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It also appears that Palestinians are willing to fake any number of infants killed, civilians injured etc., while at the same time posting propaganda videos of kids with weapons swearing to kill jews. Which makes it hard to count any civilian victims at all.

This isn't the first time I've flagged this kind of hateful crap. However, I don't know if people get warnings for it. Should they? We seem to sanction considerably more trivial "hate speech" where someone belittles someone's religion or sexual orientation.

Yes, the scare quotes are intentional. I don't really know, or want to claim special authority, that this is hate speech. That's what this question is about.

This comment is saying "killing children is OK".

I suspect that if someone was toeing the, terrorist, Hamas line and trying to claim Israeli children were "occupiers of the land", they'd not do so well out of it. Here's an equivalent bit of nastiness from "the other side", also flagged. Should we tolerate, ignore, or penalize, either?

Israel has occupied the Palestinian lands so the Palestinians have the right to expel them. It is not Hamas's fault that Israel sends settlers near the borders of Gaza. Israel can put their military forces there instead. Hamas has no choice. In fact, with this behavior, Israel uses the settlers as human shields against Hamas

I understand people are upset with 10/7's atrocities and the subsequent operations in Gaza. But that doesn't justify this kind of crap, which deserves condemnation whichever side pushes it.

p.s. As noted in my initial comment flagging it, this is about the dumbest kind of PR Israel really needs at the moment.

p.p.s. Yes, I am cognizant of rules recognizing proportionality and balancing "civilian collateral damage" vs expected military gains. And, yes, too of Hamas alleged use of human shields. Children are obviously at risk during an operation to neutralize Hamas and that risk should not result in an automatic "get out of jail card" for Hamas. Not after 10/7. But this is not what this comment was arguing, is it?

Nor is this question claiming that the IDF is committing - or not committing - war crimes. Just that this comment pretty much says there are no "civilians" to be concerned about in any case.

So, to reiterate: should posts condoning the killing of civilians be grounds for actions, by moderators, further than just deleting the posts?


Update: The answers so far misunderstand my point, or rather I did not make it well enough.

It is not that I disbelieve that some Gaza "civilians" are not in fact civilians. Or that I doubt there is some, or possibly even considerable, misuse of protected areas like hospitals. It is that those claims are now escalated to justify making all civilians and hospitals fair game.

Since Clausewitz, the notion enemy civilians contributed to the war effort and were acceptable targets increasingly gained traction. This culminated in the atrocities of WW2, where breaking civilian morale was a goal onto itself. It continued, in the West, all through the bombings in Cambodia or the Algerian War. Since then it has been thankfully walked back and we mostly at least pretend to aim to avoid causing civilian casualties. To see it again on display, and justified with such shallow facts as those cited is disturbing.

The killings at Oradour-sur-Glane or My Lai were not justified by the fact that the civilians in the area hated the perpetrators. Or that some civilians in the area were operating as guerrillas. Those were still atrocities, deserve to be called out as such and not draped in some form of respectability due to the actions of a minority of civilians in the targeted groups. Or due to the sentiments of the majority.

3 Answers 3

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As I point out in my answer to a similar question, Stack Exchange as a whole has a policy against "any content that promotes, encourages, glorifies, or threatens acts of violence."

This evidently includes posts glorifying or promoting the killing of civilians, although it goes beyond that—the policy would also apply to killing soldiers, or to violence that falls short of killing.

This may seem a bit broad, but this is fine. Like every other site on the network, this site has a scope, to discuss political processes. Discussing why and how different political actors engage in violence serves that scope; providing recommendations for how to engage in violence does not; indeed, such recommendations can be and are expressed in a variety of other fora. Given that promotion of violence does not serve our scope, it is as off-topic as it would be on questions about SQL or app development.

So these comments should be dealt with the same way as any other violation of site policy: deleted if they do not contribute to the site's purpose, with suspension available as an option for particularly incorrigible cases.

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  • Yes, well, it finally looks as if we are starting to take this seriously. Not before time. Though this question was not as clear cut as the lets-nuke-Gaza one you posted your answer on. And even there the moderators had to be prodded to give more than a pro-forma answer. But... past doesn't matter overmuch, let's hope this is resolved. I also note this Q is +7/-3 while even "nuke Gaza" manages +17/-6. Which implies some users do think these are defensible posts and not to be complained about. May 4 at 18:14
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Unless there is a pattern of posts to clearly indicate such disregard, this is going to be difficult - sometimes it may not be hate but ignorance on display (either due to incomplete knowledge or faulty reasoning). Note that both examples you cited has some political truth in it. And thus there is too little data to form a clear opinion on political intentions behind such statements.

