Talk:Weather Underground Organization/Terrorism RfC

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Request for Comment: Description of Weathermen as "terrorists"[edit]

Please note that at least three participants in these discussions, CENSEI (talk · contribs), Noroton (talk · contribs), and WorkerBee74 (talk · contribs) were later blocked as WP:SOCK accounts or for socking, though Noroton later returned as and remains an editor in good standing. - added years afterwards for purposes of clarification by Wikidemon (talk) 05:05, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
  • In the past several months repeated disagreements and edit warring have arisen regarding whether Wikipedia should describe the Weathermen, and their various members, as "terrorists".
  • Articles affected include:
  • Relevant issues include:
  • Designating the Weathermen as "terrorists"
  • Describing various acts as "terrorism"
  • Identifying the organization with the word "terrorism" (e.g. in the lead, when the organization is introduced in other articles, etc)
  • Covering, or noting, that the group is widely described as terrorist
  • Covering, or noting, that some people have described them as terrorist or that there is disagreement as to the label
  • Where to put the material - one article or many? In a section? In the lead? Footnotes? In BLPs?
  • Applying terrorism-related categories to these articles
  • Relevant policies, guidelines, and essays
  • Issues specifically avoided:
  • This is deliberately intended not to be a discussion of editing process or editor behavior
  • Please keep discussion focused on the content question and not on other editors - if you have a complaint about another editor there are other forums. Should editing abuse become a problem on this page we should discuss that at some other page or a subsection here.

Notification of involved parties[edit]

  • Notification of involved parties:
(will complete later - feel free to self-nominate or withdraw - Wikidemon (talk) 19:20, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Statements from involved parties[edit]

Best if we can keep these clean and reserve disagreements for the "discussion" section or for each editor's own statement - Wikidemon (talk) 19:20, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:CENSEI[edit]

The Weathermen, Dohrn and Ayers have all been widely described by law enforcement, the judiciary, journalists, scholars and elected officials as terrorists. The only reason any of them have any notability notable is because they were involved in acts of violence and attempted murder, widely considered to be terroristic in nature by the afore mentioned sources. Note that nowhere in any of the articles are any of the subjects or their actions described as terrorism or any derivative of the term terror unless sourced with the proper NPOV qualifier. Example:

The Dohrn article:

While Dohrn was leader of the group,went underground in early 1970, and engaged in a series of bombings. Its activities have often been described as terrorism,[15] although some, including Dohrn's husband, Bill Ayers, also a leader of the group, have disputed that description.[16][17] The FBI, on the same Web page in which it describes organization as a former "domestic terrorist group", includes a picture of Dohrn.[18] The Encyclopedia of Terrorism has an article on Dohrn.[13]

And the Weathermen Article:

Since 1970 the Weatherman organization has often, but not always, been classified in America as a domestic terrorist organization. "Within the political youth movement of the late sixties (outside of Latin America), the 'Weathermen' were the first group to reach the front page because of terrorist activities," wrote Klaus Mehnert in his 1977 book, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy".[10] Neil A. Hamilton, in his 1996 book on militia movements in the United States, wrote, "By and large, though, these Weathermen did not rely on arming and training militia; instead, they resorted to terrorism."[11]

Nothing is said without a high quality, reliable and mainstream citation and not without proper attribution in the text. All meaterial contributed is well withing WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NPOV, WP:BLP, WP:WEIGHT and WP:TERRORISM

This RfC is not necessary, a waste of time and a distraction. Wikidemon should be reprimanded or warned for wasting all of our time. CENSEI (talk) 19:39, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement: Sourced evidence from Noroton[edit]

Here are some 40 sources, some of which have already been brought up at the Weatherman (organization) article. They include The Encyclopedia Britannica (17j), The F.B.I. (8), Seymour Martin Lipset, The History of Terrorism (17i), The Encyclopedia of Terrorism (9 and 14), high school history textbooks (16H and 17e) and reference works such as Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (16D). These are some of the many sources that either call the group "terrorist" or say it isn't (I've added my timestamp to the end of each reference; I intend to add more references to make it clear that this group has been called "terrorist" by a good number of reliable sources; I won't try to add all of them, of course, but more can be found by doing a Google Books search (Weatherman + terrorist = [22]) or a Google Scholar search (same search terms there: [23]) Anyone can do the same for "Bill Ayers" + terrorist"; Bernardine Dohrn" + terrorist):added to first two sentences -- Noroton (talk) 04:34, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

A. Calling it "Terrorist"[edit]

The Weatherman organization has frequently, although not exclusively, been described as a terrorist group since at least 1970:
  1. "Within the political youth movement of the late sixties (outside of Latin America), the 'Weathermen' were the first group to reach the front page because of terrorist activities," wrote Klaus Mehnert in his 1977 book, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy". --- Mehnert, Klaus, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy", Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1977, page 47 -- Noroton (talk) 20:05, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  2. Neil A. Hamilton, in his 1996 book on militia movements in the United States, wrote, "By and large, though, these Weathermen did not rely on arming and training militia; instead, they resorted to terrorism." --- Hamilton, Neil A., "Militias in America: A Reference Handbook", a volume in the "Contemporary World Issues" series, Santa Barbara, California, 1996, page 15; ISBN 0874368596; the book identifies its author this way: "Neil A. Hamilton is associate professor and chair of the history department at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama" -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  3. Starting in 1970, newspaper articles identified the group as "terrorist" and quoted others doing so. In December 1970, Michael Charney, a spokesman for the Oberlin Radical Coalition, told The New York Times: "The Weathermen [...] show a contempt for the people of the United States. What they're really saying is that you can't organize a mass movement in the United States for a revolution, so they're resorting to terrorism." --- Kneeland, Douglas E., "Bombings Cost Militants Potential Gains in Support; Incidents Are Alienating Many Radicals and Youths Who Might Join Cause Student Ambivalence Is Found Bombings Cost Militants Potential Gains in Support", article, The New York Times, December 14, 1970, page 1 -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  4. In 1975, a UPI article referred to a January 1971 statement issued by Bernardine Dohrn, leader of the Weatherman, "suggesting that the group was considering tactics other than bombing and terrorism." --- No byline, UPI wire story, "Weathermen Got Name From Song: Groups Latest Designation Is Weather Underground", as published in The New York Times, January 30, 1975; "On Jan. 19, 1971, Bernardine Dohrn, a leading Weatherperson who has never been caught, issued a statement from hiding suggesting that the group was considering tactics other than bombing and terrorism.""
  5. In 1980, a New York Times article characterized the group as "the terrorist Weather Underground". --- Montgomery, Paul L., "Guilty Plea Entered in 'Village' Bombing: Cathlyn Wilkerson Could Be Given Probation or Up to 7 Years", article, The New York Times, July 19, 1980 -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  6. The term "terrorism" was used in the title of a 1971 book about Diana Oughton, who died in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, and the girlfriend of Bill Ayers: Diana: The Making of a Terrorist. --- Powers, Thomas, "Diana: The Making of a Terrorist", Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1971; book review: Brownmiller, Susan, no title, review of the book, The New York Times, April 11, 1971 (The book was written by Thomas Powers, who, with Lucinda Franks, reported and wrote a project of the same name for UPI, winning the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1971.) -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC) From the newspaper series: September 23, 1970: Of the 400 people who attended the Flint council [of the Weatherman group], fewer than 100 went underground. For those few, commited to the revolution above all else, it was a matter of logic. Community organizing had failed. Mass demonstrations had failed. Fighting in the streets had failed. Only terror was left. September 17, 1970 She [Diana Oughton] never lost her gentleness, either, or her sense of morality; But consumed by revolutionary commitment, she became a terrorist, fully prepared to live as outlaw and killer. September 21, 1970: The group's opponents argued that the Weathermen were repeating the errors of the 'Narodniki' (Russian terrorists) who assassinated the czar in 1881 and set back the cause of reform in Russia for decades. -- Noroton (talk) 15:58, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  7. The FBI, on its website, describes organization as having been a "domestic terrorist group", but no longer an active concern. --- Web page titled, "BYTE OUT OF HISTORY: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008 -- Noroton (talk) 20:05, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  8. The FBI, on the same Web page cited just above, includes a picture of Dohrn. --- Web page titled, "BYTE OUT OF HISTORY: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008 -- Noroton (talk) 20:19, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  9. The Encyclopedia of Terrorism has an article on Dohrn (see also #14, below). --- Kushner, Harvey W., Encyclopedia of Terrorism], Sage Publications Inc, 2003, pp 108-109, ISBN 0761924086, ISBN 9780761924081 ; retrieved via Google Books, September 5, 2008 -- Noroton (talk) 20:19, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  10. "Their elite radicalism, their belief in themselves as the insurrectionary vanguard, shaped the ultimate conclusion: a frenzied overreach of protest which took the form of terrorism, a deliberate assault on persons and property" --- Cantor, Milton, The Divided Left: American Radicalism 1900-1975, Hill and Wang: New York, 1978, pp 215, ISBN 0809039079 -- Noroton (talk)
  11. "In October 1969, the SDS-RYM went undergound, forming several terrorist cells around the United States. The cells called themselves Weathermen [...] The most notorious Weatherman members were John Jacobs, Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn [...]" --- Burns, Vincent, and Kate Dempsey Peterson, James K. Kallstrom, Terrorism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0313332134 ISBN 9780313332135 , page 36 -- Noroton (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  12. "Out of this new strategy came the Weathermen, an underground guerrilla cadre who believed that the core of the "Red Army" could be built in the streets of America through te symbolic power of violence. This American verson of the nineteenth-century Russian narodniki (terrorists)" --- Diggins, John Patrick, The Rise and Fall of the American Left, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1973 (original edition); W.W. Norton & Co. (revised edition), 1992, p 264 -- Noroton (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  13. "Their elite radicalism, their belief in themselves as the insurrectionary vanguard, shaped the ultimate conclusion: a frenzied overreach of protest which took the form of terrorism, a deliberate assault on persons and property" --- Cantor, Milton, The Divided Left: American Radicalism 1900-1975, Hill and Wang: New York, 1978, pp 215, ISBN 0809039079 -- Noroton (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  14. The Encyclopedia of Terrorism has an article on Weatherman (see also #9, above) --- Kushner, Harvey W., Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Sage Publications Inc, 2003, pp 406-407, ISBN 0761924086, ISBN 9780761924081 ; retrieved via Google Books, September 5, 2008 -- Noroton (talk) 00:58, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  15. "A number of terrorist groups and cells grew out of this environment. Although the most prominent example was the Weatherman group [...]" -- Martin, Gus, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, SAGE, 2006, ISBN 1412927226, 9781412927222, page 437 -- Noroton (talk) 01:15, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  16. FIFTEEN MORE, bringing the total to 30 -- I'll just provide links to the following to save space: (A) An Infantile Disorder? by Nigel Young, p 275; (B) The Terrorist Trap by Jeffrey David Simon p 96 ("the most active American terrorist group at the end of the 1960s"); (C) Who Spoke Up? By N. L. Zaroulis, Gerald Sullivan, p 341 ("after a review of Weatherman terrorist activities in 1970"); (D) Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable By Adrian Room, Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, 2002, p 741 ("Weathermen: a terrorist group"); (E) Terrorism Research and Public Policy by Clark McCauley, ("Weatherman, the American terrorist organization", 1991, p. 57; (F) Roots of Radicalism, by Stanley Rothman, S. Lichter, S. Robert Lichter, pp 39-40, 1982 ("[...] the Weathermen were known for their acts, not their ideas. But their willingness to undertake violent revolutionary acts and terror indicates the depth of their commitment [...]"); (G) Terrorism Today by Christopher C. Harmonp, 2000, p 55, ("[...] the U.S. terrorist group Weatherman [...]"); (H) A History of the United States by Philip Jenkins, 1994, p 269, ("One wing ultimately went underground as the 'Weatherman' movement, which launched a terrorist campaign in 1969-70 [...]"); (I) An Encyclopaedic Survey of Global Terrorism in the 21st Century, by R.K. Pruthi, 2003, p 182 ("The best publicized domestic terrorist organization of the revolutionary left has been the Weatherman faction of Students for Democratic Society "); (J) Encarta Book Of Quotations, by Bill Swainson, Anne H. Soukhanov, 2000, p 298 ("the US revolutionary terrorist group, Weatherman [...]"); (K) The Columbia Guide to America in the 1960s, by David R. Farber, Beth L. Bailey, 2003, p 255 ("Weatherman" entry: "[...] in December 1969 when core members of this group went underground as a terrorist organization"); (L) Bombs, Beards, and Barricades, by Anthony Esler, 1972, p 314 ("The Weathermen even referred to themselves as narodniks for a while — referring of course to the later 'terrorist' phase of the career of the Russian narodnik generation"); (M) Direct Action: Radical Pacifism from the Union Eight to the Chicago Seven, by James Tracy, 1996, p 149 ("[...] the splinter group, Weatherman, went underground to conduct a terrorist bombing campaign."); (N) Terrorism on American Soil, by Joseph T. McCann, 2006, p 23 ("[...] members of the terrorist organization known as the Weather Underground [...]"); (O) A Clash of Cultures: Civil-military Relations During the Vietnam War, by Orrin Schwab, 2006, p 137 ("[...] the Weatherman, a domestic terrorist organization [...]"). -- Noroton (talk) 02:56, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  17. TEN more, bringing the total to 40: (a)Media, War and Postmodernity, by Philip Hammond, 2007, p 87 ("The degeneration of 1960s radicalism into terrorist groups like the Weathermen, the Red Brigades, or the Baader-Meinhoff gang [...]"; (b ) Youth Activism: An International Encyclopedia, by Lonnie R. Sherrod, 2006, p 410 (I could only get the quote in the Google search page, which may or may not be a stable web link, but here it is: "As a leader of the terrorist Weathermen group in the late 1960s told his audience, "Violence, when directed at the oppressor, is human as well as necessary."); (c) Violence in America: An Encyclopedia, by Ronald Gottesman, Richard Maxwell Brown, 1999, p 126 (I could only get the quote in the Google search page, which may or may not be a stable web link, but here it is: "One faction, called the Revolutionary Youth Movement (or Weatherman) launched a terrorist war against "pig AmeriKKKa"); (d) Social Crises: A Casebook, by Robert Hybels, 1974, p 235 (again, couldn't get the quote other than on the Google Books search page, but here it is: "Although the terrorist policy of the Weathermen was never supported by more than two or three percent of the nation's students, it contributed ... "); (e) Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic, by James West Davidson, 1989, p 1232 (Again, quote only available on a Google Books search page here: "Out of the radical SDS had come the Weathermen and terrorist Weather Underground."); (f) Campus wars: the peace movement at American state universities in the Vietnam era, by Kenneth J. Heineman, 1993, p 6 ("In 1968, Garskoff and his friends at MSU and Michigan — Bill Ayers, Linda Evans, and Diana Oughton — organized a [sic] SDS faction which evolved into the terrorist group, the Weathermen."); (g) Rebellion in the University, by Seymour Martin Lipset, 1993, p 78 ("SDS first divided among a number of factions, and then split into two major ones, one of which became an underground terrorist organization, the Weathermen [...]"); (h) Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements in the 1960s, by Simon Hall, p 106 ("Indeed, the growing anguish and rage within the New Left over the ongoing war would lead to the emergence of terrorist revolutionary groups like the Weathermen at the end of the decade."); (i) The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda, by Gérard Chaliand, Arnaud Blin, Edward Schneider, Kathryn Pulver, Jesse Browner, 2007, University of California Press, p 227 ("Among the revolutionary terrorist groups, mainly on the left but also on the right, we find the following organizations and groupings: * In the United States, the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army"); (j) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: in 32 Volumes by Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1998, p 331 (again, the quote is only available on the Google Books search page here: "... into several factions, the most notorious of which was the "Weathermen," or "Weather Underground," which employed terrorist tactics in its activities."). -- Noroton (talk) 04:18, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

B. NOT terrorist, say these sources, which can also be included in articles[edit]

It's harder to find sources that state that Weatherman was not a terrorist group. Here are two I found:

  1. In his 2001 book about his Weatherman experiences, Bill Ayers stated his objection to describing the WUO (Weather Underground Organization) as "terrorist". Ayers wrote: "Terrorists terrorize, they kill innocent civilians, while we organized and gitated. Terrorists destroy randomly, while our actions bore, we hoped, the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists indimidate, while we aimed only to educate. No, we're not terrorists." --- Ayers, Bill, Fugitive Days, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807071242, p 263 -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  2. Dan Berger, in his book about the Weatherman, Outlaws in America, quotes Ayers' objection, then adds, The WUO's actions were more than just educational — one could argue that there was a component of 'intimidating' the government and police attached to the actions — bu the group purposefully and successfully avoided injuring anyone, not just civilians but armed enforcers of the government. Its war against property by definition means that the WUO was not a terrorist organization — it was, indeed, one deeply opposed to the tactic of terrorism." Berger also describes the organization's activities as "a moral, pedagogical, and militant form of guerrilla theater with a bang." --- Berger, Dan, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, AK Press: Oakland, California, 2006, ISBN 1904859410 pp 286-287; the book describes Berger as "a writer, activist, and Ph.D. candidate", and the book is dedicated to his grandmother and to Weatherman member David Gilbert -- Noroton (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

C. Authoritative role of Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers within Weatherman[edit]

There's a lot on this, and here's some of it (if anyone wants more, just ask):

  1. Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who was in the Weatherman from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1970, considered Bernardine Dohrn one of the two top leaders of the organization, along with Bill Ayers. --- Grathwohl, Larry (as told to Frank Reagan), Bringing Down America: An FBI Informant in with the Weathermen, Arlington House, 1977, page 110: Ayers, along with Bernardine Dohrn, probably had the most authority within the Weatherman. (Grathwohl's book has been cited in various other books, including books sympathetic to the Weatherman group; I have never read that anyone impugns Grathwohl's honesty or accuracy.) -- Noroton (talk) 20:43, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  2. This FBI report from 1976 [24] states (page 198 of the document; page 13 of the PDF) BERNARDINE DOHRN is the acknowledged leader of the WUO [Weather Underground Organization]. From the same document (page 188 of the document, page 5 of the PDF) WILLIAM CHARLES AYERS ... is one of the authors of the 'Weatherman Statement' upon which the WUO was founded in 1969 and has been considered to be one of the leaders of the organization since its founding.
  3. From "Tragic story of Diana Oughton: Youthful Terrorist, the multi-part, Pulitzer Prize-winning story by Lucinda Franks and Thomas Poers, for United Press International (later expanded into a book by Franks): September 21, 1970: [T]he Weatherman manifesto, partly written by Diana's boyfriend, Bill Ayers. [...] Ayers had been elected one of the three national officers of the Weathermen, along with Mark Rudd and Bernardine Dohrn, and was spending most of his time in the national office.
  4. From a book review by Scott McLemee (former member of the National Book Critics Circle) of former Weatherwoman Cathy Wilkerson's memoir (in Newsday, published November 11, 2007: In Fugitive Days, wrote Wilkerson in her review, Ayers treated the Weather members who died in the townhouse explosion as a cell out of touch with the West Coast leadership of the organization. But in so doing, Wilkerson wrote, he failed to accept responsibility for his own role as leader - as someone who had upped the ante of violent rhetoric in the months preceding the blast, when the "Weather Bureau" (so the group's central committee was cutely known) issued apocalyptic calls for urban guerrillas to "bring the war home," in the organization's notorious slogan of the day. Wilkerson's status within the group was that of a mid-level leader - not a member of the Weather Bureau, like Ayers, but an important functionary involved in organizing demonstrations and editing New Left Notes, the central publication of Students for a Democratic Society. [...] [About Wilkerson's own self-admitted self-delusions about the Weather Underground's theory and practice:] And that blindness led to disaster, to terror.
  5. From Bill Ayers' blog (April 20, 2006): The leadership was, of course, the Weather Bureau
  6. David Horowitz in Salon, "Forty years after Port Huron" July 29, 2002 -- [25] -- In its final spasms of left-wing lunacy, SDS leaders like Tom Hayden and Bernadine Dohrn called for actual war against "Amerikkka" and created the first political terrorist cult, with SDS president Bernadine Dohrn and SDS vice president Bill Ayers as its leaders.
  7. Andrew O'Hehir, in [[Salon] online magazine, "When terrorism was cool: As a new film about the Weather Underground opens, former '60s revolutionary Mark Rudd wonders whatever possessed him -- and America", a review of Weather Underground, June 7, 2003. This is something to keep in mind: Mark Rudd, like Dohrn and Ayers, was a member of the "Weather Bureau" (or at the time of the planned bombing of an officer's dance at Fort Dix, it was then called simply the "Central Committee"). Rudd states that he was told of the planned terrorist attack before it happened. If Rudd was told, how likely is it that Bill Ayers was told, since the cell included Ayers' girlfriend, Diana Oughton, who died in the blaze, along with Tim Robbins, one of Ayers' best friends (and leader of that cell) and Ted Gold, another friend. Note also that Rudd, as a member of that governing board, thinks he might have stopped the terrorist act before it took place. This gives us some perspective on the authority of Ayers and Dohrn in connection with terrorism -- He held a leadership position on "the Weather Bureau" until about the time of the townhouse bombing in March 1970, although he says he was not directly involved in planning or building the bomb. A day or two before the disaster, Rudd says, he learned that the device was intended for the Fort Dix dance. "In retrospect," he says, choosing his words carefully, "I've always wished that I had had the presence of mind to take some action to stop it."
  8. Article in Time (magazine), "California's Underground", October 6, 1975 -- After the Weatherpeople went underground in February to escape police surveillance, they adopted a pyramidal organization. At the top was the Weather Bureau, a leadership council that included Dohrn, Jeff Jones and Bill Ayers, the group's theoretician and son of the chairman of Chicago's Commonwealth Edison Co. Through members acting as couriers, the leaders kept in touch with a nationwide network of four-or five-member cells which were constantly on the run. Known as "foco," the Spanish word for "focus" or "center," they each operated independently, recruiting new members and carrying out bombings and other terrorist acts that had been cleared in advance by the Weather Bureau. [...] After the Weather Bureau approved a proposed bombing, logistics were carefully plotted. Undercover agents studied the target. Other members bought dynamite at rural stores or stole explosives from construction sites. Couriers contacted sympathizers to ready safe houses in case flight became necessary. Grathwohl helped plan the bombing of the Detroit Police Officers Association headquarters in February 1970; at the last minute Ayers called off the attack.
  9. Actually, despite the above passage from Time magazine (Oct 6, 1975), Grathwohl testified before a U.S. Senate committee and published a passage in his book, Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen (1976) that Ayers cancelled the participation of Grathwohl and some other Weathermen who planned the operation (page 152), but the bombing was not called off. It didn't occur and didn't kill numerous people in the building and in the restaurant next door -- although, according to Grathwohl, Ayers was just fine with that (page 143) -- because, thanks to Grathwohl's tip, police and the FBI were on the watch for the bomb, which was placed, and it didn't go off because the wick went out (book, pp 160-161). (Quote from his testimony: [26]) Since Grathwohl's book (written "as told to Frank Reagan") includes so many quotes that are obviously reconstructed from five years earlier, and since the quotes are used to tell the story, I'm reluctant to quote the dialogue from Grathwohl's book, but Grathwohl quotes himself here: "I objected to leaving the bomb [at the Detroit Police Officer's Association headquarters] on the side of the building. 'We'll blow out the Red Barn Restaurant. Maybe even kill a few innocent customers — and most of them are black.' Ayers didn't appreciate my remark. [Quote from Ayers redacted here.] He glared at me for questioning his authority."
  10. Grathwohl on the hierarchical nature of the Weatherman: I called FBI agent Maynard from the library to tell him that Ayers would be back in a day or two. He wanted to know why I didn't go to Canada with him. "They didn't invite me." "Why didn't you ask to go?" "We're a paramilitary organization," I explained. "When Ayers says I stay in Buffalo and collect IDs, I stay in Buffalo." I was getting annoyed. -- page 170, Grathwohl, Larry (as told to Frank Reagan), Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, N.Y.: 1976

I would state in their individual articles that they were the top leaders [footnotes here] of an organization that has been called a terrorist group by the FBI [footnote here] and others [footnote or footnotes here]. We describe what each did in the Weatherman, although those sections should be strengthened with some more detail, and we have their later views of Weatherman. For Ayers, this is a particularly important subject because, certainly when his memoir came out in 2001 and the movie Weather Underground came out in 2003, and again during this campaign season, he has been controversial precisely on the topic of whether he is sorry for what he did and whether he thinks it was justified. There are numerous sources on this. Dohrn has been controversial for the same reasons, although she seems to have talked less in public about it (for one thing, she didn't have a book tour and book in 2001).

Excellent research, Noroton.   Justmeherenow (  ) 04:47, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Ayers and Dohrn specifically called "terrorist"[edit]

=====D. Before the current presidential campaign===== (*right*) Much of the criticism of Ayers and Dohrn is associated (1) with Ayers' memoir, Fugitive Days, which came out on September 10, 2001 (he interrupted his book tour, but continued it starting as early as October), and the movie Weather Underground in 2003. The criticism of Ayers and Dohrn, like statements calling Weatherman a terrorist organization, are not simply a function of this presidential campaign and Wikipedia should not avoid mention of the criticism that they were terrorists because it now happens to tie in with the campaign:

  1. Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online, "It Really Is Your Father’s Europe: Continents apart" [December 28, 2001 -- [...] a smart-alecky ex-terrorist and now-tenured Bill Ayers with little remorse about past dynamiting aimed at soldiers and public employees of the working class.
  2. David Horowitz in Salon -- "Forty years after Port Huron" July 29, 2002 -- [27] -- In its final spasms of left-wing lunacy, SDS leaders like Tom Hayden and Bernadine Dohrn called for actual war against "Amerikkka" and created the first political terrorist cult, with SDS president Bernadine Dohrn and SDS vice president Bill Ayers as its leaders.
  3. Jeff Jacoby column in The Boston Globe, "Calling Evil by its Name", September 16, 2001 -- [28] subscription access but reprinted here -- The New York Times last week ran a warm and admiring profile of Bill Ayers and his wife, two former members of the terrorist Weather Underground (quote from Google search for Ayers + terrorist)
  4. Michael Kelly in The Washington Post (syndicated -- shown here in The Seattle Times -- Sept 19, 2001 -- a former 1970s radical and terrorist bomber named Bill Ayers.
  5. Charles Krauthammer in Time magazine -- "The Hundred Days" December 31, 2001 -- [29] -- the Sept. 11 New York Times featured a rather wistful portrait of American terrorist Bill Ayers. A former member of the Weather Underground who claimed credit for a string of bombings (including the Pentagon in 1972), Ayers was reminiscing with the Times reporter about the various romances of his revolutionary days,
  6. John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review Online, Regrets Only: Terrorism chic at the New York Times.September 18, 2001 -- [30] -- Ayers was in the Weathermen, a homegrown terrorist group [...]
  7. Ronald Radosh, a former radical himself, in The Weekly Standard, "Don't Need a Weatherman: The clouded mind of Bill Ayers", October 8, 2001 -- Poor Bill Ayers. His timing could not have been worse. Just when his widely publicized memoir of his days as a terrorist was coming out, our nation suffered its worst terrorist assault ever.
  8. Brent Staples in The New York Times September 30, 2001 -- [31] -- In Ayers's hands, a career in terrorism becomes a harmless episode out of a John le Carré novel
  9. John Tabin, The Wall Street Journal online, "An Evening With Bill Ayers: Barnes & Noble hosts an erstwhile terrorist",- November 16, 2001 -- Quoting Ayers: "We did many things that were wrong; I have a lot of regrets for many of the things that happened," he said. Does he regret siding with a brutal communist regime against America? "Certainly, the death of the three, my girlfriend and two other close, close friends, was a disaster." In other words, he regrets that his friends accidentally died while building a bomb, not that they were building a bomb in the first place. Mr. Ayers continues: "Certainly flirting with the idea of terrorism was off the tracks and a mistake. The fact that we never executed that flirtation is important and significant and I think conveniently forgotten, but we never did." In fact, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts did set off a bomb at the Pentagon. In his book, he writes: "It turns out that we blew up a bathroom and, quite by accident, water plunged below and knocked out their computers for a time, disrupting the air war and sending me into deepening shades of delight." In those four little words, "disrupting the air war," there is the dark prospect of American soldiers in jeopardy.
  10. Sam Tanenhaus in The Wall Street Journal, "Terrorism Chic", September 21, 2001 -- The terrorists of his generation would have approved of the targets selected by last Tuesday's suicide pilots -- the World Trade Center is an emblem of American commerce, the Pentagon a fortress of our military might. In fact, Mr. Ayers got there first, way back in 1972. "Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon," he writes in his memoir. He describes in detail how the bomb was built and then placed in a Pentagon restroom. Reflecting on the incident today, Mr. Ayers evades responsibility. "Even though I didn't bomb the Pentagon — we bombed it, in the sense that the Weathermen organized it and claimed it." He also helped bomb New York City Police headquarters in 1970 and the Capitol in 1971. Sound like terrorism? Not to the Times, which calls these "daring acts." But weren't last Tuesday's suicide missions "daring acts," too?
  11. James Taranto in "Best of the Web Today" blog at the Wall Street Journal website, November 12, 2001 -- Bill Ayers, an erstwhile Weather Underground terrorist
  12. The Wall Street Journal, an editorial, "Professor Weatherman", October 29, 2001 -- And indeed September 11 has much to do with this story. It has everything to do, too, with the lightning speed with which the public now detects all efforts to rationalize acts of terrorism, and with the detestation those efforts provoke. One of the unluckier things to happen to Mr. Ayers was the publication, on September 11, of a lengthy New York Times profile of his life in the Weather Underground. This came complete with a list of the bombings he'd organized -- at New York City Police Headquarters, the offices of the National Guard in Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and more. That is, on the very morning of the terror attack on America that killed thousands, readers could find Mr. Ayers's announcement that he had no regrets about the bombings he had planned and helped execute. They could also read that, asked whether he would ever do such a thing again, Mr. Ayers answered, "I don't want to discount the possibility." It was not the best of times to expound on the worth and importance of the motives guiding terrorists, and so it remains today.
  13. Jim Russell, former editor of New Left Notes (SDS publication) in The Nation dated February 15, 2001 on the website, but web page states article appeared in the March 5, 2001 edition of the magazine -- Referring to Helen Garvey's creation of a film, Rebels With a Cause, about Students for a Democratic Society: However, she does describe the Weather Underground experience, since its leading activists had roots in SDS. A number of these, including Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers and Cathy Wilkerson, speak in the film. [...] Since the Weather campaign of terrorism continues to be an issue of sore dispute among SDS veterans [...]
  14. J. Hoberman in The Village Voice, review of Weather Underground movie, "Notes From Underground: Terrorists in Retirement", June 3, 2003 -- For the youthful terrorists and outlaws of the Weather Underground [...] a successful string of terror bombings. A picture of Dohrn accompanies the article.
  15. Article or review in The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Weathermen and their explosive times", September 5, 2003 -- 11 attacks, views the Weathermen bombings as acts of terrorism. ... colleagues Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers remain unrepentant, and committed as ever to [...]
  16. Don Terry quoting Todd Gitlin in Chicago Tribune magazine, "The calm after the storm: School reform crusader Bill Ayers works within the system now, but don't ask the former Weatherman to apologize for his radical past", published September 16, 2001 (reprinted on Trib columnist Zorn's section of the newspaper's website on August 16, 2008) -- "We weren't terrorists," Ayers insists. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States." Gitlin, the former SDS member and author of "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage," isn't buying Ayers' reasoning. "OK, let's give them a medal for not killing anybody besides themselves," he says. "But they wanted to be terrorists. They planned on being terrorists. Then their bomb blew up and killed several of them and they thought better of it. They were failed terrorists."
Thanks, Noroton. Listen up, folks: Relying solely on your own lights would be fine, were you to be working independently, but it disrespects the collaborative nature of the Wiki project. Therefore, please do decide to contend against the suggestion we label Central Committee members Ayers and Dohrn terrorists, but if you choose to do so, please make your arguments take into account this material Noroton cites. (Otherwise it makess it reasonable to assume that you posted something on this page without reading it first! Thank you.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 12:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
It seems this issue is resolved, but might I point out that the references all come from a rogue's gallery of right-wing polemicists? Not presidential perhaps, but they clearly have been engaged in a deliberate political campaign to frame the American discourse (of which you are playing your little part) Huangdi (talk) 06:47, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Every single sentence in Wikidemo's statement (except for concessions) has been proven wrong, with evidence provided in my statement above as well as below in the discussion about Dohrn and the bombing of the San Francisco police station. Wikidemo has provided no evidence to back up his statements here and has conceded on a number of points below in the face of the evidence. -- Noroton (talk) 15:32, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:Wikidemo[edit]

As an introduction, it is astonishing that we are even considering calling a living tenured professor of education at a major American university, and his law professor wife, "terrorists", particularly when they deny the claim. That we do so to mirror a political move to taint a presidential candidate for having met them is doubly astonishing. There are blogs and television spots for this sort of thing. This is an encyclopedia!

As creator of this RfC I thought it necessary to resolve once and for all (hopefully) or at least for now the question of whether we should include the "terrorism" label in one form or another in describing the Weathermen and their various members. Although a few have called them terrorists since the beginning this was a relatively minor point until 9/11, and even more so in February, 2008, when Barack Obama's political opponents began to highlight Obama's various encounters with fellow Chicagoan Bill Ayers, one of the formers Weathermen leaders, as a campaign issue.

I will collect my thoughts after further attending to the details of setting up this RfC. In the meanwhile, my basic position is that:

  1. The people involved deny that they are terrorists, with reasonable if not conclusive support. Therefore, accusing them in their own WP:BLP articles of being terrorists in any form (terrorist acts, being part of a terrorist organization, etc., whether endorsed by Wikipedia or sourced merely as commentary) is a serious BLP violation.
  2. The off-wiki practice of calling the Weathermen terrorists in connection with highlighting the supposed connection between Obama and the Weathermen leaders is usually a WP:COATRACK, and part of a deliberate political campaign strategy. We should cover the world as described in reliable sources, but most of these sources merely note that it is a campaign strategy, not a real issue. We can report campaign strategies as such in campaign articles, but should not let election spin leak out into the encyclopedia as a description of the world.
  3. Other than attempts to accuse B. Dohrn of murder (a worse BLP violation yet) there is little dispute over who did what. The Weathermen's actions are well understood and not denied by the people involved. The issue is simply whether we should call this "terrorism" or not. It is an interesting question, because terrorism is a loaded term that means different things to different people, and it means something different today after 9/11 and the events in the Mideast than it did in 1970 when domestic radicals were bombing buildings.
  4. We cannot reasonably say that the Weathermen were terrorists. The sources do not all agree on this. What we can say if we do it carefully is that there is a historical debate over terminology on whether they were terrorists or not, and different people have different opinions on the issue. The debate has some slight notability to the people and organization involved (being a linguistic distinction), but a bigger import on politics where it has some effect however small on the rhetoric surrounding the current election. If we do decide to cover it at all (something I am not convinced we should do but we can wait for discussion), we have to decide where to cover it, where, and how.

I will flesh this out a bit as the conversation evolves.

