Cowards?

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This topic isn't exactly religious or political, but this seems to be the best part of the forum to discuss controversial topics.

I notice a lot of times people who kill themselves especially after committing atrocities are labeled as cowards. Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Cho Seung-hui being prime examples.

I think it takes a bit of bravery to go on a murderous rampage and then kill yourself afterward. I know I wouldn't have the courage to do this. I would never be able to pull the trigger.

I think part of the problem is that words like fearlessness, bravery, and courageous are often associated with positive actions. I am by no means saying what these people did was right or should be applauded. However, there are many words to describe them, but in my opinion coward isn't one of them.

I think they're being called cowards, not because of the actions they committed, but because they chose to run away (ie. suicide) from the consequences of their actions rather than face them.

madwarper:
I think they're being called cowards, not because of the actions they committed, but because they chose to run away (ie. suicide) from the consequences of their actions rather than face them.

Yes I considered that. It led me to compare these people to someone who murders on an impulse. The school shooters carefully planed what they were going to do ahead of time. They don't feel sorry for what they did and they know they would end up in prison for life. It seemed only logical to kill themselves afterward. I don't see it as cowardice, but logic.

Yeah, bravery is meant to be a good and admirable trait, but of course good and evil are completely subjective terms.

You're right, anybody who commits a "bad" act is very quickly disowned by people around them, while people who commit "good" acts more likely to be seen as part of your group. It's all self-aggrandisation by association or dissociation.

It reminds me of the time just after 9/11 when people were rushing to condemn the "cowardly" actions of the Al-Qaeda hijackers - they weren't brave, they were just insane, actually they stood to gain from their own deaths because they strongly believed they would get 72 virgins in the afterlife, and so on. I remember thinking how transparently dishonest this was. Condemn the act and its effects all you want, but unless you're off your head on drugs, martyring yourself in a fireball surely takes massive cajones. If we're going to belittle the hijackers because of their fundamentalist beliefs, and say that they couldn't truly have been brave because they didn't truly know what it is to die; then shouldn't we also brand as cowards the devoutly Christian soldiers who went to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who also believed that God was with them and that they would be rewarded in the afterlife?

Captcha: love-hate. Thanks for tl;dr:ing my post, you bastard!

madwarper:
I think they're being called cowards, not because of the actions they committed, but because they chose to run away (ie. suicide) from the consequences of their actions rather than face them.

Anders Breivik didn't commit suicide, and is cheerfully sitting in a cell right now secure in the belief that his actions were correct and justified. Does that make him a) more or less true to his cause and b) more or less likely to be nuts?

Also, wouldn't that imply that anybody who commits suicide or requests to be euthanised is also a "coward"?

Batou667:
It reminds me of the time just after 9/11 when people were rushing to condemn the "cowardly" actions of the Al-Qaeda hijackers - they weren't brave, they were just insane, actually they stood to gain from their own deaths because they strongly believed they would get 72 virgins in the afterlife, and so on.

Made me think of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq5bw3BhOCI

Also, is there any significance, symbolic or otherwise, to the "72"? Or do they believe that Allah just pulled that number out of his arse?

Ando85:
Yes I considered that. It led me to compare these people to someone who murders on an impulse. The school shooters carefully planed what they were going to do ahead of time. They don't feel sorry for what they did and they know they would end up in prison for life. It seemed only logical to kill themselves afterward. I don't see it as cowardice, but logic.

Choosing what actions you will take based off of a logical analysis of your desires without exercising any thought to how that affects others is a kind of cowardice.

Batou667:
Condemn the act and its effects all you want, but unless you're off your head on drugs, martyring yourself in a fireball surely takes massive cajones.

Not really. People can work themselves up to be prepared for death in the name of a cause quite easily, especially when they face a lifetime of suffering because they come from a low socio-economic position as many martyrs do. Suicidal people are willing to kill themselves all the time, and it doesn't require bravery. All it requires is a desire for relief from suffering. So I'd say a suicide bomber who is blowing himself up to get a terror group to donate cash to raise the status of his family is not being any braver than a school teacher who accepts a lifetime of lower-middle class pay just because they want to help kids achieve better.

If we're going to belittle the hijackers because of their fundamentalist beliefs, and say that they couldn't truly have been brave because they didn't truly know what it is to die; then shouldn't we also brand as cowards the devoutly Christian soldiers who went to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who also believed that God was with them and that they would be rewarded in the afterlife?