Taking punitive actions too early, without a clear understanding, can actually push an ignorant user to harden their political beliefs.

Educating them would be better. But comments aren't a great place to do that.

I suggest that instead of a warning on hate speech or something equivalent, they be directed to a meta post here that spells out what kind of comments are acceptable and unacceptable here. And if they feel their comments are within the guidelines, they can create a meta post seeking further clarification.

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  • 1
    OK, but should we be expecting the moderators to "directed them a meta post here"? I mean, users interact with other users all the time, but that really carries very limited weight. Downvoting an answer or question is possible by regular users and can be dissuassive. But not so much on a comment. Dec 15, 2023 at 0:50
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica My point is, we need to educate users. When you close a Q or delete an answer, you provide a reason to educate the user. For suspect comments, I am suggesting the reason point to a wiki or meta post describing the guidelines on comment here.
    – sfxedit
    Dec 15, 2023 at 8:22
  • Somewhat related to what I am saying, please see my suggestion here too, on how allowing users to view deleted comments transparently can help them to better understand our guidelines - meta.stackexchange.com/a/395295/648258
    – sfxedit
    Dec 20, 2023 at 19:07
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This probably has to be handled on individual basis. There is such a thing as child soldiers

In May 2008 a Child Soldiers International report highlighted Hamas and Islamic Jihad for having "used children in military attacks and training" in its Iranian section.

So this goes beyond "human shields". Of course, this doesn't mean that normalizing calls for killing of non-combatant children is OK. But these are the 2 extremes of a possible post. Most others can be somewhere em-between.

If it's unclear what the poster meant, or if it's ambiguous, they should be given a chance to clarify. If they refuse, then, that post can be treated as a post on any other topic that's pushing a point.

This has to be treated on individual basis.

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  • Not all that convinced by this. 2 wrongs does not make a right and the poster did not even bother talking about child soldiers. Still, "treated on individual basis" seems to imply that the moderators should contact the poster and ask for clarification. Which is a certainly a start. Dec 5, 2023 at 3:54
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica it doesn't have to be a moderator. anyone can ask for a clarification. it maybe worth pointing out politely that the comment could be seen to imply that, as long as child soldiers exist, non-combatant children are fair game. certainly it seems that you are interpreting it that way, so it could be seen that way. i think they just wanted to point out that a child's death is not automatically a civilian death when there are child soldiers present on the battlefield. But they didn't take the time to formulate their thought.
    – wrod
    Dec 5, 2023 at 20:53
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    @wrod, I think if you're killing child soldiers in a populated area, there's equally an argument that the deaths are axiomatically civilian. The point of the prohibition on attacking civilians needlessly, is so you don't end up with child soldiers from having brutalised and harassed civilians. Perhaps it's not reasonable to expect total restraint against armed children, but the very existence of child soldiers is arguably evidence of prior war crimes against the civilian population - and the fact that those children become dangerous and are killed because of it, reckoned as part of the crime.
    – Steve
    Dec 7, 2023 at 12:50
  • @Steve if you want to discuss the politics of recruiting children into armed forces, please, bring it up on the main site. The subject matter of this meta discussion is how users who make certain inappropriate posts should be treated. To quote "should posts condoning the killing of civilians be grounds for actions, by moderators...?" If you want to make certain points about politics itself, please, do that in questions/answers on the main site where it can be subject to user evaluation through voting.
    – wrod
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:05
  • @wrod, quite happy to bring it up on the main site, I just happened to have seen your point here, where you identify a category of combatant children or "child soldiers", presumably operating in the locality of their own homes (rather than as an expeditionary force), who are implied to be distinct from the "civilians". Different conceptions of whether that distinction exists or not - and you and the OP seem to differ on the point - is almost certainly at the root of whether it is going to be considered acceptable on this site to call for the killing or not of those combatant children. (1/2)
    – Steve
    Dec 7, 2023 at 20:06
  • By using that conceptualisation tacitly, but then addressing the "killing of non-combatant children" explicitly, you're moving off addressing the real contested ground which is about the killing of combatant children. The OP quotes a remark about "kids with weapons swearing to kill jews" - that quoted commentator was clearly seeking to imply that those children are (or are likely) combatant children distinct from civilians, and therefore justifiable and lawful to kill on the grounds that they are militants. That characterisation, and whether it should be allowed, is the contested ground. (2/2)
    – Steve
    Dec 7, 2023 at 20:08

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