Statement by User:Verklempt[edit]

I have repeatedly pointed out that Brian Flanagan, a core member of the WU, has described the group's actions as terrorism, in the recent documentary film. So not all of the people involved deny they were terrorist. The "freedom fighter/terrorist" debate is always politically tainted, no doubt. However, when you have numerous scholars and journalists invoking the "terrorism" label, the attemot to exclude that incovenient fact from Wikipedia begins to appear a violation of NPOV.Verklempt (talk) 22:13, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by Erik the Red 2[edit]

The crux of Wikipedia is reliable sources, and reliable sources in agreement. The authority of Wikipedia in terms of biographies of living persons in based on staying away from any statement that could be construed as libelous, and always identifying a person as what they identify themselves as, and not giving any more weight to any reliable source than another. Identifying the Weathermen as terrorists is not representing the views of key Weathermen and reliable sources in agreement. Calling living people terrorists when there is not consensus amongst reliable sources is libelous. Accusing a person of murder when they weren't convicted (regardless of what David Fredosso thinks about the case) is libel. The changes proposed are libel as well as violations key Wikipedia policies: the policy on biographies of living persons and the very Wikipedia manual of style. It is attempts like these to change articles to fit with one's one POV that erode Wikipedia's reputation as a reliable encyclopedia as well as the esteem and image of the people about which the biography is written. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 22:31, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

So, according to this line of argument, the OJ Simpson article should not mention his various murder trials?Verklempt (talk) 21:05, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Also what Flatterworld said. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 02:51, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by Scjessey[edit]

I have carefully looked through the sources provided by Noroton, and also checked out a few others. It would seem to me that the sensible approach would be the following:

  • In Weatherman (organization) (an article I have had no involvement with), the existing mention of terrorism "Their activities have often been characterized as domestic terrorism,[8] including a later description by the FBI.[9]" seems perfectly acceptable to me. The section "Terrorist Classification" seems completely out of place and unnecessary, and the whole section should be removed.
  • In BLPs related to members of the organization, the use of the word "terrorist" should not be used, except in the case where a necessary quote uses the term. The organization should not be described as a "terrorist" organization or anything like that - readers can click the blue link back to that article for specific information.
  • In Obama-related articles, there should be no mention of "terrorist" or "terrorism" whatsoever. There is absolutely no justification for it.

As is usually the case throughout Wikipedia, controversial characterizations and classifications like "terrorist" and "terrorism" should be used sparingly. There is clear evidence that certain editors are overusing these terms when describing Bill Ayers in order to smear Barack Obama with a guilt-by-association tactic. This approach is wholly inappropriate. -- Scjessey (talk) 22:53, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by Flatterworld[edit]

There's a reason the BBC does not use the word 'terrorist'. It's simply not necessary to use such an inflammatory, emotive term to describe a group or person. All words have at least one denotation nad at least one connotation. In the case of the t-words, the connotation varies through the years, and depending on the people making the claim. For example, Kissinger, Nixon and McNamara are all considered terrorists by many people. I have no interest in seeing edit wars on those articles and many, many more.
'Islamic terrorism' is currently the most typical usage, with its associations with suicide bombers, killing innocent civilians, and so forth. None of that had or has anything to do with Bill Ayers BUT it's clearly to the benefit of political partisans to mislead people into thinking that. I am adamantly opposed to letting Wikipedia be used as a tool for anything other than communicating factual information in a straightforward, unemotional way. We don't need to pour gasoline on the fire. I see no point in amassing a collection of 'quotes' calling someone a terrorist for only this reason. The Weatherman article describes what the group and/or individuals within it did at various points in time. Same with the articles about individuals. Anyone reading the material is perfectly capable of figuring out for themselves if that does or does not meet their own sense of the t-words.
IF a group is on a particular country's official governmental terrorist list, I have no problem including that full fact in the article. It varies, which should be a clue right there. The UK and US lists are different from each other, as well as other European lists, and of course South American lists are different yet - and so forth. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Everyone at the Boston Tea Party was a domestic terrorist, according to the British, but I don't think including that label in that article would improve the state of human knowledge. Also, groups are put on and taken off these lists, so it's not a 'permanent' label. I don't have a problem with mentioning the FBI considered Weatherman a terrorist group, but I want to see the dates. Flatterworld (talk) 02:28, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Re: Noroton's statement claiming Weatherman 'fits' the FBI's definition of domestic terrorist group. Not good enough, imo. Many groups, including local teenage vandals, fit that definition yet the FBI doesn't consider them sufficient threats to recognize them as such. Flatterworld (talk) 02:45, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Re: Noroton's statement about Ayers and Dohrn. They signed the original organizing statement, I believe. They were also both kicked out for being insufficiently radical in the mid-70s. Which of course leaves a gap with what various members and ex-members of the Weatherman did after that, yet that is left out implying Ayers and Dohrn were responsible for everything Weatherman did. That's misleading and certainly isn't encyclopedic. Flatterworld (talk) 02:33, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Noroton reply to Flatterworld[edit]

IF a group is on a particular country's official governmental terrorist list, I have no problem including that full fact in the article. The Weatherman is defunct, so it's not on a current list. But the FBI calls them "terrorist" so I don't understand the distinction. The FBI actively sought them and investigated them and indicted the leadership and other members on multiple occasions for acts that the FBI calls terrorist, so I don't understand what the objection is to our stating that the FBI has called them a "terrorist group". What's the difference between the FBI calling them terrorist and the FBI having them on an "official governmental terrorist list"? Ayers and Dohrn. The FBI has stated Dohrn was the leader of the group, and Ayers was one of the top leaders, as have multiple other sources. I didn't say they were responsible for everything Weatherman did and rather than do WP:OR I would state in their individual articles that they were the very top leaders [footnotes here] of an organization that has been called a terrorist group by the FBI [footnote here] and others [footnote or footnotes here]. See this FBI document [32], which states (page 198 of the document; page 13 of the PDF) BERNARDINE DOHRN is the acknowledged leader of the WUO [Weather Underground Organization]. From the same document (page 188 of the document, page 5 of the PDF) WILLIAM CHARLES AYERS ... is one of the authors of the 'Weatherman Statement' upon which the WUO was founded in 1969 and has been considered to be one of the leaders of the organization since its founding. The FBI document, an analysis prepared by the Chicago Field Office [33] was from 1976, after the Weatherman had committed nearly all of its bombings. The Weatherman broke up in 1977, with a group in California declaring itself to be the group and separating itself from Ayers, Dohrn and others, who were members of another faction. This is consistent with all the sources. So Ayers and Dohrn were top leaders of the group when it was committing terrorist acts. Sources also tell us that the central committee they were members of (initially called the "Weather Bureau") controlled the group. Do you still have objections based on sourcing? -- Noroton (talk) 18:34, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

There is a huge difference between FBI's placing a group on its official terror list, and FBI's press room writing a "byte out of history" page for its web newsletter describing the group in historical context as terrorists. FBI is the keeper of the official terrorist list. It is not the official arbiter of American history. All we can say from this is that the FBI, in one article, characterized them as terrorists and that a field office that was a forerunner to today's terrorism task forces was actively investigating the group back in the day. If we do decide that the "terrorist" label is important enough to discuss in the Weathermen article, those two facts are the most significant instances of applying the "terrorism" label to the group so they would of course be mentioned. Wikidemon (talk) 19:04, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
No. I just added the link to the FBI document I was talking about. It isn't a news release. It isn't from the press room. Here's the page with the links to various parts of the long document. Here [34], again, is the link to the specific PDF I was referring to. -- Noroton (talk) 22:46, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
That's a fascinating document. But not an official designation either. It's an internal FBI file, not for public consumption.Wikidemon (talk) 02:11, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by Mangojuice[edit]

I admittedly don't know a whole lot about this group, or especially about the history surrounding this particular controversy as it relates to Obama. But maybe that makes me well-qualified to speak as an independent observer. Noroton's list of 17 sources describing the Weathermen as terrorists is indeed pretty impressive, compared to the two sources that dispute that description. I did a google book search on "Weathermen -meteorologist" as I figured that would give me hits about this group. What I found was that none of the book hits that came back seemed to describe the Weathermen as terrorists. Terrorist did not appear in the search-page snippets on any of the first few pages of results, and the ones I looked at in depth described the Weathermen group in other ways.

So it seems that the best characterization is that some have referred to the Weathermen as terrorists. Not many, not most, so I really think the word ought to be kept completely out of every article that can't take the space to really explain the issue properly. For most articles I can't imagine such a discussion would be appropriate for anything other than to justify including the word "terrorist," when the word is certainly not needed (descriptions like "violent radical group," for instance, should be uncontroversial).

I also note the lack of meta-sources on one side. What I mean is that on the side arguing that they should not be called terrorists, we have a source that specifically discusses the label issue and rejects the label (Dan Berger's book), but I have seen none that specifically discuss whether the label is appropriate and land in favor of it. In fact, many of Noroton's sources seem to include the word in order to disparage the tactics the Weathermen used: e.g. "The Weathermen [...] show a contempt for the people of the United States. What they're really saying is that you can't organize a mass movement in the United States for a revolution, so they're resorting to terrorism." -- this quote shows the use of the word as a rhetorical device. The speaker has a thesis, which relies on the listener forming a disapproving opinion of the group, and thus the word "terrorism" is just much more effective. #10 on Noroton's list is another example: "frenzied overreach" tips off the speaker's aims, so the use of the term "terrorism" is not a neutral judgement but rhetoric. Another red herring is the quote from Bernadine Dohrm saying the Weathermen were "considering tactics other than ... terrorism", because while this mentions the word, it seems to me that this is actually a claim by the Weathermen that they are not embracing terrorism.

What I do see as usable from the pro-terrorism-label side is the FBI's description of them. This is a historical judgement but coming from the FBI it has an authority unlike all the others. Still, all these histories I'm looking at do not describe them as terrorist, so I think that's got to be heavily qualified. Mangojuicetalk 05:03, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

You may want to redo your search as "Weathermen -meteorologist +terrorist" which got me 663 book listings. I'll leave it to you to assess their relevance. I'm just helping out on your google-fu. TMLutas (talk) 05:44, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
There are a lot of sources that discuss the Weathermen. It won't do us any good to count the number of sources on either side. Instead, we should be looking at what the most authoritative sources say. I say that the sources we take most seriously are general histories of the period, or encyclopedia articles about the Weathermen. How does that break down? And once again, can anyone point to a source that discusses explicitly whether or not "terrorist" is appropriate to apply to the Weathermen and concludes that it is? Mangojuicetalk 21:39, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I get the impression that calling Weatherman "terrorist" has not been controversial for the most part since 1970 when the group started being described that way. I don't really have evidence that there in fact is or was a controversy about them being called terrorist. If the sources exist and can be found, I support including mention that so-and-so-reliable-source says they were in fact terrorists for this reason ... but the fact that reliable sources can be cited calling what they did terrorism is more important, and we can note that the word was used in connection with specificly mentioning that the group claimed responsibility for various bombings. I simply know that Ayers and Berger (and I'm sure some other sympathizers with the group) have rejected the term, but that doesn't prove there's a controversy. If there is, in fact, a debate about this, I'd be happy to mention it as part of fair, NPOV coverage of these subjects. I think it's especially necessary to note either the Ayers or Berger disagreement (or both), in the Ayers article and Weatherman articles.-- Noroton (talk) 17:50, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by TMLutas[edit]

I find it rather strange that we're seriously discussing whether the WUO is not terrorist. Their claim that they were not terrorists rests solely on not killing people on purpose and the only reason that has any plausibility at all is that when they branched out into specific anti-personnel devices, the first one blew up while being constructed. They fit the description otherwise and they did kill people and certainly advocated killing people. Shouting "fire" in a crowded theater is illegal whether you were kidding or not and similar rules generally do and should follow for the advocacy of killing people for political reasons especially when actual people die in the end.

The WUO's competence at killing people is entirely a separate matter. It should not affect their designation. That Obama was propelled forward by the political influence of the Ayers clan should be no impetus for an orwellian whitewashing of history TMLutas (talk) 05:18, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:Hurmata[edit]

I haven't reached a conclusion on the topic of this RfC.

I think the issue is bigger than Wikipedia. The issue is the range of meanings of "terrorism". This term seems to have acquired the general meaning of, let's say, "political violence", in the US. But it is important to realize that it only acquired that meaning after the time of Weatherman, possibly in the late 1970s, certainly by the mid 1980s. This is like the use of "smut" for "pornography" in the middle of the last century, or of "materialist" for "consumerist" in the late 1960s (as part of the critique of Western society). The members of Weatherman were called "urban guerillas". I think this is an overly ideological to use the term "terrorism" for just any violent political dissent. I think the U.S. government has brainwashed the American people in this regard, with such success that I myself referred to someone (Ayers, I think) as a "terrorist". Almost immediately, I had misgivings. Terrorizing, extorting, and intimidating are all distinct. On the other hand, these three (considered either as intentions or as effects) can exist simultaneously and even overlap, or one can arise from another.

So in general, I don't think setting bombs in itself constitutes terrorism. Now, I do think it's plausible to describe some of Weatherman's acts (or plans) as terrorism (e.g., the alleged intent to bomb a soldiers' dance), but that's not to say that I'm convinced, and that's not to say that Ayers took part in those acts or plans. I advise that any time we call some violent political group or political person "terrorist", we qualify it in a way that alludes to how the interpretation of the word is evolving and controversial. An internal link would be a good thing.

I must second what TMLutas has said immediately preceding, only more vehemently: I call bullshit on professing to be shocked that a professor could be (or have been) a terrorist. Of course a professor, even a prof of education, could have been, or could be now, a terrorist. Hurmata (talk) 06:34, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:Justmeherenow[edit]

[San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal, Feb 2007: "On February 16, 1970, Officer...] Brian V. McDonnell #1001 was standing in the doorway off the office and the main squad room. At approximately 2244 hours, a pipe bomb exploded[...]on the window ledge[...]. Sergeant McDonnell caught the full force of the flying shrapnel, which consisted of heavy metal staples and lead bullets. As other officers tried rendering aid to the fallen sergeant, they could see that he sustained a severed neck artery wound and severe wounds to his eyes and neck. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors attempted valiantly to save his life. Two days later, Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell succumbed to his injuries[...]."

Did Brian V. McDonnell, Robert Fogarty and the San Francisco Police Department feel terrorized? As it was, reporters', FBI report writers', academics', and Congresspersons' staff members' fingers quickly pressed t-e-r-r-o-r on the keyboards of their whirringly motored IBM Selectrics back in the nineteen-seventies without a second thought.

Jay Kinney, the underground cartoonist/former editor-in-chief of Gnosis Magazine has written,

"The standard line...is that the Weather Underground performed two dozen bombings of symbolic targets and that they carefully avoided killing anyone. This excises the Feb. 16, 1970 bombing of the San Francisco police station on the edge of Golden Gate Park in which at least one officer, Brian McDonnell, was killed and others were seriously injured. The bombing, at the time, was credited to the Weathermen....One can't help but wonder whether the WUO's 'clean' record of no deaths is due to careful parsing of just what actions were allowed into the 'official' WUO canon. Were the more reckless pre-townhouse bombings - not all of which were claimed or solved - consigned to a memory-hole about which the less said the better?"

McDonnell was killed by a pipe stuffed with heavy metal staples, while Weatherman underground comrades Oughton, Gold and Robbins were killed by one said to be stuffed with nails: not maybe the exact same M.O. But if Mossad had had wind of evidence regarding a Palestinian professor's alleged violence similar to what the FBI had regarding (now Dr.) Dohrn, Mossad would have thought nothing of going in and simply assassinating that Palestinian professor. (Note: I'm against Israel's doing such things. I follow the thinking of the SDS's erstwhile political fellow traveler Noam Chomsky on such matters.)

In any case, sure, Bill Ayers has said on various occasions,

"I was a revolutionary anarcho-communist, intent on overthrowing the government, a worthy if immodest goal." (Fugitive Days: A Memoir)

I chose to build a capacity to survive what I thougt was an impending American facism---the imperial project was already visiting a facist-like state of affairs in Indochina,Africa,parts of Latin America as well as the ghettos of our cites---to resist,make the cost of empire higher,fight back,and,yes,a bit immodestly,make a reolution that could prevent future wars,bring about racial and economic justice,restore some balance to the world.I was determined,despairing sometimes,hopeful other times,and a bit over the top....But then,who had it figured out right?And have that person write and tell us what to do now in this gathering darkness... (From on-line dialogue)[35]

There is work to be done,work that involves remaking ourselves and our culture in order to free the planet.....The questions we face are huge ehical and political and strategic questions,not little tactical ones.But I must object to a definition of terrorism that is both too large and too small.The by a non-govt.group....both lets the main perpetrators of terror thruout history off the hook,and conflates the actions of Bin Laden with the Berrigans,the Brownshirts with John Brown and Nat Turner,the Klan with the African National Congress.A firmer definition,which applies to all groups,is the killing of innocents to achieve a political end.We still have to figure out the question of a just cause,but terrorism is never really defensible,and in my book I try to show a group of young people flirting with the idea of answering official terror with a terror of our own,never pulling it off and finally renouncing it as an option.... (From on-line dialogue)[36]

Certainly flirting with the idea of terrorism was off the tracks and a mistake. The fact that we never executed that flirtation is important and significant and I think conveniently forgotten, but we never did. (From presentation at a bookstore "book signing" event)[37]

Fine. Still, I'd agree with commentator Kinney (from above) that

"Today, thanks to the Patriot Act, most of the break-ins and wiretaps that the Feds used in their manhunt against the WUO would be perfectly legal, and were she to have resurfaced now, instead of in 1980, Bernardine Dohrn might be in an isolation cell on Guantanamo, with a bag over her head, rather than directing a law center for children and family rights at Northwestern University....Dohrn admits that 'mistakes' were made, though these were seemingly, in her view, strategic and tactical, and her Weather world view appears to be otherwise intact."

My proposal? Let's not have WP label the WUO anything; still, a short graf tellin' it like it is -- "The WUO was uncontroversially called terrorist back in the day but now the label is controversial" -- gives breadth to Wikipedia's coverage and succeeds in being "encylopedic."

"Ayers[was ...]a leader of the Weather Underground[...]clandestine organization[...--]a rabble-rouser and a saboteur. -- JONAH RASKIN (a professor who the NYT says was once a "courier for the Weather Underground." Raskin has asserted he "knew most of [its] members.")[38]

Bill Ayers long ago settled into a life of quiet respectability as[...]a much-published activist for better schools[...but has had an] unquiet past as a leader of the violent Weathermen[...]. He has never apologized for his violent past. -- Chicago TRIBUNE[39]

Bill Ayers, once (as recently described by one who knew him then) a clandestine saboteur, is often characterized in the media as never having apologized for his violent past. Ayers believes, according to a definition of terrorism as "the killing of innocents to achieve a political end," that the organization he lead was "a group of young people flirting with the idea of answering official terror with a terror of our own, never pulling it off and finally renouncing it as an option." -- Justme

  Justmeherenow (  ) 15:31, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:Brothejr[edit]

I’m not as well versed with the Weatherman situation as some of the others here. Yet, I do want to chime in with a couple statements.

First off, WP has to be as neutral as possible. What do we mean neutral? Taking a look at the neutral entry in Wiktonary: [40] we see the first three definitions:

  1. Not taking sides in a conflict such as war; nonaligned.
  2. Favoring neither the supporting nor opposing viewpoint of a topic of debate; unbiased.
  3. (grammar) Neither positive nor negative.

Using the definitions, we see that to be neutral means we take neither side in the debate. We do not synthesize a conclusion, a moral judgment, or anything else along those lines, but just report what others have said of them and the history involved. This means we must use as neutral sounding words, keeping just to the facts, and keeping our personal judgments out of the articles in question.

Now let’s move onto the word terrorist. We have two entries within Wiktonary: Terrorist [41],

  1. One who governs by terrorism or intimidation; originally applied to an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.
  2. Anyone who uses terror as a weapon in a political struggle, frequently in an attempt to coerce a more powerful opponent, such as a government.

Also, Terrorism [42],

  1. The deliberate commission of an act of violence to create an emotional response from the victim in the furtherance of a political or social agenda.
  2. Violence against civilians to achieve military or political objectives.
  3. A psychological strategy of war for gaining political or religious ends by deliberately creating a climate of fear among the population of a state.

You see we also have a problem here with the terrorist word here. For on one side, as pointed to above, the Weatherman organization could be labeled as a terrorist group by strict definition. Yet, there is another side to this that must be taken into account. This portion is not in the definition and would not really be covered in a dictionary, because it is about how the word has become politically charged. The definition of politically charged itself cannot really be found or at least in a concrete form. The term itself helps us show what it is really about. The best definition I can come up for that term is words that spark strong negative feelings within the audience. Some examples of politically charged words are: slaves, Nazi, liberal, and terrorism. (Heck, on a side note, looking at the third definition of terrorism, politically charged words themselves could be arguably argued as parts of terrorism and that the politicians who use them could be terrorist themselves. Though I digress of track and I am not calling the politicians terrorists!)

When politicians wanted to get their audience riled up they would use politically charged words in conjunction with a target (most times a person or organization) to get people to vote their way. This concept is not new and has been around for far longer then man can remember in one form or another, but the base of the meaning has been the same. This idea still works today; all you need to do is look back at all the fighting going on between editors over this simple word.

Yet, to get back to what I said in the beginning, we must be neutral in the matter. We are not politicians, we are not the police, and we are not the moral judges of these people. We are only here reporting on the history and facts of the events. It is understood that we all have our own POV on these subjects and that this POV does at times color our views, yet when we edit WP, we should shelve our POV’s and edit in a neutral manner. We should shy away from politically charged words when describing the events and use more neutral sounding words. If someone calls them a terrorist, then to be neutral, we must then report that person A/organization named them a terrorist, and let the reader them self draw the conclusion. We are not here to draw conclusions for people, but to report the facts and leave it to the reader.

So in my opinion we should only use the word terrorist when reporting what others have said about the group and people, and not abjectly apply the term ourselves to everyone involved with the Weatherman organization. Brothejr (talk) 14:21, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Statement by User:WorkerBee74[edit]

The definitions cited above by Brothejr make it abundantly clear: Weather Underground is a terrorist organiation, and Ayers and Dohrn are terrorists. WorkerBee74 (talk) 11:28, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposals, discussions[edit]

I propose that edits to any of these articles that follow WP:TERRORIST be allowed. -- Noroton (talk) 19:31, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I just fixed the link to WP:TERRORIST. Here is the relevant passage:
Naturally, if a verifiable and reliable source explicitly uses one of these terms, then that term should be used in direct quotes or "X said Y" phrases, properly cited. Or, if multiple reliable sources use it, it may be used to describe a subject, but only to suggest that the subject is widely known as a terrorist, and the references in question should be placed right after the word or the sentence in which the word appears.
-- Noroton (talk) 03:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Note about WP:TERRORIST: The policy that Noroton has used above has been in existence since August 19. -- Scjessey (talk) 13:00, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Note about SCJESSEY'S MISLEADING BOXED STATEMENT: The language may have changed or gone back and forth, but look back at the long section as it stood at 19:16, April 5, 2006 and you'll see essentially the SAME POLICY only more long-winded. That version states: This is the standard Wikipedia format "X says Y". If this is followed, the article should make it clear who is calling them a terrorist, and that the word does not appear to be used, unqualified, by the "narrative voice" of the article From the "Encyclopedic" examples section: Provisional Irish Republican Army - "The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish Republican paramilitary organisation. The organisation has been outlawed and classified as a terrorist group in [Great Britain, Eire, the US] and many other countries..." Essentially the same treatment. We now return you to your regular, unboxed comments, and can we please not box any more comments because it looks like SHOUTING WITH A MEGAPHONE! (I wouldn't mind if someone removed the boxes from both comments.) -- Noroton (talk) 15:59, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
(indeed, every added level of emphasis doubles the assault on the brain cells) - Wikidemon (talk) 16:12, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

As to clandestine Weatherpeople sabotage/"terror" and its connection to the political Obama-Ayers controversy, I meow-self agree with bespectacled lib commentator Michael Kinsley:

(Hey! What's a few boxes among friends?)   Justmeherenow (  ) 17:29, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

A quick response:

  1. They deny they were “terrorists” so it’s a BLP violation to cite reliable sources that call them that? Wow, time to rewrite the Scott Petersen article because that’s got BLP violation written all over it because he maintains his innocence to this date.
  2. Ahh, I see, like everything with Wikidemo, its all about the 08 election.
  3. Strawman, no material appears in the article accusing Dohrn of murder. See above, lots of sources call it terrorism and since they constitute the bulk of reliable sources on this subject it has to be included.
  4. Maybe you cant call them terrorists, but I can cite hundreds of sources that say that the Weathermen were terrorists .. last I checked that’s all the requirement needed for inclusion.

CENSEI (talk) 20:35, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

And there are plenty of sources that say otherwise. NPOV demands dispassionate discussion. Clearly the word "terrorist" needs to be grappled with in describing Ayers. On the other hand, the term is contentious. And NPOV suggests we ought not simply call him a terrorist - we ought to explain the viewpoints, both his and otherwise, and leave the issue there. We shouldn't call him a terrorist - we should say who calls him a terrorist, and explain why they do so.
As for the "it's all about the 08 election," let's be honest - it is all about the 08 election. This wasn't an issue before the ABC debate. Nobody cared. They care because this is framing a major political debate right now. We ought not lie to ourselves about this. Phil Sandifer (talk) 20:47, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
The Obama-Ayers controversy is what got me interested in Ayers, Dohrn and the Weatherman organization, and it's certainly what will make many people interested in it. There's simply nothing right or wrong about that, as far as these articles are concerned, but it's worth watching for our own POV. Yet that doesn't mean we can't edit these articles and provide information in an NPOV way, consistent with all Wikipedia policies and guidelines (in letter and spirit). In fact, I've made numerous edits to the Ayers and Dohrn articles, and some to the Weatherman article, that have nothing to do with this election. Every single source I've cited so far (16 of them at this point) was published well before this election (I think the latest was 2005).
What Phil Sandifer is alluding to, and what Eric the Red 2 has suggested elsewhere, is spelled out in WP:TERRORIST: We don't call them terrorists ourselves; we cite the fact that others have called them terrorist; we cite the fact that others have said they are not terrorists. This is largely what Wikidemon opposes.
Rather than talk in vague generalities, I find it's often very useful to have specific language. I'll take the proposed sections from the Dohrn and Weatherman articles and put them here for examination, although that may take a little time. -- Noroton (talk) 20:56, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon should back up the boldface part of this statement (from point #1) with citations or in some other way: The people involved deny that they are terrorists, with reasonable if not conclusive support. I haven't seen "reasonable support" from sources. Quite the opposite. -- Noroton (talk) 21:05, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Not all of the people involved deny they were terrorists. Brian Flanagan, a core member, has called the group's bombings "terrorism".Verklempt (talk) 21:09, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Phil, the ratio of sources calling them terrorists to those that specifically reject it is 20-1, its not even close, even Dohrn called what they did “terrorism”. You are right, it is about the election, my point is that Wikidemo reflexively removes any material from any article that could be construed as even tangentially critical of Obama. Back to my prior point, no editor is calling them a terrorist, we are referencing and citing good sources to do it. If you have any specific issues with any of the text, please bring it here. Wikidemo's point in this exercise is to strip any mention of terrorist out of all these article. CENSEI (talk) 21:14, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Clearly we should address, in an NPOV manner, what reliable sources say about Ayers, as well as what he says in his own defense. I am hard pressed to see how to do that without bringing up the word "terrorist." Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:16, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Your thoughts on the text, including the sources used, as it currently exists? CENSEI (talk) 21:25, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Of which article specifically? Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:39, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

My general impression, confirmed by what I have just read in the WP article on terrorism, is that the word has really no precise meaning at all. It is simply a judgemental word, a pejorative one. It's like calling an act or a person “despicable”. It adds nothing to the description of the act or the person's ideas and intentions.

In WP we should describe what people did and believe, and let the reader decide what to think of them. To speak of terrorism does nothing to inform the reader of the facts, and attempts to force eir judgement of them. It is best to avoid it, whether in the articles cited above or in any other article, including those on 9/11 and other such events.

Of course, when appropriate, it may be mentioned that an act or a movement has been called terrorist. I don't think that that should be done in the lead of an article, though.

David Olivier (talk) 21:40, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

(ec)I was hoping we could avoid infighting among editors. I have defended Wikipedia against some atrocious editing problems but I am not myself a POV editor here. Ayers did what he did, and the encyclopedia covers that. Applying the "terrorist" label is a value judgment placed on top of those bare facts that does not further explain them. It just applies a moral judgment. I disagree that the point of the articles is to present the moral case against Ayers and his moral defense. He has not been convicted of any of this in court and it's not up to us to conduct a surrogate trial. The specifics on how we address it depend to some extent on the article. The bio article is simply to chronicle his life. His life events are not in serious dispute, only how to describe them. The Ayers article as is addresses the point fairly sensitively. Insisting in adding, on all of the other articles, a characterization of Weathermen as terrorists, is a coatrack and serious BLP violation. Let's compare:
  • Bernadine Dohrn is former leader of the radical leftist organization Weather Underground
(with)
  • Bernadine Dohrn is former leader of the radical leftist organization Weather Underground (often accused of being terrorists)
(or)
  • Henry Kissinger, architect of United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977
(with)
  • Henry Kissinger, architect of United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977 (which many consider to be murderous imperialism)
(or)
  • Woody Allen, who married his former girlfriend's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn
(with)
  • Woody Allen, who married his former girlfriend's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn (who was so young many consider it uncomfortably close to pedophilia)
(or)
  • Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice
(with)
  • Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice (who some people think is a $*#$% unfit for the bench)
The point is, whether or not there is a reliable source to say people make these judgments, it is a problem if we carelessly repeat those judgments here. WP:BLP and WP:TERRORIST say we cannot simply endorse disparaging opinions, and also that we have to be careful about simply repeating them. We can debate the merits more later. For now I'm just pointing out that the debate is not over what Ayers did, but how to judge it. Wikidemon (talk) 21:58, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
It is false to say that the "terrorist" label is always a value judgement and nothing more. The truth is that many scholars have attempted to validate and apply the construct in an objective manner. You are disparaging the overwhelming scholarly and journalistic consensus about the WU as mere "opinion". It would seem that you really are not familiar enough with the relevant scholarship to be editing on this topic.Verklempt (talk) 22:17, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Attempted is not equivalent to success. Is there a consensus scholarly definition of "terrorist?" i.e. one that any scholar in a relevant field would accept? Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:25, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Bernadine Dohrn is former leader of the radical leftist organization Weather Underground (often accused of being terrorists), strawman, text like this does not exist in the article. CENSEI (talk) 22:27, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
(ecX3)Aside to CENSEI - you might want to check out the difference between a straw man and an analogy, but yes, various proposals have included a parenthetical clause of exactly that sort in the lead or even the first sentence. Back to Verklempt...Swell, consider me an ignoramus on the loose then, but I'm going to continue editing. I have not seen overwhelming scholarship or journalistic opinion that the group is terrorist. Even if you're right it would be a mistake to blindly accept scholarly constructs on matters of politics or consider them objective. Plus you do have to be careful where that argument goes. If we're going to accept the word from academia you will find it far more sympathetic to Ayers and his politics than is the American body politic.Wikidemon (talk) 22:31, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
No, strawman is appropriate because you began this RfC and continue to state that myself and Norton are calling Ayers, Dorhn and the WU "terrorists" when what we are doing is citing reliable sources that have called them terrorists and attributing those statements to said reliable sources. CENSEI (talk) 17:11, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, that's a different question. Let's not mince words. Using the word terrorist or terrorism to characterize people's actions or the notable activities of a group is to call them terrorists. Repeating someone else's opinion that they are terrorists means that they are called terrorists on Wikipedia. Same problem. You can't get around that by couching it in language atributing the statement to a source. Anyway, everyone knows what we are talking about and seems to get the distinction between Wikipedia asserting that they are terrorists (which most people oppose and is not under discussion), and Wikipedia covering the fact that they have been called terrorists (which is under discussion).Wikidemon (talk) 18:53, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

What you say is true, Verklempt. Over time, I too have seen really a lot of attempts by various scholars to define terrorism. None of the definitions hold, as is confirmed by the very repetition of the attempts. Now why do they insist so much on finding a definition? Obviously, it is because to be able to label something terrorist is to label it bad. It is really clear that that is what is at stake in the attempts to label Ayers and others terrorists. It adds nothing. It serves an agenda. David Olivier (talk) 22:28, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Whether or not "terrorism" is a defined term and whether or not that matters[edit]

The above discussion suggests that we may disagree on what terrorism means. Is it a specific term or general, an opinion or a fact? Is there scholarly or journalistic consensus? Maybe we can get somewhere by trying to understand what it means to call someone terrorist, or report that others have done the same. Wikidemon (talk) 22:33, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

