Shoot-to-Kill Revisited

This sort of thing is becoming increasingly worrisome.

Schneier on Security: Shoot-to-Kill Revisited

This sort of thing is becoming increasingly worrisome.

As an example, the other day, while in a store, I was wandering around, bored, and with a sore back (Amanda was doing some shopping). Being the attentive person that I am, I noticed that I had begun to attract a lot of attention from some big & burly employees – i.e. security-type people. Never mind that I had just put a free information pamphlet into my Megatokyo bag. Seriously, though, my actions were apparently “suspicious” looking, and that caught the attention of the (presumably) alert employees. And then I caught myself thinking “oh I shouldn’t act like that, I don’t want to get in trouble.

Fast forward a bit now, and realize that you have to have that mentality in public now, as well. You must now constantly “police” yourself, so as not to appear “suspicious,” or you’ll be shot dead.

This is NOT how it’s supposed to be.

Author: Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.

7 thoughts on “Shoot-to-Kill Revisited”

  1. Core Dump laments:
    “Seriously, though, my actions were apparently “suspicious” looking, and that caught the attention of the (presumably) alert employees. And then I caught myself thinking “oh I shouldn’t act like that, I don’t want to get in trouble.”

    Fast forward a bit now, and realize that you have to have that mentality in public now, as well. You must now constantly “police” yourself, so as not to appear “suspicious,” or you’ll be shot dead.

    This is NOT how it’s supposed to be. ”

    The assertion is false. Every society acts to enforce conformity at some level, and our degrees of freedom are particularly limited if we want others to trust us (grant us a loan, allow us to enter our workplace having forgetten our corporate identity card, understand that the mistake we just made was indeed an error, not an intentional slur or insult and so on).

    There’s nothing particularly “now” about behaving according to conventions being a good idea to some degree. To imagine that we live in a world where folk can do what they like as long as no law is broken is to live in a sociological trance.

  2. J-Man:

    While there may be some truth in what you say (i.e., that society always enforces conformity to some degree), there is still something wrong with the “shoot to kill” mentality.

    It’s a little thing, really; just a small phrase of 4 words.

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    Although we’d all like to be able to stop “bad” people from doing “bad” things (preferably before they do them), there will always be some error in our judgement when we try to do this (we’re only human). Innocent people will be mistakenly dragged into the police office to answer some questions – and some (many?) will be released, because although they were suspects, they were not the true criminal. (And even then, people are only brought in as suspects after a crime has occurred, and usually with some justification – i.e. “you were near the crime scene and you were carrying a gun.”)

    This sort of thing is fine, but we MUST draw a line SOMEWHERE to indicate what an acceptable level of error – or else we’ll all be pulled off the street at random for “security reasons” and strip-searched, delayed, incarcerated without just cause or due process… you get the idea.

    My point is this: instituting a “shoot to kill” policy, based soely on broadly-defined “suspicious behavior” is effectively presuming someone to be guilty – and then executing them on the spot. Does this sound like the actions of a civilized nation to you?

  3. Despite the fact that I am, at times, one of those creepy, no-eye-contact dweebs that might be mistaken for a threat I do not find this policy all that threatening. Where you “draw the line” is where casualties resulting from mistaken police killings exceed casuaties avoided by snuffing real bombers.

    Sure there’ll be problems quantifying, but welcome to the real world.

    If I’m going to get killed on a street corner by a perfect stranger, the ideology behind the action is irrelevant. Whatever lowers the overall odds works for me.

  4. Imagine for a moment that our policy on police action was always “as long as casualties from killing people on sight is lower than letting them commit crimes.”

    All homeless people setting fires to keep warm would have to be killed. Homeless people often start fires in major urban areas, which can kill lots of people.

    Bands setting off fireworks or pyrotechnics on stage would have to be shot – those things can get out of control and kill everyone in the club.

    All drunk drives should be shot instead of pulled over – drunk driving kills so many people each year it’s not even funny.

    You can see how this policy gets out of control quickly. Lots and lots more people would end up dead if we let this kind of thinking guide our policies. It just doesn’t make sense. The trade-offs in liberty aren’t worth it for the small amount of added security.

  5. Well, as an engineer, I tend to over-analyze everything. And after reading a definition of “terrorism”

    (n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.)

    It seems to me that the terrorists are winning.

    The secret to analyzing violence is simply to look at it’s roots. It seems British and American leaders have forgotten about 1948-1949 when the British forced Lebanon to hand over portions of it territory to what is now called Israel. Then Israel went on to take more territory from Lebanon ( by force ) while the rest of the world tolerated it (unlike Iraq’s attempt to take Kuwait). In my humble view, as long as America and Great Britan continue to have their noses in the business of others, no American or British citizen will sleep at ease.

    Worst of all, Ghandi once was quoted as saying, ” An eye for an eye simply leads to two blind people.” That’s what the human ego leads us to.

    Sadly.

    DC

  6. While there is a grain of truth in what you say, Dave, the truth is, as long as there are people who disagree – who aren’t identical in their ideologies – there will always be anger & frustration when someone “puts their nose” into someone else’s business. That’s just the nature of human society (for better or for worse – but that’s a discussion for a different day).

    However, there’s a lot to be said for “it seems to me that the terrorists are winning.” Because as you correctly noted, terrorism is violence used with the intention of coercing societies or governments.

    In many ways, we (the “western” world; whatever that is) have been coerced – we’re more afraid now, we’re more willing to give up our liberties (an interesting situation, considering that it’s our liberties that supposedly separate us from the “barbarian” terrorist-types), and we have come to dis-trust one another so much that when kids are lost in the dessert for days, they’ll avoid talking to people they see just because they might be “bad.”

    Now, it’s certainly true that “keeping our noses” out of other countries’ business would help reduce the current “terrorism”… but that’s (unfortunately?) in the past now. All we can do is determine where we go from here – do we slide down into totalitarianism, or do we cling steadfastly to those democratic principles we claim to hold so dear, and remain the (politically & religiously) free nation we all like to think we are?

    That, dear readers, is the real question facing us today. And when we make decisions to “shoot to kill” on suspicion alone… well, let me just say we’re not making ourselves any more “free” with policies like that.

  7. I’m starting to wonder if Terrorism is the new McCarthyism. It is the excuse to take away rights and enforce social norms.

Comments are closed.