OT: Celebrity advice (was: Advice to a Junior in High School?)

Geoff Gerrietts geoff at gerrietts.net
Wed Aug 27 23:19:59 CEST 2003

Quoting Gerrit Holl (gerrit at nl.linux.org):
> Peter Hansen wrote:
> > But if you refuse to go to prison, things get lethal pretty quickly.
> > That's what "ultimately" refers to above.
> Well, I don't think they get very lethal, they get painful at most.

It depends on the case. Several times in recent history, the American
FBI has deployed lethal force when it was insufficiently provoked
(Ruby Ridge, Waco).

> > I think the key word in the above is "ultimately", and
> > I can see why ESR would (I think validly) state what he did above.
> Ultimately, the state will use violence. But this violence should not
> have lethal consequences.
> If 'lethal' would be replaced by 'using violence', this statement is
> reasonable for some sorts of government decisions, but only for those
> involving law (e.g. not involving building roads (however, roads *can*
> be quite lethal ;)).

Government derives its power initially from its control over the death
of its subjects, from its ability to inflict death upon its subjects.
Sometime in the last 500 years -- I want to say the 18th century? --
this evolved. While most governments do still have the authority to
kill one of their subjects, governmental authority is more usually
asserted in increased measures of control over the subject's lives.
This control is based on the underlying principle that the governing
body has access to overwhelming physical force.

For a fascinating and horrifying read on this topic, I heartily
recommend Michel Foucault's _Discipline and Punish_, a discussion of
the evolution of police forces and the prison, and the ramifications
that has for governmental power.

I don't mean to suggest support for either side of the argument here;
I'm not sure exactly where I stand. I think an awful lot of things are
being assumed, and many more are being oversimplified, all to support
positions which are, at base, emotional.


Geoff Gerrietts                  "If programming langauges were porn,
<geoff at gerrietts net>                       Java would be bukkake." 
http://www.gerrietts.net                        --Dan Dillinger

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