“Evil” is a bad place to start the healing

Zaheer, I continue to defend freedom of speech on Planet GNOME, in spite of many complaints now and in the past about various blogs — including my own, on occasions. Your posts about the situation between Israel and Lebanon are very serious examples of the (sometimes pretty crazy) things people complain to me about. But they’re yours, and belong here on Planet GNOME, which you’ve accepted as a very direct audience for your blog.

In your latest post, you ask, Don’t you see how evil Israel is?

I’d say that perhaps their leadership has been foolish, inappropriately violent, morally bankrupt and self-destructive, but I wouldn’t say evil. Characterising an enemy’s behaviour as evil means that you are putting yourself in absolute opposition to them, unwilling to sympathise or empathise with their position, and totally dismissing the possibility that a peaceful resolution could be made between philosophies and beliefs. In some cases, that is actually true, but the word is bandied about far too often for us to use it in a realistic way.

I hope you don’t actually think that Israel — the country and its people — is evil, because I think you’re far too reasonable to think that the situation is ultimately a zero sum game.

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10 Responses to “Evil” is a bad place to start the healing

  1. david says:

    A reasonable point, except when you take into account, based off interviews, the majority of israelis seem to support the continued slaughter of innocent civilans, so it is not just the leadership but the whole state of israel

  2. Steven Harms says:

    David: with all due respect, you obviously didn’t understand the post. It isn’t about israel being right or wrong, simply the terminology used and the will to work towards a solution.

  3. jdub says:

    It’s easy to gather vox pops as evidence of pretty much anything. If we’re not ready to accept that there are reasonable people on both sides, then we can’t have any confidence that a resolution can be found. I know Israelis and Lebanese on most sides of the debate — though they all seem to think that “powers outside Lebanon” are most at fault. 😉

  4. alex says:

    david: the majority of israelis are of the opinion that the hizbullah has been doing its best to slaughter innocent israeli civilians and that politely asking the lebanon government to shut down hizbullah is useless.

    yes, it is horrible to be in south lebanon under israeli bombs. it is also horrible to be in haifa under hizbullah rockets. at the moment, there are more civilian casualties on lebabon side — but believe me, the hizbullah is actively trying to change that.

  5. david says:

    There is a simple solution though. The US tells Israel STOP or we will cut off your aid and bombs. They don’t so Israel can continue doing whatever the hell they want. Yes Hezbolla are evil as well, but that doesn’t stop the original statement by Zaheer,being true.

  6. Sergej says:

    I do agree that freedom of speech is important on an aggregator such as Planet GNOME.


    Planet GNOME is a window to the community. Bringing up sensitive subjects such as this one only serves to create animosity between developers and supporters.
    If it were up to me, I’d ban almost all politics on Planet GNOME, just because such debates can only do harm to the community, and is utterly useless.
    At least bickering over Mono can lead to actual important decisions being made…

  7. david says:

    I should add, if most israelis are against the current actions, where are the mass protests on the streets? There aren’t any, so either they support it, or they just don’t give a damn.

  8. Peter Lund says:

    But, doesn’t your argument completely rule out the use of the word evil?

  9. jdub says:

    Sergej: Sensitive subjects unrelated to software will always have a place on Planet GNOME because its mission is all about getting to know the people, not just the project. At some stage, we might have to deal with something libelous or approaching “hate crime” — but we can sort that mess out when we get to it. 🙂

  10. Paul McGarry says:

    Pushing such subjects away into little corners of their own is no way to handle inflammatory comments like Zaheer’s “evil” one.

    It better for all of us that people learn how to talk constructively with people who have different views rather than leaving them ranting out of sight.

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