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What Kills?

Posted 05-08-2010 at 11:42 AM by gertrude
There is a lengthy debate going on about the nature of violence. I have already talked about it in an earlier post, but this is a slightly different question. Where does the blame for violence lay?

I have recently become aware of a number of recent campaigns on craigslist to shut down the personals section. Craigslist is a website where anyone can advertise for anything (within the Terms of Use). It's like having a small wall to write on in your community to advertise for things small and large. (Just as a note, the "small" post is violating the terms of use, and actually, no one cares at craigslist if your post gets flagged. You're supposed to get flagged if you post crap ads.)

However, there's a problem with a tool like craigslist. Anyone can use it. There are a number of crimes that have been committed using the service, including the media sensation, the craigslist killer. There are a number of ways to abuse the site, and it's a real perversion of the aim of the site that things like that happen.

The site's design and intent is to make it easier for people to sell their small items. Who wants to pay a fee just to have someone see their stuff and *maybe* buy it, as in a newspaper? Who wants to put their stuff online, but then have to pay a fee on an item that's going to sell for less than 50$?

I bring up this topic here because I know the popular phrase from 2nd amendment proponents: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." But is it the same thing with a website? Is the website somehow to blame for sex trafficking, given all that the CL staff does to work with law enforcement officials, or is it just a tool, and people are the real problem? (The extension of this, that people are the problem, poses some difficulty when trying to come up with solutions.)

craigslist doesn't allow overt sex talk on the site or pornographic images, and it's explicitly stated that you shouldn't go in there unless you're 18. But pimps trafficking kids under 18? That's just sick. And, it does happen. The question is, will the site getting rid of these posts actually a) get rid of them on the site, b) move the posts somewhere else on the site, or c) be effective in stopping the practice?

It's a pretty terrible debate to have with yourself: Where does the blame lay when something terrible happens? If you believe in God, doesn't that make things more complicated? (Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up, because it *really* complicates things.) I'm sort of leaning towards the people as being to blame for the issue, but, as some of you know, I'm for gun control policy. I actually do think that giving people weapons makes them more likely to use them for a terrible purpose. So is craigslist a weapon? What makes it so different?

(Just to reiterate, it's my birthday in a couple weeks. Go donate me a birthday present to some schools in Ohio!)
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  1. Old
    Torque's Avatar
    Gertie, you have been studying Buddhism.

    What does Buddhism tell you about the nature of intent? Put craigslist in the context of the nature of intent. What is you answer? Is it the tool, or the intent of the folks using it?
    Posted 05-08-2010 at 01:10 PM by Torque Torque is offline
  2. Old
    Texx's Avatar
    Like most tools, it is used depending on the person's intention. You can regulate and add fees all you like and it isn't going to change the social conditions that cause the crimes.

    The knee-jerk reaction is to take away the tool. Unfortunately, the criminals remain and will just find another tool to use to commit crimes. Nothing was actually done to treat the cause, only the symptoms.

    If people want to treat the cause, they have to identify the social and economic issues that are causing them and then find ways to treat and prevent them.

    That ends up meaning that politicians have to tell their constituents they have to begin taking responsibility for themselves and work together to fix the problems. I suspect alot of the problems can be traced back to parenting and teaching their children. Unfortunately, telling your constituents that they are responsible for the social problems is only successful in ending a political career.

    Crime Prevention starts with parents teaching their children right from wrong, being respectful to themselves and others, and to want to be a contributing member of society as much for themselves as for others. Children must see the consequences and choose to do the right thing. Adults must encourage this and foster its growth within their own communities.

    Adults must insist in responsible behavior from themselves, their peers, and from the people they elect to govern and make laws. They are just as responsible not voicing their ideas and concerns as those who choose the wrong course.

    That's all well and good, but it requires society to change its attitude from - "give me MY quick and easy fix now" to one of "I will work to make change happen and take responsibility for my OWN actions/inactions."

    The last part of this is that people have to have the character to see change through and not bow simply because some magical fix it all comes along.

    SO essentially to change social problems that cause crime, everyone has to take responsibility and effect change.

    But since nobody is really willing to do that, nothing will change. Politicians and lobbyist will attempt to use scapegoats to make people feel better about themselves. And all that will happen is good people will lose rights and privileges because a tiny minority use them to commit crime.
    Posted 05-08-2010 at 01:49 PM by Texx Texx is offline
  3. Old
    gertrude's Avatar
    What does Buddhism tell you about the nature of intent?
    So, I think maybe, just maybe, it might be a little unclear. I've been thinking about Buddhism, and there is one case in which Buddhism says "Don't use that tool, nothing good can come of it," and that's with drugs/alcohol. The intent might just be to relax or to have a good time, but Buddhism says: don't go down that road, it's not worth it. It's such a big deal that it's one of the precepts.

