Jihad Jane and Fantasy

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    Mar 11, 2010 11:49 AM GMT
    I am really curious what people think about the Jihad Jane story in the context of online fantasy.

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    Mar 11, 2010 12:03 PM GMT
    Over the years I've met zillions of people online who assume personae that have nothing whatsoever to do with their day to day lives. While I am absolutely not condoning anyone whose fantasies (or real plans who knows?) include terrorism and murder, it does seem to me that this woman was more likely living at least part of her life in a fantasy land.

    Politically my position would be that we are actually at war with terrorist groups who have sworn the destruction of our nation and the murder of innocent people. It seems to me that endorsing that, or engaging in fantasies about participating in it, really rides the line between first amendment speech and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

    However, I cannot shake the notion that many people don't seem to be able to distinguish very well what the limits of appropriate behavior are online. Since the medium is conducive to fantasy of all kinds, how do we figure out what is OK and what is absolutely not?

    I will give you an example. There are lots of guys around who have sexual fantasies that involve abduction and very heavy BDSM. I've met people who have "acted out" abduction fantasies, which are ultimately consensual sex play between adults. I have met many more people who fantasize about this happening for real. I can only think of one case since I have been online where anything remotely like this actually happened (a real abduction).

    If I deconstruct that fantasy a little bit it really amounts to a rape fantasy. Rape fantasy is really pretty common (gender independent). The context of force (at least in the fantasy) takes away responsibility for participating in an act that the "victim" would otherwise feel guilty, etc. about engaging in.

    I am surely not qualified to say how harmful or ok that might be psychologically. These fantasies are, however, really common.

    It seems really difficult to me to actually imagine how a better job could be done of parsing people who intend to do very bad things out of the millions and millions of people who have unusual fantasy lives that they live out online.

    I have no hypothesis. This really is just a question. Do you think that woman is a crazy, murdering, terrorist or do you believe she is a sad, lonely, depressive with a rich fantasy life? Do you think it matters?

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    Mar 11, 2010 3:53 PM GMT
    she looks evil .. like an evil crazy bitch .. i call her rosemary

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    Mar 11, 2010 7:35 PM GMT
    Are you suggesting that her threats to kill the Swedish cartoonist were just her fantasizing out loud? The CNN article I read about her had indications she had a fantasy life she would retreat to (she spent much of her time playing computer games, although it didn’t say whether it was significantly more than most gamers), but it seemed she actually did carry out acts towards her goal. She married a European jihadist so she could move there, for example. I haven’t had first amendment jurisprudence so I’m not sure exactly where the courts draw the line between protected speech and unprotected verbal acts, but I remember that whether the speech posed a “clear and present danger” was one test the courts used to use. I don’t know if they still do; if I remember they moved on to something else.
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    Mar 11, 2010 8:06 PM GMT
    Satyricon331 said she actually did carry out acts towards her goal. She married a European jihadist so she could move there, for example. I haven’t had first amendment jurisprudence so I’m not sure exactly where the courts draw the line between protected speech and unprotected verbal acts, but I remember that whether the speech posed a “clear and present danger” was one test the courts used to use.

    That is the test. It's protected speech to say "Those who disrespect Mohammed deserve to be killed." It's not protected speech to say "Help me with my ongoing plan to kill this cartoonist."

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    Mar 12, 2010 12:45 AM GMT
    Actually, I don't want to confuse anyone. This woman scares the crap out of me.

    My question isn't really about what the legal definitions are. The line between protected speech and planning murder seems pretty clear, at least to me. I don't, however, believe that line is all that clear to many people.

    So, Saty, you say she is not just living a fantasy because she took active steps towards actualizing the fantasy. I guess that makes sense. She seems to have obviously conspired to commit a really foul crime.

    I still can't shake the feeling that this woman is just nuts - scary nuts - but nuts.
  • NickoftheNort...

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    Mar 13, 2010 3:39 AM GMT
    I don't know her mental outlook and how she understands the world, but in terms of fantasy, this sounds like a fantasy integrated with her reality (in that she was taking active steps toward assisting a terrorist organization).

