mrdannyg, on Sunday, May 15th, 2011, 6:59 PM, said:
If your goal was to suggest Bob was wrong, you have severely failed. Terrorist attacks happen as isolated incidents as well, just typically kill more people than drunk driving. The effects of a drunk driving incident cause more severely negative effects to those effected (as you say, emotionally, structurally, financially) than terrorism. The only reason a terrorist attack is more harmful overall than drunk driving is because people choose to fear terrorism instead of drunk drivers, even though terrorism is statistically less likely to harm them, and (arguably) is more avoidable. So the argument is circular, and requires the stupidity of the masses.
Your emphasis here is to attempt to rationalise the threat posed by terrorism in purely statistical terms. But you don't attempt to address the fundamental differences between the events. The activities of drink-drivers are contained within a system
which has managed the life, and death, of the agents and their existence in society. Your drunk-drivers are part of a calculable and ordered system
. What you miss is the accumulated effect on a social and political level. The diminishing marginal dis-utility of death in a system
where numerous drink-driving deaths already occur is such that the effort to prevent 'extra death' or even to reduce death levels is seen to be disproportionate to the benefit to 'the system'
. There is a steady flow of DD death which is systematically
processed. The marginal dis-utility of terrorist attacks is much higher, due in part to the low-frequency/high-intensity nature, as well as the political demands which accompany them.The people will seek protection from the state, to which they have entrusted their security, and the state will seek to protect itself from the 'other' who seeks to undermine its security as a political entity(this itself is supported by its domestic legitimacy, as well as its position in the system
of sovereign states). Since there is no systematic way
for such interaction(the 'strangeness' of terrorism itself leads to this dilemma – it is extra-systemic
), such as the international arena or domestic law enactment, the response is often heightened.What terrorists represent is an 'othered' agency who seek to disrupt the (relatively)calculated, known and and accepted determinants of death, as well as life. The response as a nation, whether it includes irrational fears of terrorism or not, is a response to insecurity, and to the threat to the status quo within the state. Even the domestic terrorist is quickly condemned from within the society, and 'othered' against the normality of society.What the policy response should be is debatable. However, I think it is unreasonable to suggest treating terrorist 'outsider-led-attacks-on-the-political-community' the same as drunk-driving 'offences-of-foul-play-within-our-political-community-over-which-we-already-have-some-control'.