Yes, we should. In this respect at least I would say the martyrs are braver than the soldiers. It's kind of hard to say a soldier is especially brave when they are supported by a military that spends more than all the rest of the world put together.

Well, being an atheist I believe that this one life is the only one we get, and to throw it away so easily is stupid.

Killing lots of civilians and suiciding when security arrives = Brave now?

Huh.

Istvan:
Killing lots of civilians and suiciding when security arrives = Brave now?

Huh.

Yes it is a form of bravery. Like I said earlier words like "bravery" often carry a positive connotation. But, in this case its not. Civilians or not it still takes some courage to be able to do such an atrocious act.

They're certainly smart, In my view death has got to be better than prision for decades, hell just 5-10 years would be too much for me..

Cowards may be the appropriate term for them for most but in my books as long as the problem is far enough away as to no longer be a problem then you've succeeded in solving it. Be that suicide or moving to another country or just ignoring a problem and hiding it.

On a side note I don't know if anyone here has tried committing suicide but I don't doubt that its probably the hardest thing to do (apart from slowly mauling kittens) going against the instinct to survive and whatnot. Then again I suppose in some cirmumstances it could be made easier by guilt, fear and mental conditioning.

My personal view on suicide = just running away from problems:

If the problem no longer bothers you then its no longer a problem, I assume (big assumption) that death puts you away from most of your earthly problems and so it is the ultimate problem solver..

All I'll say, if you care about the victims so much, do something to help them instead of whining that you didn't get to gloat over the perpetrator getting executed.

Oh, and I have to comment on the following.

Istvan:
Killing lots of civilians and suiciding when security arrives = Brave now?

Huh.

Yeah it sounds kind of weird, but it takes guts. So does sticking your hand into a wood shredder, so it's not like "bravery" is an universaly positive thing. Definitely not something to be admired in and of itself.

Suicide is a dreadful act, some is justified such as dying from a terminal illness, but killing yourself because you are having trouble with a girlfriend (seriously, this happened) You have one life, don't throw it away.

I'd say that the majority of people who decide to go on a killing spree and then kill themselves probably have a few mental issues. Even if they didn't, cowardice wouldn't be the word I'd use to describe it, although I can see why people would call them that. 'A strong conviction' would be how I'd describe it.

Batou667:

madwarper:
I think they're being called cowards, not because of the actions they committed, but because they chose to run away (ie. suicide) from the consequences of their actions rather than face them.

Anders Breivik didn't commit suicide, and is cheerfully sitting in a cell right now secure in the belief that his actions were correct and justified. Does that make him a) more or less true to his cause and b) more or less likely to be nuts?

Also, wouldn't that imply that anybody who commits suicide or requests to be euthanised is also a "coward"?

In Breivik's favor prisons are there are much nicer than American prisons (especially Tent City in Arizona). If it was death or Tent City then death certainly seems the more appealing option.

Ando85:
This topic isn't exactly religious or political, but this seems to be the best part of the forum to discuss controversial topics.

I notice a lot of times people who kill themselves especially after committing atrocities are labeled as cowards. Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Cho Seung-hui being prime examples.

I think it takes a bit of bravery to go on a murderous rampage and then kill yourself afterward. I know I wouldn't have the courage to do this. I would never be able to pull the trigger.

I think part of the problem is that words like fearlessness, bravery, and courageous are often associated with positive actions. I am by no means saying what these people did was right or should be applauded. However, there are many words to describe them, but in my opinion coward isn't one of them.

It doesn't take a lot of bravery to shoot somebody from 30 yards away with an automatic weapon who's unarmed. Then to kill yourself rather than face the consequences of your actions.

If they want to fight back against people that have hurt them, or change the world, they could have the decency to actually rationally do so, not just gun down a bunch of random people. Then maybe the decency to live in the world they've helped make.

Ergo they are cowards in that regard. A brave person would at least properly fight the correct person, not just lash out at uninvolved people.

But, on the other hand, all that said, more so than just about whether or not it's cowardice or bravery.

It's a matter of people being too stuck up to help people who are clearly suffering until somebody buckles from the pressure and fear and kills themselves, because causing suffering on others is the established status quo.

