Saturday, March 25, 2017

When should you shoot a Muslim?

I would say... never. With caveats.

First, let me explain about the word "should", because it's important. "Should", to me, indicates an obligation to do the thing in question. I believe "should" begins and ends with "you should respect the life, liberty, and property of others". Beyond that, you have to figure out the best way to do that. I don't necessarily see you as having an obligation to defend yourself or others-- particularly not by specifically shooting an archator. But I hope you would choose to do so when the alternative has a good chance of being worse for the life, liberty, and property of innocent people. And, yes, there's always a chance you could be wrong, and in that case you might owe restitution (which you may not be able to pay). Acting carries greater responsibility than does failing to act-- except in your own conscience.

But, supposing you do have such an obligation, when should you shoot a Muslim? Anytime you should shoot a cop*, a Christian, a shoe-shine boy, or your daughter: when they are initiating force in such a way that you believe innocent life is in danger-- or they are making a credible threat to do so-- and shooting them has the best chance of stopping them while protecting the life, liberty, and property of their intended victims.

It isn't the beliefs in a person's head that make it OK to shoot them, because there's no way to ever know their thoughts for certain, it is the actions they are committing-- or the actions they let you know (by words or preparatory steps) they intend to commit. If you act too soon, or through misunderstanding their intentions, YOU become the bad guy. Act too late, and you allowed something to happen that you will probably regret for the rest of your life (which may be only seconds).

This is why I think it is probably not a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle to shoot a person when they scream (yes, scream, not calmly utter) "Allahu Akbar!" in public. The question is, is such a person making a credible threat to initiate force? Maybe not always, every time, in every place. But, in places without a significant Muslim community? Here in my local area? It would be a good bet, if it ever happened. You would need to evaluate the situation, but the screaming would be a signal to amp up your situational awareness, to go into "Condition Orange" or even "Condition Red", if you had been slacking.

But, just having a right to do something doesn't mean it's necessarily the best thing to do under the circumstances (on either side of this debate). I have a right to carry a full-auto rifle, openly, down the streets of New York City. And, I can almost guarantee you I would die at the hands of members of the Blue Line Gang for doing so. I would be right, and I would be dead. You have a right to go into the courthouse and start screaming about Allah (or Jesus) and you would probably get shot for it. Out on the streets here, twitchy cops around or not, you'd be safer screaming about Jesus, but I still wouldn't be too confident of your long-term survival. If you're going to go around screaming about your deity, you should probably make sure to make no other moves that could be seen as unusual or suspicious to add to your risks. It may not be "fair", but it's reality.

So, yes, you have the right to go into the mall and scream "Allahu Akbar!", but you may not like the chain of events you set in motion by doing so. In the current social climate, many people, probably including myself, would consider you to be making a credible threat to murder innocent people. They might feel an obligation to act to prevent whatever you seem to be announcing an intention to do.

"But... freedom of speech!" The right of free speech doesn't mean there won't be consequences. You also have a right to falsely shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and there will be consequences for doing so-- don't do it if you aren't prepared to pay the price.


*I mentioned this upcoming blog subject to my son, and before I even hinted at my answer, he offered "Same time you should shoot anyone!" Smart guy, if I do say so myself!

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