The trouble is that the accepted "definitions" typically would also include things like the Firebombing of Tokyo by their definition; so some definitions try to include "non-state entities"; while others argue that you can't claim the identical action is different depending on whether 15 Saudis carried out 9/11, or Saudi Arabia carried out 9/11. Just as people often object to the term "war" for a specific military action and it gets parsed out to "military conflict", similarly "terrorist" is parsed out to "militant". "The Red Army Fraktion were a group of left-wing German militants..." and such. Sherurcij (speaker for the dead) 22:51, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
  • We are not required to define "terrorism", since we are not ourselves calling anyone or anything terrorist; we are reporting that others have used the term. None of the articles will go into the definition -- that normally doesn't happen in articles about people called terrorists. Bill Ayers (and to some extent Bernardine Dohrn -- but apparently by allusion) have discussed whether or not they are terrorists, and in that case, the question comes up. If a source discusses a particular definition, we can always report that, but that's probably not necessary. We are reporting on the views of reliable sources under the special definition of "opinion" used by WP:NPOV#A simple formulation:
Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves. By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." For example, that a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact. [...] No one seriously disputes any of these things. So we can feel free to assert as many of them as we can. By value or opinion, [FOOTNOTE: Opinions involve both matters of fact and value; see fact-value distinction ] on the other hand, we mean "a matter which is subject to dispute." There are many propositions that very clearly express values or opinions. That stealing is wrong is a value or opinion. [...] However, there are bound to be borderline cases where it is not clear if a particular dispute should be taken seriously and included. When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to someone and discuss the fact that they have this opinion.
Works for me. If we know a source discusses its use of the term "terrorism" we can decide whether to include that discussion of the definition (perhaps in the footnote?) If we don't, we assume the source is using the term with possibly rough edges in the definition. This happens all the time with every kind of source, and should not prevent us from using a term -- in fact, we'd be prevented from saying anything at all in the encyclopedia if we had to provide exact, precise definitions for everything. Dictionaries are able to come up with a definition. People are able to use the term. We can use it too. This might help: The Sorites paradox involves the philosophical problems with the definition of "heap". Yet we can still use that word (3,213 times in the encyclopedia, so far). -- Noroton (talk) 00:00, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, what's key here is that terrorist, being both a perjorative term and one with an unclear definition, is not an appropriate one to use objectively. That is, we cannot use "Bill Ayers is a professor of education and terrorist" as an article lead. (Not that anyone is saying we should.) And that's a very important qualification - the term cannot be used outside of specific, attributed claims. That sets it apart from, say, "professor of education," which is unambiguous. Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:09, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
See my statement above. Flatterworld (talk) 02:41, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
There is an interesting point in Mangojuice's satement, above. Noroton's list of citations notwithstanding, we do not know how common the word usage is. Even if we did, the original research / synthesis involved in mining sources in order to study what usage patters we could derive from them is beyond the scope of the encyclopedia - that would turn us into a dictionary. There are 40 sources of varying reliability (and probably thousands more) that use the word terrorist. And there are an untold number that do not use the word terrorist. The opposite of a source using the term is a source not using the term; it is not a source that says the term should be avoided, for there are very few sources indeed that delve into the subject of the word terrorism as a label or categorization as it applies to the weathermen. As an analogy (not a straw man, an analogy), suppose someone notes that Henry Kissinger has eaten a hamburger and decides that Henry Kissinger is a pig-snarfer. Is there going to be another source that writes a critique of the first source, saying that despite eating hamburgers Henry Kissinger is decidedly not a pig-snarfer? Probably not. Very few people write those kinds of pieces. Where I'm going with this is that even if we recognize that some but not most of the sources apply the term "terrorist", that does not give us the context or the sourcing for a section on word usage. It does not give us the measure of notability (by which I mean weight) to establish that the question of when the word is used or not is relevant to the subject at hand.
As a final example, our article reports on Britney Spears' "infamous" performance in the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. And infamous it certainly is - that's the one where she was out of shape, couldn't dance, and seemed mentally to be somewhere else. However, we probably shouldn't be using the word "infamous" because it's editorializing. It might be worth a little time speculating about whether the performance was infamous or not - certainly some sources say it was infamous and it fits the dictionary definition of infamy, sort of. But you could also argue that it does not, and that many people while acknowledging how wrong, bad, and immoral the performance was (she bombed like a Weatherman for sure) chose not to use the word "infamous" and instead opted for more neutral terms like "sloppy", "unrehearsed", or "controversial". Since we cannot call her infamous directly, may we instead add a section to the article entitled "referred to as infamous" to the Britney Spears article? Well, despite all of the reliable sourcing, we simply do not have enough to go on that the label is notable or that it makes any difference. - Wikidemon (talk) 15:53, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
We don't need to have a precise knowledge of how common it has been over the course of nearly 40 years for reliable, prominent sources to have called them "terrorist" -- my long list shows that it has been common. We don't even have any evidence yet that the "Weatherman was not terrorist" POV is at all common. See the end of WP:WEIGHT: To determine proper weight, consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors. Because of the controversial nature of minority views, special care should be taken to avoid biassing articles by writing from the majority or minority perspectives. To take the Britney Spears example, Wikipedia allows us to report the opinions of others on her performance, and if we have reliable sources saying it was "widely thought to have bombed", WP:NPOV specifically allows that (as discussed in the four subsections just below WP:WEIGHT). -- Noroton (talk) 19:01, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
A list of 40 citations (not all reliable, by the way, and none reliable for the purpose of actually saying they are terrorists) does not establish that it is common. If 40 people do something 40 times in history that does not make it a common occurrence. It is clearly common for unreliable sources to use the term. We are not trying to establish that they were terrorists, or that they were not. Rather, we are debating whether it is proper to cover the fact that some people call them terrorists. Hence, it is off topic to look for reliable sources to say they are not terrorists. I'm not sure that the section of NPOV you quoted is exactly on point - it goes to reporting weight of significant viewpoints about facts, not significant word usage. Rather, we see that the term is sometimes applied and sometimes not. More often not, but it is used. What is relevant to the BLP issue is that they themselves deny being terrorists, and that there are a number of opinions that agree with them. The point of the Britney Spears example is to show that not every word usage issue is relevant/notable to its subject. Although it would be balanced to report that many people thought her performance was "infamous" (or that she was "chubby", "awful", etc), it would neither be neutral, nor satisfy WP:WEIGHT concerns, to devote a section of her biography to reporting people's opinions about her. Wikidemon (talk) 19:23, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

For Article: Weatherman (organization) Proposal 1 by Noroton[edit]

This section was edit-warred over at the Weatherman article. I put it here to show what kind of insertion we might use, but I am very flexible as to exact language and even length. It probably contains too many quotes. In any event, I think this is a good start and may help focus the discussion (please discuss in the discussion section):

-- Noroton (talk) 00:44, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Referred to as a terrorist group

Since 1970 the Weatherman organization has often, but not always, been classified in America as a domestic terrorist organization. "Within the political youth movement of the late sixties (outside of Latin America), the 'Weathermen' were the first group to reach the front page because of terrorist activities," wrote Klaus Mehnert in his 1977 book, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy". [1] Neil A. Hamilton, in his 1996 book on militia movements in the United States, wrote, "By and large, though, these Weathermen did not rely on arming and training militia; instead, they resorted to terrorism." [2]

Starting in 1970 newspapers covering their bombing of public buildings identified the group as "terrorist".[1] Michael Charney, a spokesman for the rival Oberlin Radical Coalition, told The New York Times that year that the Weathermen resorted to terrorism because Americans were unwilling to participate in a revolution. Thomas Powers and Lucinda Franks wrote the Pulitzer-prize-winning news series, "Diana: The Making of a Terrorist" about the life and death of member Diana Oughton (later expanded into a full-length authorized biography on the subject). The group fell under the auspicies of FBI-New York City Police Anti Terrorist Task Force, a forerunner of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The FBI, on its website, describes organization as having been a "domestic terrorist group", but no longer an active concern. [3]

Others either dispute or clarify the categorization, or justify the group's violence as an appropriate response to the Vietnam war. In his 2001 book about his Weatherman experiences, Bill Ayers stated his objection to describing the WUO (Weather Underground Organization) as "terrorist". Ayers wrote: "Terrorists terrorize, they kill innocent civilians, while we organized and agitated. Terrorists destroy randomly, while our actions bore, we hoped, the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists indimidate, while we aimed only to educate. No, we're not terrorists." [4] Dan Berger, in his book about the Weatherman, Outlaws in America, quotes Ayers' objection, then adds, The WUO's actions were more than just educational — one could argue that there was a component of 'intimidating' the government and police attached to the actions — bu the group purposefully and successfully avoided injuring anyone, not just civilians but armed enforcers of the government. Its war against property by definition means that the WUO was not a terrorist organization — it was, indeed, one deeply opposed to the tactic of terrorism." Berger also describes the organization's activities as "a moral, pedagogical, and militant form of guerrilla theater with a bang." [5]

FOOTNOTES
  1. Mehnert, Klaus, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy", Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1977, page 47
  2. Hamilton, Neil A., "Militias in America: A Reference Handbook", a volume in the "Contemporary World Issues" series, Santa Barbara, California, 1996, page 15; ISBN 0874368596; the book identifies its author this way: "Neil A. Hamilton is associate professor and chair of the history department at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama": Montgomery, Paul L., "Guilty Plea Entered in 'Village' Bombing: Cathlyn Wilkerson Could Be Given Probation or Up to 7 Years", article, The New York Times, July 19, 1980: "the terrorist Weather Underground"
  3. Web page titled, "BYTE OUT OF HISTORY: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008</
  4. Ayers, Bill, Fugitive Days, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807071242, p 263
  5. Berger, Dan, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, AK Press: Oakland, California, 2006, ISBN 1904859410 pp 286-287; the book describes Berger as "a writer, activist, and Ph.D. candidate", and the book is dedicated to his grandmother and to Weatherman member David Gilbert

discussion of proposal[edit]

I gather that this is the complete proposal for the Weathermen article (i.e. no proposals for other sections or the lead), but that Noroton favors adding material to other articles as well. I cannot evaluate this proposal in isolation - what material is proposed for other articles? My baseline position, which I have not had a chance yet to fully explain, is that we should not address this material at all in the encyclopedia. I don't want to explain the reasoning anew each time the proposal made so I will do it in my statement when I have a chance, and after we have a time to see what emerges from the discussion. I think we have to get some preliminary direction on whether, how, and where the material should be treated before we can consider specific text for specific articles - so this may be premature. If we do decide to add material it should only be in the Weathermen article, not in any BLPs or election-related articles. Also, if we do include something should not be a shoehorn for bringing up terrorism in other places the Weathermen are discussed. Even to fit in the Weathermen article alone it will have to be trimmed considerably for weight, some of the sources reconsidered for relevance and reliability, some additional context and balance added, and a less provocative section heading (or better, no separate heading) used. Wikidemon (talk) 01:04, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

I'll say it once and for all: calling a group a terrorist group is passing moral judgement which is not Wikipedia's place. The proposal does not fit the WP:TERRORIST language of x says y is z, but rather that y is generally referred to as z, source x as well as sources a,b,c, and d all say this as well. There is a difference, and it is a vital one. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 02:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand why you would say that, Eric. Please tell me how specifically does my wording not fit WP:TERRORIST, which says: Naturally, if a verifiable and reliable source explicitly uses one of these terms, then that term should be used in direct quotes or "X said Y" phrases, properly cited. Or, if multiple reliable sources use it, it may be used to describe a subject, but only to suggest that the subject is widely known as a terrorist, and the references in question should be placed right after the word or the sentence in which the word appears. The passage I wrote was designed with that guideline in mind. -- Noroton (talk) 03:09, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
The passage does not say that the subject is widely known as a terrorist and then cite sources to that effect. It says, "The Weathermen are usually known as terrorists, here's all the people that think so (in excruciating detail), and here's why their right. Oh yeah, there are some who disagree with me, but I'll just shove them into a little hole at the end and hope that no one reads the entire section." This is not appropriate. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 13:28, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, your point is that you think the language of the first sentence (Since 1970 the Weatherman organization has often, but not always, been classified in America as a domestic terrorist organization.) implies usually and seems to endorse that POV. Since I don't think Wikipedia can endorse that POV, and don't want to, I am open to alternative language that doesn't do that but that still gets across the point I want to make in that passage: That (a) many different sources, (b) which are reliable, (c) from 1970 to now have considered the group terrorist and called it that, while (d) some sources have also disagreed. Having looked at a lot more sources through the Google Book search above, I'm willing to use different, better sources than what I have in that passage. Can you suggest alternative language that meets the three encyclopedic points I set out to make? On the principle that it is up to the editor who wants to add information to the article to justify it, I think I've shown in my long list of many, respectable sources that the idea that Weatherman was terrorist is not just some tiny-minority view and is either a large minority or majority view (I haven't even looked at Google Scholar and only got half-way through the Google Books results, rejecting many sources along the way). Can you or anyone suggest language that meets WP:WEIGHT: Articles in Wikipedia should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. We can't characterize in the article what is the most prominent POV on "Is/was Weatherman terrorist?" (and the WP:ASF section prohibits doing that without sourcing the characterization anyway, and I don't know of any sources that do that). So let's present both views. Let's recognize that every indication is that the view of Weatherman as terrorist is a more prominent view (don't just look at the numbers for this, look at the prominence and quality of the sources). Scjessey in his statement says that only the briefest mention, already in the Weatherman article, should suffice. But I think it's only fair to the Weathermen to state in the article that certain Weathermen have publicly disagreed with that. Since all indications are that this is a minority view, it needs to be balanced with the more popular reliable view. Taking all this into account, do you or does someone else have a proposal for alternate language that we might agree on? Noroton (talk) 18:39, 6 September 2008 (UTC) wording changes to clarify the second-to-last sentence -- Noroton (talk) 18:46, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
A discussion of terrorism per se belongs in the Terrorism article. Period. Flatterworld (talk) 02:56, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposal: That Ayers' status of a professor is irrelevant to whether he is or isn't a terrorist[edit]

Wikidemon's naive idea that tenured professors are not terrorists is simply so far out of line that it needs highlighting. Terrorism is a game anybody can play, period. No profession is exempt and certainly not US professors. TMLutas (talk) 05:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for calling me naive. Ayers' status as a prominent professor of education (nationally recognized, tenured, published, major university, etc.), and his wife's as a law professor, suggests they are integrated and accepted in society. That is important in three respects. First, serious people (as opposed to political hacks trying to win an election or Wikipedia editors shooting the breeze) have judged them respectable people. So designating them as terrorists is at the very best only a small part of who they are. Second, it is utterly unremarkable that someone in Obama's position in a town like Chicago would encounter two people of that stature. Third, it is bad enough for Wikipedia to accuse anyone of being a criminal. To accuse a prominent menber of society of being a criminal is especially dubious. Wikidemon (talk) 07:37, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Ayers was a terrorist, now he's a professor. Abimael Guzmán was a professor, then he became a terrorist. The two careers are not mutually exclusive.Verklempt (talk) 21:13, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd tend to think WP should stick for the most part with phrasings that concentrate on action rather than labels. Interestingly, eg the Obama people mentioned something about Wm. Ayers' "crimes." Which, sure, does simplify things by shortening "armed revolution" (even that engaged in historically, eg John Brown's) into, by definition, "crimes" -- but still withoug apparently taking the next step and labeling its participant in Ayers' case as "a criminal"? (Nonetheless, a short graf in Wikipedia's coverage that discussed the actual "terror" label itself and mentioned how it was once UNCONTROVERSIALLY applied to the Weatherpeople yet now has become this way, would lend WP's treatment depth and hence could itself be labeled "encyclopedic".... )   Justmeherenow (  ) 12:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
(to Wikidemon) Believe me calling you naive was about as charitable as I could think so, you're welcome. You are assuming that people who revel in death and destruction cannot be integrated and accepted in society. I give you the Palestinian Authority and the competing Hamas government in Gaza as two modern day counterexamples. The Irish acceptence (especially in the US) of IRA activities generally categorized as terrorism is yet another one. Your assumptions do not hold. Normally, one would drop them at that point. TMLutas (talk) 14:13, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps, instead of assuming stupidity you might want to engage your brain and actually give some thoughts to the basis of the statement. Just why, do you think, are people making a fuss of the point that Ayers is a well-known professor and an active figure in Chicago politics and society? Wikidemon (talk) 15:15, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I know why Bill Ayers' acceptance in the 'respectable' side of Chicago politics pisses me off but I don't think I can make claims for other people, nor should I. To my mind Bill Ayers is not individual Bill Ayers but a member of the Ayers clan and that name means something in Chicago politics, old debts that are still being traded and collected. Not even being a terrorist, a sexual deviant promoting the end of monogamy, or a communist matters much in the clannish, corrupt politics of Chicago. Touching on the whole Obama thing, It's not that Obama is the 2nd coming of the Weathermen but rather that he was sponsored by the clan and he owes the clan and what *that* debt is going to mean for the presidency of one Barack Obama is as ignored as the more complicated mess that Bill Clinton was actually guilty of instead of the presidential hummers and lies under oath that actually dragged him down to being the 2nd President impeached in the history of the US.
And a note about stupidity (your word, not mine). I did not say that you're acting as a political hack or whore. I did not say that you were gaming the wikipedia system. I did not say that you're acting like a paid operative for the Democrat party nominee for President. I did not impugn your motives in any way shape or form. I said you were naive and that's better than the benefit of the doubt that I think you deserve. But it's what I'm giving you because that was the mood that I was in when I wrote that note and giving you that benefit of the doubt remains the better option for resolving this controversy. So, Mr. naive, please don't imagine that we couldn't continue this conversation on other terms or that I haven't thought things through. That you imagine that *I'm* mentally unengaged is the most naive thing you've said so far. TMLutas (talk) 22:14, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, no, we could not continue this conversation along those lines within the bounds of WP:CIVIL and WP:NPA, and though I respect your take on Chicago politics I do not think there is much more to be gained in a discussion of whether or not I am naive. This entire discussion is a sideline but thanks, after considering the matter I agree that whether someone is a professor is of little bearing on whether he is or is not a terrorist; however, when accusations of terrorism are made it is a fair question to look at who they are being made against and why.Wikidemon (talk) 22:56, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I'll take the win on the point and thank you for the rest. TMLutas (talk) 21:01, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Your insinuation aside, people have been calling Ayers and the WU terrorists long before Obama came along. If it were up to me they’d all be swinging from the gallows and all of Ayer's daddy's money wouldn’t have bought his way out of it and then a life in "respectable" circles. CENSEI (talk) 23:40, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Once again, Ayers is notable because he was a terrorists. Not because he is a professor. There are 10,000's of academics who do not have Wiki articles. CENSEI (talk) 14:20, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

He is notable for his role within the Weathermen, a position which he obviously doesn't hold now. Thus it is even more inappropriate to refer to him as a terrorist in the present tense, when he is a respectable and upstanding member of society and a professor at a world-renowned university. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 15:56, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Care to demonstrate where in the article that is being done? A specific block of text, for example, that says "Ayers is a terrorist" instead of "Ayers was considered a terrorist by X, Y and Z" as its currently phrased? And when did UIC become "world renown"? CENSEI (talk) 17:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with putting it in the past tense, and his present position is prominently described in the article, including in the lead, and should be. In any event, his being a professor is irrelevant to this discussion: It's obvious that you could have been a terrorist and then become a professor. -- Noroton (talk) 18:43, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
There is a natural progression of terrorists based on physical progression. Setting the bombs yourself is a young man's game. But once your hands are too unsteady to build one, your face too well known to set one, do you automatically stop being a terrorist? If you're a nostalgic who still works for the same ideology that you once set bombs to implement, what makes you stop being a terrorist? It's the repentence, I would say, that makes the difference. Others may disagree. TMLutas (talk) 14:13, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Er...this discussion seems to be tanking. Ayers has made it clear, over and over again, that he doesn't repent of trying to stop the Vietnam War. Period. So TMLutas thinks Ayers is still trying to stop the Vietnam War? In 2008? Talk about someone stuck in the sixties.... Until this election campaign started, there were a whole lot of Chicagoans (millions) who only knew Ayers as an academic. It's been roughly 33 years since he was kicked out of Weather. Babies have been born, grown up, and had babies of their own. If he were still determined to be a terrorist or whatever, I think someone around here (Chicago) in the intervening years would have noticed. Are you claiming he's in some sort of terrorist sleeper cell? That one day all these elderly people will get a phone call to 'activate' them, and they'll march off (assuming their knee replacements are up to it) to run some revolution? I mean really...this discussion is getting pretty surreal. Flatterworld (talk) 22:35, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
I think it far more likely that he's still trying to smash monogamy than concentrating on Vietnam. I think that he's very likely not fond of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns and I do wonder what his response would be to the temptation to be an elder statesman for a new WUO with the same tactics in response to a new war. A lot of the old "new left" seems to have taken those fights as a way to relive their Vietnam War activism. Would it really be so odd if Ayers was part of that cohort? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't but it's certainly not reliving the 60s so much as observing somebody else reliving them. But as I've said, planting bombs is a young man's game. Statistically, he's unlikely to be directly violent. TMLutas (talk) 21:10, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Potential points of agreement[edit]

There seems to be some agreement on some points here, but I'm not sure how much. Without trying to cut off any discussion, here are some areas where we might have a consensus:

  1. We won't approve language in which Wikipedia endorses calling anyone or any group "terrorist." This is in agreement with WP:TERRORIST. I think that going into this, either no editors or very few editors were advocating we do this. WP:NPOV#Impartial tone demands we don't take sides.
  2. Calling someone or something "terrorist" is a sensitive topic that demands to be treated with sensitivity. Language must be conservatively written, per WP:BLP.
  3. As per WP:ASF and other parts of WP:NPOV policy, Wikipedia reports on the "opinions" of reliable sources, with "opinion" defined basically as "something that reliable sources disagree about". We attribute opinions, but we are authorized and even encouraged to mention them in order to give readers a description of the important points of a subject (From WP:WEIGHT: Wikipedia always aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject.).
  4. There are no grounds for saying that calling Weatherman "terrorist" is a fringe or small minority view. There are enough reliable, reputable sources showing that calling Weatherman "terrorist" is, at least, a very significant view. (I have 40 sources so far, including general reference works that call it "terrorist", reference works about terrorism that call it terrorist, and many works by academics who call it that.)

Am I right that we're in basic agreement on these points and that we can move on to other points? There's still significant disagreement on other points. -- Noroton (talk) 19:27, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Agree on #1 and 2. As for #3 we are under no obligation to report opinions at all. The encyclopedia is a chronicle of the facts of the world, not its sentiments on whether people are good or bad. Neutrality / weight go to reliable sources' opinions as to matters of fact (e.g. is global warming caused by human activity?), not to matters of opinion (are people who support carbon emissions immoral?). I have not evaluated each of the 40 proposed sources in depth but among the ones I reviewed, few to none reliably report that the Weathermen were terrorists or that there is a widespread opinion that they were. For the most part they merely use the term themselves. For #3 it is hard to say, but being fringe or not is not the issue. Most newspapers avoid the term when they are in reporting mode, and use it if at all in opinion pieces, blogs, etc. It would be interesting to know if they have their own style guidelines on this.Wikidemon (talk) 19:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Direct quote from WP:BLP: "The article should document, in a non-partisan manner, what reliable third party sources have published about the subject and, in some circumstances, what the subject may have published about themselves."Verklempt (talk) 22:38, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Agree on all points, especially #4. As for #3, while we are not obliges to report "all" opinions, the opinion that the WU were a terrorist organization is overwhelming. For Wikidemon to state that the sources presented by Norton don’t indicate an overwhelming consensus of published material concluding that the WU were a terrorist organization is simply incomprehensible. CENSEI (talk) 21:00, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
The sources presented do not support a conclusion that Weathermen were terrorists. That's easy to comprehend, I think. Wikidemon (talk) 08:28, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree on all points under the condition that reporting the majority opinion is not an excuse for steamrolling the minority opinion. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 17:54, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I find #1 Orwellian and do not agree. Whether or not Ayers qualifies under WP:TERRORIST is a different matter but if you're going to excise the entire term, start with a RfD for Category:Terrorists and List of designated terrorist organizations before going on. There are times when the word is called for, even in an encyclopedia. Neutrality in tone and POV is good but terrorist is not only a pejorative term but also a descriptive one. If the shoe fits, the terrorist should wear it. #2,3,4 are fine. TMLutas (talk) 14:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

"Cites"[edit]

Revolutionary groups[edit]

  1. Palestine-Mandate-Ensign-1927-1948.svgIsrael Irgun#Views about Irgun. Views about the Irgun have been as disparate as any other political topic in Israeli society. Leaders within the mainstream Jewish Agency, Haganah, Histadrut, as well as British authorities, routinely condemned Irgun operations as terrorist and branded it an illegal organization as a result of the group's attacks on civilian targets.[citation needed] However, privately at least the Haganah kept a dialogue with the dissident groups.
  2. Flag of Northern Ireland.svgRepublic of Ireland Provisional IRA#Categorisation. The IRA is a proscribed organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000.[5] In Northern Ireland the IRA are referred to as terrorists by the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Progressive Unionist Party. Members of the IRA are tried in the Republic of Ireland in the Special Criminal Court. On the island of Ireland the largest political party to state that the IRA is not a terrorist organisation is Sinn Féin, currently the largest pro-Belfast Agreement political party in Northern Ireland (Sinn Féin is widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA, but the party insists that the two organisations are separate). The European Union has removed the IRA from their list of terrorist organisations. Peter Mandelson, a former Northern Ireland Secretary (a member of the British cabinet with responsibility for Northern Ireland) contrasted the post-1997 activities of the IRA with those of Al-Qaeda, describing the latter as "terrorists" and the former as "freedom fighters" (though Mandelson subsequently denied this sentiment [69]). IRA supporters preferred the labels freedom fighter, guerrilla and volunteer.   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:14, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  3. 60pxJohn Brown (abolitionist)#Posthumous view of Brown's character. Undoubtedly, as the U.S. distanced itself from the cause of the former slave and wearied of "bayonet rule" in the South, its view of Brown declined in a manner parallel with the demise of Reconstruction. In the 1880s, Brown's detractors – some of them contemporaries now embarrassed by their fervent abolitionism – began to produce virulent exposés, particularly emphasizing the Pottawatomie killings of 1856. Other intellectuals found Brown to be a forerunner of some strains of anarchism, much as contemporary scholars have frequently compared him with contemporary terrorists.
  4. Unionbar.svg
    Missouri
    Dixiebar.svg Bushwhacker#Jesse James. One of the most famous men who fought as a bushwhacker was Jesse James, who began to fight in 1864. During months of often intense combat, he only battled fellow Missourians, ranging from Missouri regiments of U.S. Volunteer troops to state militia to unarmed Unionist civilians. The single confirmed instance of him exchanging fire with Federal troops from another state occurred a month after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, during a near-fatal encounter with Wisconsin cavalrymen. In the course of the war, his mother and sister were arrested, his stepfather tortured, and his family banished temporarily from Missouri by state militiamen—all Unionist Missourians.
    See also Missouri in the American Civil War#Reconstruction.
  5. Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svgSouth Africa African National Congress#Violent political resistance. The ANC was classified as a terrorist organisation by the South African government and by some Western countries including the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
  6. Flag of Afghanistan (1980).svg Flag of Afghanistan 1992 free.png The Maktab al-Khidamat [...was] founded in 1984 by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden to raise funds and recruit foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. MAK became the forerunner to al-Qaeda[...].
  7. Continents from globe.png Lamb 09807-a.jpg Animal Liberation Front#Listing as a domestic terrorist group. The ALF was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security in January 2005.[98] In hearings held on May 18, 2005 before a Senate panel, officials of the FBI and ATF stated that "violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists now pose one of the most serious terrorism threats to the nation," adding that "of particular concern are the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)."[99][100] In the UK in 1998, Paul Wilkinson, former director of the University of St Andrews Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, said that the ALF and its splinter groups were the "most serious domestic terrorist threat within the United Kingdom," and that the ALF is "very close" to killing someone.[101]   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  8. Continents from globe.png Ichthys.svg Army of God (AOG) is a right wing pro-life organization that sanctions the use of force to combat abortion in the United States. In 2001, at the height of the United States anthrax scare, more than 170 abortion clinics and doctors offices in 14 states received letters containing white powder and the message "You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you. Army of God, Virginia DARE Chapter."[1] HBO produced a documentary on the Army Of God entitled Soldiers In The Army Of God.[2] The anthrax incidents have resulted in their being mentioned among terrorist organizations at the FBI.[3]   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  9. United StatesPuerto Rico The Boricua Popular/Peoples Army — or Ejército Popular Boricua in Spanish — is a clandestine organization based on the island of Puerto Rico, with cells throughout the United States. They campaign for and support the independence of Puerto Rico from what they characterize as United States colonial rule. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) describes the Boricua Popular Army as a terrorist organization.   Justmeherenow (  ) 00:49, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
  10. Blue Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svgUS Sons OfLiberty 9Stripes Flag.svg Sons of Liberty. Well, it's true that an earlier version of the article did truthfully state, "Viewed from the British side the Sons of Liberty were considered a revolutionary terrorist organization, and they were derisively referred to as 'The Sons of Violence'"; however the current namby pampy version reads, "British authorities and their supporters known as Loyalists considered the Sons of Liberty as seditious rebels, referring to them as 'Sons of Violence' and 'Sons of Iniquity.'"   Justmeherenow (  ) 02:12, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Those aren't very close examples. The IRA is generally considered terrorist, and was on many official state lists. Hundreds of people were killed in factional fighting by the IRA and its counterparts. To be fair, this Irgun action[44] killed 91 people and they killed hundreds of people overall. It was also an organization devoted to achieving geopolitical change in the middle east through use of terror. Plus nearly everybody involved is dead now, so no BLP issue. And the issue not tied in with a Presidential election (though it is tied in to Israeli/Palestinian relations). John Brown is a far less well known, long dead character - if it became an issue people would object to calling him terrorist because the concept did not exist back then. ANC is another ball of wax for sure - the US labeled them terrorists at the time it was supporting apartheid. But a very different issue, relating to real regime change. Wikidemon (talk) 20:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

11. Wreath globe.pngBlack & Red Flag.png Irgun and the IRA are nationalistic while the Weathermen were red. Yet all three offered armed resistance to imperialism (Brit or Yank) in hopes to educate citizenry and prepare them and the powers that be for envisioned political change. (It would be best to discipline ourselves to stop distracting from whatever subjects at hand by harping on the election. An encyclopedia must not slant coverage to support/counter propogandistic purposes.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

ADDED LATER. Note that Jonah Raskin compares the Weather Central Committe ("The Weather Bureau") to the IRA:

[...T]he (Weather) Central Committee felt that it not only could but should direct “aboveground” political activity. Perhaps the model of an armed underground controlling legal protest worked for a time in Ireland with the Irish Republican Army, but it did not sit well in the USA in the 1970s. Young protesters tended to distrust leaders, especially when they were invisible, and by-and-large they did not appreciate the notion of an elite clandestine group telling them what to do. I saw the undergrounders on the West Coast, too, and spent time with Bernardine and Bill who befriended my parents, ex-Communist Party members. [ ... ¶ ...] For a time, I allowed myself to think that the Weather Underground would be the instrument to rejuvenate the American left, and to link our political shrieks and cries in the heart of the empire to the roar of revolution in the Third World. [ ... ¶ ...] I declined an invitation to join. I knew that I could never have made a bomb or planted one in a building, and I could not have given myself over entirely to an organization that made bombs and that also demanded and expected the kind of discipline and loyalty you'd find in a communist party. [ ... ¶ ...] One of the last communiqués in The Weather Eye defends the Symbionese Liberation Army [...].

  Justmeherenow (  ) 23:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

No, the election point is quite relevant. If we wanted to avoid slanting coverage for propagandic purposes the proposal to plaster "terrorist" all over the encyclopedia in connection with the Weathermen would not be here. The primary reason why anyone is talking about this issue at all now is that a number of off-wiki partisans are trying to tie Obama to Ayers and Dohrn, and from there to terrorism. Avoiding slant means resisting attempts to turn Wikipedia into a broadcast for those fringe political tactics. I'm not the one who brought up the election - it's the people trying to insert terrorist into a lot of election-related articles. Not a day goes by that someone doesn't add "terrorist" to the Obama or Obama/Ayers article, or try to insert Obama's name into the Ayers or Weathermen articles. Probably several times a day, and several a day are getting blocked for this. This takes all forms, ranging from trolling, sockpuppetry, and vandalism, to equally confrontational but better-formed attempts. But it is clearly all triggered by the election. In response to the comment before, WU was not armed resistance, nor is "education" really what terrorism is about. Wikidemon (talk) 21:07, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Go to the Brown article. What's quoted is the section's lede. Afterward a score reliable opinion sources say Brown was a terrorist/proto-terrorist/terroristic. Let's everybody knock off U.S. elections rhetoric. The Weatherman article should be treated the same as any other armed group.   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:24, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon: "WU was not armed resistance, nor is 'education' really what terrorism is about."
Wasn't armed? Didn't "resist"? Never published screeds to educate? Don't blind yourself to neutral coverage the sources through worrying about the sharp parries and thrusts of partisanship.   Justmeherenow (  ) 22:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Regarding ALF, that's another ball of wax too - the US government is calling a lot of things terrorist these days. It's quite dubious, and eco-terrorism is quite a different subject. But it does clearly fit into the camp of an official designation. None of these are very close examples, and if you find one and it's covered that way here, we'll probably have a BLP violation that should also be revisited.Wikidemon (talk) 21:11, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Encyclopedic treatment of armed groups should be done without regard to contributors' political leanings. I'm an ardent Obama suporter in real life. Still, when I'm confronted with the question, "Individual X was listed by the FBI as wanted for crimes allegedly comitted as a member of an armed resistance group, making X WELLKNOWN. Does so-called "BLP" apply?" -- I see that "BLP" prohibitions don't apply. The Academy of Plato had etched above its entrance "Let no one ignorant of mathematics enter here." If I were Jimbo the Great (See an image of the sprawling Forbidden City complex at St. Petersburg, Florida here.), I'd set up a pass-fail editing admissions test. How the test was scored would be a deep secret. I'd offhandedly have the answer to the above question mentioned within some introductory matter to the test, then at the very end of the test, a question would be asked about it and anybody who'd kept that one answer in hi/r head that long would pass!   Justmeherenow (  ) 22:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
So...you're all in agreement to cover The Boston Tea Party as an armed terrorist group? Flatterworld (talk) 00:12, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Why, yes, of course. According to any dictionary of the English Language -- and according to the Wikipedia "Loyalist (American Revolution)" article's lede, which reads in part, "By July 4, 1776 the American Revolutionaries had gained control of virtually all territory in the 13 States by violently suppressing the Loyalists, demanding that they all give up their loyalty to the King. Those who refused to do so ran the risk of being tarred and feathered, (which often killed the loyalists)...." The Sons of Liberty engaged in violent revolution a/k/a terror. Anyway, Flatterworld, I'm impressed that you'd see these parallels. Weatherpeople were definately hoping to provide by their actions the exact same kind of catalyst toward a general political revolution -- a "prairie fire," as it were -- achieved by the Boston Tea Party: (from its WP article: "[...]As though on cue, the Sons of Liberty thinly disguised as either Mohawk[2][3] or Narragansett[4] Indians and armed with small hatchets and clubs, headed toward Griffin's Wharf (in Boston Harbor), where lay Dartmouth and the newly-arrived Beaver and Eleanour. [...] The British government felt this was an action which could not be unpunished and responded by closing the port of Boston and put in place other laws that were known as the "Intolerable Acts", also called the Coercive Acts, or Punitive Acts. In addition, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and Benjamin Church were charged with the "Crime of High Treason").   Justmeherenow (  ) 14:08, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Sure, if you want to indulge in a little revision and call the Founding Fathers of the United States terrorists, radicals, or militants, fine... though that kind of academic thesis is best cited to secondary sources rather than synthesis of modern dictionary definitions and historical analysis. Here is a Center for Defense Information article[45] that does just that, tracing 2,000 years of events that might be called terrorism. I used to indulge in that myself - I remember writing a paper in high school comparing the Boston Massacre to the Kent State shootings and concluding that both were understandable responses by soldiers in real danger from organized rioters. Human nature being what it is, nothing ever really changes. The problem is that the concept of terrorism was not around back then, and its current geopolitical incarnation is much different than past versions. The CDI article acknowledges this and specifically avoids defining terrorism. There is a circularity at work here. If you define terrorism you restrict the story. If you tell the story in advance you cannot derive a definition. The premise is that terrorism is what we decide it to be. The author follows up here[46] with a more expansive discussion of the word, and applies it here.[47] It's pretty clear that Wikipedia is way over its head trying to sort out in an encyclopedic matter what terrorism is specifically and who is a terrorist. The most we can say is that according to some people, certain people and groups are terrorists. But it is a fork to have that discussion about every group that is ever called a terrorist. Such talk belongs in the article on terrorism.Wikidemon (talk) 15:27, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Re "Domestic terrorist (United States)"[edit]

Hey folks, maybe we could piggyback onto this RfC our consideration of whether "Weather" should be mentioned in the Domestic terrorist (United States) stub, too?