    It could be that the fantasy element, the fantasy of helping an oppressed people strike back against its perceived oppressors, was a major motivator for her actions; the difference between the fantasy and the real desire to help an oppressed group is that the fantasy involves that existential struggle ("good" vs "evil") while a reality-based desire does not appeal to that abstracted drama. This fantasy can particular dangerous and appealing as we continue to develop nuanced societies where social dichotomies are discarded in favor of precise details, choice, and personal identity (note: this is not argument against this development toward nuance; limiting ourselves to that kind of lowest common denominator thought [of strict social dichotomies] would likely doom us).
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Mar 13, 2010 3:51 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidshe looks evil .. like an evil crazy bitch .. i call her rosemary


  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Mar 13, 2010 3:52 AM GMT
    I think she's just pissed that she didn't get racially profiled at the airport and did her thang in order to prove a point. icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 13, 2010 3:54 AM GMT
    NickoftheNorth said the fantasy of helping an oppressed people strike back against its perceived oppressors,

    A cartoonist was her oppressor?
    Her oppression threshold was amazingly low.
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 13, 2010 4:09 AM GMT
    TexDef07 saidA cartoonist was her oppressor?
    Her oppression threshold was amazingly low.

    If you read some of the protests against the cartoons (some of the more violent protestations), you'll see the "oppressed vs. oppressors" language. Specifically, that the denigration of and blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Mohammed through depicting him (in general and as a god, pig, suicide bomber) is an attack against all of Islam and that because this attack goes unpunished by the relevant state authorities (because these depictions fall under guarantees of freedom of speech), it demands action on the part of true believers to enact justice.
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    Mar 13, 2010 4:22 AM GMT
    NickoftheNorth said the denigration of and blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Mohammed through depicting him (in general and as a god, pig, suicide bomber) is an attack against all of Islam and that because this attack goes unpunished by the relevant state authorities (because these depictions fall under guarantees of freedom of speech), it demands action on the part of true believers to enact justice.

    Well there are loads of denigrations of Jesus, Yahweh, Buddha, and assorted other deities and no one ever gives it a second thought.
    Some faiths are more irritable than others.
  • NickoftheNort...

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    Mar 13, 2010 4:41 AM GMT
    TexDef07 saidWell there are loads of denigrations of Jesus, Yahweh, Buddha, and assorted other deities and no one ever gives it a second thought.
    Some faiths are more irritable than others.

    I'd say there are plenty of people who give those denigrations second thoughts, but these people may have grown up in or live within social contexts where violent protests are unacceptable, and/or the accepted response is supposed to come through the same means (writing a rebuttal or drawing a responding cariacture). They may also not have influential social leaders that have an interest in nurturing violent reactions in order to build their own power base.

    Islam is facing a peculiar situation compared to the other religions you mention, as it has been and is currently profiled as the enemy at the gates of Europe and (in recent years) the USA. It experienced a spectacular break-down with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, de facto colonization and subversion of Islamic states at the hands of Europe, USA, and Russia, and a "democratization" / "popularization" of who can rightfully interpret scripture. These insecurities, along with the increased social progress in Europe and North America (and other states) that promotes nuance over a clear and secure identity, provide opportunities for insecure outrage and those who would control and draw socio-political power from that outrage.
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    Mar 13, 2010 6:25 AM GMT
    Nick, I'm not sure Islam is facing anything different than other religions -- Hinduism would be a good exmaple that has suffered probably more at the hands of both Islam and the Christian West, but doesn't show the same tendancies as those of Muslim terrorists. And if anything the heartland of the Ottoman empire -- Turkey -- has become a democracy that has both religious and secular tendancies, but not one particularly given to acts of terrorism. And even countries like Iran that have sponsered state terrorism don't show the same tendancies as found in other Islamic countries, or at least the Iranian people aren't generally given to becoming terrorists.

    If anything the common theme seems to be depriving people of any other than religious means of expression. Those muslim countries that have done better at dealing with the political realities that they face, and their people's need to express themselves have done better than those that haven't faced up to those realities.

    Ursa I think where you err is in saying that we are at war with such people -- and it is also I think what represents your difficulty with Jihad Jane. She may have started out indulging in certain fantasies, but that moved over into criminality, and that goes for many and most terrorists. They are people who hold certain beliefs, and whose beliefs in and of themselves don't constitute criminality, but do when they act on them do. The same goes for many sexual fantasies. There are many sexual fantasies that as fantasies do not have a criminal aspect, but when acted upon are certainly criminal and can be charged as such.

    We are not at war with Muslims any more than we are at war with Christians, or Jews or any other religion. There are members of all these religions whose belief lead them to commit acts of violence and terrorism, but that doesn't mean that we are at war with such groups or people, but that we treat religious people who engage such acts as criminals regardless of the religion.