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Violence Is Batshit (Without the E)

02/08/2011

Using violence to advance a political agenda is terrorism, not activism. It’s also batshit. That’s the bad kind–the kind “too rational to be dealt with sanely”.

When members of a movement or religious organization or culture physically attack human beings for political ends, it undermines the group as a whole and drastically reduces its credibility. The vast majority of Muslims aren’t violent, but the extremists who murder innocents engender an enormous amount of racial tension and stigma toward Islam. Similarly, very few protesters are violent, but individuals like those who burned police cars and smashed shop windows during the G20 held in Toronto leave a bad taste in the public’s mouth, regardless of their motivations.

Environmentalism has also suffered. Violence committed in the name of environmental ideals has given rise to such terms as ‘eco-terrorism’. It contributes to the use of other labels as well, like ‘hippie’ or ‘treehugger’, which aren’t necessarily derogative but are often intended to be. Even though a tiny minority is responsible for the antisocial behaviour it reflects on the entire movement, making all environmentalists appear unreasonable. The habits we need to cultivate in order to achieve true sustainability are already deviant enough–the black mark of violence can only hamper our efforts.

As the effects of the various crises we face become more visible, the urge to pursue drastic measures will grow. But to indulge that urge is regressive. The answer to a society with destructive tendencies is not more destruction–it is radical, intelligent change. The solution isn’t batshit. It’s batshite.

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