If you'll kindly indulge me…

It seems every time someone mentions Hamas as a terrorist organization, others immediately rush to explain how they are not just a terrorist organization, they do a lot more. Hamas has built schools and hospitals in the Occupied Territories, runs social welfare programs, and in general does a lot of the things that charities and humanitarian organizations do. They talk about their “militant” wing, which does the terrorism stuff, which in theory is separate from their other works.

And while some of Hamas are doing these good deeds, others are building rockets, assembling bombs, smuggling guns, and planning and carrying out attacks on such high-value military targets as buses, religious gatherings, buses, restaurants, buses, hotels, and buses.

But we should discount that, right? We should balance that against Hamas’ good works, and take that into account when judging the overall organization.

I recall a similar argument being made back during the height of the pedophile priest scandal that rocked the Catholic Church a few years ago. In that case, it was an application of the Watergate truism — “it’s not the crime that gets you, but the coverup.” The number of priests who were abusing children were a very, very small percentage. But it was the way the Church handled it that made it so horrific — at one point, two thirds of the Bishops in the United States had shielded accused priests, often shuffling them off to new, unsuspecting parishes, where they would find new victims to prey upon while reassuring the original victims that the priests had been “disciplined” and were being “treated” and would “not victimize children any more.”

At the time, a lot — a LOT — of Catholics were calling into talk radio shows, denouncing the critics as “Catholic-bashers” and pointing out all the good the Church has done, and continues to do.

I know it’s unfair to compare the Catholic Church to Hamas, but the underlying principle is the same: one cannot balance out misdeeds by performing good acts. One is reprehensible and must not be tolerated; the other is laudable, and should be recognized. But they cannot be used to balance each other out.

If we do that, if we decide to give Hamas a bye for its terrorist acts, if we forgive the Church its concealing of the pedophiles and aiding in their continued abuses by supplying them with fresh victims, then we ought to simply codify and formalize it, and establish exchange rates for certain acts. Give so much to charity, you can assault someone. Work at a soup kitchen for so many hours, you can burn down someone’s house. Organize a fund drive to build a hospital in the third world, you can murder someone.

And if we do set up this program, I hope we hurry. There’s a woman I know that I’d really, really like to have my way with, and I’d like to find out just what good deeds I need to perform first so I can enjoy myself without fear of prison.

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  1. Laurence Simon May 11, 2006
  2. ed May 11, 2006
  3. a.nonymoose May 11, 2006
  4. mantis May 11, 2006
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  14. -S- May 12, 2006