Life Goes On

After the terror attacks in London and Glasgow, there’s obviously been a lot of analysis and opinions flying around, from the mainstream media, security analysts, bloggers and the general public. Its interesting to see how most people are adhering to the idea that life should go on, and that these attempted suicide attacks should not provoke a draconian curb in civil liberties. To do so would hand the terrorists a victory.
For what its worth, I think Gordon Brown, Jacquie Smith and Alex Salmond have hit the right note, with their calls for unity and calm. Dave Hill seems to agree.
Over at the Devils Kitchen, Nosemonkey makes an interesting, if flippant point in the comments:

I believe in taking the piss when they cock up, and diminishing the status of the terrorist bogeyman. Terrorists exist to spread terror – make them a figure of fun, they fail, even if the occasional success does manage to kill a few score people and freak us out for a bit.

I’m not sure about making jokes about the attack, although I would suggest that the “life goes on”, “I’m not bovver’d” attitude also contributes to the diminishing returns of terrorist attacks in the UK.

13 Replies to “Life Goes On”

  1. I can’t help thinking that worrying about “handing the terrorists a victory” is a bit like doing things because you don’t want to be called chicken. ie, stupid, and just as manipulated as actually handing them a victory.
    I mean, women hand rapists a victory every day if they’re too scared to go out at night, or wear what clothes they want to. But no-one would deny that there are things a woman can do to reduce their risk of attack.
    So I think that argument is a bit of a red herring. I think the best argument I have heard is the statistical one. In London, the odds of being involved in a “successful” terrorist attack are apparently akin to those of being struck by lightening, winning the lottery, that kind of thing.
    Also, because of Americo-centrism, we seem to all be acting as if there were no terrorism prior to 9/11. I lived in London all through the IRA. My primary school, and batches of london regularly evacuated because of bomb scares. Nail bombs, you know. Did we make a great big fuss? No. Did we worry about it? No. It’s just part of the inherent riskiness of life.
    Having said that, I was involved in an evacuation of King’s Cross due to a “reported emergency” on Friday. It was quite scary in the circs. Alarms, crushes of people. One woman went down and was knocked unconcsious on the floor. I did wonder if I’d get out, or if something dreadful was unfolding.

  2. Also, killing people is hardly pathetic. We can only call them pathetic if we don’t value life. And I think most of us do.
    Having erroneous beliefs, or thinking that violence is good on the other hand, yes, that is pathetic. But then the Blair government comes under that category, doesn’t it?

  3. Most muslim terrorist are an absolute joke – tesco checkout kids with comedy beards and student clothes who waouln’t last ten seconds in a pub brawl. OBL looks like someone dressed up for a works fancy dress party. This is why the public are not as in fear of them as the govt would like.
    I too lived through the worst of the Irish troubles and there was never this level of government sponsored paranioa. Yes there is a remote chance that I will be blown up, but I’m not going to change my behaviour because of it. I took a flight to Germany the week after 9/11 and was the only person on it (a scheduled business flight) so a lot of people evidently have no concept of realative risk. In Orwells’ 1984, the populance were kept in a state of perpetual fear by random acts of terrorism, fear encourages compliance and a zeitgeist of timid acceptance…….

  4. To do so would hand the terrorists a victory.
    I believe these things are known about, that there is collusion between security and government and that it is a concerted attempt to frighten the populace into surrendering their liberties. They could easily shut out the terrorists if they wished.

  5. I often feel that it suits the government to keep people in a state of fear but I cannot believe it is a deliberate conspiracy, besides they have plenty of help from the media.
    I agree with Jeremy Jacobs (and Matthew Parrish). The terrorist intention is horrific, but it helps to remember that the nutcases who rammed the jeep into Glasgow airport are also criminals – the word terror screaming from every front page is possibly their most potent weapon. Luckily they botched their attack. Ironically the other main news story of the week – the flooding – was about real damage caused to thousands of people across the UK and now at least 7 people have died. Because of heavy rain.
    The other irony was the symbol of the flaming car. Every year thousands of people die or are horribly injured in road accidents. Last year’s death toll included 599 motorcyclists, 675 pedestrians and 169 children…in total 3,172 people were killed on our roads. Why do we seem to find such a huge scale of unecessary, accidental death less terrible than a deliberate (failed) terrorist attack?

  6. “Why do we seem to find such a huge scale of unecessary, accidental death less terrible than a deliberate (failed) terrorist attack?”
    Two reasons I think.
    Because people fear what they cannot control, which is why fear of flying, terrorism, global warming, whatever, is far higher than fear of driving a car, despite it being statistically the riskiest activity.
    Given that terrorist acts and flooding are both perceived to be outside our control, the former is more frightening as it is comitted by “our own kind”, it’s an abuse of humanity, whereas “nature” is seen as a force apart with, if you like, a higher purpose. Malicious intent is thus always going to be more frightening than an accident, whatever the outcome.

  7. Now then, Fay. The thing is, terrible as road deaths are, there is a view that they are a necessary evil. The ability to move goods and services and consumers around the place on an ad hoc basis is worth rather a lot in terms of the economy. Unfortunately, accidents will happen as a side-effect of this “good”. It’s a trade-off.
    (This of course is ignoring for a moment the types of things that cause such accidents – risk-taking idiots, and fleeing criminals for eg – ie mainly testosterone – no offence, chaps)
    In addition, when coming to terms with negative events, we (as humans) apparently view them as terrible in proportion to our ability to envisage a counter-factual alternative. With deliberate murder, there is (rightly or wrongly) a ready counter-factual that springs to mind. Accidents by definition are unpreventable, otherwise they wouldn’t be accidents, would they? Therefore we view murder as worse in some ways than accidental deaths.
    An interesting topic though.

  8. An interesting counter-point might be famine and domestic ciolence. Ther first is a global problem that kills more than global terrorism put together. The second kills more people in Britain each year than terrorism. I think we can imagine counter-factuals with these. c.f. Matt, we should also have some measure of control over them… if we wanted.

  9. Clarice – at risking of taking the bait – there is an upside to testoterone fuelled risk taking – without it we probably wouldn’t have the planes, trains and automobiles that make a modern economy possible ? Feminists never have grasped this fundamental truth.
    Also I’ve got no idea what’s meant by “a counter factual” – example please.

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