back to article Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

A Register reporter has been let away with a slap on the wrist after confessing to what the cops claim is an act of terrorism. According to the Metropolitan Police, anyone caught watching a sickening beheading video will be treated like a terrorist. Lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green challenged that claim – and we …

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    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Two girls and a cup

      Should everyone that looks at the crucifixion scene or a bloody Christ dying on the cross also be considered as terrorists ?

      Not if they consider the crucifixion a just and lawful act. That would make them supporters of the Imperial Roman hegemony, not terrorists. However if they didn't consider it just or lawful, that might risk them being categorised as opponents of the regime, and potentially rebels, insurgents or terrorists.

      So not the best comparison, really.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Two girls and a cup

      But an allied general shooting a Vietnamese prisoner in the side of the head is an iconic moment?

      Does it come down to which side is getting killed ? So Watching "Das Boot" is a war crime

      1. corestore

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        Almost nobody seems to know the truth behind that iconic Vietnamese execution pic. It was a good guy executing a very bad guy indeed:

        "But, when you learn the story behind the man who is being executed in this photo, the image and the reasoning behind the execution becomes a little bit clearer.

        This man’s name was Nguyen Van Lem, but he was also known as Captain Bay Lop. Lem was no civilian; he was a member of the Viet Cong. Not just any member, either, he was an assassin and the leader of a Viet Cong death squad who had been targeting and killing South Vietnamese National Police officers and their families.

        Lem’s team was attempting to take down a number of South Vietnamese officials. They may have even been plotting to kill the shooter himself, Major General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. It is said that Lem had recently been responsible for the murder of one of Loan’s most senior officers, as well as the murder of the officer’s family.

        According to accounts at the time, when South Vietnamese officers captured Lem, he was more or less caught in the act, at the site of a mass grave. This grave contained the bodies of no less than seven South Vietnamese police officers, as well as their families, around 34 bound and shot bodies in total. Eddie Adams, the photojournalist who took the shot, backs up this story. Lem’s widow also confirmed that her husband was a member of the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong), and that he disappeared before the beginning of the Tet Offensive."

        1. Dave Bell

          Re: Two girls and a cup

          The word "execution" suggests suggests a legal process, which isn't apparent, and it's been used in both cases. But I can understand the death of Nguyen Van Lem. This current video is something very different: I can understand why watching it might be part of a pattern, but it's also a clear record of a crime. Can we really say that anyone who watches it is a terrorist? How many investigators does that line make a terrorist?

          And sure the Met understand why intent matters?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        So Watching "Das Boot" is a war crime

        No, but watching the butchered sub two hour version ought to be considered heresy.

    3. Cosmo

      Re: Two girls and a cup

      I knew EXACTLY what I was going to see when I watched two girls, one cup....

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        Well, it did contain two girls, and one cup, so you can't say the title was misleading, it just didn't cover everything...

    4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Two girls and a cup

      I'm sure I should know this, but I don't get out much - what exactly is two girls and a cup? From the context I suspect it's something I really don't want to Google!

      1. Caesarius
        Childcatcher

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        http://xkcd.com/467/

      2. Marcelo Rodrigues

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        "From the context I suspect it's something I really don't want to Google!"

        It's something You don't want to know. Believe me.

        Ugh.

      3. CmdrX3

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        what exactly is two girls and a cup?

        A couple of girls filling and sharing a cup of something that a. shouldn't be in a cup and b. shouldn't be shared.

      4. Benjol

        Re: Two girls and a cup

        I didn't know.

        Now I do.

        I confirm your suspicion.

    5. Peter Simpson 1
      Happy

      Re: Two girls and a cup

      Should everyone that looks at the crucifixion scene or a bloody Christ dying on the cross also be considered as terrorists ?

      [insert "Life of Brian" joke here]

      // I'm Brian of Nazareth...and so's my wife

    6. Lapun Mankimasta

      the crucifixion scene

      Damn! there goes my copy of Guernica! PC Plod'll mistake it for an instruction manual.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: the crucifixion scene

        If you own a print of the Picasso work you'll be done as a drug fiend too.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Lapun Wankinmasta Re: the crucifixion scene

        ".....there goes my copy of Guernica!....." But your example, the painting Guernica, is in itself another propaganda piece and an example of the supposedly unquestionability of a viewpoint of an historical act. If propaganda is not challenged then it can soon grow into being accepted as 'fact', and sympathisers in the UK will soon start repeating the myth that ISIS were 'justified' in the act due to the American intervention.

