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user-inactivated  ·  2623 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: O’Reilly told Trump that Putin is a killer. Trump’s reply: ‘You think our country is so innocent?’

Look. I’m not being a simp and I’m actually kind of surprised you’re being so dismissive. I know that you know that I know that these things are a lot more complex than just saying “X is bad, therefore we shouldn’t do X.” Just the other week we had a relatively fruitful conversation regarding pacifism and you didn’t once see me write something as inane as “we can’t hug our kids with bombs.” So please, give me a bit more credit.

We could easily talk about trying to balance out moralities and making difficult decisions for hours on end. I’ll save us some time though. I understand most of what you’d have to say and I’d agree with it. You’ll understand most of what I’ll have to say and while you won’t agree with it all, you’ll appreciate the perspective I’m coming from and half respect it. We’ll both walk away in firm agreement though that needless deaths and ruin is unjust, shameful, and something we should strive to prevent.

So back to Trump’s statement and my response to your response. There is absolutely no denying that compared to a lot of governments, we’re in much better shape. That’s a huge part of the reason why so many people find Trump’s comments both so alarming and insulting. The problem is, we easily have the potential to go down that same road and that’s a huge reason why I say “the ends don’t justify the means.”

Let’s step away from the cloak and dagger shit for a minute and look at something else. General corruption. If we look at our own government right now, we’re seeing some very alarming things. We’re seeing attempts to take the teeth out of regulatory agencies such as the EPA and FDA, repealing financial reforms, restrictive voter laws, and on and on we can go. This type of behavior isn’t anything new. What is new is that it’s much more accelerated and much more aggressive this time around, though I think this is an anomalous time where everyone is trying to pull a smash and grab.

I think the mechanism behind this behavior is twofold. The people who often attempt these kinds of behaviors, whether they’re in the government, big corporations, or what have you, recognize two things. One, they can pull stunts like these and often get away with them. So they try again, with something new, and see they can get away with that. Every single time they get away with something immoral, it greatly chips away at any inhibition that is keeping them from acting immorally in the future. Similarly, when they pull things they can’t get away with, they start to poke and prod at the system, seeing just how far they can push the envelope, and see what’s holding them back. The problem with this is two fold. Through subtle pushing of the envelope now and again, they can often push things much farther than if they tried for one big push all at once. Additionally, by testing the system, they learn how they can push other envelopes as well.

So let’s back track again a bit, to my statement “the ends don’t justify the means.” Things like government surveillance (both foreign and domestic), drone strikes, asset freezing and asset forfeiture, and on and on we go are all very powerful and very effective tools, even if they’re sometimes flawed. The problem is they often cross the lines of being just and civil and every time our government decides to push the envelope a little further, that line gets a bit harder to find. Every time we as citizens allow it, or our courts of law say a certain act is admissible in a certain situation, a new and dangerous precedent is set.

The ends don’t justify the means because the means isn’t just typing a bit of code into a computer and now the government can see what people are typing. The means are also stripping away our rights and our dignity as human beings. The Patriot Act is more than just a law passed by congress. PRISM is more than a program implemented by the NSA. “The erosion of our civil rights” is more than a catchphrase and “the ends don’t justify the means” isn’t an “A because B” statement.

These things don’t worry us so much when the people in power are people we can trust. We can’t always ensure though that the people we trust will be the people in power. That’s why we need to be careful about the decisions we make. That’s why we need to have a never ending conversation looking inward, to who we are as individuals and a nation, and who we aspire to be.

Do I think we’re as bad as Russia? No. Do I think we have a lot to talk about that we aren’t talking about? Yes. Does that make me a simp? You tell me.