3rtiary "takes" on Weatherfolk (by Britannica, Encarta, Columbia Encyclopedias)[edit]

  1. Britannica. Weathermen: American organization: "... By 1969 [...S.D.S.] had split into several factions, the most notorious of which was the 'Weathermen,' or 'Weather Underground,' which employed terrorist tactics in its activities."
  2. Encarta. Weathermen or Weather Underground, revolutionary group organized in the United States in 1969. Numbering only a few hundred young men and women, the Weathermen sought to overthrow the U.S. government. They preached and practiced a doctrine of armed struggle. [...] The Weatherman launched a campaign of violence to promote world Communism. In October 1969, they roared down Chicago streets, breaking windows, attacking police, and vandalizing cars. In these “Days of Rage” and subsequent actions, the Weathermen tried to “bring the [Vietnam] war home” to the streets of America. In March 1970 three Weathermen died when they accidentally detonated a bomb that was believed to be meant for Columbia University in New York City. The Weathermen eventually claimed responsibility for setting off about 20 bombs, including a small one in the United States Capitol.
    The Weathermen, who changed their name to the nonsexist Weather Underground,
    conducted terrorist activities through much of the 1970s. They attracted publicity but failed to advance their goal of a revolution. Most Americans rejected their ideas and were repulsed by their violent activities. Their actions contributed to the discrediting of left-wing political alternatives in the United States. By the late 1970s many of the members of the Weather Underground had given up the revolutionary struggle and turned themselves in to authorities. Many were jailed for their violent crimes.   Justmeherenow (  ) 23:21, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Interesting thing about that extremely short Encarta article -- look in the upper lefthand corner of the page and you find a link to "American terrorism". Click on the link and the Encarta page you get to lists Weatherman as a terrorist group. All professional reference works like these can't be used for sources because they're "tertiary" (see WP:PSTS, a part of WP:OR, about that), but they show how professionally written reference works approach the subject. Where exactly is the controversy over calling this group "terrorist", beyond Wikipedia? -- Noroton (talk) 23:29, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
3. Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed., 2001. terrorism: "Since the late 20th cent. acts of terrorism have been associated with the Italian Red Brigades, the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Peru’s Shining Path, Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Weathermen and some members of U.S. “militia” organizations, among many groups. Religiously inspired terrrorism has also occurred, such as that of extremist Christian opponents of abortion in the United States; of extremist Muslims associated with Hamas, Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, and other organizations; of extremist Sikhs in India; and of Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo, who released nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway system (1995)."   Justmeherenow (  ) 23:32, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Justmeherenow, I'm impressed. -- Noroton (talk) 23:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Ayers comments on press usage[edit]

While researching today the Weatherfolk graphic emblem, I've notice this from what Ayers blogged in 2006:

The Weather Underground, born[...]from the ashes of a terrible explosion that killed three of our leaders[...]on March 6, 1970[...was o]riginally a militant formation inside Students for a Democratic Society[...]. By the mid-1970’s[...]the organization had effectively flamed out.[...] Living through that time, the aggression, the assassinations, the terrorist war raging on and on in our names, it seemed as if we were experiencing terminally cataclysmic events and permanent war. Looking back, of course, we can see that[...]the war lasted only a decade, and then it was done. Three million people were needlessly killed. But in those days, with the outcome far from certain, we had to choose our actions[...].

We issued our first communiqué[...]in May 1970.[...]Within months we had established a pattern of action—retaliation for what we believed were attacks on the Black struggle, and offensives against the war machine. Our signature was a warning call[...]to clear a specific area, and then letters of explanation[...]. Each letter had a logo hand-drawn across the page—our trademark thick and colorful rainbow with a slash of angry lightning cutting through it. New morning, it signified, changing weather. Oddly, as intense as it all looks and sounds, it was in our minds then cautious and responsible, a huge de-escalation from the apocalyptic plans of just months earlier.

This was a time when I, along with most of my closest friends, were referred to again and again as “home-grown American terrorists.” That’s what Time magazine called us in 1970, and the New York Times, too, and that was the word hurled in my direction from the halls of Congress. Terrorist.[...] I knew, of course, that there were several deeply disturbing aspects to our history, foremost the question of violence
[...]. We who survived went on to carry out a few highly visible anti-government bombings—acts that raise questions each generation will ask and answer differently. While the U.S. was killing two thousand people a day, planting a bomb in a pipe in the Pentagon was our high-pitched wail against the war’s sickness[...]. Is the concept—terrorism—consistent and universal, does it apply to all parties engaged in certain actions, or does it change over time? Which terrorist had a 100,000 British pound reward on his head in the 1930’s? When did he become a “freedom fighter”, his image rehabilitated? How many Israeli Prime Ministers were designated “terrorist” by the British government at some point in their political careers? Which group of foreign visitors to the White House in 1985 were hailed by Ronald Reagan as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers, “freedom fighters” against the “Evil Empire”?What did George W. Bush call these same men?[...].

As an aside, note that Ayers says that in the spring of 1970, when the Weatherfolk had begun to issue warning calls, that this was a "huge de-escalation" from the group's previous "apocalyptic plans of just months eariler"; and note that Brian V. McDonnell died on February 16th of 1970.   Justmeherenow (  ) 18:33, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

The freedom fighters of the 1985 meeting were of Afghanistan, mujahadeen fighting against what was an illegitimate Soviet invasion and installation of a Soviet puppet regime. There is a set of rules regarding legitimate and illegitimate use of force. They spring out of the bloody mess of the 30 Years War and the Peace of Westphalia that ended it. Currently, we live under that same system and it's that system that is under attack in several different ways, most visibly these days by Al Queda that is trying to create enough violations of the system that it collapses, throwing the West back into its pre-Westphalian position (ie not top dog civilizationally). Westphalian politics is somewhat strange to modern eyes because we can hardly imagine a world without it and do not have a healthy caution of what would happen next. From the quote, it's pretty clear that Ayers doesn't believe in the system and we should be wary of adopting a POV regarding the question. TMLutas (talk) 14:34, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

What Noroton's list does or does not demonstrate[edit]

Sources you can bring to the table are key in assessing whether or not policies like WP:BLP or WP:NPOV are violated (though not the only considerations). I think the sources I found and posted in my statement above demonstrate the following:

  • 1. There are very prominent sources that call the group "terrorist".
  • 2. Many books that mention the Weatherman group in passing have described it as "terrorist" in their short descriptions, demonstrating that authors on topics other than terrorism view this aspect as a prominent feature of the group (too numerous to mention, simply go down the list). I didn't list them, but I found several books on music/popular culture/Bob Dylan that said in passing that this group took a line from a Dylan song to name itself and this is a "terrorist" group. This shows just how widespread and noncontroversial it has been to call this group "terrorist" -- an important point. The idea that it's controversial to call the group "terrorist" may be true in Wikipedia talk space, but out in the wider world it isn't. (From WP:WEIGHT: To determine proper weight, consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors.)
  • 3. This is shown as much by the information in their Wikipedia articles as by information in my statement, but nevertheless: It is not a "smear" to call Dohrn or Ayers a "former terrorist". They were among the most authoritative (powerful, influential, controlling, the public face of it, the leaders of it) people in that organization (I'm happy to find more sources for that if it's disputed, but see the WP articles), they were among the founders, they were members of the governing committee and they are reported to have engaged in actions and made statements that are consistent with being a terrorist. Calling them "terrorist" is an "opinion" as WP:NPOV defines it and is one based on conclusions from certain facts. Whether or not to say that others call them "terrorist" in their Wikipedia articles is something that should be argued on other grounds than that it is a baseless charge. I could import information from their articles to show this, but I don't think I need to make this page any longer.
  • 4. Calling Weatherman "terrorist" is not primarily a 2008 campaign tactic. Only one of the 40 works I cited was published as late as 2007. Time to put this charge to rest.

-- Noroton (talk) 20:49, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

  • No. 1 and 2 have some merit, but they don't necessarily address weight concerns, and we have to be careful about whether these sources are calling the WU terrorist, merely using the term to refer to them, or voicing opinions or judgments about the group. #3 is a bit of an extreme position, and I doubt there will be much support for referring to living people as terrorists in their own articles, when they themselves deny the claim. Particularly with the BLP policy. I will consider referring to the matter in the WU article only if it is kept out of these other articles, and it is explicitly understood that we are not using the WU article to support terrorism verbiage in other articles involving Ayers, Dohrn, Obama, or the election. #4 is clearly untrue - it is obviously all about the current election. Finding 40 pre-election sources does not prove anything. The events happened 40 years ago and of course they were covered at the time and in the interim. This only became an issue because of the election, and the vast majority of off-Wiki material about Ayers and terrorism relates to the political tactic used against Obama. Wikidemon (talk) 20:58, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think your charge is accurate. I have been advocating including the terrorism scholarship into the WU article for a long time, since before the current campaign began. I'm also voting for Obama. These two issues are not and should not be criteria for any editing decisions.Verklempt (talk) 21:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the talk page for Weatherman shows this discussion going back years. Wikidemo, 1 & 2 go directly to WP:WEIGHT -- when general reference works mention it in their necessarily compressed coverage, they consider "terrorist" an important feature, and that supports our including it; the more specialized the work, the more it is authoritative and useful for citations in the articles. As to #3, we refer to living people as terrorists in Wikipedia all the time, and it is easily within BLP policy as Verklempt notes below: What matters is whether there is good sourcing for it or not. That's the BLP standard with WP:WELLKNOWN people like Ayers and Dohrn. As to #4, the point was that if a fact is picked up as a campaign tactic, it doesn't prevent Wikipedia from using that fact -- the fact being that Weatherman, Ayers and Dohrn have been called "terrorist" by reliable sources, have been criticized for certain actions and have defended themselves. The fact that they're professors now, figures in Chicago politics, have associated with Obama and that that has been controversial (enough to be worth its own Wikipedia article -- confirmed at AfD), means that not stating that they have been called "terrorists" and forbidding mention of it would leave holes in those articles. They are controversial precisely because they are considered former terrorists by so many, and if that were not the case, there would be no controversy. Let us simply report, consistent with WP policy, what reliable sources have said. -- Noroton (talk) 23:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Being a terrorist is not a question of fact. It is the application of a judgmental label. I don't see that WELLKNOWN applies to this kind of decision. When something becomes a partisan talking point ("Obama is friends with unrepentant terrorists") we have to be careful not to endorse that. We do not have an article on an association between Obama and Ayers. We have an article about the the political controversy that arose when anti-Obama partisans tried to link the two. The controversy does not arise because Ayers was a terrorist; it arose because people who wanted to defeat Obama in an election trumpeted that Ayers was a terrorist and that Obama and Ayers supposedly were friends.Wikidemon (talk) 07:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Being a terrorist is not a question of fact. It is the application of a judgmental label. This distinction is irrelevant as to whether or not the information can go into an article. Under the WP:ASF section of WP:NPOV, disputed information is to be treated as "opinion" and is still acceptable in articles. You would need other grounds to call it a policy or guideline violation. When something becomes a partisan talking point [...] we have to be creful not to endorse that. Including information in an article from multiple reliable sources is not endorsing that information, as WP:NPOV clearly states. We are clearly allowed to report matters that are disputed when we cite reliable sources. I know of no policy or guideline that prevents inclusion of reliably sourced information relevant to the notability of a subject of an article. If you can find one, please cite it specifically, perhaps below, where I've asked you three specific questions about BLP policy and whether there is something in it that prevents our adding the fact that these subjects have been described as "terrorist". Provide specifics, please. -- Noroton (talk) 17:32, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
There is a huge difference between questions of fact and questions of disparagement. ASF concerns opinions about what the facts are - not the facts about opinions. That some people deride Ayers as a terrorist is not disputed information. It is very specific information of a sort that is not encyclopedic because it is mere epithet. The policies and guidelines at play are fairly fundamental: WP:BLP, WP:RS, WP:RS, WP:NPOV, WP:WEIGHT, WP:TERRORISM, WP:COATRACK. Wikidemon (talk) 17:42, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

What WP:BLP actually says[edit]

Direct quote from WP:BLP: "The article should document, in a non-partisan manner, what reliable third party sources have published about the subject and, in some circumstances, what the subject may have published about themselves."

Note that the WU is routinely labeled as "terrorist" in scholarly publications. If professional scholars publishing in peer-reviewed venues think that this term has validity, then it should be included, per BLP.

Note also that BLP privileges "reliable third party sources" over and above what the subjects themselves say.

Note once again that some WU members have themselves used the word "terrorist" to describe their actions.

It is clear that Noroton's proposal does not violate BLP at all, per the quote from BLP above.Verklempt (talk) 22:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

There are other parts of WP:BLP that would be violated. For example:
  • Editors must take particular care adding biographical material about a living person to any Wikipedia page. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity.
  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid paper; it is not our job to be sensationalist.
  • Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association. Editors should also be on the lookout for biased or malicious content about living persons. (applies to Obama-related articles in particular)
Certain editors are campaigning to apply the term "terrorist" to articles (mostly Obama-related) that mention WU members. I think one must ask oneself why?. Why Obama-related articles in particular? Why now? -- Scjessey (talk) 23:46, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Why? I said up near the top of the discussion section that the Obama-Ayers controversy got me interested in this. As I've said, that's neither good nor bad -- what interests us will interest us. If you look at the history of the Weatherman, Ayers and Dohrn articles, you'll see my interest goes beyond the controversy. I certainly don't need to defend the fact that I want better articles, and what I've argued here is for better articles. That's more important to me than promoting or detracting from a particular candidate. I'd be happiest with an Obama-Ayers controversy article that gives good coverage of all the important angles of that controversy, including the ones that put Obama in a good light. I and others have nothing to be ashamed of about that. If I wanted to bias an article either for or against a particular candidate, I'd have something to be ashamed of. Let's put the relevant information in each article in the most neutral way possible. Why now? Funny you should ask that. I just took a look at Talk:Weatherman (organization)#Terrorists or guerrillas. Check the timestamps at the beginning of that discussion: 2005. Noroton (talk) 23:57, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
You say "would be violated". Not necessarily. I don't know how you can justify that "would". I take it the "guilt by association" point applies to the Obama-Ayers controversy article and no other. I have an answer for that, but I think it's better right now to concentrate on the fundamental point that "terrorist" has been applied as a fair description of the subjects of the three other articles, since the "Controversy" article has many other considerations. I'm worried that this will all get so complicated and long that no one will be left discussing anything on this page. The "tabloid" point above simply doesn't apply to the Britannica and Encarta encyclopedic articles, so if they mention it in those short articles, it doesn't seem "sensational" to mention it here. -- Noroton (talk) 00:22, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The first Wikipedia article I "created," about a year ago, was on proto-terrorist Isaac C. Haight. (P/s, my dad's cousin was regional historian Juanita Brooks, who wrote in '61 the seminal work on the massacre this Utah Territorial Militia officer (Haight) sanctioned. Will Bagley, coincidentally also related to Brooks, published another history on it in 2002. And just this year Oxford University Press published the event's most comprehensive treatment yet!) Let's see. In February I did the image/infobox at Tulsa race riot, which had involved this time participation by Oklahoma militia and citizenry.
Anyway, since I like politics -- and even remember when the Weathermen were all over the news; it seems that portions of their commuiques would be quoted on CBS, ABC, and NBC evening news reports after they'd bombed the Capitol, Pentagon or the like; and since most members of my family of origin tend toward the political and cultural left... And lefter. (Even myself)... Well, I'm just quite fascinated by "the Weathermen" (as they were called in the news back then). And I'm not alone, there's been just a lot of ink spilled on the group.
How about you, Scjessey: what piques your interest?   Justmeherenow (  ) 01:09, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm surprised we're even talking about this. If BLP means anything, it means we can't accuse people of being terrorists in their own bio, not when they've never been convicted of the crime and they plausibly deny the label. Can anyone with a straight face think that Wikipedia should start calling people terrorists in this way? Wikidemon (talk) 07:53, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

How can you say that, Wikidemon? It depends on the circumstances. See the opening lines of the Osama Bin Laden article, about someone who also has not been convicted:
Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin `Awaḍ bin Lādin (Arabic: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن‎; born March 10, 1957),[1] most often identified as Osama bin Laden or Usama bin Laden, is the founder of the jihadist organization Al-Qaeda.[2] He has been designated a terrorist by scholars, journalists, analysts and law enforcement agencies.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] In conjunction with several other Islamic militant leaders, bin Laden issued two fatwa in 1996 and then again in 1998 that Muslims should force the United States and its allies to withdraw their military forces from the Arabian peninsula, by attacking American military and civilian targets.[13][14]
He has been indicted in United States federal court for his alleged involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, and is on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Although bin Laden has not been indicted[15] for the September 11, 2001 attacks, he has been reported to have orally claimed responsibility for them, in a conservative-leaning English language newspaper[16] and in videos released to the public.[17] The attacks involved the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 11, and American Airlines Flight 77; the subsequent destruction of those planes and the World Trade Center in New York City, New York; severe damage to The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia;[18] and the deaths of 2,974 people.[19]
What exactly is the real difference? That charges had to be dropped because Supreme Court rulings forced the case to close? It's been said that with the Patriot Act now in place, those wiretaps would have been legal today, which seems plausible to me. Please tell us why Ayers and Dohrn should be treated one oway and Bin Laden another when each were leaders of what many reliable sources have called terrorist organizations. Note that this article language stands despite WP:BLP, probably because it meets WP:WELLKNOWN criteria. Please explain how BLP policy is different for Ayers, Dohrn and Weatherman. -- Noroton (talk) 14:22, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Comparing Ayers to Bin Laden is farfetched and pretty close to a Godwin's Law argument. Bin Laden is on nearly every government's list of terrorists and admitted to personal involvement in the greatest terrorist incident in the history of the world for classic terrorist aims of affecting geopolitics in the mideast. BLP policy is the same for everyone. WELLKNOWN does not apply to calling Ayers a terrorist. It covers allegations or incidents. The terrorist label for someone not on a terrorist list is not either - it is a judgment. Further, we do not have reliable sourcing for saying the Weatherman is a terrorist organization. The comment about the circumstances of the trial is a red herring. What might have happened is not relevant. There was no trial and Ayers was not convicted. Moreover, if there had been a trial and if had been convicted, it would be a conviction for things that are already well-documented - it would not change the question. Wikidemon (talk) 16:04, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
"Terrorism" is an allegation based on the facts that he was one of the top leaders of a terrorist organization. The U.S. government called it a terrorist group. Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, has her picture on the FBI Web page talking about the terrorist Weatherman group of which she was the top leader. (1) So what's the BLP problem? It doesn't matter one whit that Bin Ladin is on more than one government's list of terrorists -- both Dohrn and Ayers were wanted by the FBI. And multiple, multiple, multiple reliable sources consider them to have been leaders of a terrorist group -- something which so many sources state baldly and which very few sources can be found to disagree with that it doesn't even seem to be much of a controversy. BLP policy is the same for everyone. (2) Tell me where in BLP policy it says that when a multitude of reliable sources call a group terrorist it somehow becomes a violation of the policy, and tell me where in BLP policy we can't say that someone is called a leader of a terrorist group by reliable sources. (3) Tell me where in BLP policy we can't say, after showing these facts to readers, that other reliable sources say this person was a terrorist. These are serious questions, not rhetorical ones. Please answer them. I've numbered my requests to make it easier. We seem to have a fundamental disagreement here, and we should discuss it with specifics. -- Noroton (talk) 16:38, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The BLP problem is in accusing a living individual of terrorism, turning them into an unwilling pawn of election-year politics. Ayers is in a position of not inconsiderable respect in society so calling him a terrorist is rather inflammatory - and is indeed being done primarily to inflame passions in a US presidential election. It throws the "do no harm" and reliable sourcing requirements out the window, not to mention NPOV. The differences between Bin Laden and an American education expert who was part of a radical 60s youth movement, are too numerous to count, and it is hard to take seriously a comparison. The official designation is all-important, something that is expressed in WP:TERRORISM. The word is slippery and imprecise, but today we have government lists so we can, objectively, say that someone is on the lists or not. In the Weathermen's time there were no lists, so any designation we make today is a judgment in hindsight made as to the group's degree of perceived moral corruption. Most sources do not accuse the Weathermen of terrorism; a few do - mostly in the context of opposing Obama's presidential campaign. There is little to no reliable sourcing that Ayers is a terrorist and, again, it is not a question of fact. Nobody here is proposing having Wikipedia actually say Ayers is a terrorist. They just want Wikipedia to report that the invective has been hurled. Disparagement is not an encyclopedic subject.
At this point we have laid out the arguments and it is getting repetitious. Others have sounded in. We should see who else participates in the discussion. Wikidemon (talk) 17:20, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The key phrase in the Bin Laden article is "has been called" not "is" and then cites sources. Also, are there any sources that deny that Bin Laden is a terrorist? No. Are there several reliable sources that deny the WU's activities were terrorism? Yes. Key difference there. Wikipedia cannot go around accusing living people of terrorism. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 18:06, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
If we describe what others are saying, for and against, we aren't going around accusing anyone of anything. -- Noroton (talk) 19:51, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikidemon, please try to focus. You called this RfC to discuss the WU article. The Ayers and Dohrn articles are irrelevant. You are just attempting to sway the uninformed passers-by with this BLP distraction.Verklempt (talk)

The subject of this RfC is if, how, and where, the subject of terrorism will be discussed in connection with the Weathermen, in the Weathermen, Ayers, Dohrn, Obama-Ayers, and Obama/campaign articles. BLP is one of the primary policies at play in calling living people terrorists.Wikidemon (talk) 02:08, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
To excessively euphamize terrorism creates problems with WP:NPOV. One should be more sensitive in the case of a living person. This does not mean that one should lie or soften things down to the point that a drive by reader comes away with a false impression of what the WUO, Ayers, and Dohrn were about. Can we only be honest about the dead? TMLutas (talk) 14:46, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Judging consensus on Dohrn, Ayers, Obama, Obama-Ayers[edit]

At this point we seem to have no consensus for, and considerable opposition, to adding material describing the Weathermen as terrorists in any BLP article or other article beyond the main Weather Underground article. We should let the discussion proceed for a few more days before assessing consensus, but if anyone feels that accusations of terrorism should or should not be mentioned in these other articles please sound in to express that opinion.Wikidemon (talk) 17:21, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

The conclusion by contributors that I've heard over and over again in these discussions is that WP shouldn't label itself the WUO terrorist, however it can and should include the encyclopedic information that the group was considered this by various sources, with eg Ayers' take that they shouldn't be termed terrorists given encyclopedic mention, too. Per Ayers' own blog, these sources considering the group terrorist include "Time magazine...in 1970, and the New York Times, too, and [it was]...hurled in my direction from the halls of Congress." And, I'll add, all on-line encyclopedias, the FBI, and many current opinion makers. What surprises me about Wikidemon's rhetoric is how he ignores the distinction between WP's assigning the term and WP's mention of sources' that do so or do not do so; instead Wikidemon just says WP shouldn't be "describing the Weatherpeople as terrorists." Such tiptoed parsing reveals less an impartial arbiter, independently looking at guidelines and facts in making editorial decisions, than it does somebody envisioning hi/rself a hired gun grasping whatever straw necessary to passionate advocate for a pre-determined editorial point of view.   Justmeherenow (  ) 19:27, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Rereading WD's proposal I see he's saying that the discussion of the label should occur only in the Weatherfolk article. I'm not averse to that.   Justmeherenow (  ) 19:37, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. This section is an attempt to focus the discussion on where, not how, the material might be mentioned. My hope is that we can get various people to sound in for a few days on what they think. Sooner or later the ruber hits the road and we have to decide whether there is a consensus to include terrorism label info in all the articles, some, or none. It's best if we can be simple in stating our opinions here instead of arguing the same points as other sections or trying to proclaim consensus just yet.Wikidemon (talk) 19:42, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
What we should start doing is looking at specific language, starting with the Weatherman article, and incorporating what many participants in this discussion have said so far. -- Noroton (talk) 20:36, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
You are free to ask that question too, and we have sections open for that. I personally cannot reach a conclusion about what to say in the Weatherman article if anything, absent an understanding of where else it might be said. Both questions will take at least a few more days to gain some idea of consensus - this RfC is less than 48 hours old has been open so far only over a weekend. Wikidemon (talk) 20:40, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I am opposed strongly to use the terrorist description on the BLPs of Dohrn and Ayers. It is imperative that it is not used on the Obama-Ayers controversy article as that is the number one way to transmit guilt by association. I am willing to discuss ways to include it on the WU article, but I am opposed to giving it the undue weight of its own section. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 20:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I would leave 'terrorist' discussions to the Terrorism article. As you can see, it includes a very long discussion of all this. Why repeat that same discussion in every group which could possibly be considered a terrorist group? It's totally unnecessary. Flatterworld (talk) 18:54, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
In general, I agree that the "terrorism" thing should be excluded from individual bios. (This doesn't depend on WP:BLP. It applies to bios of people who've died, as well.) The only possible exception that occurs to me is Ayers's explanation for his view that they weren't terrorists. The quotation can appropriately be considered for inclusion in the Bill Ayers article because it sheds light on the thinking of the bio subject. That should not, however, become a coatrack for hanging the whole terrorism debate. Something like: "The Weather Underground has often been accused of practicing terrorism. In response, Ayers wrote...." The first sentence doesn't need a citation if the citations are in the linked article. I should note that I'm not saying definitely "include it". Ayers has written a lot and our article can't quote everything. I'd lean toward saying that his discussion of terrorism is interesting enough to make the cut. For purposes of this RfC, though, I'd say only that it could be considered an exception to Wikidemon's proposed generalization. JamesMLane t c 11:43, 9 September 2008 (UTC)


Erik the Red's proposed wording[edit]

Okay, here's what I propose: a sentence in the lead that states, "During their active time, the Weather Underground was uncontroversially referred to as a terrorist by the FBI and other contemporary sources (sources for terrorist classification here). However, there is current opposition, including by one of the former leaders of the WU, Bill Ayers, to the classification of the activities of the Weathermen as terrorism. (sources against terrorist classification here)."

Feel free to comment, improve, execute me, etc. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 01:11, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Barring something coming up in the specific sourcing TBD later, not bad, not bad at all. TMLutas (talk) 14:48, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Something like this is fine for the body but I don't think we should put it in the lead - there's no showing that their being called terrorists at the time is relevant to their notability. If we say that sources at the time called them terrorist we should admit that most did not. Could you highlight the source for saying the FBI and others referred to them at the time as terrorists at the time, or that "opposition" is only current? Wikidemon (talk) 15:24, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Say I've tatted my back not with a rainbow and lightening bolt as did some young Weather"men" but with the iconography of anti-government survivalist groups. Instead of having firebombed the house of a New York State Supreme Court justice in the '70s in solidarity with Black militants, I start a campaign beginning with firebombing the house of the State District Judge who'd taken away for awhile some four-hundred odd children from fundamentalist Mormon families last April in Texas. The media reports, without editorializing, that I've been listed by the FBI as a terrorist -- just as they'd done back then with the Weatherfolk. Although my philosophical fellow traveler Bo Gritz is appalled that I've besmirched the movement, I become a hero to many anyway. Decades in the future, I've come to adopt only peaceful advocacy, yet never disavow my violent past.
It has to do with Words. As it is now, so it was then: according to general knowledge encyclopedias, the media, the governmnent, the dictionary, "bomb-hurling revolutionary" equals "member of the underground resistance" equals "terrorist." Remember, if you were of news-viewing age then, Squeaky Fromme? Soon after she tried to "off" Ford, an issue of Time said,

Law-enforcement officials try to draw a careful distinction between the couple of hundred hardcore, bomb-hurling revolutionaries and the above-ground activists, who number in the thousands. The Bay Area has uncounted tiny study groups that regularly meet to debate the application of Communist theories to American society. There also are several radical communes, among them the Revolutionary Union and the October League, that seek to organize leftist groups within labor unions. Still other Bay Area activists work in behalf of prison reform, improved veterans' benefits, black rights and increased help for the poor; indeed, new groups and new causes spring up as fast as a poster can be pasted to a utility pole. ¶ Within this array of leftist activity hide the underground revolutionaries. They strike and burrow underground again in such places as the working-class neighborhoods of Los Angeles and the Mission District in San Francisco or the squalid slums of East Oakland and Sacramento. In addition, many terrorists are believed to be hiding among the students and transient street people of Berkeley's South Campus section. Furtive meetings between the underground and aboveground activists undoubtedly take place in the area's many coffeehouses, bars and parking lots. Other good meeting places are the parks known to students as People's Park and Ho Chi Minh Park. ¶ Through contacts like these, the revolutionaries win new recruits.

I've read scores of news articles now from the '70s about the Weatherfolk and so many of them use the term. Really. Trust me on this. And these articles' aren't shaded as partisan or opinion pieces but just as straight news. Wikidemon, I'll admit, when I'd first read this statement of yours: "If we say that sources at the time called them terrorist we should admit that most did not" -- I jumped to the conclusion you were engaging in lawyer-like "tricks" of phraseology (some fancy-pantsed advocate who'd, say, list a slew of articles that call the Panthers "militant," but not "revolutionary" and another slew of articles that would call the Panthers "revolutionary" but not "militant" and try to laughably argue that this alleged discrepancy indicated that one or the other of the designations should be thought controversial because of this evidence!(?)) But I've decided that you must not just be playing rhetorical games but are actually sincere in the belief that in the '70s there was controversy about whether bombers should be referred to off-hand as terrorists. Your editorial POV in this, nonetheless, I believe is in the minority (but I guess we'll find out after this RfC).   Justmeherenow (  ) 18:12, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not laughable at all. I'm not sure where that analogy is going, but the FBI did not list the weathermen as a terrorist organization so there is no question of anyone covering that. If you want to claim it was general knowledge, then or now, that the Weathermen were terrorists you have to show that. I don't see the sourcing and I doubt that's true. If we are going to include it at all we should avoid any summary editorializing about it being "uncontroversial" and stick with the facts. Change "uncontroversial" to some other word that carries an accurate implication as to frequency (e.g. "sometimes", "often", etc) and it's within the bounds of reason. You didn't address the question about timing - we should be accurate as to the timing of FBI use of the word, and as to the timing of people rejecting/opposing the word (and if we cannot establish timing we should simply not comment on timing). As to placement, the lead is only supposed to include material that is also in the body of the article. This makes a lot more sense for the body than the lead but I'll reserve judgment on weight and placement matters until we get a sense of if and how this relates to the other related articles.Wikidemon (talk) 18:44, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Again, we are not linguists or word usage experts - to begin inferring bigger things from word usage choices made by the sources is original research.