    ... atch, I'm upset right now, I'll continue a little later.
    Posted 05-08-2010 at 02:43 PM by gertrude gertrude is offline
  4. Old
    Son of Liberty's Avatar
    I know in my beliefs no matter what happens I'm always loved by God and I know when I die, if I have lived a just life I'll be in heaven and Jesus will come on the last day to judge and I'll be saved by my faith. You've been thinking of Buddhism, interesting, I don't know much about it but I am a Catholic and I practice it regularly. I've been taught that all humans are flawed. We are flawed through original sin and it is in human nature to do the "wrong" thing. But regardless my God will always love me. Seems like it's the peoples intent, not the site. If I leave a loaded weapon lying on a table, and it's left alone, it'll never harm someone. Once a person picks up that weapon and causes harm with it, it's the persons intent to cause this harm, not the objects. Craigslist is being abused, like chat roulette and omegle, etc.
    Posted 05-08-2010 at 03:39 PM by Son of Liberty Son of Liberty is offline
  5. Old
    Torque's Avatar
    Originally Posted by gertrude
    there is one case in which Buddhism says "Don't use that tool, nothing good can come of it," and that's with drugs/alcohol. The intent might just be to relax or to have a good time, but Buddhism says: don't go down that road, it's not worth it. It's such a big deal that it's one of the precepts.
    Yes, but why does Buddhism say, "don't go down that road, it's not worth it." ? Because anything taken to excess can lead to more suffering. You are correct that, if the intent is not harmful (i.e., chronic problem) either to yourself or someone else in the long run, what's the harm? The Monks are correct that complete abstinence from certain objects can remove all craving or desire, but you can also practice this without going to that level. In the case of drugs/alcohol, they are mostly referring to the fact that you mind (and thus your judgment) is clouded and incapable of correct thought while intoxicated ("unsound mind").

    Right Action:
    "The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently."

    Now does this mean you can't defend yourself, your family, or your country from harm? No. Defense or self-preservation is considered a "wholesome action". Again, it's all about intent.

    Also keep in mind, the Buddhist eightfold path is like a College 101 course, similar to Christianity's Ten Commandments. Meaning, they are a starting place, nothing more. They give you the 101 level doctrine, but other layers (201, 301, 401, etc.) come later. They give you the WHAT, but you come to understand later the WHY part. You can never fully grasp the 401 level understanding without first going through the 101 - 301 level understanding.

    Anyway, interesting stuff.
    Posted 05-08-2010 at 04:09 PM by Torque Torque is offline
    Updated 05-08-2010 at 04:41 PM by Torque
  6. Old
    79stang's Avatar
    Yes, but why does Buddhism say, "don't go down that road, it's not worth it." ? Because anything taken to excess can lead to more suffering.
    Being in college, a lot of the people I know drink in excess. Then they use the story of Jesus turning water into wine. That doesnt mean he got smashed after that. Excess ruins enjoyable experiences, moderation is the key and so is responsibility for your own actions.
    Posted 05-11-2010 at 09:32 AM by 79stang 79stang is offline
  7. Old
    Blackbeard's Avatar
    Being in college, a lot of the people I know drink in excess. Then they use the story of Jesus turning water into wine. That doesnt mean he got smashed after that. Excess ruins enjoyable experiences, moderation is the key and so is responsibility for your own actions.
    Exactly right, the bible clearly says not to "drink to the point of intoxication", and shows several examples of what happens when you do. I had this conversation with a friend of mine who claims to believe in God, but questions "Why does he let bad stuff happen?"

    Well, having been a person on this earth for quite a few years now, experiencing my fair share of "bad stuff", I can say that God doesn't "let stuff happen". A few examples. . . A mother and her children are killed by a drunk driver. Now that's a tragedy, but whose fault is it? God's? Or is it the fault of the idiot who decided to drive drunk?

    My grandpa died several years ago from cancer, he was 70 years old and he died much sooner than anyone thought he should've. But, is that God's fault? My grandfather was smoking since he was in his mid-teens, and unfortunately, that's what smoking does....

    The point is, God told us (in the bible) that this life wasn't going to be easy, but with him we could overcome the troubles of this life. Many times this has been proven in my life. He also gave us Free Will, which means we are free to choose to believe in him or not, and/or to do what is right or what is wrong. Free will is a dangerous concept, it requires a very large amount of responsibility, more personal freedom requires more personal responsibility. It's just the nature of the world we live in. We all have a choice, and we are all affected by the choices we make as well as the choices of those around us.
    Posted 05-11-2010 at 07:10 PM by Blackbeard Blackbeard is offline
  8. Old
    gertrude's Avatar
    For my work, people basically yell at me most of the day. Rather, maybe only three yell at me, but those three yell at me to the point where I think the next person is going to yell at me again. I guess that's what "customer service," is about. People yelling at me.