        The story behind the propaganda myth of Geurnica is a good example. The Republicans in the Spanish Civil War had a very active propaganda arm that co-operated with sympathetic Communist, Socialist and Anarchist groups all over the World, in hyping such events. Guernica represents one of their most successful efforts, so much so it has completely obscured both the fact that both sides routinely bombed Spanish civilians, but also their propagandizing of other acts of aerial bombing from the period. A similar propaganda effort was made around the earlier bombing of Getafe near Madrid (which spawned the immortal line "If you tolerate this then your children will be next" on a propaganda poster which included a photo of a dead child who was not killed at Getafe - http://airminded.org/2009/10/11/the-non-atrocity-of-getafe/). The hysterics around Geurnica reflected the Republic's and their allies' frustrations and desperation at how the fighting in the Cantabrian pocket had turned against them, mainly due to the Nationalist's more effective use of air power. They wanted international popular opinion to turn against the Nationalists, and they especially wanted some form of international intervention to curtail the activities of the Italian and German 'volunteers' manning the bombers that were pounding Republican ground forces. This was more than hypocritical given that the Republicans were happily using Russian crews in SB-2 bombers against Nationalist towns and cities, and had been the first in the War to employ modern bombers (in the shape of French-supplied Potez 540 aircraft) to attack civilian areas under Nationalist control.

        So, you have merely and unwittingly supplied a good reason to block such propaganda before it becomes 'fact'.

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ---- This reporter phoned the Metropolitan Police and asked: "I watched the James Foley video. Am I a terrorist?" ----

    Did you really ask that, verbatim?

    1. gazthejourno

      I can confirm that's pretty much the same as what I heard him ask the plod press office down the phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > I can confirm that's pretty much the same as what I heard him ask the plod press office down the phone.

        Ok, Gaz. So who won the bet then? :)

      2. h4rm0ny

        Did he preface it with "I'm a journalist" ? I'm just wondering if those of us with less press credentials would have received a different answer.

  2. Steve Todd

    Could they not lock him up

    For crimes against journalism? There's plenty of evidence of that.

    1. Ted Treen
      Pint

      Re: Could they not lock him up

      You deserve a pint for that...

  3. Fihart

    Collective Delusion.

    a.k.a Religion

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Collective Delusion.

      a.k.a atheism

      Fixed it for you.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Collective Delusion.

        Woah. Someone who thinks that not having imaginary friends in the sky who are looking out for him is a form of delusion.

        Well, it takes all kind of people.

        Me, I'm into Lovecraft and stuff.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: imaginary friends in the sky

          All your really showing there is that you have no understanding of religion and you're crap at taking the piss. Just paraphrasing the same stupid "man in the clouds" comment is not satire.

          Science is about how, religion is about why. They don't really overlap.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: imaginary friends in the sky

            Science is about how, religion is about why

            From what I can see so far, religion is more about why not.

            Personally, I don't really mind what imaginary friend one prefers, provided they don't hassle other people/me with it.

            1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: imaginary friends in the sky

              "Science is about how, religion is about why

              From what I can see so far, religion is more about why not."

              From what I can see, religion is about answering the question "What is wrong with us and what do we do about it?"

              Looking at it that way, Atheism could be a religion. As could eugenics, Maximized Living or Mary Kay.

              Just gotta cause trouble...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: imaginary friends in the sky

            "Science is about how, religion philosophy is about why"

            There, FTFY.

          3. Caesarius
            Pint

            Re: Science is about how, religion is about why.

            That's always what I say.

          4. Dave Bell

            Re: imaginary friends in the sky

            There I was in a bar with the Astronomer Royal and a Jesuit Vatican Astronomer, looking at the latest pictures of an asteroid, and we agreed that humans were good at picking out patterns and seeing things that didn't really exist, and part of that was asking "Why?" A lot of that is science. But many of the details of the universe have to be the way they are just so something like us can be here to see it. In a sense, the universe exists just so that we can exist.

            "It's ineffable." I said.

            We all nodded and ordered another round. Why do you think philosophers have a reputation for drinking a lot?

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

              Religion is like a penis

              Its fine to have one.

              Its ok to be proud of it.

              Just don't whip it out in public and wave it in other peoples faces!!

              (Disclosure: I consider myself a Militant Agnostic - I don't know and NOR THE FUCK DO YOU!)

              1. <shakes head>

                Re: Religion is like a penis

                your basic view being that you know as much as every other person?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Devil

                Re: Religion is like a penis

                Interesting disclosure. Can I take it that you have the same stance on Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot circling the Sun between ourselves and Mars?

