISA? Dept of Homeland Security? the TSA? kill lists?

  • CE||

    The USG is morally required to terminate that threat at all costs.

    If that were true, they'd be going through the US nuclear arsenal, not caring how many innocents died.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    What a difference a week makes.

    Cytotoxic| 12.15.12 @ 4:43PM |#|–|filternamelinkcustom

    "Blaming" 'society' or whatnot is and always will be the path to totalitarianism. Blaming the objectively guilty is the only way to prevent this.
  • Randian||

    War, for whatever reason, broke some Objectivists' brains. See ARI for Exhibit A

  • Cytotoxic||

    The ARI always had the rational position you don't have wrt war...ignoring Peikoff.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I don't see the difference. Still blaming the objectively guilty ie Taliban and AQ.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And what pray tell makes them objectively guilty.

  • Cytotoxic||

    They started it and refuse to surrender.

  • A Serious Man||

    Randian, let me just see if I can walk through the logic of this argument as I see it.

    1. It is immoral to initiate force against another person without provocation. On this libertarians ought to agree, no?

    2. It is immoral to kill children without provocation.

    3. Therefore, it is just as immoral to kill children with a rifle in a school in Connecticut as it is to murder them with flying robots in another country when those children have done nothing to warrant a lethal response.

    Now our resident sociopath Cyto will argue that the little brown devils by their very nature are agressing themselves against truth, justice, and the American way, but surely it is not improper to point out the uncomfortable truth that what made our nation pause in horror last Friday happens on a regular basis in the War on Terror, is it? It's not about ranking the victims or saying that Sandy Hook is nothing compared to what goes on over there, but rather to point out the hypocrisy of the media who have been worshiping Obama for his 'bravery' in tackling the gun issue 'for the children'.

  • Randian||

    Except most people think the War on Terror is rationally justified, but you're trying to emotionally shock them out of that belief. That's called emotional manipulation, not an appeal to our better selves.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Ye.

  • A Serious Man||

    I feel it would be difficult to shatter the arguments used to rationalize the War on Terror without creating an emotional response.

  • Cytotoxic||

    What you're attempting to do is the reverse of that. (Emotional response to shatter a rationalization).

  • A Serious Man||

    How can you discuss the deaths of children without, either directly or indirectly, appealing to emotion?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And your bedwetting drivel about how the jihadists are going to force us to institute Sharia law if we don't drone them into submission is not an appeal to emotion?

  • Cytotoxic||

    I never said they would force us to implement Sharia law. I said they would use violence against us. Do try to reading comprehension.

    How can you discuss the deaths of children without, either directly or indirectly, appealing to emotion?

    By using logic and reason instead. If you can't do that, that's on you. I know we can't all be Objectivists but you can aspire.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Cytotoxic| 12.21.12 @ 1:09AM |#|–|filternamelinkcustom

    You don't care, but they do. With initiation of force to put bow you to Islamism.

    Sharia law is the basic part of "islamism".

  • ||

    Human beings are emotional creatures.

    We have never been, and for the foreseeable future will never be, robots.

    Emotional manipulation is every bit as valid as logical argumentation when it comes to actually trying to convince the humans that exist in the real world, not the pristine little logical boxes you wish they all were.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Emotional manipulation is every bit as valid as logical argumentation

    Okay so you're on the same level as the Proggies.

  • Contrarian P||

    Isn't that statement also at its core an emotional attack? Seriously, I'm happy that you seem to consider yourself a great logician who is on a different level than others because of your lack of emotion, but you look like a pretentious jackass to your assumed inferiors.

  • ||

    It's only emotional if you read it that way. Without referring to emotion, the argument is right. Prove it isn't.

  • Sam Grove||

    "but you're trying to emotionally shock them out of that belief. That's called emotional manipulation, not an appeal to our better selves."

    I very much doubt that it shocks them, it just might appeal to their better selves it they give it consideration.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Now our resident sociopath Cyto will argue that the little brown devils by their very nature are agressing themselves against truth, justice, and the American way,

    You can't even walk yourself though my (superior) logic let alone someone else's.

  • SugarFree||

    Comedy gold.

  • Tejicano||

    I may have just seen through Obama’s mask into a bit of his soul.

    When he made that statement “you didn’t build that” it was expressing how far he has become one with the concept of collectivism. This may be a response to his self-awareness of the children who are dying by his hard. He cannot accept that he is the one responsible, that the buck stops right freaking square on his desk, for every order he gives of approves so he has to see the world from collectivist-tinted glasses.

    “I didn’t kill those children” - it was the circumstances, the only choice our military had left, their parents from bringing them into the line of fire, an outcome of the will of the people to continue heaping pressure on AQ, etc, etc…

    He wants so desperately to see himself as just another cog in the machine when the blame is too heavy and bloody.

  • Cytotoxic||

    And I have pwnd everybody. Drone-pwnd? Goodnight.

  • Patriot||

    How could this argument not also be applied by lefties and neo-cons who want to go to war in Syria. After all, they are our little brown bothers and we don't care about them, we HAVE to help them, else we racist.

  • Patriot||

    Cosmatarians never answer my questions. I know how much they love to profess their admiration for our little brown brothers just like the good liberals they are. 3,000 dead white people don't really matter very much. These are people who would've sent their own children to the gas chambers rather than murder any of the German or Japanese savages. Now I don't support the imperialism, it's not neccesary, but if it was necessary we would have to kill innocent little brown people. What a tragedy. After all we care so much about the brown people when they kill each other don't we? That's why we want intervention is Syria.

  • ||

    Cosmatarians never answer my questions.

    Maybe that's because you're posting when no one is around. Don't flatter yourself.