The above discussion is exactly why we should avoid the use of 'terrorist' except in the Terrorism article. Flatterworld (talk) 18:57, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
(I see WP has a Domestic terrorism article, too.)13:48, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Re Wikidemon: Tweaking the issue of timing and of how common the term was used is fine. And, to be honest, folks, I don't care if Weather are called terrorists, anti-imperialist revolutionary fighters, guerrillas, leftist paramilitary, bomb-tossing Leninist, violent radical or what; however, the a euphemistically ambiguous designation such as merely "radical" would be just plain weak. Re Flatterworld: Let's just at least agree with each other that you belief that each article listed here should not properly cover the fact that these organizations' have been termed terrorist is an editorial POV that's in the minority.   Justmeherenow (  ) 19:32, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I've been fine with every word other than terrorist (and communist, which is partly true but misses the point) - violent, militant, radical, leftist, etc. I tend to agree that radical is too weak because it suggests a place on the scale of opinion but it leaves out the real issue, which is their having committed violent actions. Wikidemon (talk) 19:37, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
But contemporaries referred to the WU as terrorists, not militants/radicals/leftists/etc. The article needs to make that clear. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 23:58, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Are you sure about that? I've been looking through a lot of news articles and "radical" seems to be the most common identification. Most news reports during their existence used the term one way or another when they felt a need to designate them as something, e.g. radicals, radical student group, radical organization, etc. That seems to run 2-3 to 1 over terrorists during the group's 1969-1977 existence, about 2-1 from 1978 to 2007, and roughly even now. "Militant" and "violent" have been a distant third and fourth, respectively. Wikidemon (talk) 00:40, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Why do I get the impression the rest of you weren't around back then? ;-) Wikidemon is correct. 'Radical' (and perhaps 'radical revolutionary') was the word used, not 'terrorist'. 'Terrorist' was used for those who killed people, particularly by torture, and they were mostly in other countries. The Unabomber was the only person in the U.S. I can remember being called a terrorist. In earlier times, such as the Haymarket affair, there were 'bomb-throwing anarchists' who were perhaps a rough parallel to Weather in that they were trying to stop the government from killing people. My point is, things (and words) change through the years. That's why it's better to stick to the facts and not employ emotion-charged words. Flatterworld (talk) 22:49, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
My impression from the various things I've read: There was no "the" word used. "Terrorist" was common in the news media after early 1970, but the news media isn't the only yardstick. "Terrorist" is very, very common in books mentioning Weatherman. Flatterworld and Wikidemon, WP:WEIGHT states that very common views about a subject should be reflected in the Wikipedia article about that subject. This is an 800-pound gorilla and its sitting in the room and Wikipedia demands mention of all gorillas of that weight. Contemporaries, historians, commentators and others have all used the term. It has been used while the members were underground, after they surfaced, before Ayers wrote his memoir and it came out around 9/11 and in the years since then up to this election and then during this election. It isn't only my impression, it's what I've documented in my long list, representing so many sources that there is consensus on this page to use it in the Weatherman article. -- Noroton (talk) 01:51, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
If "terrorist" is an 800 pound gorilla, "radical" must be the 2,400 pound gorilla. Why cover the smaller one as a minority view -- view about what? Wikidemon (talk) 14:11, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Flattterworld said, "'Radical' (and perhaps 'radical revolutionary') was the word used, not 'terrorist'."
Wow! For an advocate to speak so adamantly in a way thatis in material contradiction of the reams of testimony already presented takes a certain skill. I don't know how useful it is, however, since if the members of the jury members have not themselves considered it beneath their dignity to actually read the material already cited, they're just going to be shaking their heads at this point and giving each other knowing looks.   Justmeherenow (  ) 12:00, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
That's an odd comment to make. The flaw in the proposal, to begin with, is that it presumes that we can prove a point about the language by cobbling together a few dozen examples. But for ever example there are several counterexamples. The weight of evidence is that "radical" is the common term, not terrorist. The most one can say is that "terrorist" was sometimes used to describe the group. The less common term stands out only for its special negative connotations. If this were merely a question of word usage we could safely stick to radical as the preferred term and leave it at that. The only reason to report on the use of the more pejorative term "terrorist" is if it implies a derogatory judgment that is particularly notable. Did the Weathermen so offend people that they made harsh derogatory judgments about it? Probably so, along with flag burning, bra burning, draft card burning, drugs, rock music, atheism, black pride, long hair, free speech, free love, statements in support of America's enemies, and all the other things the radical youth movements did in the 1960s. But if one wants to show that using the word implies a critical judgment, one needs more direct evidence than random examples of the word being used in passing. We are not lexicographers here. - Wikidemon (talk) 14:11, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
It's imperative not to impose the writer's world view on the sources, which sources, in the present case, plainly called a large group radicals among whom was a smaller group who were bomb throwing revolutionaries or militants or terrorists. I'm not saying that purposeful innocence of what's plainly seen can't be useful in some instances. As it was certainly useful, for example, to the 17th century pope worried about the onslaught on faith by reason. Or to proto-Classical Pythagoreans who'd throw a fellow worshipper of Number in the sea for a crazed assertion that the length of a diagonal-in-a-square is not discreet ratio. Or even to those advancing a theory of a Flatterworld, despite Eratosthenes's measurements of the sun at 7 degrees 12 minutes south at his home town at noon the same day it's directly overhead along the latitude of the tropic of cancer. But where disregarding plain observation in not particularly useful is in writing an encylopedia.   Justmeherenow (  ) 16:55, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Where there is disagreement on either facts or opinions or any combination of the two, WP:WEIGHT demands inclusion of both what the majority says and what large minorities say. All else is wikilawyering. "militant radical" and "terrorist" are, at the very least, both widely cited. Some sources use "terrorist" merely descriptively, others as a condemnation and for some we don't know. But at this point we're going around in circles. There is consensus to use the word in Weatherman (organization), the only question is how. Justmeherenow is right, disregarding plain observation is not particularly useful in writing an encyclopedia. -- Noroton (talk) 17:59, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what Pythagoras has to do with anything but Justmeherenow seems to misinterpret things to suggest that "terrorist" rather than "radical" was the common term. WEIGHT covers facts, not disparagement. We generally do not cover disparagement. We shall see about consensus - that is not clear to me but in another day or so it might be useful to gather and summarize everyone's opinion on various things. Wikidemon (talk) 18:30, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
False. WP:WEIGHT covers facts and opinions. NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source -- Noroton (talk) 18:39, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
I think the true meanings of Marx and Engels have been generally "misunderstood" -- nonetheless I'm not generally among the fraction, among the people who think positively about Marx, who'd also sanction bombings.
Such analogies are just appeals to logic. For example, if there are many sources that say the square root of 2 is irrational, while there are just as many sources that say the square root of 2 it is a number but don't bother to mention the irrational part: So what? The concepts are overlapping and not mutually exclusive. Here's another analogy. Many millions of people believe modern, Western social mores are unenlightened in comparison with those of the people who knew and believed in God's Beloved Prophet (of course, the sunnah of The Companions). Those holding this opinion are called "believing Muslims"; while there's a subset among believing Muslims, a few million in number, who could be termed "Salafis": who, broadly speaking, have a certain interpretation of Muslim beliefs and hold that certain Muslim mores should be revived. And, finally, a miniscule subset of all Salafis are known as "al-Qaeda." (See Salafi#Political affiliation.)
Sources say that Cat Stevens is Muslim -- and, while certainly not al-Qaeda, holds to certain Salafi beliefs. So, I propose as an encyclopedic statement, "Souces say in such-and-such instance Stevens expressed thus-and-so Salafi belief," appending references 1 through 257 to back up this assertion.
Wikidemo posts, "Justme, I'm personally still not sold that Stevens has ever expressed a belief that is Salafi."
"OK. Find sources that say no belief of Stevens's is Salafi. Or else we can agree to write 'some sources' indicate Stevens' holds certain Salafi beliefs, etc."
"Justme, you seem to misinterpret things to suggest that some of Stevens's beliefs should be termed 'Salafi' rather than 'believing Muslim.' Many references don't even mention Stevens' Salafism."
"Wikidemon, an encyclopedia isn't to shy away from explaining what's well sourced, even if some contributors apparently don't follow the logic of these sources. We'd simply be showing that certain sources hold that Stevens, in addition to being believing Muslim, in certain instances is also Salafi."   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:27, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Nothing is well sourced - in fact, there are zero sources (so far) that describe how prevalent the term "terrorism" is in referring to the Weathermen or what they mean by it. This is all original research into lexicography. Are you are arguing that the majority of sources, which do not call the Weathermen terrorists, simply neglect to mention it but mean nothing by the omission? Or that terrorism is a subset of radicalism and that they were simply being non-specific? The majority of the sources call Weathermen a radical group - not a terrorist group, a violent group or a militant group, but a radical group. If you propose that they too acknowledge the group as terrorist but simply did not say so, you need some support for that. The burden is on you, not me, to support a claim about what sources meant without saying so. There are rarely sources to refute a choice of adjective - absence of refutation does not mean the description is valid. As things stand, all we have evidence for is that some but not most sources use (not hold) the word in identifying the group. I think Noroton gets this and acknowledges that the sources say what they say - let them speak for themselves. If we do decide to cover the issue at all in the Weathermen article I am fine with a statement that lays out the facts without judgment, something like: "Some contemporary sources referred to the group and its tactics as terrorist,[citations] a description often used today by sources including the FBI website.[citations] Other sources do not use the word, and various sources including one of its former leaders dispute that it applies.[citations]" We could expand on that a bit in the footnotes or body but only if we keep it neutral and according to the principles people have laid out - we are covering use of the term and not an underlying question of whether they are or are not terrorists, we are not describing any living people as terrorists, we are not tying this to the 2008 presidential election, etc. Wikidemon (talk) 21:07, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon, you're the one spending bandwidth arguing about whether planting bombs is violent: a line of inquiry that perhaps famed semanticist S.I. Hayakawa would have unplugged the speaker wires on! (See S.I. Hayakawa#Student strike at San Francisco State University.) I'm beginning to feel that folks who'd strain at the meanings of common words to the point that they try to stop contributors from using everyday words in their normal meanings, maybe DO disqualify themselves from contributing in those instances. And maybe those folks should look in the mirror and question whether their edits are toward stopping readers' understanding or toward augmenting this understanding.   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:46, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Nonetheless, your proposed language is exemplary.   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:53, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I continue to have some trouble figuring out just what you are talking about with all this mention of triangles, speaker wires, old books and such. Nevertheless, we may have a state of intersubjective agreement on the matter. There are many logical paths to the same conclusion... Wikidemon (talk) 22:00, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
The number
is
irrational.
Pythagoras#Other accomplishments:"One of his order, Hippasos, also discovered irrational numbers, but the idea was unthinkable to Pythagoras, and according to one version this member was executed."   Justmeherenow (  ) 22:28, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Green tickY ^ 0.5. - Wikidemon (talk) 22:46, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I would suggest Justmeherenow and Noroton check out the BBC's decision on this as I've repeatedly suggested and they've totally ignored. (I have no doubt they consider themselves much more brilliant than everyone at the BBC, but imo they aren't.) The point is they are (believe it or not) not the very first people on earth to argue the use of the word 'terrorism'. There're posting the same old tired ideas that were discussed in much greater depth (and with much greater background) at the BBC and the answer is...avoid the word. I realize their goal in life is to throw gasoline on every fire they can find, but I see no reason to be their enabler. Flatterworld (talk) 00:20, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Don't insist on your stylistic original research here, Flatterworld. As it is, WP guidelines have no prohibition, but when you're able to obtain consensus for the encyclopedia to never mention the sourced designation terrorist, come back and we'll talk!   Justmeherenow (  ) 02:35, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
It sounds relevant and definitely not original research. The original research is on the part of people looking at various usages and drawing conclusions from that. An actual statement by a reliable source that the word "terrorist" is inappropriate to apply is probably as direct as anything we can find. And incidentally, there already is a guideline not to use the word - WP:TERRORIST. Flatterworld, do you have a link to a BBC analysis of whether or not the word "terrorism" should be used? Wikidemon (talk) 03:23, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon, please clarify your position. (Since you've submitted language that encyclopedically covers the sources' use of the term for the WU, yet most of your arguments seem to support a general prohibition against reporting on sources' use of the term, throughout the encyclopedia.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 03:40, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
WP:TERRORIST is indeed a restriction (not a prohibition) against using the term throughout the encyclopedia. I have said this before and my position has not changed: I am uncomfortable using the term at all, but if we do, it should be in a single place in the body of the Weatherman article alone, presented neutrally and simply as a statement of due weight of the sort I describe above, that some sources have used the term but others have avoided it. The Ayers article contains a reasonable reference as-is in connection with his reflections on his past. It should stay out of the other articles, and we should not either endorse that the Weathermen were terrorists, or associate the term terrorism in connection with the Weathermen (or in Dohrm's case, accusations of murder) against living people or articles relating to the current election. "Terrorism" related categories are okay to direct people interested in the subject to these articles, but not "terrorist" categories because that states directly that the people or organizations are/were terrorist. Wikidemon (talk) 03:53, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I'd jumped to the conclusion that what you'd thought was "original research" was the version of text you proposed just above -- but now I see that what it was that you believed was original reseach was -- was --- Oh-uh-OK, I'm still confused! But that's OK; let's just forget about all of that and have all of us agree with the idea that your proposed text is acceptable per WP:TERRORIST and proceed from there!   Justmeherenow (  ) 06:34, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Ayers as a Terrorist[edit]

I was leaning against this, but I ran across the Eric Robert Rudolph article, and it labels him a "terrorist" in the first sentence. If its good enough for Rudloph, its good enough for Ayers. CENSEI (talk) 00:14, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Assessing consensus[edit]

This RfC has been open a week now and some consensus may be emerging.

Regarding where to mention terrorism we have a few viewpoints:

  • Nowhere: 3 !votes
    • Wikidemon (preferred)
    • Erik the Red 2 (statement, 22:31, 5 September 2008 - BLP issue)
    • Flatterworld, (statement, 02:28, 6 September 2008)
  • In the Weatherman article only: 7 !votes
    • Verklempt (inferring from statement, 22:13, 5 September 2008, but some individuals admit to it)
    • Wikidemon (disfavored but not out of question - BLP issue in other articles)
    • ScJessey (statement, 22:53, 5 September 2008)
    • JamesMLane (comment, 11:43, 9 September 2008)
    • Justmeherenow (comment, 19:37, 7 September 2008)
    • David Oliver (comment, 22:28, 5 September 2008)
    • Mangojuice (inferred from statement, 05:03, 6 September 2008)
    • Arjuna808 (inferred from comments, 03:35 through 08:37, 15 September 2008) confirmed by Arjuna (talk) 09:02, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • In various articles: 4 !votes
    • CENSEI (statement 19:39, 5 September 2008)
    • Noroton (statement, 04:34, 6 September 2008)
    • TMLutas (statement, 05:18, 6 September 2008)
    • Justmeherenow (Neutral: Thinks mention there unnecessary since they link to the WU article anyway)
    • Phil Sandifer (Ayers article only, from several comments)
    • Bonewah (Weathermen article, Ayers article)

Regarding how to mention terrorism (assuming we do):

  • Weathermen were terrorists: 1 !vote
    • Tmlutas (statement, 05:18, 6 September 2008)
  • Weathermen are usually/often/properly/uncontroversially/etc./ described as terrorists: 5.5 !votes
    • CENSEI (statement, 19:39, 5 September 2008)
    • Noroton (statement, 04:34, 6 September 2008)
    • ScJessey (statement, 22:53, 5 September 2008)
    • Justmeherenow (statement, 15:31, 6 September 2008)
    • Verklempt (comment, 22:17, 5 September 2008)
    • Erik the Red 2 (comment, 02:35, 6 September 2008)
    • Bonewah (Prefer were described as .. by)
  • Weathermen have occasionally been described as terrorists: 5 !votes
    • Wikidemon (disfavored but not out of question)
    • ScJessey (statement, 22:53, 5 September 2008)
    • Mangojuice (statement, 05:03, 6 September 2008)
    • Hurmata (statement, 06:34, 6 September 2008)
    • Brothejr (statement, 14:21, 6 September 2008)
    • Phil Sandifer (comment, 01:09, 6 September 2008)
  • Not at all - pejorative term is undefined and/or does not add to encyclopedic coverage of subject: 3 !votes
    • Wikidemon (preferred)
    • Flatterworld (statement, 02:28, 6 September 2008)
    • David Oliver (comment, 22:28, 5 September 2008)

Discussion[edit]

I have tried to glean everyone's position from their commentary on this page. Feel free to alter your own if I have it wrong. Rather than attempting to weigh everyone's opinion (which is always fraught with questions of impartiality, particularly when done by someone involved in the debate) I am simply counting opinions without regard to who the contributor is, how vociferously or frequently they commented, etc. Every single contributor here has made substantive arguments rather than simply voted, and although a few editors here have been accused of tendentiousness and agenda-pushing there are no IP or obvious SPA / sockpuppets stacking !votes (if that were happening counting !votes would be useless). Several have declared personal political opinions of anger and disgust at the people and organizations that are the subject of these articles; others have openly declared their support of political candidates affected - everyone has a POV and under the circumstance it would be hard to discount anyone for simply being partisan. Similarly, although some have mentioned issues (WEIGHT, NPOV, BLP, coatrack) that would if accepted trump any consensus to the contrary, it is still valuable to measure what that consensus is. Having made the tallies I would caution that this is not democracy / majority rule where a simple majority automatically wins. The burden really is on those who would add disputed information to justify and gather consensus on it, so in a close case the default is to leave it out.

It appears that consensus is running against discussing the terrorist designation in campaign articles and the BLPs (other than in Ayers' BLP, for which a few of the no votes would shift to "yes" with respect to the current coverage). It's safe to say that the recent change to the Dohrn article, and attempts to label Ayers a terrorist, are without consensus. There does seem to be consensus to broach the subject in the Weathermen article. Regarding how to do so, there is a clear consensus to report this as a word that has been used to describe the group, not as Wikipedia's statement of what the group is. It's too close to call whether this should be reported as a legitimate/common/standard designation or a minority one. Perhaps a solution that will please both sides is to avoid any language that attempts to summarize the legitimacy or frequency of the word, just saying that some say it is (with citations) and others say it is not (with citations). - Wikidemon (talk) 16:29, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

  1. The argument against discussion of the label in the WU article, through distracting claims regarding the issue being a campaign issue [therefore it can't be discussed ever, anywhere!] should be disregarded as off topic of the subject of the WU.
  2. The argument that the WU are not called terrorist should be considered merely a way of casting a rhetorical vote against mentioning the designation, while neglecting to substatively support the argument (and/or could be considered unsupported original research).
  3. The argument that the concept of terrorism should only be given encyclopedic mention in the article on terrorism but nowhere else should be congratulated for its consistency, while it can be recognized as the minority editorial viewpoint, throughout the encyclopedia. Meanwhile, arguments in favor of mentioning that sources support use of the label is certainly not original research, but advocacy of encyclopedic coverage.
  4. Arguments for discussing the label in campaign articles should be disregarded off the topic of the subjects of these campaign articles...with the exception of when there are specific, notable discussions that come about as a part of these campaigns (which is a discussion beyond the scope of this RfC).   Justmeherenow (  ) 17:26, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I'll be doing some more research and posting it on this page, starting within 24 hours and no later than 48 hours. I haven't been able to concentrate enough to do much here for days because of an illness and non-wiki duties. Research seems to have been useful so far. With research and some proposed new language posted, I think we can reassess consensus. Sorry for the delay. -- Noroton (talk) 23:16, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Note - I have for the moment changed by consensus position from accepting (but not disfavoring) a brief neutral statement in the Weatherman article alone that the group has sometimes been described as terrorist, to opposing the mention entirely. I do think this is the better position per our encyclopedic standards, but have been willing to accept a brief mention in the one article as a plausible compromise as long as it is not used to shoehorn the material into the others. However, given the edit warring of late I do not think the proponents of the material are interested in compromise or accepting developing consensus or lack thereof. Wikidemon (talk) 06:18, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I added myself to the list above. If the WUO was called terrorist enough that Ayres himself felt the need to respond, then its a common enough label for inclusion. The best bet here is, of course, to say such and such calls them terrorist or some variation there of. Also, i think you have misrepresented jamesMlane's position, he argued that the term should be used in connection with Bill Ayers response to the use of the term, yet is listed in the "weathermen only" category[diff] .Bonewah (talk) 06:56, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Guilt by association-with-The-Original-terroristes[edit]

From the John Adams 1769 presidential campaign.

France. Tens of thousands brutally executed in what the Times calls the Reign of Terror.
Jefferson's response? Celebration. He says he'd rather see "half the earth desolated" than watch those fanatical tyrants fail.
Half the earth desolated?
Jefferson. Radical. Dangerous. Wrong.
"I'm John Adams and I approved this message."

(Some levity courtesy of Jay Cost of The Politico.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 21:50, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Edit warring, BLP[edit]

I've removed the material portraying Dohrn as a terrorist and a murderer from from the Dohrn article. One of the editors here, CENSEI, has now reverted twice.[48][49] This is not the first time the editor has broken ranks during the discussion to unilaterally re-add disputed material.[50][51] There was never consensus to include this. The edits should never have been done against consensus, and pending consensus this disputed material should have stayed out of the articles. Now that we have had the discussion it is doubly clear there is no consensus to be calling living people terrorists or murderers. These accusations need to go, and we should concentrate on the specific wording of the Weathermen article. Thanks, Wikidemon (talk) 22:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Please point to the consensus. Please stop your edit warring. Portraying Dohrn as a terrorist and murderer is part of this discussion, so discuss. You do not have a blanket right to revert simply by saying something is a BLP violation. According to Wikipedia:Three-revert rule#Exceptions Reverting the addition of libelous, biased, unsourced, or poorly sourced controversial material which violates the policy on biographies of living persons. The information you reverted did not fit this description. -- Noroton (talk) 03:08, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Woah ... easy there trigger. First things first, the version that I "reverted" to is the version that has been in place from before this RfC began. If anyone has started an edit war here, its you for "unilaterally" removing material that has been in the article for quite some time now. Additionally, you claimed that this matter was “settled” in this very RfC .. really, would you care to elaborate where there has been a consensus reached here on what stays and what goes? All I have seen is a lot of talk and some proposals … no agreements and certainly no consensus … despite your claims to the contrary. Everything is cited and sourced, so there are no BLP violations and no matter how loudly you shout to the contrary, it does not make it so. CENSEI (talk) 03:15, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Stop this now, both of you. The material has not been in the article for a single moment legitimately or without challenge. The edit war is you two inserting this into the encyclopedia repeatedly against consensus. There is no consensus to point to because you never established it. Accusing Ayers and Dohrn of being terrorists is one thing - you have at least a plausible argument, if not a winning one, that it is not a BLP violation. But the accusations of murder you are adding to the Dohrn article are over the top. There is no reasonable argument that this is allowable per BLP. This is exactly what Noroton did before. If Noroton were editing responsibly you would have left all of this disputed content out while trying to establish consensus for it on the article talk pages. Instead both of you went ahead and added it against objections by me and others. That tendentiousness is what landed us here in the first place. We have now have a lengthy dispute resolution here on this talk page, and the result after ten days is that your argument has failed. It is time you hang it up. But you are still not listening. Instead you are simply reverting a BLP violation back into the encyclopedia.[52] If you will not respect WP:BLP or WP:NPOV, and you will not respect WP:CONSENSUS when challenged on it, and now you do not respect a WP:RfC discussion, the next step is administrative intervention. I have left a warning to this effect on both of your talk pages. Please revert so we do not have to go there. Wikidemon (talk) 03:35, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I asked you where the consensus is. I don't see it. I haven't seen a discussion on this page about the passage I added. I've asked you to point it out to me. You refuse to respond. Where is there even a discussion of the passage about the San Francisco bombing? The only one I see is on the Dohrn talk page, and the consensus was against you there. Why not discuss your reasons, Wikidemon? -- Noroton (talk) 03:43, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Please point us to this alleged consensus because gosh darned if I can find it. Also, if you truly think this is a BLP violation, take it to the BLP noticeboard, because so far all I see is you making this claim. CENSEI (talk) 03:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Both of you, cut it out. Try doing a <control>-<f> on the word "murder" on this page. The matter of accusing Dohrn of murder was brought up, and it is a far worse BLP violation then merely saying that some people call her a terrorist. There is no consensus and has never been a consensus to include it. Noroton is misrepresenting the history of the discussion page for the Dohrn article, where he pulled the stunt of adding the exact same material that was then under dispute at the Weathermen article, then started wikigaming and being uncivil to boot. I see that CENSEI has now added the murder and terrorism accusations a fourth time - 3 for CENSEI and 1 for Noroton. Stop this so we do not end up on AN/I.Wikidemon (talk) 03:57, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I did a search for "murder" on this page, and I don't see your consensus to remove. Nor do I see a discussion as to how the passage is a BLP violation. Rather than personal attacks, why don't you actually argue your case? -- Noroton (talk) 04:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The case is argued and you lost. You cannot game this forever. Now stop trying to blow smoke by accusing me of things.Wikidemon (talk) 04:06, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Announcing victory when you don't have it is wikigaming. On your talk page, which sounds suspiciously like you're addressing yourself to some admin you hope will issue blocks rather than discuss with CENSEI and me, you stated The RfC is at Talk:Weatherman (organization)/Terrorism RfC. This follows many discussions, edit wars, and wikigaming over the issue across multiple articles, which I tried to consolidate in the RfC. The terrorism and murder accusations were always contested but I had hoped that an RfC could deal with the issue one and for all. Even though I think the terrorism accusations are a clear BLP vio, a minority of editors seem to think in good faith that they are not, so rather than edit warring under a claim of BLP I let them slide to see if they might just have consensus. Clearly they don't. The murder accusation is another story - the article directly accuses Dohrn of murdering a policeman, using a police informant and some other shady sources for circumstantial evidence, and tries to establish that she would have been tried for it had only the government not messed up its case. The article does not directly accuse anyone of anything. Please pay closer attention to accuracy when describing something that anyone can go see. The article cites accounts in newspapers, books and testimony by a government informer whose book, which repeats what he learned, has been cited by a number of other authors who have written about Weatherman, including authors sympathetic to Weatherman. You're supposed to try to move away from edit warring and toward discussion, but you haven't done so. You haven't addressed issues of sourcing at all and you haven't shown how the supposed BLP violation exists. Instead, you've edit warred and tried to ratchet up the emotional heat when you haven't made a case based either on policy or facts. Nor have you shown there's a consensus to remove information that's been stable in the article. -- Noroton (talk) 04:13, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
That is barely worth a response. You quote a statement I made on my own talk page out of context to call it suspicious when it's obvious that I am answering a simple question that another editor posed me. That is a low blow. You are the one who is edit warring, not me - and you are ignoring both the conversation and its outcome. Although there is consensus to remove the material that does not matter - you needed consensus to include it if it could even pass BLP, and it never did. Wikidemon (talk) 04:43, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Come on, people. Whether a consensus exists or not is completely irrelevant. There is no justification whatsoever for putting in material that accuses someone of murder. It violates WP:BLP, full stop. Leave it out. Determining whether someone is guilty of murder is a matter for an actual court of law, not Wikipedia. Your presentation of evidence to support such a conclusion is also WP:OR. I am not a fan of Dohrn or the Weathermen, but you have to stop acting as though Wikipedia is a kangaroo court. Let me put it this way: I am utterly convinced that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole and the other guy, but that does not justify me going on the O.J. article and saying he murdered them. Whether I like it or not, the law says he didn't. And unless Dohrn has been convicted in a court, she isn't a murderer (for Wikipedia purposes anyway). Arjuna (talk) 04:14, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Where is Wikipedia accusing someone of murder? Quote it, please. Where does it say that when Wikipedia mentions that a terrorist is suspected of murder that it's a BLP violation? Quote the section of policy that states that, please. I think you're misreading the passage and misreading policy. -- Noroton (talk) 04:18, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It is so obvious it is hardly worth saying. You are edit warring over something that has failed for ten days to get consensus, closely related to other POV material you have been pushing without success for at least three months. You and CENSEI are collectively at 5RR in six hours on an accusation that a living person is a terrorist and murdered a police officer, and you are asking us to prove our case? If you want to edit in good faith you should let the material stay out and try to gain consensus for it - and stop accusing me of all kinds of nonsense while you are at it. Nevertheless I will post a condensed version of the offending language shortly. Wikidemon (talk) 04:35, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon, this is the third comment on editors rather than edits. You complain of accusations, but your comments today have been one long string of accusations and put downs. You have failed to back up your heated statements with evidence about the passage in question. Provide evidence that I've accused Dohrn of murder rather than shown that reliable sources have repeatedly done so for years. If you want to edit in good faith, provide an actual argument that our reporting that Dohrn has been widely called a terrorist is somehow a BLP violation. I've provided a ton of evidence, much of it recently, that she and Ayers are widely known as terrorists and have been known for that since 1970 by reliable sources. Where's your consensus to remove material already stable in the article that previously reached consensus on that page? I've added quite a lot of evidence to this page, much of it recently. Where's your evidence? Where's your reaction to the new information I've added (much of which conclusively refutes your own unfounded assertions)? -- Noroton (talk) 04:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) As to the supposed WP:OR violation: Since I only repeat what was said by reliable, published sources elsewhere and don't go beyond what those sources state, and draw no conclusions but simply represent what was said by those sources, there is no original research involved. We simply show what has been said about the actions of Dohrn, known for being a terrorist. Have you seen the additional evidence I've cited in my statement on this page? Have you followed the links to the sources cited in the passage? -- Noroton (talk) 04:36, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Accusation of murder[edit]

This is really obvious but the following non-consensus material CENSEI and Noroton have just added five times after trying vainly to get consensus --

The February 16, 1970 bombing of the Park Police Station in [[San Francisco]], where one police officer was kllled, and another police officer was partially blinded and forced to retire on a disability, has been identified as the work of Dohrn.[1] At the time, Dohrn was said to be living with a Weatherman cell in a houseboat in [[Sausalito, California]], unnamed law enforcement sources later told [[KRON-TV]].[2] An investigation into the case was reopened in 1999,[1] and a San Francisco grand jury looked into the incident, but no indictments followed,[2] and no one was ever arrested for the bombing.[1] An FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl, who successfully penetrated the organization from the late summer of 1969 until April 1970, later testified to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that [[Bill Ayers]], then a high-ranking member of the organization and a member of its Central Committee (but not then Dohrn's husband), had said Dohrn constructed and planted the bomb. Grathwohl testified that Ayers had told him specifically where the bomb was placed (on a window ledge) and what kind of shrapnel was put in it. Grathwohl said Ayers was emphatic, leading Grathwohl to believe Ayers either was present at some point during the operation or had heard about it from someone who was there.[3] In a book about his experiences published in 1976, Grathwohl wrote that Ayers, who had recently attended a meeting of the group's Central Committee, said Dohrn had planned the operation, made the bomb and placed it herself.[4] Grathwohl testified that Ayers and Dohrn escaped prosecution only because of government misconduct in collecting evidence against them.

-- is a representation that Dohrn committed murder. I'll do the textual analysis in a moment. Wikidemon (talk) 04:38, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

The February 16, 1970 bombing of the Park Police Station in San Francisco, where one police officer was killed, and another police officer was partially blinded and forced to retire on a disability,murder of a police officer has been identified as the work of Dohrn.[article that does not even mention Dohrn] At the time, Dohrn was said to be living with a Weatherman cell. [sourced to 2003 story about pending police investigation citing unnamed sources, and "alleged" grand jury testimony who said Dohrn is a suspect and "may have been responsible" An investigation into the case was reopened in 1999, and a San Francisco grand jury looked into the incident, but no indictments followed, and no one was ever arrested for the bombing. An FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl, who successfully penetrated the organization from the late summer of 1969 until April 1970, later testified to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that Bill Ayers, then a high-ranking member of the organization and a member of its Central Committee (but not then Dohrn's husband), had thinks Dohrn's husband believed she had committed the murderDohrn constructed and planted the bomb. Grathwohl testified that Ayers had told him specifically where the bomb was placed (on a window ledge) and what kind of shrapnel was put in it. Grathwohl said Ayers was emphatic, leading Grathwohl to believe Ayers either was present at some point during the operation or had heard about it from someone who was there.which he believed because because the husband sounded like he was there for part of it or heard it from someone who was. [cited to transcript of testimony] In a book about his experiences published in 1976, Grathwohl wrote that Ayers, who had recently attended a meeting of the group's Central Committee, said Dohrn had planned the operation, made the bomb and placed it herself. In a book, the informant later said Dohrm was guilty [cited to informant's book]]Grathwohl testified that Ayers and Dohrn escaped prosecution only because of government misconduct in collecting evidence against them. and would have been tried for murders if the government hadn't botched its case.

...parses to: Dohrm murdered a police officer.[no source] She was living with a Weathermen cell linked to the murder. [sourced to unnamed police investigators and secret grand jury testimony - not reliable] Her husband thought she was guilty and sounds like he saw it or heard it from a good [i.e. unreliable human] source [sourced to FBI informant whose observations are not reliable, via a transcript of testimony - doubly unreliable]. The informant said she committed the murder.[sourced to informan's book - not reliable] ... - Wikidemon (talk) 05:17, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

No, when we say someone else said something, we mean someone else said something. See WP:ASF section of WP:NPOV: By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." [...] By value or opinion,[2] on the other hand, we mean "a matter which is subject to dispute." [...] When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to someone and discuss the fact that they have this opinion. Wikidemon, why do you find this passage so hard to understand?
Another point: This last sentence is simply wrong, and it isn't what I wrote: Grathwohl testified that Ayers and Dohrn escaped prosecution only because of government misconduct in collecting evidence against them. Grathwohl testified to no such thing. You or someone else tore out the mention of Freddoso and his book, in which Freddoso said that. Here was what I originally wrote: In 2008, Grathwohl's testimony was quoted by David Freddoso in his book The Case Against Barack Obama. "Ayers and Dohrn escaped prosecution only because of government misconduct in collecting evidence against them", Freddoso wrote. FOOTNOTE: Freddoso, David, The Case Against Barack Obama, Regnery Publishing, Inc., Washington, D.C., 2008, p 124; Chapter 7 Footnote 7: Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, "Terroristic Activity Inside the Weatherman Movement, Part 2", October 18, 1974-- Noroton (talk) 05:32, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The text of the passage directly states in passive voice that Dohrn committed murder. Even if you limited the statement to the accuser's claim you can't hide behind a statement of an unreliable source to accuse a living person of murder. ASF (which applies to NPOV, not BLP) says you have to give a balanced account of differing opinions on a matter, not that you can leverage an accusation of murder to the opinion of a police informant. Trying to bolster the informant's claim with an entire paragraph of analysis, and murky statements about an aborted police investigation, does not make it any less of a BLP violation. Freddoso is hardly a reliable source when he writes a book tying Obama to terrorism, in a self-described effort to defeat Obama's election campaign. That is what this whole thing is clearly about, and reducing Wikipedia to accusations against living people of being terrorists and murderers so as to impugn a presidential candidate is particularly noxious. Even if Freddoso were reliable it does not make the informant's testimony any more reliable for Freddoso to reprint it. Wikidemon (talk) 05:46, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Here are the footnotes to the passage. The links are worth following (I'll provide quotes from the sources that were not in the footnotes):
1. Zamora, Jim Herron, "Plaque honors slain police officer: Eight others injured in bomb attack that killed sergeant in 1970", The San Francisco Chronicle, February 17, 2007
QUOTES: Investigators in the early '70s said the bombing likely was the work of the Weather Underground, [...] No one was ever arrested in the bombing.
2. KRON 4, "30-Y.O. Unsolved SF Murders Reopen", November 10, 2003
QUOTE: And now, sources tell us, those investigators have identified potential suspects: former members of two militant groups in the '60s and '70s -- the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, people who've been out of the spotlight for decades. The most prominent among them is Bernadine Dohrn, a former leader of the Weather Underground and now a law professor at Northwestern University in Illinois. [...] In the early '70s, some of of the group led by Bernadine Dorhn escaped to the west coast. Dohrn was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. J. Edgar Hoover called her "the most dangerous woman in America." [...] For a time, according to law enforcement sources, Dohrn and her group lived in the Bay Area on a houseboat in Sausalito. Testimony before a federal grand jury in 1970 allegedly linked Dohrn to a February bombing attack of the Berkeley police department in which two officers were injured. And now, 30 years later, law enforcement sources tell KRON 4 News they believe Dohrn and members of the Weather Underground may have been responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station in San Francisco three days later, a bombing that killed officer Brian McDonnell. But police never had the evidence to prove it. [...] Last fall, according to law enforcement sources, San Francisco police turned over its evidence to the US attorney, who took over the investigation. The government quietly convened a federal grand jury which subpoenaed former members of not only the Weather Underground but the Black Panthers and the more militant Black Liberation Army, which investigators believe was responsible for the Ingleside shooting.
3. Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, "Terroristic Activity Inside the Weatherman Movement, Part 2", October 18, 1974
QUOTE: [H]e cited as one of the real problems that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop, and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person that committed that act. . . . He said that the bomb was placed on the window ledge and he described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it. . . . [I]f he wasn’t there to see it, somebody who was there told him about it, because he stated it very emphatically.
4. Grathwohl, Larry, "as told to Frank Reagan", Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, New York, 1976 pp 168, 169, ISBN 0870003350 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.
QUOTE (I wasn't going to provide this because it's a remembered quote from four or five years before, but if people remember that the words are not meant to be exactly what Ayers said, this should be all right.) This is what Grathwohl recalled about what Bill Ayers said, referring to Dohrn's alleged participation in that bombing: Ayers tore into a fiery criticism of the passiveness of mst members of the organization. "Too many of you are relying on your leaders to do everything," he said sternly. Then, in a departure from relating individuals to specific acts, he mentioned the park police station bombing in Sn Francisco. "It was a success," he said, "but it's a shame when omeone like Bernardine has to make all the plans, make the bomb, and then place it herself. She should have to do only the planning." He charged us to become more aggressive in working out detils and executing plans by ourselves." (p 169); As the result of a recent Weather Bureau meeting, several changes in strategy and philosophy would be implemented [...] (p 168)
-- Noroton (talk) 04:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC) ((quotes added -- Noroton (talk) 05:19, 16 September 2008 (UTC)))

From the text I see here, I see no representation that it is the users here saying the information. I more see it as these sites have said it as it says was said, had said, [it] said, Grathwohl wrote. No where does it say I believe or the like. I also believe an edit war wont solve anything without reaching agreement first, leaving it out until then.10max01 (talk) 04:58, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