I think though, that enough suffering would make a coward of the bravest man, and enough support make the biggest coward into a brave strong person.

So it's not a matter of cowards effecting the brave or the brave effecting the brave, it's about cowards harming the innocent because other cowards hurt them.

It's an entirely fucked situation from the ground up.

Its not because of what they did, its because they can't live with the consequences of what they've done and need an escape

TheTim:
Its not because of what they did, its because they can't live with the consequences of what they've done and need an escape

Not sure, not all suicides are necessarily an "My god what have I done?" moment. Could also be "Mission accomplished, I'm done with this place." But then again, we can only guess just what went through their heads.

And, I must say, it feels freakin' odd to start rationalizing what someone else did...

Given the fact that most of these people are either insane or sociopathic/psychopathic, they may place no value on their life and would rather have nothing than the rest of their lives in prison. I'd doubt it's either guilt or cowardice, it could be a taunt, as in saying, I get away and you can't punish me.

I really don't care. As far as I'm concerned anyone who commits such a mass murder probably shouldn't live anyway.

As someone not believing in the afterlife. . And someone who believes that 'all' life is sacred (Human life ofcourse, And rainforests, I realy dig rainforests. Eat lots of meat though) I think the actions of people who go on killingspree's before they kill themself is some of the most stupid actions you will see on this planet. . . Not only do they choose to make themselves gods over others, they also act like they themself are above the system and deserve better. Arrogant 'and' stupid.

Batou667:
Also, wouldn't that imply that anybody who commits suicide or requests to be euthanised is also a "coward"?

According to some people, yes. They're known as "dumbasses."

On the topic of bravery versus cowardice, I find the words themselves to be rather loaded. It's a bit like how people will sometimes tell you, "What's the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Whose side their on."

WouldYouKindly:
Given the fact that most of these people are either insane or sociopathic/psychopathic, they may place no value on their life and would rather have nothing than the rest of their lives in prison. I'd doubt it's either guilt or cowardice, it could be a taunt, as in saying, I get away and you can't punish me.

I really don't care. As far as I'm concerned anyone who commits such a mass murder probably shouldn't live anyway.

Bit of a generalisation there, it's too easy to claim people who do terrible things must be broken in some way, rather than choosing to be terrible people.

And, though I can't say I'm that sad not to have them around, anyone that ends their life due to their own choice has, in a way, escaped punishment.

Well, courage and desperation aren't exactly the same thing.

Courage is people with something to lose putting it on the line to achieve a goal they've set, whereas desperation is people with nothing to lose throwing away their useless lives. The latter are really just trash taking itself out, with some collateral damage in the process.

Katatori-kun:
...
Choosing what actions you will take based off of a logical analysis of your desires without exercising any thought to how that affects others is a kind of cowardice.

That seems an exceptionally subjective use of the word.

"Ruthlessness" or "amorality" covers such behaviour considerably better.

Vegosiux:

TheTim:
Its not because of what they did, its because they can't live with the consequences of what they've done and need an escape

Not sure, not all suicides are necessarily an "My god what have I done?" moment. Could also be "Mission accomplished, I'm done with this place." But then again, we can only guess just what went through their heads.

And, I must say, it feels freakin' odd to start rationalizing what someone else did...

Yeah I agree that it is more of a "mission accomplished". People who do massacres generally have it all planned out beforehand. I mentioned earlier that I view that as a form of logic to avoid the inevitable punishment instead of cowardice. The punishment is in place to be a deterrent and the only way to get around that deterrent is to commit suicide afterward. "I did something bad, and now I must accept the punishment I deserve". These people have no remorse for their actions.

Take a look at Bud Dwyer. His suicide was extremely logical. He knew that he would spend the rest of his life in prison and that his wife and children wouldn't get the benefits they normally would receive while he was still in office. So he killed himself while still in office.

Ando85:
It doesn't take a lot of bravery to shoot somebody from 30 yards away with an automatic weapon who's unarmed. Then to kill yourself rather than face the consequences of your actions.

Well I don't know about you, but if I was in the situation I would be absolutely terrified to do such a think and to know soon I will be dead too. We have a naturally aversion to death, and I think it is very difficult to ignore.