    Two weeks ago someone called in and said their friend had died shortly after contacting my company. Would we be able to help his family with some things? The short answer was no, that the family had to call. At the time when the friend called, I went sort of against protocol and left a message on the phone number of the family with my company's contact info and the information we'd need. The family didn't call until yesterday and it was incredibly sobering to talk to the father of a man who had died so shortly after contacting our company. A coworker helped the father out, and that was that.

    At the end of the call, the father said, "I love your company, by the way," to my coworker, but just as easily could have said, "You guys should rot in hell for what you've put us through."

    I guess my point with this short story is that people place blame differently. Some people look no further than the last point of the problem, and for them, that's enough. Or, they see that last point as enabling someone else to do ill deeds. I think it's simply difficult to deal with the human mind when it is racked with fear and overwhelmed with shock.
    Posted 05-14-2010 at 08:51 PM by gertrude gertrude is offline
  9. Old
    Blackbeard and 79: Please keep in mind there are different versions of the bible. Quoting versions might not be the best approach.

    One of my old friends from school was recently convicted of running a prostitution ring. He advertised the women over craigslist. He was a criminal long before craigslist. Ironically his name was Craig.

    Many people leave the bars every night and drive home drunk, should the bartender drive all the drunk people home?

    Many people gamble excessively neglecting their family, bills, jobs, etc... Should the casinos regulate how many much people gamble with?

    Or should we take responsibility for our actions and realize that there are actually irresponsible people in the world?

    Placing the any of the blame for my actions on my neighbor, a video game, a knife, a gun, etc, etc, is wrong.

    The tobacco company doesn't give people cancer irresponsible people do.
    Anheuser busch doesn't cause DUI's irresponsible people do. Gun manufactures do not shoot people irresponsible people do.

    I am honestly sick of weak people placing the blame where it does not belong.
    Posted 05-14-2010 at 11:44 PM by hilljacked hilljacked is offline
  10. Old
    Loki's Avatar
    The current situation in Great Britain underlines the whole "banning weapons does not solve violence" hypothesis in bold print. You ban guns and people start stabbing each other. You ban pointy knives and something else will follow.
    I believe, as Texx does above, that crime must be prevented through education and a solid moral foundation laid by the parents.

    I don't think blame lies with any one party in particular to be honest, but in all parties involved, for any one link in a long chain could have been broken, which would have prevented the action from occurring as it did. For instance:

    -Craigslist: For not filtering out/policing their ads well enough, nor requiring detailed information be given.
    -Police: For not working to prevent the tragedy from happening before it did.
    -Parents: For not Policing what their kids are doing well enough (in the event that the kid hasn't been kidnapped or something, which is sometimes outside of the parents control)
    -"Clients:" For creating the Market
    and finally
    -"Pimps:" For ultimately putting the kid in that situation

    I think once criminials reach adulthood the problem changes from "education" to one of "reeducation". Given the rediculous number of repeat offenders in this country, I don't think we've quite figured out the "reeducation" part out yet.

    I've digressed quite a bit, so back to the topic at hand: I think the biggest problem with Craigslist is anonymity. Anonymity creates security for criminals. Requiring people to register on the website and provide information that can be confirmed would definately assist in rectifying the problem, IMO.

    I also agree with you that people having weapons does make them more likely to commit crimes with said weapons, but the same could be same for any tool. People owning cars makes them more likely to kill someone in a car, or die in a car accident. People owning a chainsaw makes them more likely to get injured or killed by one, etc etc.

    People are neither inherently good nor inherently evil. We are born with an entirely blank slate. What we are taught, what we experience and what we do make us who we are.
    Posted 05-25-2010 at 09:47 AM by Loki Loki is offline
  11. Old
    john's Avatar
    If you follow that logic then you continue to domino your blame towards all types of things. What i think Loki might have been digressing towards; had he not stopped, would have been a failure of the justice/corrections system in America.

    If I could point my finger at one thing it would be the perpetuating nature of the criminal system. It is both by nature self sustaining and by necessity to survive. The system has grown to such a magnitude that our economy itself would be effected by a law abiding population. This is not to mention secondary markets or other facets of the government and private interests that hold stake in the inflation of the corrections system.

    This is not to say oooh evil empire look out.. consipiracy. It's to say that this is how i get firestations or poor kids go to school and sherrifs etc. It's the way things are.

    The problem with having huge government funded economic staples is the ease of monopoly over those funds and the following abuse of that monopoly.

    What i'm getting at is a shift in priorities that change under a stimulus system. Right now we're being stimulated towards drug and vehicle .. management.

    The pimp to pot smoker incarceration ratio is all messed up.
    Posted 06-01-2010 at 04:33 PM by john john is offline

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