August 6th, 2016 by Nirvik Baruah
The (very) thin line between vigilantism and terrorism
For decades the South China Sea has been
one of the most contested areas in the world. Despite years of fervent debate, military bravado and even the occasional international tribunal, the situation is no less uncertain than it was 20 years ago. Progress has been made through neither diplomatic means of negotiation nor less diplomatic acts of aggression, so Chinese hackers have taken matters into their own hands and opened up an entirely new front to the dispute. This raises the question though of where we as a society draw the line between justifiable vigilantism and indefensible terrorism. And, more importantly, it makes us consider just what we can do, if anything, when a state condones 'vigilantism' to enforce their own agenda.
Many of us are devoted to the idea that the government ought not to have any jurisdiction over the lives of its citizens. Deep within the realms of an individuals private life, many of us firmly believe that the opinions of a person should remain just that - private and unsullied by the agendas of the government. The notion of governments handing out punishments to people for doing something offbeat or deviant is inconceivable and simply unacceptable to exist within a truly free society. So why is it that whilst we condemn government rulings against private matters do we still accept and condone similarly oppressive social actions, namely through vigilantism? Surely, by imposing social standards upon others in a society through these actions we are no worse than even the most totalitarian of regimes, essentially providing people with an ultimatum between grudgingly following societal standards or facing social ostracization?