I Find that people who can not face there own problems and deal with there the bad things that they have done and instead of doing anything. they shoot themselves in the Brain, or run out in front of a truck

thats a Coward. unable to face your problems

thaluikhain:

WouldYouKindly:
Given the fact that most of these people are either insane or sociopathic/psychopathic, they may place no value on their life and would rather have nothing than the rest of their lives in prison. I'd doubt it's either guilt or cowardice, it could be a taunt, as in saying, I get away and you can't punish me.

I really don't care. As far as I'm concerned anyone who commits such a mass murder probably shouldn't live anyway.

Bit of a generalisation there, it's too easy to claim people who do terrible things must be broken in some way, rather than choosing to be terrible people.

And, though I can't say I'm that sad not to have them around, anyone that ends their life due to their own choice has, in a way, escaped punishment.

What possible reason would someone go kill a bunch of people indiscriminately? If there isn't something wrong with them, I don't know who would have something wrong with them.

WouldYouKindly:
What possible reason would someone go kill a bunch of people indiscriminately? If there isn't something wrong with them, I don't know who would have something wrong with them.

Something morally wrong with them, not something mentally wrong with them, if you see what I mean.

Depends what they believe, I guess. But even a person like a 9/11 terrorist who firmly believes he will be rewarded after his death will still feel apprehension in regards to his suicide attack. So I guess I'd agree. Such people aren't necessarily cowardly. Horribly, monstrously indoctrinated into their ideology to the point that they are willing to murder hundreds and thousands for their cause. But probably not cowardly (if anybody is cowardly, it's the people behind the scenes who organize and recruit such folks). Now, I think similar applies to amok attackers like the ones mentioned. There often is quite a bit of calculation involved in their planning of their atrocities, but to actually do it and kill oneself still takes balls. That said, I'd imagine that many think that their life is over one way or another at that point, so it's only rational to do it on their terms.

Ando85:

The punishment is in place to be a deterrent and the only way to get around that deterrent is to commit suicide afterward. "I did something bad, and now I must accept the punishment I deserve". These people have no remorse for their actions.

Sorry, but that makes no sense. How can it be a deterrent for something that has already happened?

Imperator_DK:
That seems an exceptionally subjective use of the word.

"Ruthlessness" or "amorality" covers such behaviour considerably better.

Words are not neat and tidy little boxes. Meanings overlap. Yes, "ruthlessness" specifically refers to ignoring the consequences of you actions to others.

However, to be ruthless is to also be a coward. It takes a supreme level of bravery to look at what you want and say, "Even though I want that, I will not pursue it because getting what I want will hurt others." To put the good of the community over one's personal, petty desires requires bravery.

Katatori-kun:
Words are not neat and tidy little boxes. Meanings overlap.

I'd second that. It's somehow overlooked in discussions like this, or X vs Y threads dealing with vague concepts.

Katatori-kun:

However, to be ruthless is to also be a coward. It takes a supreme level of bravery to look at what you want and say, "Even though I want that, I will not pursue it because getting what I want will hurt others." To put the good of the community over one's personal, petty desires requires bravery.

That's an interesting way to say it, even if it makes sense. I suppose it depends on the individual. There's also pragmatimsm, for example. Unhurt people generally can function better than hurt people, and it's in everyone's best interest, including my own, that we don't go out of our way getting stuff at unacceptable expense to others.

...but seriously, are we rationalizing why people decide not to go wrecking up other people's lives? *scratches head* That's an even stranger feeling.

Katatori-kun:
...
Words are not neat and tidy little boxes. Meanings overlap. Yes, "ruthlessness" specifically refers to ignoring the consequences of you actions to others.

Well, the meaning you assign to it here certainly overlaps with - practically corresponds to - the term "ruthlessness". But are you certain that's its generally understood use in society?

However, to be ruthless is to also be a coward. It takes a supreme level of bravery to look at what you want and say, "Even though I want that, I will not pursue it because getting what I want will hurt others." To put the good of the community over one's personal, petty desires requires bravery.

Altruism and Asceticism is bravery?

Maybe in some Christian sense or something, but I don't think what good adjective generally come to mind when somebody gives up his seat on the bus for an old lady is a small instance of "bravery".

A Waffen SS soldier single-handedly holding off a Soviet tank division until the Luftwaffe blew it smithereens? Now that'd be "bravery", even when fighting for an unethical cause, and even when simply doing it in the hope of earning a medal and promotion for himself.

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