                If you do, you're probably a crack-pot. Though one circling the Sun on Earth rather than your own independent orbit.

                1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

                  Re: Religion is like a penis @Moultoneer

                  That appears more cosmology, unsuported by observation I may add, than religion and not relevant to this discussion.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Religion is like a penis @Omgwtfbbqtime

                    Bertrand Russell's point is that dogmatists must prove their dogma, the rest of us are not obliged to disprove it.

                    In this example the relevance of Bertrand's argument is that it is for the deists to prove that their deity exists, the onus of proof is on them, not the atheists.

                    Your original comment in support of agnosticism was that no one knows if deities exist. If you apply your same logic to Russell's celestial teapot you have to agree that it might exist, right up to the point that you can definitively prove that it does not.

                    1. h4rm0ny

                      Re: Religion is like a penis @Omgwtfbbqtime

                      >>"Your original comment in support of agnosticism was that no one knows if deities exist. If you apply your same logic to Russell's celestial teapot you have to agree that it might exist, right up to the point that you can definitively prove that it does not."

                      Yes. That is logically correct. The point is that until it becomes relevant to me to make a decision on whether or not there's a teapot in Space, I really don't care. If someone challenges me as to whether there is a teapot in Space I'll shrug and say I don't think there is. But I wont be intellectually dishonest and say that because I have seen no evidence of a teapot that is evidence there isn't. Anyway, it doesn't matter. I wasn't saying the case is or isn't anything. I was just pointing out that the correct term for saying you don't know is agnosticism, the correct term for saying there is no god is atheist and that the two are not the same even though some people would like to present atheism differently. No-one has successfully proved there isn't a god as yet. Ergo, agnosticism is the only fully supportable position that doesn't rely on preference.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Religion is like a penis

                > Just don't whip it out in public and wave it in other peoples faces!!

                What about hen parties?

        2. h4rm0ny

          Re: Collective Delusion.

          Atheism and most religions both make authoritative statements about what is without being able to prove it. Religion argues that something is despite lack of evidence. Atheism argues that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Agnosticism - stating we don't know either way, is the only logically thorough position.

        3. <shakes head>

          Re: Collective Delusion.

          only if they are imaginary

      2. Frederic Bloggs

        Re: Collective Delusion.

        Atheism is a bona fide religion.

        1. AbelSoul

          Re: Atheism is a bona fide religion...

          In the same way that bald is a bona fide hair-style.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Collective Delusion.

          Bald is a bona fide hair colour, too.

          Oh wait...

        3. Peter Johnstone
          Facepalm

          Re: Collective Delusion.

          Atheism is a religion in the same way that off is a TV Channel, Bald is a hair colour and not collecting stamps is a hobby.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Collective Delusion.

            There is no such thing as "not collecting stamps". You have to be actively doing something. The "not doing anything" is very hard to do, see science for why.

            So people who comment on everyone having a religion, are commenting on how everyone has a goal or source of their direction in life.

            Those saying they have no religion, are usually commenting how they do not believe in certain particular versions of a God or gods. It also includes those who believe they have no goals or directions, internal or external.

            To many, "Religion" has many different meanings. So it's less that people disagree, and more that they do not understand each others definitions.

            When we become less involved in proving others wrong, shouting at them and fighting, we instead find out we have a lot in common. As always said, check your own house before pointing fingers at the other.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Collective Delusion.

              You missed the point. The many who misuse the word "Religion" to mean philosophy of life or obsession notwithstanding, religion is a belief that there is a point to it all. One or more "gods" are usually involved, and invoked as a cosmic doorstop whenever the thinking gets too hard, and thanked whenever sheer chance caused the believer to personally not become involved in some catastrophe or other.

              The real difference (for me) between anyone's religion and my atheism is that I *never* stop to say "this event could only be possible in the complete absence of a creator" and I rarely waste brainpower worrying about lack of gods and random universal chaos because it doesn't work that way.

              People with a strong and firm belief in a creator and life after death often find themselves pondering the whichness of the why and can't understand that I simply don't, in the way I don't think about tennis or horseback riding or how paper is made unless I have some definite question about those subjects.

              I am happy not knowing where reality all came from and the prospect of dying *still* not knowing (I wouldn't spurn the knowledge if it was there to be had of course). I don't need gods to invent it because they don't solve anything. Show me a real honest to Offler god and my next question is "Well, who made it"? All a creator does is drop a curtain in front of an unreachable problem horizon.