The murder of a police officer "has been identified as the work of Dorhn" is the same as "Dohrn murdered a police officer", except for the passive voice. It does not matter that the rest of the paragraph tries to bolster the claim by sourcing it to an FBI informant who wrote a book and testified why he believed it even though he did not witness it (based on things he claims he heard from Dohrn's future husband). This should obvioulsy be removed as a BLP violation but even if you don't think it is, it is disputed material that has never had consensus to include, in this RfC or elsewhere. That two people in the minority position are edit warring to keep it in and try to turn the tables by saying we need to prove consensus to keep it out - something we have but is besides the point - gives me doubt as to whether they respect this RfC process at all. Wikidemon (talk) 05:32, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
has been identified as the work of Dohrn was not my original language, but was changed. My language: Dohrn has been suspected of involvement in a February 16, 1970, bombing of the Park Police Station in San Francisco, which kllled a police officer and partially blinded another, who was forced to retire on a disability. That's the language I prefer. I hadn't noticed the change. "Identified" is too strong a word, and I agree that that word is a BLP violation. -- Noroton (talk) 05:48, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I changed it back to my original sentence, which removes the BLP violation. I think that change is uncontroversial and "identified" was a pretty straightforward BLP vio. -- Noroton (talk) 05:59, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It's still a blatant BLP vio, just slightly less blatant. I have a hard time accepting that this is proceeding in good faith when those in the minority position edit war in the middle of the RfC to keep the disputed new material in the article that is the subject of the discussion. An RfC tag normally remains on a talk page for 30 days as a simple matter of the functioning of the Bot. There's no consensus emerging after ten days (which follows months of failed attempts at consensus) and I don't think we ought to drag this out so long, particularly when it has BLP issues and as I said, the proponents insist on keeping the material in the article and demanding that people show a consensus for removal. I think we're done. And make accusations in the process. The outcome is that the material should be removed. If anyone wants to claim otherwise let them show that. Wikidemon (talk) 06:09, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
You're the one who started reverting before the discussion is over (I admit, I've been a little slow in participating here recently -- recovering from an ailment that made it tough to concentrate.) It isn't a BLP vio at all, and you don't have any evidence at all that it is one. You come to conclusions that aren't backed up by the words you cite. Simply to say that someone else has said something is simply not the same thing as Wikipedia itself stating that it's true, and you haven't shown otherwise. I've demonstrated that (1) it's normal to call Weatherman "terrorist"; (2) it's normal to call Ayers "terrorist", (3) it's normal to call Dohrn "terrorist". When it's normal to call someone a (now former) terrorist, it's obvious that when reliable sources say they're suspects in a particular bombing of the sort that Weatherman carried out, there is no BLP violation for us to provide that information to readers. The information was good enough for a major metropolitan daily newspaper, a TV station in that same metropolis, books and government testimony from the most successful FBI informant on that group (with his testimony repeated in two books). Your objection boils down to: The article is presenting information I don't like. Well, that's an inadequate argument. You can repeat "BLP violation" till you're blue in the face, but it doesn't relieve you of the burden of having to show there actually is one. -- Noroton (talk) 06:35, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE: 1976 FBI report from the Chicago field office on Weather Underground activity. The report was a review, not itself an investigation. In this PDF [53], page 176 of the document (but page 62 of the PDF), the February 16 bombing of the park police station is listed: February 16, 1970: A bomb detonated at the Golden Gate Park Branch of the San Francisco Police Department killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen. No organization claimed credit for either of these February police bombings. The list is titled "WUO Bombings and Attempted Bombings" -- Noroton (talk) 06:22, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
No WP:OR. I'm at 2RR, Wikidemon is at 3, and so is Noroton. I'm not going to rv again even though I should, just to show that at least one side has some degree of restraint. Frankly, I think your POV pushing on this is completely untenable and in serious violation of BLP and OR. Wikidemon, I think you are well within reason to take this to ANI. Arjuna (talk) 06:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for the threat. I just edited in the direction of toning it down. You haven't justified your objection on WP:OR at all and simply repeated the charge like a mantra, then waved your arms around some more. Abusing other editors is not what discussion is supposed to be about, Arjuna. If you have a case to make, why don't you bring it up? The conclusion that other editors should draw is that if you don't make your case eventually, you don't actually have a case to make and are simply objecting because you find the facts uncomfortable. She was one of the people running Weatherman. Weatherman planned to kill people at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The sourcing is impeccable. Did she plant a bomb that killed a police officer in San Francisco? I never said she did, but I do say it's worth mentioning in an article about a former terrorist whose organization planted bombs in police stations and government buildings. It's the type of thing they did. Specifically where is WP:OR or WP:BLP violated, or any other policy? No mantras, please. Make a case, please. When one side cites evidence and specific language in policy and the other doesn't, which side looks more like the POV pushers? -- Noroton (talk) 06:43, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I suggest you need to calm down. I'm not sure what this "arm-waving" business is, but maybe you can fill me in. I am quite willing to take it to ANI, but this has been Wikidemon's beat more than mine so I'm going to defer to him in this case. As for arguments, we have made quite clear and compelling ones; it is unfortunate that you choose not to understand them. Arjuna (talk) 07:08, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm perfectly calm. I'm the one actually citing facts and specific policy. Please join in that constructive discussion. "arm waving" is making statements relying on emotion rather than facts, logic & policy. Here's an example: Frankly, I think your POV pushing on this is completely untenable and in serious violation of BLP and OR. Well, where's the violation? Incidentally, I've never heard anyone say Dohrn didn't get involved in that bombing, not even Dohrn. -- Noroton (talk) 07:17, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, and kindly provide diffs to the compelling arguments. I haven't seen much of any arguments, just bald assertions. -- Noroton (talk) 07:19, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Quote from U.S. Senate report: [54] -- Among the most spectacular terrorist acts committed by the Weather Underground have been the bombing of the San Francisco Park Police Station on February 16, 1970 with a dynamite bomb loaded with staples. (Hint: You don't load a bomb with staples unless you want to kill somebody.) -- "Threats to the Peaceful Observance of the Bicentennial: Hearing Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, Second Session, June 18, 1976", p 33 "most spectacular" -- Kinda goes to show how important the incident was. (the language actually seems to be copied from an earlier Senate report) --

BLP[edit]

Some obviously disagree that covering the murder accusation is a WP:BLP violation and have revert warred to keep it in while this RfC is underway. I therefore filed a notice at the BLP notice board here, and asked for comment. Wikidemon (talk) 21:04, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Question value of prolonging the RfC[edit]

Noroton is fabricating things wholesale about the edit history[55] and state of consensus.[56] At this point the opinions voiced, all with policy arguments, are running only 4 out of 14 in favor of including terrorism in any article other than Weathermen (and no support for calling Dohrn a murderer). Yet Noroton and CENSEI are tag-teaming up to 5RR [57][58][59][60][61] to add accusations of terrorism and murder into the Dohrn article.

For the record I am at 2RR on reverting this, not 3RR. But I simply do not want to edit war, not even over BLP. Noroton and CENSEI can bully their way to a nonconsensus article edit until we get some resolution, but as before, this does not mean they have a stable or uncontested version.

The material was never stable and never approved. Noroton and CENSEI have simply been tendentiously reverting it back into the articles at every chance while the matter was under dispute. Noroton is in a months-long campaign to use Ayers and Dohrn to disparage Obama by associating him with their "terrorism". There are megabytes of diffs on this that I will not repeat - but he says quite freely that is what he is doing. His latest adventure out of dozens started with murder allegations against Dohrn[62] and terrorism coatrack[63] (which I quickly reverted[64]) only for him to start edit warring prolifically over the matter,[65] and tie me up in a bad-faith AN/I report when I would not stand for his incivility.[66] He was taking a similar approach to identical passages for the Weathermen article as well. When it was clear that neither the content nor the procedural games would fly[67] he went ahead and added the word "terrorist" more than a dozen times to the Dohrn article[[68] while threatening to file another AN/I report on me if I interfered.[69] As a more conclusive alternative to reverting the NPOV/BLP/CONSENSUS violations and complaining about his behavior to an AN/I board weary of the subject, I attached the NPOV tags,[70] and took the administrators' recommendation to file this RfC. Neither of these editors seems to accept that as the party proposing disputed content it is up to them to establish and demonstrate consensus. Instead they demand we prove consensus for removing the content, and insist we show diffs to prove our case because they remain unconvinced. I question whether this whole process can accomplish any more than it has, which is to show that there is no consensus for material tying Ayers, Dohrn, Obama, or the presidential campaign to terrorism or murder. I am inclined to simply close it, declare the lack of consensus, and ask the community to remove the material on sight from now on and make sure it stays out. We have had enough of this nonsense, and it has wasted a lot of time, effort, and goodwill. If we do close it we need to find a way to certify it properly in case it heads to arbitration for some reason. Does anyone know how to do that? Wikidemon (talk) 08:21, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

I second your comments. Duly noted about 2RR -- my error. Agree this has been an utter waste of time, other than to prevent some obviously unacceptable and arguably libelous material from being put in an article. (Someone still needs to change the material.) But no, I don't know how to formally conclude this kind of a discussion. Arjuna (talk) 08:27, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I also third your comments. This RFC has shown that the majority does not want to include the BLP violation material into the articles, calling the subjects terrorist, and adding murderer to the Dohrn article. We've also seen certain people revert back to their older ways after seeing the results of this RFC. I agree that this RFC should be closed down and shown to be unproductive. Also, if various editors continue to wikigame/fight/edit war/whatever to push their POV's/agendas, then the Barack Obama probation process should be applied. (Speaking of which, why hasn't it already been applied for some of the actions?) Brothejr (talk) 12:36, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Are we reading the same RfC? The majority, or at least a plurality of those invovled think that terrorism is an appropriate label for both the WU and its more ntoable members. I dont see why the Obama probation applies here as none of these articles, except for Ayers, mentions Obama. CENSEI (talk) 13:30, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • When I add evidence (see my much expanded statement near the top of this page) showing conclusively that reliable sources have called Ayers and Dohrn terrorists and leaders of a terrorist group, Wikidemon wants to rely on an older consensus among editors who had not seen this information and shut down the RFC while it's still going on. Shutting down debate when it's not going your way is an attempt to game the system. I'll offer proposed language soon for three articles, and then we should ask editors who commented to return and consider it in light of the evidence. A fair reading of any Wikipedia policy or guideline would allow statements in any of these articles that are relevant to that article's subject, and that provide a fair account of what large numbers of reliable sources say about the subject, including criticism of well-known public figures like Ayers and Dohrn. Everything else is tendentious POV-pushing, and the statements of any editor should be judged with that in mind. Encyclopedias respect facts. I invite Wikidemon, Arjuna808 and Brothejr to review the facts I've laid out in my statement and when my proposals are made soon, to discuss whether the proposals follow the facts and WP policy. -- Noroton (talk) 17:08, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
No, that's not the way it works. Noroton has tried this gambit several times already on the Obama-related articles - making a failed proposal, announcing that he will not accept consensus on the matter because he has proven his point, edit warring in support of his position, then if he loses the edit war making the exact same proposal again or trying to prolong the discussion indefinitely by re-arguing the same point while saying that consensus may change or he has just found new evidence, all the while making personal attacks and uncivil accusations. And when someone gets tired of dealing with his nonsense he declares their unwillingness to deal with him evidence of game-playing, or their silence or attempt at a final "no" to be evidence of consent or withdrawal from the process. If he were operating in good faith he would allow the disputed biographical material to stay out of the article pending his attempt to gain consensus on it. We have had enough of this nonsense. The only possible reason I can see to keep this open is if we all agree to fix a date certain for closing it, remove all of the disputed material until and unless there is consensus, and get a promise from the editors to accept the principle that it stays out unless they can show consensus at the end of the process by a clear preponderance of established/legitimate editors. If we cannot do that this RfC has served its role in fleshing out the arguments and demonstrating the state of consensus, namely that there is clearly not much support for including the material. Wikidemon (talk) 17:25, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon, please follow your own advice from the top of this page:
  • Issues specifically avoided:
  • This is deliberately intended not to be a discussion of editing process or editor behavior
  • Please keep discussion focused on the content question and not on other editors - if you have a complaint about another editor there are other forums. Should editing abuse become a problem on this page we should discuss that at some other page or a subsection here.
Since you've been so reluctant to accept evidence, and have made so many statements contrary to the facts (see your statement near the top of the page), I've spent time gathering a large amount of evidence to make sure that other editors would find it hard to avoid the same or similar conclusions to the ones I've drawn. An NPOV approach would be to look at a range of sourcing and follow what those sources say -- in fact, that's exactly what WP:NPOV clearly states. Then we look at specific proposals based on the sourcing/evidence and then we make a decision. We don't declare that Ayers and Dohrn can't be criticized because it's all just so unfair andthere'snoevidenceforitcaseclosednownownow. I've gathered it, the relevant policies and guidelines tell us to follow it. I'll soon make a proposal incorporating the best of it. I think that's a fair, responsible approach. Deal with it in a responsible manner, please. Feel free to find sources yourself. We're building an encyclopedia based on sourced facts, here; it's not our job to try to avoid the relevant facts because we don't like them. My gathering of facts seems to have scotched your initial attempt to say there was no reliable sourcing calling the group "terrorist". Now I've focused on Ayers and Dohrn and I hope to get the same result. You took on questions involving four articles; it takes time to deal with that. -- Noroton (talk) 20:00, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Your POV war hasn't scotched anything other than people's patience, and don't lecture me about civility and process while making accusations, false statements about edit histories, and revert warring BLP violations into the articles we're trying to discuss. You have not found consensus for your edits after trying eleven days here and three months in other fora. Your continued gaming on the subject is not going to accomplish anything. Now you are disrupting this process too. Give it up. If we remove the disputed material and set a date for closing this, will you refrain from edit warring it back unless and until there is a clear consensus among established editors at the end of the process to include it? If not you're just gaming and there is no point in letting you play another round of it. Wikidemon (talk) 20:14, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Or is the gamer and POV pusher here the one who sees his support fading under reliable sourcing and who wants to shut down the process before it fades further? Is it the one who can cite specific passages in policy and guidelines or the one who waves them vaguely? Is it the one who went out and learned more about the subject and brought back to this page what was learned or the one who didn't bring in new information? Is it the one who has turned to discussing editors rather than the subject? I'll do the constructive thing and make proposals. This is my last edit until I do so, and I'll start with my first in a few hours. -- Noroton (talk) 22:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
No, the gamer and POV pusher is Noroton, specifically - three months plus of trying to use Wikipedia to disparage Barack Obama, capped now by revert warring on BLP violations. Now please stop making stuff up, either about policy, content, or edit histories. Proposing new language after this RfC rejected that there should be new language is gaming. We'll see but if you are proposing to add "murder" or terrorism material into any article other than Weathermen it is probably dead on arrival. This is getting very, very tired. Wikidemon (talk) 22:58, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, Wikidemon characterizes things accurately. There is a pattern of editing here on the part of Noroton -- not just in this article but several others, and that pattern can usefully be described as disruptive. Arjuna (talk) 02:46, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Please, let's end this. We can never get anywhere with this bickering. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 23:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Bourne Bernardine Dohrn Conspiracy[edit]

This RfC (uh, Request for Comment!) is successfully generating -- comment. Thank you, everybody. Proposal:

Mention Dohrn's having been fingered by an informant as a principal conspirator re the SFPD Golden Gate Park Station's lethal bombing. (And if so, Where?...)

You mean sources say she murdered a cop? If you're going to propose that it should be clear. We already decided against, plus it's a blatant BLP violation that should not be up for discussion. We cannot discuss this productively anyway, not as long as those promoting the matter are edit warring it into the bio and have made it clear they will not respect BLP, consensus, or results of this RfC on the matter.Wikidemon (talk) 16:20, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Uh, yeah, that a "pig" had heard say that the radical babe was a "cop killer." (Although maybe we should phrase it differently in main space?)   Justmeherenow (  ) 16:51, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support via minimal mention @ Dohrn article. However, it only deserves mention due to the allegation's having substantially contributed to Dohrn's notability during her stint as a anti-imperialist guerrilla during the 70s -- and shouldn't be done in a way that implies that Wikipedia believes it valid. The informant could have misinterpreted what he'd "heard say" or could have had smoke being blown up his Æs, etc. And, this despite my being aware the Bureau was the group's strategists........whose plans were to carried out by line-level operatives. Hence Ayers's writing he didn't bomb the Pentagon, Weather did. And hence, conceivably, the circumstantial tidbit re the Brinks truck robber's fake ID being tracable to Dohrn's place of employment, despite Dohrn's apparently long-time maintainance that she and Billy were no longer in cahoots with such frontline soldiers at that juncture. (However, note that the book she was promoting, Prairie Fire, advocated violent revolution.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 14:38, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Lets comb through the sources and take care with attribution of sources. CENSEI (talk) 20:27, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support for reasons given above. -- Noroton (talk) 01:27, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

===Comment from a latecomer===

I agree with Verklemmt's comment, way back when. This does bring up the time-honored duality of terrorist/freedom fighter, but I am at a loss as to how one would describe the Weathermen without using the expression "terrorist," or a corresponding euphemism. I think it would be appropriate in all related articles to describe the group as "regarded as terrorist," with an NPOV disclaimer, quoting Ayers saying he doesn't think he was one. --Marvin Diode (talk) 21:40, 17 September 2008 (UTC) - comment of ban-evading sockpuppet[71] stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 04:18, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Noroton's proposal #1 -- for Bernardine Dohrn[edit]

In the lead (addition in italics)
Bernardine Rae Dohrn (born January 12, 1942) is an American former leader of the 1969–1980 radical leftist organization Weather Underground, which has been called a terrorist group. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and the Director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center.
Categories (which should continue)
Currently the article is in the categories: Category:Terrorism and Category:Terrorism in the United States but it should also be in Category:American left wing terrorists
In the "Later radical history" section (rewriting a passage currently there)

As leader of Weatherman,[1] Dohrn went underground with other members of the group in early 1970.[2] Soon afterward, the organization set off a series of bombs, often with public statements issued by Dohrn declaring Weatherman responsibility for the explosions. Since in the 1970s, when the bombings began, the organization and Dohrn have been described by the FBI and others as terrorist,[3] although some, including Dohrn's husband, Bill Ayers, also a leader of the group, have disputed use of the word "terrorist".[4] Dohrn was a member of the "Weather Bureau" (later called the "Central Committee") which gave approval for local cells to set bombs.[5] One Weatherman bomb (intended to be exploded at an officers' dance at Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey),[6] which killed three members of the group in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion and another bomb set in the Golden Gate Park Police Station on February 16, 1970, and attributed to the Weatherman,[7] were antipersonel devices packed with shrapnel capable of killing people.[7] [8]

In a 1994 interview, Dohrn said that while the group carried out some bombings of buildings, it did not target people, and the group's actions were justified as a proper response to violent government actions: "We only did a couple, and they were carefully done. They involved property and were not meant to harm anybody. They were symbolic and done so that everyone would instantly recognize what was being said. It was 'armed propaganda'. Sure, it was violent, and it's hard to justify twenty years later, but it was extremely restrained and a highly appropriate response to the level of violence being rained nationally and internationally".[9]

FOOTNOTES
1.
(a) Chicago Field Office, FBI, (title page is at page 26 of this PDF document)Foreign Influence: Weather Underground Organization (WUO), August 20, 1976, page 188 of the document, page 5 of the PDF: "BERNARDINE DOHRN is the acknowledged leader of the WUO [Weather Underground Organization]." Retrieved September 16, 2008
2.
Atkins, Stephen E., Terrorism: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 1992, p 72: "In the aftermath of the crackdown, Dohrn went underground with many of her colleagues"
3.
(a) Burns, Vincent, and Kate Dempsey Peterson, James K. Kallstrom, Terrorism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0313332134 ISBN 9780313332135 , page 36: "the SDS-RYM went undergound, forming several terrorist cells around the United States. The cells called themselves Weathermen [...] Known Weatherman members were John Jacobs, Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn [...]"
(b) Kushner, Harvey W., Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Sage Publications Inc, 2003, pp 108-109, ISBN 0761924086, ISBN 9780761924081 ; retrieved via Google Books, September 5, 2008 (ref name=hwket/)
(c) Web page titled, "Byte Out of History: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008
4.
(a) Ayers, Bill, Fugitive Days, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807071242, p 263;
(b) Berger, Dan, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, AK Press: Oakland, California, 2006, ISBN 1904859410 pp 286-287: "Its war against property by definition means that the WUO was not a terrorist organization — it was, indeed, one deeply opposed to the tactic of terrorism."; the book describes Berger as "a writer, activist, and Ph.D. candidate", and the book is dedicated to his grandmother and to Weatherman member David Gilbert
5.
(a) "California's Underground", article, TIME magazine, October 6, 1975, After the Weatherpeople went underground in February to escape police surveillance, they adopted a pyramidal organization. At the top was the Weather Bureau, a leadership council that included Dohrn, [...] Through members acting as couriers, the leaders kept in touch with a nationwide network of four- or five-member cells [...] [they [the cells] each operated independently, recruiting new members and carrying out bombings and other terrorist acts that had been cleared in advance by the Weather Bureau."
(b)Jacobs, Ron, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, Verso, 1997 ISBN 1859841678, 9781859841679 p 95: "Each cell was committed to armed action and was instructed by the Weatherbureau to come up with a list of potential targets. The list was relayed verbally to the Weatherbureau which would discuss the merits and disadvantages of each target."
6.
(a) 1976 FBI report from the Chicago field office on Weather Underground activity, page 176 of the document (but page 62 of the PDF), the February 16 bombing of the park police station is included as an item in a list titled "WUO Bombings and Attempted Bombings": "February 16, 1970: A bomb detonated at the Golden Gate Park Branch of the San Francisco Police Department killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen. No organization claimed credit for either of these February police bombings."
(b) Threats to the Peaceful Observance of the Bicentennial: Hearing Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, Second Session, June 18, 1976, p 33: "Among the most spectacular terrorist acts committed by the Weather Underground have been the bombing of the San Francisco Park Police Station on February 16, 1970 with a dynamite bomb loaded with staples."
7. Andrew O'Hehir, in Salon online magazine, "When terrorism was cool: As a new film about the Weather Underground opens, former '60s revolutionary Mark Rudd wonders whatever possessed him -- and America", a review of Weather Underground, June 7, 2003"He held a leadership position on 'the Weather Bureau' until about the time of the townhouse bombing in March 1970, although he says he was not directly involved in planning or building the bomb. A day or two before the disaster, Rudd says, he learned that the device was intended for the Fort Dix dance. 'In retrospect,' he says, choosing his words carefully, 'I've always wished that I had had the presence of mind to take some action to stop it.'"
8. Jacobs, Ron, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, Verso, 1997, ISBN 1859841678, ISBN 9781859841679 , pp 95-98: "The bombs they were making, consisting of nails wrapped around an explosive center that would spray shrapnel when exploded, were designed to kill." Retrieved via Google Books on September 18, 2008
9. Chepesiuk, Ron, "Sixties Radicals, Then and Now: Candid Conversations With Those Who Shaped the Era", McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers: Jefferson, North Carolina, 1995, "Chapter 15: Bernardine Dohrn: From Revolutionary to Children's Rights Advocate", pages 223 and 224: "Dohrn, a leader of the Weather Underground", p 235;"Acknowledgements" section is dated by the author "Summer 1994" indicating interviews took place before that

Reasoning[edit]

The facts here are all prominent in coverage of Dohrn, including the fact that she and the group she was the top leader of have been called "terrorist" quite frequently. This is done in an NPOV way, with proper WP:WEIGHT given to each aspect -- each of which has been repeatedly described in coverage of the group by reliable sources. No original research was involved, with all statements footnoted and reflecting what the sources state. Most of the footnotes here could be replaced by other reliable sources (see my statement near the top of this page), but I've tried to choose the best ones to include. -- Noroton (talk) 01:20, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of Noroton's proposal #1[edit]

  • Support -- Noroton (talk) 01:20, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support -- CENSEI (talk) 02:28, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Hobartimus (talk) 02:55, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • No way - that's a serious BLP violation. I support the existing consensus not to call her a terrorist, and to include no discussion in her article that others have called her a terrorist. With ten editors already having expressed opposition to this it seems unlikely that a consensus could develop for this. Wikidemon (talk) 03:30, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
There is no BLP violation. WP:WELLKNOWN applies. A very public figure is not protected from statements that represent what vast numbers of reliable sources have said for decades. The facts actually are supposed to have some influence on what goes in the encyclopedia, and it's a fact she's been widely known as a terrorist, either by a majority or a large minority of the sources (we're not entitled to say which unless we have a source for that). Why can't we be content to have the article reflect what the reliable sources say? Open minds should let consensus follow from the facts. -- Noroton (talk) 05:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
BLP does not allow you to call people terrorists in that way. Calling a living person a terrorist and a murderer, when the point is disputed and she has never been arrested or charged, is out of the question. The sourcing is far from reliable. Consensus means accepting the weight of the argument of legitimate editors. You happen to disagree with them but at some point, after months and dozens of tries to insert this material, you're going to have to respect that most people disagree. Wikidemon (talk) 05:28, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Please show specifically how the sourcing is unreliable. Please show where this wording call[s] people terrorists rather than cites some of the widespread reliable sources that call her and her group "terrorist", as is allowed under the WP:TERRORIST guideline. Please show where the word "murderer" appears. Please stop making statements that are obviously factually incorrect. -- Noroton (talk) 05:47, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Huh? My comments are true and in line with consensus on the matter. Your proposal violates BLP, and beyond that a number of other policies, guidelines, and principles (e.g. coatrack, weight, NPOV, RS, TERRORIST). The encyclopedic value is limited. I join the consensus that we should not designate Dohrn a terrorist or include a discussion of those opinions in the Dohrn article - and not call her a murderer, as you were revert warring to do until the article got protected. That's my position, not my argument. We've debated this several dozen times including on this RfC, and I'm not going to start this all over for a re-do just because you don't like the result.Wikidemon (talk) 08:40, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Oi! forget WP:BLP -- which shield La Senorita Generalissima abandoned when she voiced her organization's declaration of war, designed to be broadcast over the airwaves of the nation. Still, the WP:COATRACK business comes into play a little -- just 'cause Noroton's proposal, through outlining of the nature of the controversy in full detail, does imply there must be something to it. (I personally believe there is something to it; however, just as Wikidemon notes, Dohrn was never even charged. So. There we go.) Yet, other than there being too much detail, Noroton's suggested edit isn't WP:NPOV within its details of wording. As for WP:TERRORIST, Noroton stringently avoids Wikipedia itself's terming Dohrn a terrorist, so we're OK there. But finally -- as for weight, yeah, again I'd say the suggested edit is too lengthily "weighty," maybe. (I don't know if I'd say "It violates WP:WEIGHT" -- which is too cut and dried for the good faith application of editorial principle that Noroton's suggested edit is. If you pardon my deteriorating syntax.)
Still, and in keeping more fully in the spirit if not the letter of WP:TERRORIST, I wouldn't be averse to euphemism-izing "terrorist" here, in the Bernardine Dohrn's biography. (For example, could we say "violence" in connection with her having been a "leftist radical"?) Then the allegation we're discussing here, and that is an important detail of her biography, could be briefly referenced in the article through its mention, say, only that San Franscisco news reports a year or so ago relate that she remained under suspicion with regard to the "San Francisco Golden Gate Park police station bombing." Which we'd wikilinked, its redirect leading to the appropriate section at the "Weatherpersons" article. And if a reader wanted more detail, s/he could follow footnotes to the reports and news pieces that would be externally linked there.   Justmeherenow (  ) 13:00, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the above means - calling a living person a terrorist or accusing her of murder certainly raise serious BLP concerns in this case, as a number of people concur. I'll also point out that the passage "currently there" is not the status quo. Noroton added it in the middle of the dispute and edit warred it into place, which is in part what this RfC is about in the first place. The status quo is to not call Dohrn a terrorist at all or try to link her to the murder of a policeman. If no consensus develops (and longstanding consensus beforehand, and so far in this RfC is against) then it does not get added. I do not see much point responding to the specific language unless and until there is some sign of consensus to do this at all. Two weeks into this RfC there is not so this exercise seems to be pointless. Wikidemon (talk) 13:21, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I've zero interest in pursuing the terrorist label in the Dohrn article -- although I do think a discussion of its use should take place in the Weatherpeople article -- so just forget I've even said anything about it, just above. Also, I'm sorry if it seemed that I'd somehow implied I want Wikipedia to call Dohrn a murderess. I absolutely would not want it to. End of story.<sighs> However, what I do mean to say is that the allegation that she was perhaps guilty of the murder of the policeman in San Francisco via her suspected involvement in the SFPD Park station bombing is an important part of her biography and should be referenced, absolutely minimally. That's all. With exponentially fewer details than is the mention of those charges O.J. has been legally found innocent of, as found in his Wiki bio, which obviously doesn't violate BLP, either.   Justmeherenow (  ) 13:42, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
The terrorist label is really what it's all about. Nobody disputes that she was a weatherman leader, that the weathermen made and planted bombs, and that she was involved. It's all about how, whether, and where to say that this was called terrorist and in Dohrn's case whether to try to tie her to the police murder. Weathermen was one of two groups immediately suspected, but these things have not advanced beyond suspicion. By constrast OJ was accused of murder in two trials. He was acquitted by the criminal court, but found by a civil jury to have committed the murder. We don't try to connect him to the murder - we report on details of the trial and the outcome of the two cases. Details of allegations, and of investigations or suspicions that don't result in charges, are a different matter. The investigation into the Park Police Station bombing may have some relevance to the Weathermen article (something we have not discussed here), and indeed the text is in that article. This current section trying to re-open the question of calling Dohrn a terrorist is distracting us from the one consensus issue that is reasonably open. There seems to be some consensus for describing the use of the word "terrorism" to describe the Weathermen's militant bombing campaign, in the Weathermen article. We haven't tried to settle on any specific language, or really settled how to treat that. My review of the comments made suggest that the median solution among the serious commentators here is somewhere between describing it as an occasional word people used, and describing it as a common, frequent label applied to the group. Wikidemon (talk) 13:59, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not understanding you, Wikidemon, now, I guess. So, what you're saying is that Wikipedia can't say that Dohrn was recently reported in the news as still under suspicion with regard to the Park station bombing -- because a reader might click a footnoted external link that reveals that a policeman died there?   Justmeherenow (  ) 14:18, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikidemon treats the Park Police Station bombing as if we were mentioning an allegation against some private person off the street or even some respectable law professor. She's reliably said to be a law professor because her family connections got her the job, as the article cites a reliable source reporting. She's not just some respectable person, as many sources have pointed out.[72] [73] [74] She's the person who is widely reported as cheering on the Tate-LaBianca murders, with her followers holding up a three-finger "fork" sign to celebrate the sticking of a fork in a body.[75] She's the one who was top leader of a group that rioted and set bombs. She's the person who put her name at the bottom of Weatherman statements when police stations, the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, etc. were bombed. She was the most influential person in the Weather Bureau, the committee that controlled Weatherman and approved bombings before the bombs were placed. She was indicted twice by grand juries and escaped the federal indictments only because the FBI was so frenzied in its pursuit of her that the government went too far and violated the privacy of people -- especially Dohrn's own sister -- as they were looking for Dohrn and others. That's why she wasn't tried for conspiring to bomb, and it's the only reason. She can't be a lawyer because the bar authorities in two states couldn't get her to say that she renounced illegal action. She defends herself and her former organization by saying they didn't target people for death when in fact we know the Greenwich Village explosion was of a bomb meant to kill people, and the Park Police Station bomb was packed with shrapnel, placed where it would target people and hit its target, blinding one and killing another. [Does anyone need any further citations for anything I've said? Just ask!] The situation with her criminality was so deep, so longstanding and so secretive that when an effort is made decades later to investigate her in an incident for which we know of no denial on her part, it is worth mentioning that the effort was made and leaving the mention on the page for the reader to know and consider -- just as the reliable sources have done already, one of them (Grathwohl) for decades. This is someone with a long, long list of criminal acts whose lack of criminal convictions for some of those criminal acts had nothing to do with any kind of vindication and who still, today, is affected by her past. How many people get on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list? How many are called "La Pasionara of the lunatic left" by J. Edgar Hoover? Bernardine Dohrn is controversial for specific reasons and we have an obligation to our readers to state what those controversial reasons are, since they are discussed by reliable sources. That's why I don't understand the WP:WEIGHT objection here: Controversy over those acts has continued to the present, with books, articles, news stories, movies, movie reviews all dependent on the fact that she committed certain wildly controversial acts. She wasn't controversial merely because she was radical (many others were), or violent (again, many others were and have never been this controversial), but because she headed up an organization regarded as terrorist because it bombed and scared people. There is a reason why there are so many sources using the word "terrorist". What is in this short passage is a large part of what Bernardine Dohrn is known for and how her life influenced society. -- Noroton (talk) 17:46, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

But none of that changes our sourcing or BLP requirement - or the other policies and guidelines I cited. It's clear you don't like her. Lots of people don't - if you go through the comments here you'll find a number of those citing BLP concerns and opposing the terrorist label declare that they find her repugnant. Hoover and the 1960s era FBI of the era are hardly the final word on who is a communist, terrorist, or anti-American. It's rather laughable to consider him reliable on the subject - isn't he the one who tried to frame MLK and John Lennon? FBI at the time was putting out a lot of disinformation. Accusing someone, however unsympathetic, of being a murderer or calling them a terrorist without due sourcing is a BLP issue, and leveraging the resulting guilt by association to disparage a political candidate becomes POV. Wikidemon (talk) 18:04, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
There's the BLP mantra again. No case has been made that when a multitude of reliable sources call her a terrorist BLP or any other policy tells us we mustn't tell readers that that's what the sources say -- just your sympathetic feeling for her. Is it a BLP violation to note that she's been on the FBI's Most Wanted list, too? The facts won't change. WP policy supports inclusion. The consensus, which didn't have the information I later provided, will be built on the facts and policy. That's the way it's supposed to work. Your emotional appeals have limited value. -- Noroton (talk) 19:00, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe Wikidemon possesses a monopoly in his interpretations of policy to find they authoritatively rule that apparently any mention of the Golden Gate Park police station bombing in the Dohrn article is forbidden. Even state appeals justices individually interpret state constitutions and statutes, either aligning with others in a ruling or offering a dissent, so What is the mechanism for figuring out what is "consensus," exactly, in Wikipedia? One thing I'll note, however, is that (after we screen out the tit-for-tat accusations among editors and about who was cool or uncool in the 60s) at the end of the day, Noroton has cited actual language of these Wikipolicies and sourced citations, whereas Wikidemon has said, "According to policy /v/, /w/, /x/, /y/, and /z/ and according to the sources, there's obviously no way to Wikipedia can mention news reports that say that Dohrn was suspected of involvement in a fatal bombing" -- without Wikidemon's then backing this up with policy language or sourced citations. (Sure, peripheral issues we've been touching on as well -- ethical considerations within the historical decisions made by Dohrn, Obama's candidacy for President, edit history of Noroton in the "Obama-Ayers controversy" Wikiarticle, J. Edgar Hoover's concerns about potential revolutionaries of various Red shades in the mid-20th century -- are interesting in their own right but let's save that stuff for another day and focus on the issues at hand.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
The issue at hand is that this RfC has demonstrated that the long-term consensus remains against the material. Whatever it takes to determine consensus when only four out of fourteen (we might be up to five out of fifteen or so) serious editors support adding certain proposed contentious material to the encycloepdia, with most of the others believing it to be some kind of POV or coatrack violation, and some considering it a BLP violation, there is no consensus to include it. The context of how this fits into efforts on and off Wikipedia to discredit Obama by association with terrorism is important to a number of editors and is certainly a valid point - the Obama/Ayers controversy is one of the articles where this has been done simultaneously and is part of this RfC. I am restating my position that such talk should be limited to the Weathermen article if anywhere, not re-making my detailed argument. I don't want to be sucked into that game. Noroton's proposal here does not seem to have convinced anybody to change their position. That's not surprising because most people here have been exposed to these efforts to call Dohrn and Ayers terrorist, and the arguments behind them, repeatedly over the past few months. It does not need to be re-debated forever, each time someone decides it should be. It was debated here and the outcome was and is to not include it. That's one point of this RfC, to settle the matter.Wikidemon (talk) 21:08, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
How completely unconstructive Wikidemon's comment is. He won't even try to argue that he's got a case. Nor does he seem to be embarassed because he doesn't have a case to make. I'll make other proposals with airtight sourcing, encyclopedic information for readers and fully compliant with all policies. Then we'll get a better-informed consensus. After all, consensus can change, the facts don't. -- Noroton (talk) 00:02, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
That is truly obnoxious. Between this game and your last personal attack I think we're done here. Now that you're resorting to insults I don't think further discussion is productive. Your proposal fails. I may or may not respond to further provocation, but my position and everyone else's is as stated until and unless they change it. You can't reset the whole process just because you failed to get consensus. Now give it up.[76]
Oh, I just had a great idea! Let's put this on the shelf for 6 weeks until the "silly season" in American politics is over, and then reapply ourselves to the question with clearer heads, then. Whudya'all think? :^)   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:53, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm a little loathe to start this all up six weeks from now, but if those proposing the material would drop their proposal we could shelve it for now. That means going back to the status quo version until that happens, i.e. Weathermen are not described as terrorists and Dohrm murder accusations not covered until consensus is demonstrated for including that. Wikidemon (talk) 21:08, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Arbitrary break for discussion of Noroton's proposal #1[edit]

The language here is actually pretty mild it only says she was part of weatherman which is a fact and that the group was described as terrorist not that it's actually a terrorist group. It doesn't specify anything about actual acts committed in the lead only that she was a member. Hobartimus (talk) 02:55, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. As with the language suggested in #2 for Ayers, I think it's OK to refer to the Weathermen as "violent", which conveys the objective information adequately. Omit "terrorist" from the introductory section. At this point I express no opinion on whether the accusation should be included in the body of the Dohrn article. (I would include it in the Ayers article because his rebuttal is an informative example of the bio subject's thought.) JamesMLane t c 03:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I think WP:NPOV demands that we cover significant views on a subject of a Wikipedia article, and that's supported by the language of WP:WELLKNOWN. Prominent criticism of a subject is an important aspect of that subject. Too many sources have called Dohrn and Weatherman "terrorist" for us to omit it and continue to be treating the subject with a neutral point of view. The subject is important enough to put in the lead, and I think the use of the term "terrorist" with respect to either Dohrn or Weatherman in reference books such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta Encyclopedia and even Brewer's Phrase and Fable show the importance of the word in relation to Dohrn. For more on the sources, please see Talk:Weatherman (organization)/Terrorism RfC#Statement: Sourced evidence from Noroton, sections A, B, C, and D, which show this is a significant, notable viewpoint, and therefore needs to be mentioned. -- Noroton (talk) 03:45, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Violent = terrorist is extremely POV in my opinion. Union violence, for example, is generally not considered terrorism though there is a minority view that it is. I don't think erasing the difference between violence and terrorism is tenable. TMLutas (talk) 19:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is doing exactly what I think we shouldn't be doing. First, while there is an argument to make that the Weathermen being called a terrorist organization is relevant to her article, I think it's poor. Just because it's in sources doesn't mean we need it. The use of the word is quite controversial here, and it's loaded with inflection. I don't think we can have a neutral article when we start right up front with language linking her with terror. I similarly strongly oppose the inclusion of the "American terrorists" category. Directly in violation of WP:TERROR. Mangojuicetalk 06:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • "Just because it's in sources doesn't mean we need it" may be correct but how you distinguish which significant material is in sources and we don't need and which is ok to put in the article is an open invitation to POV pushing. Put it all in and give appropriate weight and you'd actually have a fair article. TMLutas (talk) 19:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
      • We are trying to write an encyclopedia here; we aren't trying to duplicate all information that exists. Yes, we have to make some critical decisions in writing this stuff. But we should follow the main principle here: "terrorism" is a loaded word that should normally be avoided. This is not the kind of case that seems like a time to make an exception to that, when there are perfectly viable alternatives. Let the facts speak for themselves. Mangojuicetalk 19:46, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
        • Yes, and when you selectively and disproportionately drop the stuff calling Weathermen/Ayers/Dohrn et al terrorists, that's generally called POV pushing. Terrorism may be a loaded word. The rules say so and they also say how you should handle this loaded word which is *not* by refusing to use the word at all but rather by being quite careful with it. Everybody's a radical and nobody's a terrorist. Poppycock. TMLutas (talk) 02:14, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support It's a reasonable approach and I think that at the very least the category should be added. Nobody would call the Weathermen a right wing terrorist group. If we're already categorizing her as a terrorist, nailing down the politics is unobjectionable. TMLutas (talk) 19:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support: well sourced, objectively phrased, and highly relevant to the subject's notability. PubliusFL (talk) 17:30, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. I've taken a look at mainstream coverage on Dohrn, and this is usually how she is inroduced. It follows the WEIGHT of reliable sources with objectivity. Cool Hand Luke 01:22, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Weathermen proposal[edit]

At this point I believe we have rejected proposals to add mentions of terrorism and accusations of murder against Ayers and Dohrn from the Ayers, Dohrn, Obama-Weathermen and other Obama-related articles. What remains is whether and how to deal with the characterization of the Weathermen as terrorist in Weatherman (organization).

