Originally Posted by martok2112
I agree with this statement to a point.
Yes, I guess it depends on what side of the fence you're on as to whether someone is a terrorist or a hero. The victimized side (or the side that considers such actions unlawful and any other negative adjective you can throw on there) will see the actions of another as potentially "terrorist", while those who carry out the action claim to have some form of justification for said action....be it religious, monetary, or political.
After 9/11, the definition of terrorism was about to be broadened beyond just the typical "Infidellllllllll......Diiieeee for AlllaaaaaahhhhhhhhH!!!!!.......BOOM!" or "Kick the Brits outta Brittaaaaiiiiinnnnnnnnn!!!!!......BOOM!" to include home invasion, robbery, attempted murder, domestic abuse, etc.
On the one hand, it would've completely upended the urgency of definition when it comes to terrorism as we generally know it. To a smaller degree, it would be like saying: "The sky is falling!" Terrorism, as it's been known to be, has almost always had some end of conveying some kind of message: A warning to a government, a call for the release of a prisoner that is important to their cause, a cry for wide media coverage to show the world what seems to be going on with them.
On the other hand, just think if such criminal activity as I mentioned above ( home invasion, robbery, attempted murder, domestic abuse, gang violence against innocents, especially thug and gangsta activity) were handled as terrorist acts....(to me, thugs and gangstas ARE domestic terrorists, but the only message those frackers wish to convey is that they think they're in control of some street or city)... Perhaps the punishments would be more severe...even resulting in the execution of such criminals, so as to serve as a warning to others who would dare engage in those crimes.
I don't know, death penalty (resp. lifelong imprisonment in those states were death penalty isn't used or banned or whatever) for theft or robbery seems a bit harsh to me.
Don't forget that there is the very personal from of theft and robbery as well as the more anonymous form of white-collar theft which can have much graver effects (think about something like the Enron accounting scam, stock prices fall, shareholders lose part of their wealth, employees lose their jobs).
But back to terrorism, if one takes the work literally it implies that there isn't merely some form of physical violence but also terror, i.e. psychological violence. I think that's what you are hinting at when you refer to crimes like home invasion (I remember that burglars broke into the house of my parents when I was a kid and the terror of feeling unsafe in their own house was much worse for them than having been robber of a few hundred bucks) or gang violence. Or take rape, here the terror is much greater than the physical violence. Or to take 9/11, the direct violence was the mass murder and the terror for US citizens was feeling unsafe not just at home like in the case of burglary but everywhere.
I agree that this "extra violence" in form of terror should lead to some extra punishment.
I think that in this context the word terror becomes meaningful again. It also helps to distinguish the "good" from the "evil" terrorists, evil terrorists are simply the ones who use more terror.
To pick the example from the ambiguous cases which are local conflicts over the control of land and the specific history between Ireland & GB resp. Israel & Palestine ignored, a key difference between Northern Irish and Palestine fighters is that the former have mainly targeted public institutions while the latter have mainly attacked civil citizens. Furthermore the IRA wants the Brits to go home while Hamas wants to drive the Jews into the sea. So there is more terror in the methods of the Palestinians and that's why their fight is more questionable.