US officials threatened James Foley's family with criminal charges if they raised ransom money to free him

ISIS/ISIL/IS is NOT a criminal gang primarily in it for the money like Somali pirates. They are true believers intent on forcing a xenophobic medieval existence on all they can control.

I agree, that’s definitely the impression I’ve gotten. That’s why their ‘ransom’ demands are outrageous and intentionally impossible. They don’t want to trade people for cash. They want media attention, and they will slice as many throats as possible to stay on the front page and scare people with their knives and threats.

I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m saying that if you want to convince people that letting their children die might sometimes be the right decision, you really need to take a soft, diplomatic approach. I am, I suppose, deploying the dreaded Tone Argument.

The thing I keep seeing here over and over is the characterization of drawing a line as being a cold calculation, born from a lack of empathy. But I can’t help but see it the other way around- not about absolute moral calculus, but about empathy for people beyond myself. Valuing me and mine over you and yours isn’t empathy because the ‘mine’ are only included because of their importance to ‘me’. Contributing to something evil, to murder and genocide isn’t something I can abstract to some removed ethical quandary. My mind immediately jumps to stories like that of the Yazidi girl who escaped after being sold to that old man, to the murdered children, to the families torn asunder, to the people who were starved to death on that mountain. How much pain would I be willing to inflict on other people to ease my own?


Well, you missed my point. But whatever.

On another note, ISIS is showing that they just want to kill people and make videos. All these videos of hostages being beheaded is weakening their case for even getting a ransom, showing that they are bad-faith negotiators.

PR goes both ways. They may be showing how tough and ruthless they are. But they are also showing how irrational and incapable of dialog they are.

Except that they have. I’d guess the reason they asked for such an outrageous amount was because they knew the US wouldn’t pony up. I’d guess just because they present as true believers doesn’t mean they all are. Presenting as such will bring in people who ARE true believers and will be willing to die for the cause. But we can’t read their minds, we can only go by their actions - which given their ransoming of European citizens is probably more ambiguous than we’re giving them credit for.

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Except that they have ransomed people - European countries pony up, so their citizens are freed. This is a money-making venture. But they know that the US and GB won’t play ball, so set an outrageous amount, because even if you charged 19.99, we aren’t going to pay.

rubs hands together Maybe we should start capturing some Europeans, too!

Wouldn’t work for us… we’re too nice! :slight_smile:

No, I agreed with you.I understood your point entirely. Hope that’s OK!

And I’m also agreeing with this comment. Most definitely.

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I am agreeing with everything you say, too, henceforth. And also forgetting. For example, I have forgotten what I thought you disagreed with me about, and am placing an agreement there in those synapses instead. Now, I am forgetting why we are agreeing, but that’s ok, because I have a new policy to forget then replace with agree, assuming that I remember to forget.


Is Russia responding to trade embargos?

Why yes, they are: by raining the Ukraine with bombs.

I think the sentiments expressed in this thread make a pretty strong case for why paying the ransom has to be criminalised and so prevented with the full force of the law. Because clearly, logical argument is insufficient.

Maybe the government people could have been nicer about it, I suppose. Still, ultimately the message that had to be delivered to the Foley is one that is probably impossible to make sound empathic.

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Well, it’s a tricky one, as there is the school of thought that paying ransoms to groups will simply encourage them to kidnap even more people, thus trying to save one person by paying a ransom puts more people at risk in the long run.

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You still don’t get to use the concept of the “trolly” problem to explain your situation. You really don’t, unless you’re deliberately misunderstanding the hypothetical in order to try and assuage your guilt.

And you misunderstood my point: No, I don’t actually expect you to move from the midwest in order stop contributing to the murder of children. But you’re still sitting there on your high horse, being shocked that people would be willing to pay a ransom to save their child’s life, when you have far more mundane reasons that keep you contributing to those same terrorists. (If you moved to New York, you’d spend a lot less on gas.)

Your commute is a necessary evil, but someone else saving their child isn’t. Got it.

Edit: Less you still don’t understand – I agree that paying ransom contributes to evil, and rationally I think no one should do it. But your hypocritical inability to understand why people would is what’s amazing to me.

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You are really hung up on this trolley problem thing eh?

I brought it up because I thought it was an interesting sort of moral quandary to bring up. I never claimed it was a perfect analog for the indirect evils of western living. So let’s abandon the Trolley problem entirely, I concede that it’s not a precise enough comparison to warrant consideration.

At the end of the day the point I’d like to make is this: The impact of funneling 6.6 million (the figure they asked for their latest hostage) to ISIL would contribute to acts of suffering and murder exponentially more than an individual’s entire lifetime of gasoline purchases.

I can understand the emotions which might make someone consider cooperating with kidnappers, but I feel entirely comfortable saying it would ultimately be a reprehensible act of selfishness. Perhaps that makes me come off as smug, but from my perspective, anyone so myopic they would actively participate in a genocide to save a single family member is vile. Furthermore be proud of it purely out of “because I’m a parent”, is too damn easy an excuse to justify all sorts of evil.


Money is speech right? Right? On what basis is the federal government restricting my free speech with this prior restraint?

What is the basis for these laws preventing someone from paying a ransom? Sure, I get why the government will not pay but the military and political strategies of the federal government are not my own. How can the government decide what is best for my family?

Some would argue that it is illegal to pay money or raise money for a terrorist organization. But that is simply a political label and has no objective basis for classification. For example, if you are Muslim and want to go fight for a Muslim cause you are a terrorist. If you are Jewish and want to fight for a Jewish cause (join the Israeli military) you are not a terrorist. If the only difference is who the politicos label terrorist, then there is no meaningful objectivity.

Finally, as a free (assumption here) American, I should have the right to support any political or religious movement no matter how many other Americans tell me I am wrong.

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There is also the thing that the current activity of the insurgents is a direct result of the region earlier destabilized by the same government that now insists on usurping the right to decide who is good and who is bad. Not my war, I did not start it, and if I get an asset caught in the fray, I see nothing wrong in buying him/her out. Not my war.

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