Without repeating the arguments, there seems to be some consensus (but some opposition, including my own) to add a mention of terrorism in the Weathermen article. Among those favoring a mention there is a division between those who believe we should describe the term as being something a term occasionally or sometimes applied, and others who think we should describe the term as being applied often, normally, uncontroversially, etc. Few editors favor our directly stating that the organization was terrorist.

Starting with the last stable version before the edit wars leading to this RfC,[77] (there were various disputes over that version and a revised version, for which consensus has not been established, has remained in place with a dispute tag since this RfC started)[78] I suggest we do the following:

  • Consolidate all of the terrorism-related material to a single paragraph where it can be addressed. Mention briefly and without judgment that some have considered the activities terrorist and others say no.
  • Specifically, per a suggestion made by User:Mangojuice 13:40, 4 September 2008 on the Weathermen talk page[79] retitle "Dissolution and aftermath" to "Dissolution and legacy" and retitle "Today" subsection to "Historical Legacy." Move and edit "Their activities have often been characterized as domestic terror,[8] including a later description by the FBI.[9]" from lead to the introductory sentence for the paragraph currently beginning "Bill Ayers", as follows:
Various people and groups, including the FBI[cite], characterize the organization's activities as constituting domestic terror,[cite]. Brian Flanagan has expressed regret for his actions during the Weatherman years, and compared the group's activities to terrorism. Flanagan said: "When you feel that you have right on your side, you can do some pretty horrific things."[54] Bill Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was quoted in an interview to say "I don't regret setting bombs"[52] but has since claimed he was misquoted.[53] Note - sentence moved from earlier Mark Rudd, now a teacher of mathematics at Central New Mexico Community College, has said he has "mixed feelings" and feelings of "guilt and shame".:

Keep in mind that if we do not get consensus for any particular change we simply go back to the stable version preceding the disputed additions. - Wikidemon (talk) 21:11, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Support Please, let's accept this compromise and get on with our lives. Erik the Red 2 (AVE·CAESAR) 18:23, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Oppose I think the matter is important enough in considering the Weatherman that it deserves its own section; that views of those who consider the group terrorist should be given more space, probably with a quote; that Flanagan's quote is about regret, which is a subject that should be considered, but with Dohrn's comments included and the views of critics included (those criticizing Ayers and Dohrn for their lack of regrets); that it's worth more than a single paragraph because the issue is important; that this should be mentioned somehow in the lead. I do agree that we should address the issue "without judgment", and I think the Ayers treatment on regret is good. But I think we can add language about regrets based on a discussion on the article talk page -- this RFC is about terrorism. I do appreciate Erik the Red 2's good-faith effort to make progress on this. -- Noroton (talk) 02:09, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Oppose -- there is overwhelming documentation and relibale sourcing from both polemical and informative sources to make this a subsection with one large or several smaller paragraphs. CENSEI (talk) 02:31, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Oppose as conflicting proposal with above proposals. Should the above proposals fail I might reconsider. Hobartimus (talk) 03:01, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Support, it's the only appropriate way to discuss the terror issue in the Weathermen article. Mangojuicetalk 06:12, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Oppose This proposal would violate WP:WEIGHT. The evidence of Weather terrorism far outweighs those who say they were not. On the one hand approaches would not be consistent with the facts of the literature. TMLutas (talk) 19:14, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Support - an acceptable compromise. -- Scjessey (talk) 22:12, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Noroton's proposal #2 -- for Bill Ayers[edit]

Proposed language[edit]

A. Lead

In 1969 he co-founded the violent, radical left organization Weatherman of the 1960s and 1970s, described as a terrorist group by the FBI and others, Ayers and others dispute that he or the organization was terrorist.[Footnote A]

Note: Based on a comment from JamesMLane in the discussion section, I've added the phrase in italics. I think that fixes a probable NPOV problem in the original proposal. -- Noroton (talk) 03:34, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Footnote A:

B. Category links
should have links to Category:Terrorism Category:Terrorism in the United States Category:American left wing terrorists

(These are the same as proposed for the Bernardine Dohrn article.)

C. Proposed passage

New section title
Ayers termed a terrorist

The Weatherman organization often has been called a "terrorist" organization,[1] and Ayers, one of the most prominent members of the group,[2] has been called a terrorist. For instance, commentator Charles Krauthammer called Ayers a terrorist in 2001[3], and a spokesman for the John McCain presidential campaign called Ayers an "unrepentant terrorist" in August 2008.[4]

[This paragraph is already in the article, under the "Statements made in 2001" subsection of "Later reflections on his past"; not proposing any changes to it] "We weren't terrorists," Ayers told an interviewer for the Chicago Tribune in 2001. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."[5][2] In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Ayers wrote, "I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official". He also condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in that letter. "Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."[3] Ayers has admitted bombing government buildings as part of his activities in the group.[4][5]

Ayers was a member of the "Weather Bureau" (later called the "Central Committee") which gave approval for the organization's local cells to set bombs.[5] One Weatherman bomb (intended to be exploded at an officers' dance at Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey),[6] which killed three members of the group in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion (including Ayers' girlfriend and two close friends[7]), and another bomb set in the Golden Gate Park Police Station on February 16, 1970, and attributed to the Weatherman,[8] were antipersonel devices packed with shrapnel capable of killing people.[8] [9]

Todd Gitlin, a former SDS member and author of "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage," has harshly criticized Ayers and other members of Weatherman for wanting to kill, even if they didn't. Gitlin said in 2001 that the only reason no one was murdered was because the first known attempt resulted in members of the group blowing themselves up instead: "OK, let's give them a medal for not killing anybody besides themselves. But they wanted to be terrorists. They planned on being terrorists. Then their bomb blew up and killed several of them and they thought better of it. They were failed terrorists."[10]


Footnotes:

1.
(a) Burns, Vincent, and Kate Dempsey Peterson, James K. Kallstrom, Terrorism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0313332134 ISBN 9780313332135 , page 36: "the SDS-RYM went undergound, forming several terrorist cells around the United States. The cells called themselves Weathermen [...] Known Weatherman members were John Jacobs, Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn [...]"
(b) Kushner, Harvey W., Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Sage Publications Inc, 2003, pp 108-109, ISBN 0761924086, ISBN 9780761924081 ; retrieved via Google Books, September 5, 2008 (ref name=hwket/)
(c) Web page titled, "Byte Out of History: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008
2.
(a) "California's Underground", article, TIME magazine, October 6, 1975, "After the Weatherpeople went underground in February to escape police surveillance, they adopted a pyramidal organization. At the top was the Weather Bureau, a leadership council that included Dohrn, Jeff Jones and Bill Ayers, the group's theoretician "
(b) Kifner, John, "That's what the Weathermen are supposed to be ... 'Vandals in the Mother Country'", article, The New York Times magazine, January 4, 1970, page 15 "Bill Ayers is an officer and one of the chief theoreticians of the Weathermen."
(c) Flint, Jerry, M., "2d Blast Victim's Life Is Traced: Miss Oughton Joined a Radical Faction After College", news article, The New York Times, March 19, [[1970], "William C. Ayers, a national leader of the Weathermen"
(d) Horrock, Nicholas M., "F.B.I. Assrts Cuba Aided Weathermen: Secret Data on War Protest Years Cite a North Vietnam Role", news article, The New York Times, October 9, 1977, "In February 1970, leading WUO member Bill Ayers told fellow underground WUO member Larry Grathwohl [...]"
3. Krauthammer, Charles, "The Hundred Days", commentary article, December 31, 2001: "the Sept. 11 New York Times featured a rather wistful portrait of American terrorist Bill Ayers. A former member of the Weather Underground who claimed credit for a string of bombings (including the Pentagon in 1972) [...]"
4. Claiborne, Ron, "McCain Campaign Goes on Offense: Campaign Stepping Up Attacks on Obama", August 27, 2008, retrieved August 30, 2008
5.
(a) "California's Underground", article, TIME magazine, October 6, 1975, After the Weatherpeople went underground in February to escape police surveillance, they adopted a pyramidal organization. At the top was the Weather Bureau, a leadership council that included [...] Bill Ayers, the group's theoretician [...] Through members acting as couriers, the leaders kept in touch with a nationwide network of four- or five-member cells [...] [they [the cells] each operated independently, recruiting new members and carrying out bombings and other terrorist acts that had been cleared in advance by the Weather Bureau."
(b)Jacobs, Ron, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, Verso, 1997 ISBN 1859841678, 9781859841679 p 95: "Each cell was committed to armed action and was instructed by the Weatherbureau to come up with a list of potential targets. The list was relayed verbally to the Weatherbureau which would discuss the merits and disadvantages of each target."
6.
(a) Chicago Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Foreign Influence - Weather Underground Organization (WUO)", report dated August 20, 1976 FBI report from the Chicago field office (title is on page i of the document, page 26 of the PDF), page 176 of the document (but page 62 of the PDF), the February 16 bombing of the park police station is included as an item in a list titled "WUO Bombings and Attempted Bombings": "February 16, 1970: A bomb detonated at the Golden Gate Park Branch of the San Francisco Police Department killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen. No organization claimed credit for either of these February police bombings."
(b) Threats to the Peaceful Observance of the Bicentennial: Hearing Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, Second Session, June 18, 1976, p 33: "Among the most spectacular terrorist acts committed by the Weather Underground have been the bombing of the San Francisco Park Police Station on February 16, 1970 with a dynamite bomb loaded with staples."
7. Ayers, Bill, "Weather Underground Redux", blog post, "Bill Ayers" blog April 20, 2006, retrieved August 26, 2008, "that Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, a bombing in which my lover and two close friends blew themselves to kingdom come."
8. Andrew O'Hehir, in Salon online magazine, "When terrorism was cool: As a new film about the Weather Underground opens, former '60s revolutionary Mark Rudd wonders whatever possessed him -- and America", a review of Weather Underground, June 7, 2003"He held a leadership position on 'the Weather Bureau' until about the time of the townhouse bombing in March 1970, although he says he was not directly involved in planning or building the bomb. A day or two before the disaster, Rudd says, he learned that the device was intended for the Fort Dix dance. 'In retrospect,' he says, choosing his words carefully, 'I've always wished that I had had the presence of mind to take some action to stop it.'"
9. Jacobs, Ron, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, Verso, 1997, ISBN 1859841678, ISBN 9781859841679 , pp 95-98: "The bombs they were making, consisting of nails wrapped around an explosive center that would spray shrapnel when exploded, were designed to kill." Retrieved via Google Books on September 18, 2008
10. ref name=dtct091601 -- Terry, Don (Chicago Tribune staff reporter, "The calm after the storm", Chicago Tribune Magazine, p 10, September 16, June 8, 2001, 2008

The case for it[edit]

Opponents have continually said that there's been a proposal for Wikipedia to call Ayers a terrorist. This is false. What's being proposed is that we state that others have called Ayers a terrorist. This has been done by many reliable sources over a long time (decades), and the characterization has been done with reason -- based on Ayers' own well-known position within a terrorist group and on his specific actions, some of which are known (although many of them are not known -- Weatherman was underground and secretive, after all).

WP:TERRORISM, a guideline, states: "Naturally, if a verifiable and reliable source explicitly uses one of these terms, then that term should be used in direct quotes or "X said Y" phrases, properly cited. Or, if multiple reliable sources use it, it may used to describe a subject, but only to suggest that the subject is widely known as a terrorist, and the references in question should be placed right after the word or the sentence in which the word appears."

As a member of the Weatherman Central Committee, Ayers was one of the most influential people in the organization. He has been called the "theoretician" of the group and in 1969 was urging it toward more violence. Larry Grathwohl, who had been recruited into the organization, became an FBI informant and later wrote in his book that Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were the two most authoritative members of the organization. Grathwohl's 1975 book mentions several meetings and conversations with Ayers, some of which are bone-chilling. I've quoted them at Talk:Bill Ayers#Ayers and violence, which is worth reading. Those quotes, which are not meant to be taken word for word since the book was written years after Grathwohl heard Ayers, make the points that (1) Ayers proposed and planned the bombing of the Detroit Police Officers Association building and a precinct station of Detroit police; (2) when objections were brought up that people would be killed not only in those buildings but in a restaurant next door to the association's building, Ayers said he didn't care; (3) the bombs were found before they blew, based on a tip from Grathwohl. Grathwohl's book reflects his testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, which has been quoted in a recent book by David Freddoso ("The Case Against Barack Obama"). Time magazine also reported on the attempted bombings in Detroit (not mentioning Ayers.) Ayers was later indicted by a grand jury in Detroit on bombing conspiracy charges, but the case was thrown out after the FBI illegally invaded the privacy of members of Weatherman and their relatives. This has not stopped the present FBI, 30 years later, of calling the group "terrorists". I think it's a separate issue on whether or not we want to mention the Detroit police bombing.

Ayers has written in his own memoir, Fugitive Days, about details of the Pentagon bombing and has mentioned other bombings (New York Times article by Dinitia Smith, Sept. 11, 2001: [80] "He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972."). Another member of the Central Committee, Mark Rudd, has said he knew that the bomb that blew up the Greenwich Village townhouse was meant for an officer's dance at Ft. Dix -- a bombing that would have killed civilians and military officers (see Footnote 8, above). Ayers said vaguely in his memoir that the bomb was meant for the army base in New Jersey but left out the detail that it was packed with nails meant to kill people at the dance. Ayers also wrote in his blog, "that Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, a bombing in which my lover and two close friends blew themselves to kingdom come." ("Weather Underground Redux", blog post, "Bill Ayers" blog April 20, 2006, retrieved August 26, 2008) Given all this, I don't think it's unreasonable to mention in the article that Ayers has been called a terrorist. Some of these facts also should be put in the Ayers article, but if we get the proposed language in the article, I think we can deal with the other information later.

The Gitlin quote: Gitlin is representative of many who have criticized Ayers' description of the group he helped to lead. Some others are listed at D. Before the current presidential campaign, above.

That Ayers has come up in the 2008 campaign and been criticized for having been a terrorist is a simple fact. Many, many sources in the course of the campaign have criticized him on just this point. This makes it worth mentioning in the article. I chose McCain's and Krauthammer's quotes as the most prominent representatives of this criticism.

-- submitted, Noroton (talk) 01:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of Noroton's proposal #2[edit]

  • Support (I proposed it) -- Noroton (talk) 01:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support -- CENSEI (talk) 02:29, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Seems very well sourced. Hobartimus (talk) 02:56, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's an objective fact that the FBI called the organization terrorist. It's also an objective fact that Ayers, the bio subject, explicitly disputes that view. Selecting one side of a highly contentious issue to be highlighted in the introductory section is POV. Surely the description of the organization as "violent, radical left" will give the reader the essential information for the introductory section. (No one who has heard of the FBI will doubt that the FBI would oppose and denounce such an organization.) Elaboration of details can be left to the body of the article. JamesMLane t c 03:01, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I think you make a good point. I'm more than willing to add something like, "although Ayers disputes this description" to the lead. Would that meet your objections? I'm trying very hard to meet WP:NPOV here. The longer section, the "passage" would be in the body of the article. I'm only proposing a phrase or two for the lead section. -- Noroton (talk) 03:27, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
      • It's a common (not universal) Wikipedia practice to mention in the lead that the subject of a BLP has been called a terrorist or has been implicated in terrorism according to some source. See my list of 103 such articles below.[81] I don't think it should matter in the lead section of a subject that is WP:WELLKNOWN that the subject disputes it. That can also be put in the lead, maintaining neutrality. -- Noroton (talk) 03:01, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
        • Although I do not wish to go through the entire list of 103 I do not see a single one that is living, and is called a terrorist without being arrested, charged, convicted, or placed on an official list as a terrorist. Perhaps you can find one, Noroton, but then we may have another BLP violation to fix.Wikidemon (talk) 03:15, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Again, no. My position to avoid further tying Ayers to terrorism is unchanged, and we should not accuse any of the misleading information tying Ayers to murdering a police officer. So I don't support any part of the proposed changes. The material is a rather serious BLP violation, and also violates NPOV, RS, TERRORISM, and UNDUE. Nothing argued here is new or otherwise changes my position, so I will not repeat my argument. This is just a rehash of an old proposal that never gained consensus and failed to get consensus here at the RfC. There are some problems in the earlier version of the article that we may have to fix later - we should probably move Ayers discussion of the Weathermen to the Weathermen article where we are consolidating the discussion of the Weathermen as terrorists. But we can take care of that later.Wikidemon (talk) 03:08, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose again, for exactly the same reasons as in the Dohrm article. Frankly, I think that the fact that Noroton is even proposing this kind of extreme solution is very suspicious. It's like policies and objections mean nothing. Mangojuicetalk 06:14, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I find it amazing that you find it amazing. Remember, Noroton isn't the guy on the extreme of the debate here. I am. I'm also not doing a lot of proposing for that very reason. If you'd like a more full throated proposal of the pro-label side to compare and contrast, I can be persuaded to put aside my limited involvement. Then the anti-side can get all its panties in a bunch. I thought that the exercise wouldn't be useful to move things along but if you disagree... TMLutas (talk) 19:27, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
      • Believe me, that wouldn't help. The point here is, that even for real, undisputed terrorist organizations and terrorists we use the word terrorism in the first paragraph let alone the first sentence; see Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Provisional Irish Republican Army, Hamas; even Osama bin Laden gets one sentence of factual description before we mention terror. These people are called terrorists by some. We shouldn't mention terror in the lead at all, it's not possible to do so and give a balanced presentation. Mangojuicetalk 19:40, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
        • Had I thought a lead proposal by me would help, I'd have made it already. Al-Queda's first paragraph sidesteps the problem neatly. They mention the War on Terror and leave the impression rather than use the word terrorism. I find it too cute by half but if you like it, that sort of imply but don't say might fly as consensus. TMLutas (talk) 02:23, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
        • Mangojuice is wrong to imply that it's unusual for articles about people who have been called "terrorists" or implicated in "terrorism" don't have that mentioned in the lead section. It is common. See my list of 103 below. [82]
  • Support Half a loaf's better than none and this seems a decent compromise. TMLutas (talk) 19:27, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose - this is just getting ridiculous. I am amazed that we are even bothering to discuss whether or not we should blatantly violate Wikipedia policies like WP:BLP. -- Scjessey (talk) 22:09, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Nice straw man. Of course, whether the construction violates WP:BLP is under heavy dispute. That's the point of the conversation, isn't it? TMLutas (talk) 02:23, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support The guy is best known for his "terrorist" youth, to use the word most commonly chosen by Reliable Sources. What is the rationale for censoring the proven fact that the man is widely considered to be an ex-terrorist, by the majority of experts who study this history?Verklempt (talk) 00:18, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support per Verklempt. The proposal does not claim that he WAS or IS a terrorist, which is important. But it discloses the issue, which is necessary and appropriate because it's so relevant to the subject's notability. PubliusFL (talk) 17:38, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • 103 biography articles that use the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" in the lead section -- Some editors have indicated it is not the practice of Wikipedia to mention, at least in the lead section, that someone has called the subject of a biography article a "terrorist". Well, Wikipedia actually does that quite a lot. Here are 103 biography articles where Wikipedia states or says that others say the subject is or was a "terrorist". In each lead section the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" appears. Editors should not think that this is some unusual practice that I'm suggesting for these articles. Sometimes the person is called a member of a terrorist organization or listed on the FBI's "Most Wanted" terrorist list, or has been charged with a terrorist act. But use of the word and concept is in each lead section as of a few hours ago when I started looking:

-- Noroton (talk) 02:47, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

  • This list has nothing to do with anything. Per WP:BLP and WP:TERRORIST Wikipedia does not accuse living people of being terrorists when the matter is disputable. Can you point to any among these who are living people and who have not been tried, convicted, or placed on an official government list as being a terrorist? If you can we probably have another BLP issue to fix.Wikidemon (talk) 03:21, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon, you've been told repeatedly, by multiple editors, that the proposal has not been for Wikipedia to accuse anyone of anything, only to report that the person is widely called "terrorist", and yet you persist. Anyone can read the proposal just above to see for themselves. Your repeated misrepresentations are a violation of WP:CIVIL. No part of WP:BLP insists that for Wikipedia to report that someone has been called a terrorist, that person must have been officially labeled one and prosecuted as one, although both Ayers and Dohrn were indicted on charges of conspiring to commit a series of bombings, which was the legal equivalent of some of the more explicit terrorism charges we have today. Your personal standard of government officialdom labeling someone a terrorist is not Wikipedia's standard, which you well know. By citing WP:BLP, you're really are misrepresenting what it says, which is shown by the fact that you can't quote a relevant passage of WP:BLP for your personal standard. -- Noroton (talk) 05:00, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Noroton, do you expect us to spend hours digging up counterexamples to this? A lot of those articles don't show what you mean, anyway: if someone is on a list of wanted people that has Terrorism in the title, then their position on that list is an actual fact and not an opinion. Some of those articles are just plain doing it wrong; I think Andrea Klump and Eric Robert Rudolph are examples of this. Others, such as the Unabomber article, include the word terrorist for entirely different reasons than you're claiming: in that case, it was in a quote from the man himself about his own activities. I would pay more attention to two or three featured articles that link a person or group with the word terrorism in circumstances similar to the Weathermen. But honestly, it would make me think that the other article needs fixing more than anything else. Mangojuicetalk 03:58, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I expect, with evidence now before you, that editors will not continue repeating the idea that use of the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" in a lead section just isn't done on Wikipedia. It's done all the time. Nothing unusual about that. if someone is on a list of wanted people that has Terrorism in the title, then their position on that list is an actual fact and not an opinion So what. WP:NPOV provides for Wikipedia reporting "opinions" (or any information that is contested, so long as that information is asserted by a large proportion of reliable sources. The information meets all Wikipedia policies and guidelines, the sources are there. The case is airtight. -- Noroton (talk) 05:00, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
No, I stand by my comments. We do not per WP:BLP and WP:TERRORIST call living people terrorists if there is any reasonable dispute on the matter. We report accusations of terrorism only in the form of objective evidence like trials, convictions, or being on official terrorist lists. You have presented no evidence to the contrary. If there are any counterexamples on the list they are most likely BLP violations that need to be fixed. Even where a terrorism-related claim is worth reporting we have other policies and guidelines at work including WP:RS, WP:NPOV, WP:COATRACK, and so on. Your NPOV claim is faulty, as has been discussed many times already. It is strange that you call this "airtight". I share some other editors' astonishment that we are even considering Wikipedia's calling living people terrorists in the context of presidential election politics, or that one side can declare rhetorical victory when consensus is running against it. Wikidemon (talk) 05:26, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I stand by mine also. I picked the first 7 articles that occurred to me and they all took pains to avoid reporting on opinions that these people or organizations were terrorists. Noroton, most of the examples you give are like this too, frankly, although there are some exceptions. But those exceptions do not look to me like they ought to be that way: rather, it seems like a careless tossing about of a loaded word when the article can and should be written more neutrally. Let the facts speak for themselves. I do, however, feel I should distance myself from my previous position. I do think that looking for sources that discuss the use of a term is the best way to gauge whether the term is used properly or not... but I also think that veers too far towards original research for it to be the way Wikipedia really works. No, Terrorist is a word to avoid. We should avoid it, always, when it is avoidable. Its use is extremely prejudicial against the people or groups being described. On the other hand, being included on an official US government list of "most wanted terrorists" is a fact, not an opinion, and thus justified. But the Weathermen are not like this. Mangojuicetalk 20:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If it's a disputable claim, it has no place in the BLP, let alone the lead of said BLP. Grsztalk 21:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Ever read WP:WELLKNOWN section of WP:BLP? Almost any negative information will be "disputable". Nor does Wikipedia disallow "disputable" information from articles, BLP or otherwise. Your statement is without any basis in policy. Or are you arguing on some basis other than policy? -- Noroton (talk) 22:15, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Well that was a pointless ad hominem point, as I've never once been involved with this article. WP:TERRORIST rules against. Grsztalk 22:26, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Zacarias Moussaoui - no mention of terrorist in article, let alone lead.
Ziad Jarrah (featured article) - no mention.
[[Mohamed Atta] - no mention.
Satam al-Suqami - no mention.
Wail al-Shehri - no mention.
Abdulaziz al-Omari - no mention.
All of these are 9-11 hijackers, and that is the word most commonly used. Per WP:TERRORIST, when a different word can be used, it should be. What you call a terrorist, others call a hero. It's a moral judgement, and we can't make that call. Grsztalk 22:38, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Ad hominem attack would be an attack on you, and I didn't attack you. I'm sorry you felt attacked. I'll try not to be so abrupt. Did you read the proposal? I didn't propose that Wikipedia call anyone a terrorist, but note that reliable sources have done so. That is perfectly in keeping with WP:TERRORIST. Or am I wrong? Could you point out how WP:TERRORIST prohibits any specific language in this proposal? You prefer that "terrorist" not be mentioned at all? Why? And what is "the word most commonly used" in those articles? I don't understand what you mean. -- Noroton (talk) 23:41, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Most of the pages on 9/11 hijackers don't even mention the word "terrorist". Grsztalk 23:46, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

(outdent)I mean, lets take a look at what you've proposed: In 1969 he co-founded the violent, radical left organization Weatherman of the 1960s and 1970s, described as a terrorist group by the FBI and others, Ayers and others dispute that he or the organization was terrorist. It's gotten long and wordy. Personally, I don't feel that "described as a terrorist group..." adds anything more that "violent, radical left" doesn't hint at. Plus then, in the sake of NPOV, if you add the terrorist bit, you must add that it's disputed by Ayers. It's easier, atleast in the lead, to exclude this. Grsztalk 23:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

The fact that certain Wiki articles on the 9/11 hijackers don't mention terror doesn't surprise me; the same idea can be expressed without the label. (For example, it can be said that Hitler authorized the Final Solution.) So -- while certainly empathize with those of us beleaguered by actual deniers of Weatherman terror -- I must agree with Grsz that leaving "terror" characterizations out of ledes more closely exemplifies Wiki ideals through making them this shorter and less needlessly complex. Nonetheless, I hold that there are cases where a full discussion of the "terror" label might be justified in certain articles' body of the text (for example, Bill Ayers's article, since he's reacted so strongly to the press's and academia's having so commonly used the term to describe him and Weatherman).   Justmeherenow (  ) 07:32, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't feel that "described as a terrorist group..." adds anything more that "violent, radical left" doesn't hint at. It's a serious, definitional matter, so I don't think hints alone are appropriate. All sorts of non-terrorist, nonviolent "radical left" groups have existed, so I think it boils down to whether "violent" adequately covers acts that are also widely thought to be "terrorist". I think it's unnecessarily vague. Terrorism differs from simple violence, and all sorts of non-terrorist, nonviolent "radical left" groups exist. The Weatherman planned and executed bombings to send political messages. Bill Ayers called them "educational" but even Dan Berger said they could well be taken as means to intimidate (see Berger's and Ayers' quotes here). The group fits the FBI's definition of terrorism. Wikipedia recognizes that even if we consider the idea that they were terrorist as an "opinion", then as a major opinion among the most reliable sources, it belongs in the article (see WP:ASF on that from the NPOV policy). -- Noroton (talk) 17:52, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think that's what NPOV says. NPOV says we cover significant opinions about matters, not facts about opinions. If a bunch of people have such a pejorative opinion about Bill Ayers that they call him a terrorist, we are not compelled by NPOV to report that they have such a negative opinion about him. Per BLP that kind of disparagement should stay out.Wikidemon (talk) 18:33, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
As you know but pretend not to, Ayers was called a 'terrorist' long before most people who have a pejorative opinion of him were aware of his existence. NPOV does demand that we note negative opinions when they are so dominant on the topic of the subject of an article. Your description of BLP diverges wildly from the truth. -- Noroton (talk) 00:13, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
WP:CIVIL, WP:NPA, WP:AGF. Wikipedia policies. Know them, love them, follow them. And no lobbing those non-sequitur accusations either, okay? The comment about BLP and NPOV is on the wrong track, btw. This is Wikipedia, not repeat-negvative-opinionpedia or call-people-terrorists-pedia. Thanks, Wikidemon (talk) 00:35, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with the added language "Ayers and others dispute that he or the organization was terrorist." The nature of this organization goes to the heart of his notability, and sources overwhelmingly describe it as terrorist. However, this is a BLP, so Ayersis appropriately given his own say in the lede. I think this is actually better than the Dohrn article because it names a notable party to have called the group a terrorist organization. Cool Hand Luke 01:27, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Canvassing[edit]

I am also concerned about the canvassing as a process violation - most people Noroton notified are already aware of this thread so telling them all that he has a new proposal and they should reconsider things in light of all his sourcing seems to be a way to tilt the deck. Noroton has also added a number of disruptive WP:SPA accounts and anti-Obama sockpuppets to the list. If they show up we're dead in the water here as far as establishing consensus for anything.Wikidemon (talk) 03:08, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

