Posts by R A Hurley

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  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless, in reply to chris,

    I'd venture that OBL was no more true to his espoused religious bent than GWB was to Christ.

    People from many faiths have done terrible things, and have frequently been able to cite chapter and verse/sura and hadith in support of their actions. This is often dismissed as not being "true" to the religion involved. Why should this be so? How do we know? We might have collectively decided that it is only the peaceful and non-violent sections of said texts that are "true" to the religion in question. But who are we to make that decision? Certainly this makes perfect sense if we want religious people to not re-enact the Book of Judges on the nice folks from the next town over, but it is human beings that have made that decision. The warm, fuzzy notion of religions as moral guardians is a useful fiction, but a fiction all the same. They are given the credit for the good, while the bad is charged to another account.

    If, however, someone truly and strongly believes that their religious text is a moral guidebook, then deciding which pieces are truer than others would represent an imposition of an external morality upon a book which purports to be the only source of morality. For a genuine believer, this would be absurd. I think this explains what we know of Bin Laden's views quite well. Bin Laden claimed religious warrant for the very worst of his beliefs. That is, he was driven to obey/attempt to enforce passages of the Qur'an which others have chosen to ignore. But those passages are there. And, as a sincere believer, it is quite likely he did not see himself as having a great deal of choice in the matter. From the evidence available, I think it is quite disingenuous to claim that Bin Laden was not a genuine and sincere believer in the truth of his religion. On the contrary, it seems he was a good deal "truer" than most religious believers in the modern world, by the measure that he rejected less of his chosen text than most.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless, in reply to chris,

    I no longer have the inside word on genocidal maniacs' thought processes, but I'd venture that OBL was no more true to his espoused religious bent than GWB was to Christ.

    Nobody is claiming access to Bin Laden's inner thoughts here. He was hardly a shy and retiring wallflower about expressing his political and religious views (although there wasn't really much daylight between the two). It is not unreasonable to suggest that his pronouncements in that regard were expressions of his thought processes. And if they weren't, that would make him a liar and manipulator of the sincere beliefs of others. Which would be even worse.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless, in reply to Ross Mason,

    I don’t really think there is any difference with how the seals killed him or how the 1700 suicide bombers in Iraq did their job... The bombers will get their 72 virgins, the seals will get their USA medal.

    Two things:
    One: The bombers will, in point of fact, not get 72 virgins.
    Two: It bothers me that you see these two things as in any way equivalent.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Murderous and a thousand other things, yes. An idiot? Perhaps not – he achieved huge parts of what he wanted to achieve.

    That's a fair point. Somewhat imprecise of me. I do feel comfortable calling him an idiot, though. In much the same way I feel comfortable calling creationists and abortion clinic bombers idiots. His religious beliefs are similarly deranged and ridiculous, and for them to have guided his actions to the extent they clearly did suggests a worrying lack of critical thought.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless, in reply to Che Tibby,

    you can argue that misguided people like the old duffer Walker shouldn’t see OBL as any kind of hero, but you’re ignoring the old maxim ’the enemy of my enemy etc”. if you’re a pissed off and impoverished *anyone* with a grunge against colonialist like the NZL Crown or the US of A, seeing someone like OBL sticking it to The Man will raise a cheer.

    You’re generalising motives to the “pissed off and impoverished” in a very offhand way here. I realise that it’s hard for even the most hard-headed rationalist to get through a day without doing something like this, but when you’re suggesting that the “pissed off and impoverished” are approving of terrorism, I think extra care might be warranted. It’s possible you’re right, but it will take a bit more work to adequately show that Maori, or any other group that have suffered at the hands of the powerful, think that Osama Bin Laden is anything other than a murderous idiot.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The witless on the pitiless,

    I think what Russell is doing here is taking Bin Laden at his word regarding his Muslim beliefs. The fact that Bin Laden was willing to leverage his personal fortune and risk his own safety to promulgate those beliefs is, I think, good evidence to suggest he took them very seriously indeed. This, in turn, supports the conclusion that he would not suspend them lightly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: And we may never meet again ...,

    Oops. I actually came in here to post some Australian music videos. Here are two of my favourites. One from the actual, sun-blasted Australia where everything is poisonous... Venom P. Stinger's classic "Walking About"

    And one from the more mythic Australia of Dave Graney. Somehow, this song seems to capture something fundamental about Australia for me. Although I haven't the faintest idea why.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: And we may never meet again ...,

    Oh wow. I LOVE this thread. I just watched the video for James Reyne's 'Motor's Too Fast.' What a lift! I knew the song well enough, but the video is stone cold brilliant... While it's ostensibly a bog-standard entry in the Corey Hart 'Sunglasses At Night' oeuvre (enigmatic women, immaculate yet somewhat over-ambitious hair, people running for no readily apparent reason) it turns into something truly excellent near the end. Initially Reyne spends all his screen time looking like he's got to go tell a mother of four her husband is dead the moment the director calls "cut." But they must have been using marginal one-step-above-the-blooper-reel footage or something, because when Reyne is standing in the swimming pool trying to look all serious-like, just before they cut away, you can see him start to smirk. Or when one of the enigmatic women kisses him on the neck, and his Seventh Seal grimace starts to dissolve into laughter. As if to say, "It is 1987, and Men In Suits still run the music industry, and they seemed to think this muscle shirt was a good idea. Trust me, I think this is as ridiculous as you do..." Just that tiny glimpse behind the otherwise po-faced exterior was enough of a humanising touch to make the whole enterprise awesome. It went from cloying nonsense to an episode of Yacht Rock.

    Who knows. Maybe this is how it was done before the internet. Maybe artists had to send coded messages embedded in their own goddamn work. "I'm in here. I'm OK, but I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. Send help."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Asking for a Contribution, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Just to make your day, I should note that Shayne emailed me to say your comment was "really quite perceptive. stuff i'd never really considered/thought myself but probably actually quite on the money."

    SQUEE!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Asking for a Contribution,

    Done. Student poverty aside, I couldn't live with myself if I did nothing and the only reasonable place on the local internet went howling into the abyss. Plus, Russell did just score me sweet concert tickets. Thanks for everything, Russell. (Also, my Mum has a huge crush on you).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

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