    How could this argument not also be applied by lefties and neo-cons who want to go to war in Syria.

    Because there is a significant difference between saying "Hey the government I pay for shouldn't be murdering innocent people" and "Hey that government is murdering innocent people, we should do something about it."

    One requires that our government simply stop doing something it shouldn't be doing. The other requires significant sacrifice and putting yourself at risk in order to stop someone else's government from doing something it shouldn't be doing.

  • ||

    The difference between opposing a drone war, and advocating for intervention in Syria/Darfur/Libya is the difference between ceasing to engage in a fist fight with someone and walking up to a bar fight picking a side and beating the shit out of someone.

  • ||

    Mmmm I do love it when the Hillbillitarians and Objectivists come together to stink up a thread.

  • crazyfingers||

    I'm having trouble deciphering either side from neo-cons

  • SugarFree||

    It's impossible to do the impossible.

  • ||

    11.34, 12-21-12 in Donets'k. The world is still here, Archduchy!-)

  • Ted S.||

    There you go again with those damn apostrophes. :-)

  • GroundTruth||

    It doesn't take and Einstein to realize that if two things have the same result, they can be treated according to the same rules. This applies to "social science" as well as the physical sciences.

  • Patriot||

    They say that two wrong don't make a right. They say it like it is some law of science. Yet as soon as they are on the train to gas chambers, I'm sure they'll change their minds.

  • SCS||

    Glenn Greenwald spells this out pretty well over at The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....ren-deaths

    It's far easier for Americans to empathize with the Sandy Hook tragedy, as opposed to the faceless, out-of-sight-out-of-mind drone killings. At the end of the day, aren't we all humans?

  • Lyle||

    Yep, al Qaeda and the Taliban are humans.

  • OldMexican||

    Lyle,

    al Qaeda and Taliban are made of adults who consciously make a decision to commit certain acts and fight certain enemies. Please, tell me: What makes a child an al Qaeda or a Taliban member?

    If my father had ever joined the Lions Club when I was 5 years old, that does not mean I joined the club willingly and with full knowledge of what that entailed.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Critical thinking != removal of all emotions

    Proof: concepts such as freedom is the highest moral good or that the non-coercion principle should be used as the cornerstone to libertarianism or even the idea that if terrorists start a war, regardless of what threat level they pose after 10 years of successfully killing them, the terrorists are still solely responsible for all deaths which result in attacking them... all these ideas have something in common & that is that they all are arrived at only after emotionally evaluating ideas like blame, proportionality, human worth, and others.

  • Contrarian P||

    ^ This, this, and this again.

  • sarcasmic||

    Daniel Kuehn is cafehayek's Tony.

    He is a disingenuous piece of garbage who never argues in good faith.

    For all we know he could actually be Tony.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    . . . and this Atlantic article makes a good case that the sense of terror and unease the drones create might match or even exceed what the Sandy Hook killings have done to the U.S. those looking to take advantage of dead children in order to exact political gain

    .

    I have no sense of terror or unease. A crazy guy did something crazy, and a bunch of innocent kids died as a result. Why that's supposed to fill me with terror or unease, I'm not sure.

  • waaminn||

    I dunno, I can see the comparison, a lot of innocents killed.

    www.Global-Anon.tk

  • Mortisnoctu||

    One is no more or less monsterous then the other! Stop killing kids you souless jackasses!

  • AHEF||

    I am one who has said we should be more upset over drone attack killing innocent people. Sandy Hook was a single mentally unstable person. While the Drone attacks and Kill lists are authorized by a supposenly "Sane" Obama. The one can not really be forecast or prevented, but it would be a simple one to stop Drone Strike and save lifes!

  • Michael Thomas Hamilton||

    Two horrifying, deadly events to choose from here, and you choose to be horrified at Kuehn's horror? This is a bizarre article.

  • Brian AC||

    Seriously, that kind of comment just makes you look stupid. There's really no other way to put it.

  • PrometheeFeu||

    I've argued drone strikes with Daniel Kuehn on many occasions and you are misunderstanding what he wrote. What he meant is merely that drone strikes kill a lot fewer innocents than more conventional military methods would.

    He's posted an update of the post in question.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: PrometheeFeu,

    What he meant is merely that drone strikes kill a lot fewer innocents than more conventional military methods would.


    You could've retorted with the argument that armed attacks against people that committed NO crime is still not justified, no matter how cost-effective the method. A child is equally dead no matter if killed by the soldiers' bullets of killed by exploding robots.

    In fact, you could argue that at least you can HEAR the soldiers coming and take cover, while the drones' attacks cannot be heard or seen until it is too late.

  • OldMexican||

    The motives are surely different; but the anti-drone people seem to hope that they can get people to understand that murdering children is such a bad thing to do that the motive might not quite justify it.


    But that's just it: They do justify it as they already dehumanized these populations by lumping them together into the category of "America haters" or "Terrorists," thus justifying being blown to kingdom come.

    But there's also something much more sinister and insidious, Brian, something you already allude to but still boggles the mind: The love that people like Kuehn and others have for the State, a love just as blind as any other human love, which justifies any transgression committed by the recipient of it, just like a mother protects his child by justifying his actions. It is sickening, but it is reality.

  • Sam Grove||

    What's horrifying is that otherwise seemingly decent people have found a way to accept murdering people; dehumanize them, call their deaths and maiming "collateral damage".

    Conscious clear.

  • ||

    attempts to kill people the U.S. government thinks or claims are part of Al Queda, an organizations that has have planned and executed mass murders

    FIFY, anarchist style.

  • Bob Roddis||

    Daniel Kuehn says:

    “Glenn Greenwald bothers me in a really deep, genuine way...”

    Consider the source.

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