Workplace Violence September 28, 2014Posted by Sobek in News.
So some dude in Oklahoma beheaded one of his co-workers, stabbed another, and was then shot by his CCW-carrying COO. Crazy, crazy crap.
I’m not really clear on some of the details (as I’ll discuss below), including this line from a FoxNews.com article: “Authorities are treating Thursday’s beheading … as an incident of workplace violence…” Mostly I’m puzzled because nothing about the article says who is treating it as workplace violence, or how that treatment is manifested in terms of an investigation. The article specifies that the FBI is now involved, and I can’t imagine state or local authorities routinely invite the FBI in on standard workplace violence incidents.
My instinct is to call shenanigans on the “workplace violence” designation. One wonders what, if anything can be called terrorism, if not lopping off your co-worker’s head in the name of a religious or political cause. To this day I’m pissed off that the government refuses to call Nidal Hassan’s attack on Ft. Hood an act of terrorism – a designation made out of pure cowardice utterly divorced from reality. But let me suppress my instinct for a moment, and first talk about what I think is the difference between workplace violence and an act of terrorism.
Terrorism is really hard to define, so I use a rule of thumb instead: terrorism means an act or threat of physical violence, by a non-state actor, to further a political or social aim. It’s only a rule of thumb because it leaves a lot of gray area on the margins, but that’s the best I can do.
Suppose you have two people in different states, one Muslim and the other Christian. They both get fired on the same day. They both flip out and, in a rage, murder a co-worker. If those are the only facts available, I submit neither one is an act of terror. They both look, to my mind, like acts of crazy people, and it’s because of the lack of an agenda. Rage is not an agenda. It makes no difference whether the victims of these two crazy people are shot, stabbed or beheaded.
That said, beheading is not exactly a neutral act these days, always devoid of meaning beyond rage. Not when ISIS is calling on Muslims worldwide to behead the unbelievers, and when some Muslims are taking them up on the invitation (or trying to). So while beheading is not, by itself, proof of terrorism, it does constitute evidence of motive, and that’s the real key here.
So, too, with other bits of evidence. He was a recent Muslim convert? Okay, but lots of people convert to Islam without promptly murdering other people. He was trying to convert his co-workers? Okay, but proselytizing is not illegal, immoral or unethical, or symptomatic of terroristic activity. He was in the process of getting fired, which may be a piece of evidence for the defense (he snapped, just like anyone could do!). But the question is, was his firing related to his proselytizing, or because he was down-sized, or just because he sucked at his job? (Do people still get fired for that?) His Facebook page had anti-American rants on it, but a guy can hate America and also engaged in non-politico/social crime at the same time.
If I have the basic facts right – which is partly a function of whether the news reports have the facts right, a dicey proposition – then the facts look like they point towards terrorism. If so, we do a disservice to the victims of his actions, and to the victims of future crimes that could have been prevented but for increased vigilance, by ignoring away crucial facts. It is an insult to Americans and, as I said before, an act of cowardice by our government. But although I’m leaning that way, I’m also going to reserve judgment
Oh, and speaking of ignorance of the facts, there’s this:
Saad Mohammad, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, told NewsOK.com that leaders of the society’s mosque are taking security precautions to protect Muslims who gather there from any potential retaliatory violence.
Well I won’t complain, but you do realize that anti-Muslim retaliation is largely hypothetical, right? The victims here are the people who were stabbed and/or horrifically murdered by your co-religionist.