Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Winner of the NABA Finals...

No, that's not a misprint. I'm not referring to the San Antonio Spurs (or, just possibly, the Detroit Pistons).

I'm talking about the "Not As Bad As" defense, a phrase coined and defined by Fred at Slacktivist. This is the defense invoked by those who took offense at Dick Durbin's characterizations of the activities described in an FBI report from Guantanamo. (I'll admit Dick's rhetoric was perhaps a bit overheated, which is regrettable because his rhetoric -- rather than the wickedness which gave rise to it -- has been the sole focus ever since. It would have been far better for him simply to read the narrative descriptions as they were given to him and to deplore them in less historically specific terms.) The upshot of the defense is that what we -- or any given entity -- have done is "not as bad as", say, the Nazi concentration camps, so any comparison is illegitimate. The implication, however, is that since we are "not as bad as" the suggested analogue, that our behavior should be free from scrutiny (or, in a stronger version, our behavior is morally permissible.). Part of the problem is that, as with Dick Durbin, this general strategy focuses on the rhetoric rather than the situation which gave rise to it, rather like complaining that the deck chairs have been overturned whilst the Titanic is sinking.

Fred introduces the N.A.B.A. defense here, and expands a bit on the notion of threshholds in a more recent entry here.
Is it true that we are only morally culpable if we take things to a Hitler-Stalin-Pol Pot extreme? Is that the same as saying that only the Devil sins?

I'm just waiting for Slacktivist to outline the N.A.B.A. zone defense.


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