              I've bent a few brain cells wondering about where the universe is, and can appreciate that for some the comfort of saying "this far and no further shall ye look" is appealing. The problem is that then they get upset when I don't share their views and start talking "atheism is religion" nonsense.

              As for life after death, when asked once by a friend where I thought we went after death I answered "The same place the numbers go when you turn off your calculator". The question seems meaningless to me.

              But I'm no evangelist, determined to make you all see the sense in my argument because it doesn't work that way. I'd be more likely to demand everyone stop thinking about tennis (except it would not occur to me to discuss tennis most days).

              1. Hargrove

                Re: Collective Delusion.

                @Stevie, et al:

                I looked up the definition of religion and found it wanting. For the first time in memory, the OED disappointed. Previous definitions that I was familiar with made a subtle distinction between belief and worship, and organized ritual practice, with the latter being a key attribute of religion..

                That this is a useful distinction seems clear, given the long history of different sects who believe in and worship the same God slaughtering one another under different religious banners. But, the OED, being divinely inspired and inerrant . . .

                Atheism is not a religion, but it is--in a very real sense--a theological position. (Namely, that there ain't no Theos.) This is a position that a rational person can take. However, other theological positions can also be rationally taken.

                In that regard the statement

                The real difference (for me) between anyone's religion and my atheism is that I *never* stop to say "this event could only be possible in the complete absence of a creator"

                strikes me as less a statement of difference between believer and atheist than a fine distinction between authoritarian fundamentalism (on either side) and willingness to confront what Einstein characterized as "the central mystery" of the universe on its own terms. As a general rule, I've found most atheists to be of a fundamentalist mindset, asserting proof for the non-existence of anything transcending human knowledge. Nice to learn that there is a more open-minded breed of atheist out there.

                I think on the whole the normal distribution of humankind tends to the authoritarian end of the scale. Their belief in the authority is categorical proof of the rightness of their belief. (See [St. Paul] [Dawkins] says right there that . . . ) As a result they tend to be the most numerous and loudest voices in any theological debate.

                This tends to drown out the voices of millions who are open to wonder and to the idea that there may be mysteries that transcend human understanding. (Not talking New Age crystals, here. Rather, those unanswerable whys Stevie raises--Schoedinger's Cat is dead, but WHY did it die? We can't know and that's a main point of that thought experiment.)

                That's why, without being evangelical on the point, it seems to me that devout agnosticism is the most constructive metaphysical position to assume.

                1. Stevie Silver badge

                  Re: Definitions

                  Again, you try and define my viewpoint in terms of your own and then discuss it as a variation on a theme. My atheism is only a theistic philosophy because of a trick of linguistics. Any understanding you have achieved of how I stand on the subject is fundamentally flawed as it is based on a false premise.

                  I'll try again, but not in an attempt to convert you.

                  I think the one thing all religions share that *might* be the definition you are looking for is the belief in the continuation of the human self after death.

                  It's phrased differently of course. People speak of souls but what they really speak of is the Self.

                  I have concluded, based on the evidence available to me, that humans have no undying part. To me it is evident that the self is the mind, which in turn is an emergent behavior of the brain's natural complex recursive activity. No brain, no self.

                  Understanding that this complex brain is possible to develop without some sort of helping hand is made easier if on spends some time thinking about massively parallel evolutionary processes over geological timescales.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @Hartgrove (Re: Collective Delusion.)

                  Sir, you seem to have managed to offend both atheists and non-atheists there. Or at least those amongst them who are afraid of the possibility that the other side *might* be right.

                  It is interesting to see, now that I live abroad, how much Anglo-saxon (if not Germanic in general) culture seems to care about the theological debate (cue wave of downvotes and comments about "X culture, it's *them* who are really obsessed, not me", etc., etc.) :-)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Collective Delusion.

                Hi Stevie

                > You missed the point.

                Maybe my philosophy lecturers did, it is possible.

                However, what seems to annoy you, if I understood you correctly, is proselytism or more in general, some people's attitude's about belief or non-belief, rather than (privately held) belief in itself, no?

                Although some groups may favour proselytising and/or a "we have the truth" attitude (I'm not saying any actually do--I haven't paid much attention to these sort of practicalities), that's completely alien to the concept of belief in itself and in the abstract.

                In any case, thank you for your detailed explanation. :)

                P.S.: Mr. Hartgrove sums it up very nicely in his own post. I'm afraid that I have never been religious and I have never been much of an atheist either, so I am unfortunately not in a position to discuss the disadvantages of either.

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