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Comment: Re:War of government against people? (Score 1) 875

by toutankh (#47200803) Attached to: America 'Has Become a War Zone'

While I completely agree with you on the violence being cultural rather than due solely to firearm ownership rates

I don't know if you imply a dichotomy here, but there most certainly isn't one. Yes, there is a culture of violence in the USA. And yes, allowing everyone to own guns is part of this culture of violence.

Comment: Candid question (Score 1) 59

by toutankh (#47179581) Attached to: How FBI Informant Sabu Helped Anonymous Hack Brazil

The FBI coordinated and sanctioned criminal acts, for which people found guilty were sentenced to several years in jail. There is apparently solid evidence. So I would expect heads to roll and whoever is responsible for that at the FBI to be sentenced to at least as many years in jail as those already found guilty. It is not going to happen, but I do not see why. This is really a candid question from a non-US citizen: what part of the US constitution prevents a US citizen from prosecuting the FBI for that?

Comment: Re:About time (Score 4, Insightful) 439

by toutankh (#45735821) Attached to: US Spying Costs Boeing Military Jet Deal With Brazil

I think it's not so much about the fact that it was hidden until now. We've heard about spying by the USA, for instance in order to help Boeing win contracts, for a long time (I know I have). It's more about the fact that so far nobody dared say anything because the USA are the biggest player. Of course other countries do it as well, but this time the biggest bully doesn't get away with it and that's something to be appreciated.

Comment: Re: Rule #1 (Score 1) 894

by toutankh (#45712065) Attached to: How the Lessons of Columbine Saved Lives At Arapahoe High School

You are right, in Europe people are usually allowed to own guns, not to carry them though. And I believe obtaining a permit is a more complicated process than in the USA (apparently in the USa you don't always need a permit and registration, depending on state and type of weapon). And owning a weapon does not mean you're allowed to use it. Kill a trespasser with your legally owned gun and you will likely spend several years in jail, unless you can prove you saved a life that way. I believe the principle is the same in the USA though, although I'm not sure it's enforced in a very strict manner. For instance what happens if the only witness is the killer?

Basically you develop the old "criminals will have guns anyway, people should be able to defend themselves" argument, but with a nicer, more rational appearance. The thing is, historically most homicides happen as the result of an argument even if in recent years "unknown" is a bit ahead. So we're talking about law-abiding citizens who suddenly turn to criminals because they're carrying a weapon. This nullifies your argument.

I also do not think that a recent case should be used to decide about law and policy. Of course what happened to this family is horrible, but it does not mean that it represents the whole situation, and trying to appeal to my feelings to make me adhere to your opinion is something you should not do, leave that privilege to bad politicians.

Now we're down to the old debate of whether (i) people should "be able to defend themselves" or (ii) "criminals only carry guns because they know people have guns to defend themselves, so it's escalating only because people can have guns so easily". What I get from the statistics I cited above is that people should not carry weapons (because of the high "argument" rate), but interestingly you seem to get the opposite, although I don't really understand why, maybe that's where this cultural difference lies :)

Comment: Re: Rule #1 (Score 1) 894

by toutankh (#45706161) Attached to: How the Lessons of Columbine Saved Lives At Arapahoe High School

I don't know, I'm trying to understand why what works very well in Europe doesn't seem to be applicable in the USA. Clearly there are cultural differences, I'm just not sure which ones.

I agree with you that a thief and a murderer are two different things by the way, typically a thief caught in the act will just escape (at least that's what they do here in Europe). I don't really understand your question about what is more reprehensible, since you seem to agree that criminals don't want to get shot anyway. I was more wondering about the case where people kill trespassers, which they wouldn't have if they didn't own a weapon (and they wouldn't have run a higher risk since thieves are not murderers).

According to this document "justifiable homicides" are around 300 per year, which I guess isn't that high for USA standards (although I must say it is freaking high by European standards). Interestingly, "disrupted crime", which is probably where "killing trespassers" lies, is the biggest portion of it, but it's still small compared to non justifiable homicides.

Now what's also interesting in that document is that gang-related homicides seem to be much lower than other causes like "felony", "argument", "unknown" and "other" (Figure 40). Of course that's all homicides and not only guns, but guns do seem to represent an awfully important part of it (Figure 42). Unfortunately there is no statistic in this document about how many of those involve legally owned/carried guns versus black market guns, that would be interesting. Still, the fact that gangs homicides represent way less than arguments and felony leads me to think than simply forbidding to legally carry a weapon would drastically reduce the number of homicides. My assumption is that pulling a gun in the middle of an argument, or in the middle of a crime being committed in front of them, is done by someone legally carrying that gun, but then again, I don't know the USA context so well.

Comment: Re: Rule #1 (Score 1) 894

by toutankh (#45701993) Attached to: How the Lessons of Columbine Saved Lives At Arapahoe High School

Thanks. It is about the specific case of concealed weapon permit holders, if I understand well. Does this cover, for instance, the weapons which were used at Columbine? Not a US citizen so I'm not as aware of the context as you are.

One thing strikes me, though: these statistics are only about violent crime. So if for instance someone is killed in "self-defence", then this won't be counted in these statistics. However if there was no gun then there would be no gun-based self-defence (there's actually enough evidence of that all over Europe at least). So all killings by legally owned gun need to be counted, not only the violent crimes. Any statistics on that?

Comment: Re:Done us all a favor (Score 3, Insightful) 629

In every country freedom of expression has boundaries. In some European countries, those boundaries are tighter than in the USA. Certain opinions are forbidden, negationism and revisionism are obvious examples for France and Austria. So you are not allowed to express certain opinions just because they do not match the official History. My point here is not to discuss whether these opinions make sense (full disclaimer: I don't think they do). I just find it wrong that there is censorship on opinions. Plus, it can give the impression that there is a hidden truth behind this. Chomsky has a nice way of putting it:

"If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."

Comment: Re:Done us all a favor (Score 4, Informative) 629

As a French living in Austria I have to agree with you: there is racism in Europe, this cannot be overstated.

I do not believe, like your link to the 2005 riots in France on wikipedia says, that the riots from 2005 had a racial motivation. The situation with the French suburbs is complicated and people's origins are a part of it, but just a part of it. The French version of the same wikipedia article mentions suburbs with poverty, unemployment and lack of safety as the context where the English version mentions "a series of riots by Muslim, Arab and North African immigrants". Both might be true (although they were definitely white non-muslim people in there too) but as you know there is a difference between correlation and causation.

It is also true that in many European countries we have political parties mainly focused on racism (let's call it as it is).
These parties are usually not one of the two main parties though. In the USA you have the republican party, which as you know is one of the two main parties. Here's what they've done.

On a related note, I have to remind you about segregation in the USA. You probably know about Rosa Parks. Let's not forget lynching, which apparently lasted until the 1960's.

Since that's already a long time ago, maybe you want to look at the recent presidential election in the USA.
Funny how black people vote for the black candidate and white people vote for the white candidate. If that's not racism, I don't know what is. Interestingly, the black candidate also has the majority for all non-white demographic subgroups. Look at it any way you like, you will always trace it back to racism.

I could go on, I won't, some people already have, it's here.

I agree that the USA are better than Europe at protecting freedom of expression, by the way. I really wish we had a similar freedom of expression in Europe. But if you want to say how the USA are better than Europe for some things, maybe you shouldn't mention racism: both Europe and the USA are awfully racist in their own way.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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