    • I omitted editors who had recently contributed to this page, contacting all others who had contributed here, and I've contacted editors who contributed to the recent discussions on the Bill Ayers talk page. I didn't look to see if any particular editor is an SPA or not. I don't think WP:CANVASS would allow that. I'm not trying to stack the deck by contacting more of one side or another, I'm trying to stack the deck by including enough sources to prove that the issues brought up in each proposal are discussed by many prominent sources and therefore deserve to be included in the article. I think other editors will agree that that approach is fair. -- Noroton (talk) 03:51, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
      • ...and the Dohrn page, and Weatherman. That is WP:CANVASSING. Even after it is pointed out you continue to contact editors lobbying them to "rethink" their position based on your "new" (they aren't new) information and proposals[83][84][85][86], some of only peripheral involvment in the subject and/or who are obviously tendentious editors who support your POV.[87][88][89] What makes you think you're justified in lobbying the talk pages everyone who has contributed here, and quite a few who have not, simply because you have made yet another proposal? That's an attempt to stack votes. Wikidemon (talk) 18:59, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Canvassing is canvassing, and following RfC procdure is not sandbagging. The consent of those canvassed is not the point. I already have you down as supporting the mention in various articles of a claim that the Weathermen were terrorists, so your !vote is safe. The point is that there were about 15-18 editors, nearly all legitimate established accounts, who already sounded in on their position regarding the proposals. Noroton is displeased so he broadcasts an invitation to 30 people now, including socks and SPAs, to "reconsider" the result. That is disruptive. Wikidemon (talk) 02:41, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
undenting for emphasis - Wikidemon, Sandbagging is saying you object to 3 people as being a problem, and then whipping out a list of 30 when it's noted that your previous objection isn't large enough to rise to the level of an actionable problem no matter what the details. But you made this personal when you objected to my participation. I must insist you answer, why did you not want my voice involved? What makes my contribution illegitimate? Frankly, I thought this RfC was over (a mistake on my part) and the reminder on my page is what brought me back. Sometimes life intrudes and you let things slide unless reminded. Noroton did me a service by providing a reminder. You'd rather there have been fewer voices and you specifically objected to the note to me. Why? TMLutas (talk) 15:14, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Look at the first three posts in this section and please do not misstate what I sad. I said I was concerned about the canvassing - it was 27 at that point. Noroton responded, then canvassed three more editors after I objected. IRead WP:CANVASSING. It is a form of vote stacking. The objection or approval of those being canvassed is entirely beside the point. If you believed the RfC was over, then perhaps you were right. Noroton was re-opening and calling for a re-vote on a consensus that did not go his way, hoping he could change the outcome. As I said it does not make any difference either way in your case because you had already made your !vote known, and it did not change. Wikidemon (talk) 15:24, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • For a claim to be made that Noroton violated CANVASSING it's required for it to be alleged, in essence, that Noroton had sent out invitations that were not (any one of)
  1. limited in scale
  2. neutral in message
  3. non-partisan in audience
  4. openly transparent.
  • Yet Noroton's invitations
  1. were limited to contributors who'd commented recently on the talkpages of the articles in question
  2. had a message that was worded neutrally
  3. did not pick and choose among those contacted, thereby ensuring an audience, as a whole, non-partisan in nature
  4. was not done secretly by email but was done openly via invitations on contributors' talkpages.
  • Folks shouldn't wave sloth cards as a supposed trump suit, while making extravagant claims about rules breakages -- but while neglecting to precisely elucidate what exactly these broken rules are and in the manner they've been broken. (Isn't a Wikisloth a creature who'd comment about stuff it's interested in, while effecting disinterest when others wade in, citing nitty gritty details in support or disagreement with the Wikisloth's position?)   Justmeherenow (  ) 06:03, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps the straigtforward interpretation that I mean what I say about canvassing. The rule in question is WP:CANVASSING and the precise action is the series of 30 diffs above asking editors on their talk page to "rethink" the "new information" and "new proposals".
  • Of the 30 editors canvassed 13 had already indicated their !vote here. A single editor from this group took Noroton's invitation to shift in favor of his proposals. Of the other 17 canvassed 8 had already made edits elsewhere seemly derogatory to Obama, Ayers, and Dohrn on the issues discussed here, 3 had made edits with a more sympathetic view, and 6 do not easily fit in either category. Of this group 3 of 8 "anti" editors cast new !votes in favor of Noroton's proposals, and none of the 3 "pro" editors or 6 unknowns !voted so far. Of particular concern, 5 known or arguable sockpuppets, SPAs, or editors with a history of tendentiousness were canvassed.
So what's wrong with the picture?
  • There is no legitimate reason to put out a call for new participants. A neutral RfC was already noticed neutrally more than 2 weeks ago. We had already arrived what looked like a consensus.
  • The message was not neutral or transparent - Noroton lobbied users to "rethink" the conesnsus and said falsely that he had presented a new proposal and new evidence. In fact this was a nearly complete rehash of his original argument.
  • Sending out a message to thirty editors, including SPAs and sockpuppets is not limited in scope.
  • The audience was not neutral. Whereas consensus was running around 2 to 1 against Noroton's proposals for Ayers and Dohrn, the newly notified editors whose edits were known were leaning almost 3 to 1 in favor. It doesn't look like that will be enough to block the earlier consensus, but it is nevertheless disruptive.
It is too bad that all the contentiousness and edit warring brought us to the point of an RfC and two long-term protected articles. This RfC is supposed to help solve the question of consensus. It shouldn't be a forum for new wikigames. Wikidemon (talk) 10:15, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but hasn't what you'd offhandedly characterized as a blatant violation of policy, actually turns out to be but a sincere effort to invite wide participation, as encouraged by WP:CANVASSING, through Noroton's notification of editors who'd previously demonstated interest, with Noroton's conscientiously endeavoring not to unfairly "game" their selection? So, assuming good faith, isn't this a case of Noroton's sincerely attempting to contribute according to the guidelines' strictures moreso than an incidence of Noroton's cupidity or stubborn indifference to them -- that is, merely a matter of a difference of interpretation of what constitutes verboten CANVASSING rather than of Noroton's purposeful spamming or trolling?   Justmeherenow (  ) 13:39, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
It is what it is - I've documented it, above. Wikidemon (talk) 15:15, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Futhermore, Wikidemon, you've got a veritable sloth's convention going on over at your talk page (.... wherein you've all predetermined what the result of this RfD must be, while planning ahead how to ban Noroton from contributing on Weatherman related articles due to the arragance he's shown by researching them so extensively. What we have here is Scjessey, who it appears hasn't read the page (since s/he believes pre-9/11, mainstream sources didn't call the group "terrorists" and believes it is just those after 9/11 who do -- when the actual case is the exact opposite. Post-9/11, some of the mainstream sources started to refrain from terming Weather "terrorists"); Flatterworld, who simply says "noone calls them terrorists!"; and Wikidemon, who at least attempts to argue rationally that the fact that sometimes the term had been omitted in mainstream media reports somehow proves the designation was controversial. And then, your group's wanting to ban Noroton for even presenting hi/r side of the story? Well, I think it's weird, that's all. And, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, Noroton did indeed provide hours worth of newfound citations above, so the claim s/he didn't is closer to my personal definition of trolling than Noroton's behavior on this page. And, meanwhile, the claim of a micro-thin consensus and thus that all further discussion with regard the disputed matter must be shut down forevermore is itself quite controversial, IMO. FWthat'sW!   Justmeherenow (  ) 14:13, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
What on earth are you talking about? You are assuming bad faith here but I can't make out exactly what you're accusing the majority of editors of plotting. You obviously have your own opinion. There has been an ongoing consensus to not include the material and a serious concern that it constitutes a BLP violation. Noroton has been edit warring, lobbying, and gaming against this consensus for months to the point of disruption.Wikidemon (talk) 15:15, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I just noticed this long thread. Wikidemon, when you set up an RfC affecting four different articles, which you've named at the top of this section, then contacting a reasonable number of editors who have recently contributed to each of those articles is not unreasonable. It is also not unreasonable to inform editors who had stopped contributing on this page that new information was available along with new proposals on exact language. I contacted editors who had recently made edits to either the pages or the talk pages of those articles (other than some edits that indicated the editor was probably not interested in the subject -- for instance, I think I passed up contacting an editor who made date/number fixes). If you find any editors who have edited those pages more recently (and haven't edited this page recently) and that I haven't contacted, please let me know. Asking editors to look again at something and pointing out significant new evidence is now on the page is not in any way No violation of WP:CANVASS occurred. You're wasting my time and Justmeherenow's time and TMLutas' time. -- Noroton (talk) 14:55, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
And with that declaration of not canvassing the editor just canvassed eight project talk pages and noticeboards.[120][121][122][123][124][125][126][127] Some of these were directly advocating for the new proposal, in some cases arguing again that there is a new proposal and new sources deserving a look. I do not wish to roll back the canvassing or bring up another AN/I case at this time on this (which is the normal way to deal with canvassing). But this attempt to undo a prior RfC consensus by canvassing for support is rather blatant considering this discussion. I have simplified six of the notices to eliminate the non-neutral statements in them (striking and commenting on that would seem unduly confusing to people reading them so I noted it in the edit summaries).Wikidemon (talk) 23:05, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • (sigh) 1. They were neutral. They pointed out new developments for anyone who had seen the initial RfA, and they gave an indication of where discussion is now taking place and what new edits have been made to this page. 2. It isn't canvassing if you post to project pages and other non-user pages, because if the notice is neutral, the only other objection to canvassing was that it might bother users on their own pages (first words in the body of the guideline: Canvassing is sending messages to multiple Wikipedians). Posting to non-user pages is simply not considered canvassing at WP:CANVASS (Editors who may wish to draw a wider range of informed, but uninvolved, editors to a discussion, might also place such neutrally-worded notices on the talk pages of a WikiProject, the Village pump, or perhaps some other related talk page, while still only, or in lieu of, posting a limited number of friendly notices to individual editors.). Clue. -- Noroton (talk) 02:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
    • For goodness sake, I'll give you credit for sincerely thinking what you're doing is okay but you are staring black in the face and calling it white. You are canvassing all over the encyclopedia for your new proposals, in the middle of an open discussion, to try to overturn a consensus already developed in that discussion. And now you're revert warring over your canvassing[128] - you really ought to self-revert. Per the WP:CANVASSING page I am asking you to stop telling the world you have a new proposal for them to look at. Other editors do not canvass the encyclopedia every time they have something to say here. What makes you think you have a special privilege? If you do it again this is going straight to AN/I. Incidentally, that guideline does not make an exception for canvassing meta-pages. It says that meta pages are an alternative or additional place to post notices. Note the use of the singular in that section. It is not meant to give editors a free reign to WP:FORUMSHOP.Wikidemon (talk) 03:07, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
      • I forgot the Village Pump. I just posted a notice there as well. Feel free to report me at AN/I, where admins and editors will, yet again, tell you your complaints are unfounded. I refuse to let you bully me with that kind of threat. Just make sure when you do that you link back to this page. Maybe we'll get more editors here with a good understanding of policy. I think the only thing I did wrong was to neglect to announce on this page that I was doing canvassing as per WP:CANVASS. I see you've rectified that. -- Noroton (talk) 03:31, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I've edited the latest notice for neutrality but have not yet decided how to handle the canvassing. Are you done or do you intend to keep posting more notices? Wikidemon (talk) 03:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
The above question (which I partly redacted) was met only with a reversion[129] of my attempt to make the Village Pump notice more neutral. I do not see any way outside of AN/I to determine if this is canvassing, so I've raised the question there. See Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Possible WP:CANVASSING at Obama/Ayers/Dohrn/Weatherman WP:RfC. Thanks, Wikidemon (talk) 07:23, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I find Wikidemon's comments disruptive especially his own made up categorization of a large number of editors into "pro weatherman" and "anti weatherman" categories something he repeated at ANI. I strongly urge Wikidemon to realize that he is in no position to categorize his fellow editors in any way shape or form and especially not based on his own made up thoughts. He should strike out any part of his comments that are offensive to others and concentrate on the actual issues that are debated.Hobartimus (talk) 19:22, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
No, it's a valid subject for discussion, and I raised it in response to a question another editor brought up about canvassing, whether the messages were "non-partisan in audience". One of the questions about canvassing is whether the audience has a bias, and whether by canvassing to that audience one introduces a voting bias. By bias I simply mean proclivity to side one way or another on the specific matter at hand - not implying anything bad, just noting stated opinions. There is no other way to address that question. The analysis is my subjective review, and I stand by it. Most of the editors I found on one side had made direct statements that Ayers/Dohrn/Weathermen were terrorists, had added that content to an article page, or had voiced an opinion elsewhere but not here that doing so was okay. Most on the other side had done the opposite. And where it wasn't clear I didn't assign them. This should not be taken to imply anything about any editor outside the question in this case of whether canvassing that list of 30 people tilted the decks in favor of the proposal. That is a valid question to ask, so discussion of that point is reasonable.Wikidemon (talk) 19:51, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Should I be here? (was Canvassing)[edit]

Wikidemon objected to Noroton's actions specifically on the grounds of canvassing. He started by objecting to three editors getting notices. When I noted that such a low number hardly merited concern, he laid out a large number more in response to my objection. One of the editors he objected to getting notified was yours truly. The Canvassing section is an indent nightmare so I'm breaking out this specific point (my others being addressed up there). When I asked what's the problem with a few notices, I was told that, among other people, I shouldn't have been notified. So I just want to know whether I should be going around shouting "help, help, I'm being repressed"

TMLutas wants to know why is notifying TMLutas objectionable? Wikidemon, over to you. You might want to answer this question in the singular before you end up having to answer it in the plural. TMLutas (talk) 16:39, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I've cleaned up the multiple posts. It's hard to know if you're asking a question or simply arguing. As you can see in the section immediately above I mentioned a concern that Noroton's canvassing was a possible process violation after he posted a non-neutral notice of his latest proposals to 27 people's talk pages after failing to get consensus for very similar proposals. After I did, he notified 3 more people and nine meta pages, and reverted two of my seven attempts to make the notices more neutral. As I have explained a couple times, canvassing is a matter of vote stacking that messes up the process of consensus. It is not a slight to the people canvassed. Wikidemon (talk) 17:16, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
One of the people you object to getting the notice was me. Why did you object to me? That's the question, one of gauging intent. I'll let the other 29 speak for themselves. I want to know if you consider me tendentious, a sock puppet, an SPA (what is that btw?) or you have some other reason why I should not have gotten notified. In short, what particular way were you insulting me? Inquiring minds want to know. If you would like to extract your foot from your mouth, right here and right now would be an excellent opportunity for you to engage in the operation. TMLutas (talk) 19:32, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I would be happy to extract the words you are trying to put in my mouth. I never objected to you and I have not insulted you in any way. This is not about you at all. For about the fourth time, whether you wanted to get the notice is besides the point. Canvassing is a process violation that stacks the vote in consensus discussions, it is not a question of whether the recipients welcome the message or not. In your particular case, you have already !voted on the matter before being canvassed so it does not matter either way to the outcome. In cases of people who had not yet !voted the outcome seems to be a moderate tipping of the vote in Noroton's direction, but unless people explain why they came here it is impossible to tell what the effect is of canvassing.Wikidemon (talk) 19:39, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
You make a list. You say that these people should not have been notified because, among other reasons, they have x,y,z bad traits. One of the people on the list is me. Is it really so unexpected that I would take your entry to mean that you were accusing that I was a sock puppet, or one of the other derogatory categories? Is this really putting words in your mouth? And you are misstating the policy. Canvassing can be a process violation. Done correctly, it is not. I believe that any neutral analysis of what Noroton has done would lead to no sanctions for those actions. I view the emphasis on the canvassing charge a distraction, a setup for special pleading that what would come out of this RfC is not "really" consensus because it is tainted by what you view as illegitimate canvassing. TMLutas (talk) 05:52, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
I can understand why people may be unhappy to see their names listed in connection with a list of reasons why an act of canvassing was biased, which is why I removed all the names from the list. I assure you that I was not intending to slight any editor, but rather analyzing and backing up my analysis of why the canvassing was problematic. I do not believe you were on any list beyond that, but for some other editors who had already voiced the opinion that the Weathermen were terrorists but not yet !voted it can be fairly guessed for purposes of analysis that their !votes would match their earlier statements, which was in fact the case. Wikidemon (talk) 19:11, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Noroton's proposal #3 -- for Weatherman (organization)[edit]

Proposed language[edit]

A. In the lead section

Change the present lead with the addition of the italicized phrase:

Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization, was an American radical left organization often, but not always referred to as a "terrorist" group, founded in 1969 by leaders and members who split from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The group organized a riot in Chicago in 1969 and bombed buildings in the 1970s.

B. Categories
Retain categories that are there now:
Category:Terrorism in the United States
Category:Terrorist incidents in the 1970s
Category:Organizations designated as terrorist by the U.S. government
C. Proposed passage
Section title
Organization has been called "terrorist"

Weatherman has often, but not universally, has been referred to as "terrorist" by various news organizations[1] and scholars.[2] Various scholars have called the group one of the most prominent terrorist groups of its era.[3]

The group fell under the auspicies of FBI-New York City Police Anti Terrorist Task Force, a forerunner of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The FBI, on its website, describes organization as having been a "domestic terrorist group", but no longer an active concern.[4]

Others either dispute or clarify the categorization, or justify the group's violence as an appropriate response to the Vietnam war. In his 2001 book about his Weatherman experiences, Bill Ayers stated his objection to describing the WUO (Weather Underground Organization) as "terrorist". Ayers wrote: "Terrorists terrorize, they kill innocent civilians, while we organized and agitated. Terrorists destroy randomly, while our actions bore, we hoped, the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists indimidate, while we aimed only to educate. No, we're not terrorists."[5] Dan Berger, in his book about the Weatherman, Outlaws in America, quotes Ayers' objection, then adds, "The WUO's actions were more than just educational — one could argue that there was a component of 'intimidating' the government and police attached to the actions — but the group purposefully and successfully avoided injuring anyone, not just civilians but armed enforcers of the government. Its war against property by definition means that the WUO was not a terrorist organization — it was, indeed, one deeply opposed to the tactic of terrorism."[6]

Footnotes:

1.
(a) No byline, UPI wire story, "Weathermen Got Name From Song: Groups Latest Designation Is Weather Underground", as published in The New York Times, January 30, 1975: "On Jan. 19, 1971, Bernardine Dohrn, a leading Weatherperson who has never been caught, issued a statement from hiding suggesting that the group was considering tactics other than bombing and terrorism.";
(b) Montgomery, Paul L., "Guilty Plea Entered in 'Village' Bombing: Cathlyn Wilkerson Could Be Given Probation or Up to 7 Years", article, The New York Times, July 19, 1980: "the terrorist Weather Underground"
(c) Powers, Thomas, and Franks, Lucinda, "Diana: The Making of a Terrorist", UPI, news feature series and winner of the Pulitzer Prize; September 23, 1970: "Of the 400 people who attended the Flint council [of the Weatherman group], fewer than 100 went underground. For those few, commited to the revolution above all else, it was a matter of logic. Community organizing had failed. Mass demonstrations had failed. Fighting in the streets had failed. Only terror was left." September 17, 1970: "She [Diana Oughton] never lost her gentleness, either, or her sense of morality; But consumed by revolutionary commitment, she became a terrorist, fully prepared to live as outlaw and killer." September 21, 1970: The group's opponents argued that the Weathermen were repeating the errors of the 'Narodniki' (Russian terrorists) who assassinated the czar in 1881 and set back the cause of reform in Russia for decades."
(d) Ayers, Bill, [http://billayers.wordpress.com/2006/04/20/weather-underground-redux/ "Weather Underground Redux", post April 20, 2006, "Bill Ayers" blog, retrieved September 21, 2008: "This was a time when I, along with most of my closest friends, were referred to again and again as 'home-grown American terrorists'. That’s what Time magazine called us in 1970, and the New York Times, too, and that was the word hurled in my direction from the halls of Congress."
2. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: in 32 Volumes by Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1998, p 331 ("the "'Weathermen,' or 'Weather Underground,' which employed terrorist tactics in its activities.")
3.
(a) Mehnert, Klaus, "Twilight of the Young, The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy", Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1977, page 47: "Within the political youth movement of the late sixties (outside of Latin America), the 'Weathermen' were the first group to reach the front page because of terrorist activities."
(b) Martin, Gus, Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues: A number of terrorist groups and cells grew out of this environment. Although the most prominent example was the Weatherman group [...]"
(c) , Pruthi, R.K., An Encyclopaedic Survey of Global Terrorism in the 21st Century, 2003, p 182: "The best publicized domestic terrorist organization of the revolutionary left has been the Weatherman faction of Students for Democratic Society "
(d) The Terrorist Trap by Jeffrey David Simon p 96: "the most active American terrorist group at the end of the 1960s"
4. Web page titled, "Byte Out of History: 1975 Terrorism Flashback: State Department Bombing", at F.B.I. website, dated January 29, 2004, retrieved September 2, 2008
5. Ayers, Bill, Fugitive Days, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807071242, p 263
6. Berger, Dan, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, AK Press: Oakland, California, 2006, ISBN 1904859410 pp 286-287; the book describes Berger as "a writer, activist, and Ph.D. candidate", and the book is dedicated to his grandmother and to Weatherman member David Gilbert

The case for it[edit]

The Weatherman is well-known precisely because it acted in a way that many have called "terrorist". If it didn't set off bombs it wouldn't be nearly as well known. Setting off bombs to "send a message" to government leaders and society is pretty close to what just about any terrorist does. Many, many very reliable sources have called the group "terrorist", and that word has been used to describe the group by general reference works such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta Encyclopedia, Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable, 2002 (A16B), as well as more specialized reference works, as well as books on terrorism and books on the Weatherman and books on radicalism of that era. Also news organizations from that time to the present (including a Pulitzer-Prize-winning series) and commentators up to the present. Even movie reviewers of the movies about the group have described the group as "terrorist". WP:NPOV states (WP:WEIGHT) that when there are plenty of sources mentioning or commenting on an aspect of something, the information is suitable for the encyclopedia. (NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each.) Nothing in WP:BLP says we can't use this information in this article or others. (WP:WELLKNOWN specifically says responsible criticism and relevant negative information is encouraged for well-known individuals, as Ayers and Dohrn are.

Not only should the fact that the group was called "terrorist" be mentioned, but the fact that there has been disagreement with this and points made on both sides should be included -- because that discussion itself reveals the attitudes of people (supporters and opponents) about the Weatherman.

Wikidemon has said that the FBI didn't "classify" the group as terrorist. I don't believe the FBI had an official list of groups that were terrorist at the time that Weatherman was in existence. What we do know is that to the extent that the FBI treated anyone or anything as terrorist, they treated Weatherman and its members that way. From the FBI website: [130]

Key to disrupting the group for good was the newly created FBI-New York City Police Anti Terrorist Task Force. It brought together the strengths of both organizations and focused them on these domestic terrorists.

-- Submitted, Noroton (talk) 01:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of Norton's Proposal #3[edit]

  • Support (I proposed it) -- Noroton (talk) 01:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Hobartimus (talk) 02:59, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support SnapCount (talk) 13:08, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support in part, oppose in part (as change to pre-dispute version of the page). The main passage is not too bad should we decide we are going to cover the matter of the Weathermen being called terrorists. I don't think we should but I will go along if there is consensus, as an alternative to forking the claims out to the various BLP and campaign-related articles. However, a heading and mention in the lead are WP:UNDUE as a WP:POV matter. The matter of calling the Weathermen terrorists is not central to who they were and is fundamentally unencyclopedic - we are reporting on other people's opinions on whether to use a pejorative term that does not actually change any of the facts about their activities. For citations the Encyclopedia Britannica source is weak and we might as well include a scholarly citation that casts doubt on use of the word if someone proposes one. The second and third categories are unsupported by sources - the "terrorism" one is okay because it simply relates to the subject of terrorism. The second calls the Weathermen incidents "terrorist" and thereby asserts a matter in dispute that we have no consensus to assert. And the third is simply not true - the FBI has never designated the weathermen terrorist and the argument that they would have if they could have speculates about a situation that does not exist. I need to point out a couple process itmes here. First, any proposal here is for a change from the status quo, not the version currently edit warred into the article during the dispute. That's the contentious material that we're considering, and this proposal is an alternative. Second, as I mentioned above I am concerned about the canvassing of SPAs, disruptive editors, and sockpuppets in support of this proposal, hope there will be no further trouble in that regard.Wikidemon (talk) 03:28, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Not at all WP:UNDUE. In fact, when "terrorism" is a word used to describe the group in authoritative general reference works (Britannica, Encarta Encyclopedia, Encarta Quotations, Brewer's Phrase and Fable) and more specialized reference works, it shows how important the concept is considered among reliable sources. I could go with a replacement for Encyclopedia Britannica in the footnotes if anyone wants to propose one (or more). The categories are there for people trying to navigate, and they are supposed to be justified by including referenced information in each article from reliable sources that indicates the subject could be related to that category -- it's the only way to do it if we're going to have those categories at all. The version I'm proposing would replace the section now in the article. It is, in fact, fundamentally encyclopedic to discuss the relationship of terrorism to Weatherman, as Britannica and Encarta show (they have much briefer mentions in much briefer articles) -- especially since former Weathermen and some others dispute it. Being terrorists was quite central to who they were. That's why so many news reports called them "terrorists". Being terrorist was precisely what they were all about and why people were concerned about them at the time. And it's why they've been condemned by commentators. And it's why they've been included in scholarly books about terrorism. WP:POV matters are included in articles that are WP:NPOV. The POV (or, in the case of news organizations, reference books and scholarly treatments, the judgment) that Weatherman was terrorist is a matter of such prominence that it belongs in the lead. -- Noroton (talk) 04:22, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
      • The version you are proposing is in lieu of the disputed edits you[131][132] and others [133] made that are in part the subject of this RfC. Your argument for putting terrorism in the lead seems to rest on a claim that they are terrorists, something unsupported by the sources and that we are not actually discussing. The Britannica reference seems to be a bad link so I cannot comment on it. The Encarta article is breezy, poorly cited, and essay-like; it does not match Wikipedia's definition. One category asserts that the Weathermen are terrorists, something nearly all agree we should not do, and the other asserts something that is simply untrue. I've restated my position, already discussed at some length. I do not wish to further debate it at this time.Wikidemon (talk) 04:49, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
        • No, my argument for putting "terrorism" in the lead is that the subject is considered an important element by many reliable sources, regardless of whether those many sources are correct or incorrect. We don't require unanimity in sourcing in order to put something in the lead section -- we just want those elements that are widely judged to be of major importance and usually which summarize important element in the rest of the article. As for the categories, the following template at the Category:Terrorism in the United States page is useful. I thought Justmeherenow had a good link to the Britannica article somewhere on this page. It's conditions are met by my proposal and with information elsewhere in the article:
-- Noroton (talk) 04:59, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • If you put it that way there is no showing that the sources think it is "important" to call the Weathermen terrorists. They just do, some of them. More do not. There is no dispute (other than unreliable allegations of murdering cops and speculation about wanting to kill people, neither of which we can use) as to exactly what the Weathermen did. Their bombings are a matter of record and not denied. That some voice the opinion that constitutes terrorism and others do not voice the opinion is hardly a central fact of the article or who they are. It is not even necessary, though we may see fit to include some mention. We cannot assert that they fit the category definition - there are no reliable sources that they targeted civilians, just property. Wikidemon (talk) 08:03, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • (1) I spent hours looking up sources and putting them on this page and elsewhere so that you wouldn't be able to make statements like There are no reliable sources that they targeted civilians: Weathermen themselves: Mark Rudd, Cathy Wilkerson (in her memoir), and Brian Flanagan are some of the sources. The bomb in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion was wrapped with carpenter nails as shrapnel meant to kill people at the officer's dance at Fort Dix. You've seen numerous sources. You have provided no argument, much less facts, that show Larry Grathwohl is an unreliable source. Basically, you are making a statement here that's contrary to the facts already presented to you. If you continue to do this, I'm going to call you on it, and it will only hurt your credibility. (2) It is self-evident that various general reference works think it important to call Weatherman "terrorist" -- because they do in articles and items in which space is at a premium for them: only the important information goes into their coverage. Scholarly works about terrorism in general and other specialized reference works also apply "terrorism" to Weatherman. You have provided no evidence showing that opposition to whether Weatherman is classified as "terrorist" is anything more than a minority opinion, possibly a fringe opinion. -- Noroton (talk) 16:34, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
What you call "self-evident" is disputed and not supported by the sources. You are cobbling together an analysis of pieces from here and there, the significance of which you misrepresent, to claim something that goes against the weight of the sources. The Weathermen claim they did not target civilians and the weight of reliable sources supports that. Most reliable sources say they did not target people. Most reliable sources do not call them terrorists. Please stop badgering me here. I am not going to debate you - I have been doing that for more than three months. You have made your desired changes to the text abundantly clear through voluminous repeated proposals and edit warring. I do not support it because you have not made the case. Wikidemon (talk) 17:15, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Noroton, you continue to miss one of the main points here. Examples of use of the word "terrorist" just don't cut it. Some use the word for its pejorative effect, or to make a point unrelated to whether or not the Weathermen were terrorists. However, those who actually discuss the use of the label in relation to the subject ARE directly relevant. To make an analogy, you would find that a great many people use the term "Tidal wave" when they mean Tsunami. It's probably in loads of reliable sources. But this does nothing to counter the sources that specifically way that "tidal wave" is an incorrect term. If we apply your logic, it would imply that we should not state that "tidal wave" is a misnomer for "tsunami", because lots of reliable sources disagree, and even that we should call them tidal waves ourselves. Mangojuicetalk 19:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Mangojuice, the huge number of reliable sources proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that "terrorism" is an acceptable description of Weatherman among either a majority or a large minority of reliable sources, therefore there is no WP:BLP violation whatever, or anyWP:NPOV violation whatever, or any violation of any other policy or guideline simply by using the term to describe Weatherman. And what's true for one article is true for any article in Wikipedia, so long as the use of the term is relevant to the subject of that article. That is NPOV treatment. The sourcing is up to Wikipedia standards for inclusion. If we had similarly large numbers of reliable sources stating that "tidal wave" is often used for "tsunami" then we damn well should mention that in the article -- if only to debunk it -- because it's relevant information. WP:NPOV allows mention of well-sourced statements that are "pejorative" for the subjects of articles, so that's not a policy-based objection. (Not all the uses of the word in the sources are meant to be pejorative -- some are clearly meant to be descriptive; frankly, it just doesn't matter -- we can present both). Can you find a policy-based objection? Or is your objection based on common sense? (In principle, I think those are the only types of grounds for objecting to mentioning "terrorism"). If based on common-sense objections, please explain further because I don't think you've made that case. Let's have a calm discussion about this with open minds, and if I find you have made your case, I'll agree with you. If you find I've made mine, will you agree to it? -- Noroton (talk) 21:54, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  1. Enc. Britannica: "[...T]he 'Weathermen'[...]employed terrorist tactics[...]."
  2. Encarta Enc.: "The Weathermen[...]conducted terrorist activities[...]."
  3. Columbia Enc.: "[...A]cts of terrorism have been associated with[...]the Weathermen[...]."   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:53, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
I am not sure what the above links are supposed to prove here. If we adopt either my proposal or Noroton's our entry will fit in with these other encyclopedias in mentioning that the Weathermen have been associated with terrorism. None of them seem to devote a section or a heading to the matter. Categories and leads do not work the same as here so they are not of use for that. Brittanica is a reasonably authoritative encyclopedia about on par with Wikipedia and mentions terrorism in passing in the SDS article in reference to some of their "tactics". Encarta's is a poorly-written entry that is far from Wikipedia's encyclopedic standards for tone, sourcing, and avoiding analysis and opinion. I would draw no inferences there. The Columbia Encyclopedia is probably the most respectable judging from the writing quality, but it is short. It mentions the subject in passing in its brief terrorism article in much the same way as is considered here, reporting that the concept has been associated with the group. These are all tertiary sources so not directly usable here, just indications of how some of our print peers approach the subject. Wikidemon (talk) 21:22, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon: There are no reliable sources that they targeted civilians (08:03 comment) What you call "self-evident" is disputed and not supported by the sources. The Weathermen claim they did not target civilians and the weight of reliable sources supports that. Wikidemon, what former Weathermen and their supporters claim is that they didn't target civilians after the March 6 Greenwich Village catastrophe. This RfC is going to show whether or not editors will push their POV or accept that significant reliable sources need to be represented in an article, whatever the editor's POV. What Weathermen themselves say:
  • Mark Rudd (from my List C #7, above: He held a leadership position on "the Weather Bureau" until about the time of the townhouse bombing in March 1970, although he says he was not directly involved in planning or building the bomb. A day or two before the disaster, Rudd says, he learned that the device was intended for the Fort Dix dance. "In retrospect," he says, choosing his words carefully, "I've always wished that I had had the presence of mind to take some action to stop it." Wikidemon, do you think that the army officers were dancing with themselves?
  • Mark Rudd, again: On the morning of March 6, 1970, three of my comrades were building pipe bombs packed with dynamite and nails, destined for a dance of non-commissioned officers and their dates at Fort Dix, N.J., that night. Still trying to “bring the war home,” their bombs were crude mirrors of the anti-personnel weapons the U.S. was raining down on Indochina. [134]
  • Cathy Wilkerson (from her memoir, Flying Close to the Sun: She claims that mostly she was thoughtless, that members of the group planning the Fort Dix bombing didn't come right out and say they would be killing people at the dance and that she was in "denial". The suggestion was made to investigate nearby Fort Dix, a major training facility. There was to be a social evening in the officers club on Friday evening, March 6, which would allow us easy access to the base and an entree into the building. Regular soldiers, we reasoned, joined the military because they were drafted or needed a job or the educational benefits, but to train to be an officer meant that you were playing a leadership role in the US military strategy. These young men had an education; they had a responsibility to acknwoledge the human consequences of their work. As such, we thought, they were fair game. [...] -- page 340; When the proposal was floated about Fort Dix, no one argued against it [...] No one said anything out loud about the possibility of people getting hurt or killed. [...] The next few days were a flurry of activity [...] We still didn't talk about the physical impact of the actions, either on buildings or people. -- page 341; Not very much dynamite can fit into a one-foot length of water pipe, however. Well, to make it do more damage, we thought, we could put nails in the pipe. With little discussion we agreed. I was thinking that even if the dynamite didn't cause much damage, at least the nails would go into the lights and walls and curtain and make a mess. The nails would wound people, too, and, in their suffering, perhaps they would develop more empathy for how the Vietnamese felt [...] I didn't think about the fact that the nails might actually kill people. Of course it took quite a bit of denial to not think about it, but denial is essential for warfare. Like soldiers in most armies, I focused on the theoretical goals of the war, on defeating the enemy. The individual lives of those who were part of the enemy effort were an abstraction. If one empathized with the enemy it would be impossible to kill or maim. [...] -- p 343; Had our original plans been successful, any acknowledgment of our outrage against the war would have been overshadowed by others' outrage at us, for we, too, would have inflicted chaos and hurt [...] -- page 350. -- Noroton (talk) 21:36, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Your sarcasm aside, I am still waiting for a reliable source that the Weathermen targeted civilians in their bombings. You are arguing that because they were building a bomb that according to first person testimony would have killed civilians had they actually placed it, that Wikipedia should accept they are guilty of trying to kill civilians. You are doing your own WP:ANALYSIS here - something that ought to be cleaned up in the article too. Wikipedia is not a court to use circumstantial evidence, deduction, and admissions against self interest to conclude the Weathermen were in a conspiracy to do something that never happened. Rudd and Wilkerson are involved parties who give first person accounts (i.e. not reliable sources), in Rudd's case of having heard something indirectly and in Wilkerson's case of having participated, of something that does not even support your point. They do not claim tat the Weathermen carried out attacks targeting civilians. "They would have if they could have" is not good enough. Again, nobody here is seriously suggesting that we call the Weathermen terrorists (which is what you seem to be arguing). The proposal up for discussion is that we should cover the fact that other people have called them terrorists. That the Weathermen campaign was against property, not people, is well sourced, cited, and thoroughly discussed. I'm not going to repeat that here. Some sources call them terrorists, many more sources do not. We can potentially cover that fact but we cannot take sides. Wikidemon (talk) 22:02, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
You are setting up personal standards. They bombed. Whether or not most of those bombs did not kill is irrelevant for many reliable sources. Your personal definition of terrorism is not the standard Wikipedia articles should have to meet. The standards that the reliable sources have and that they believe was met by Weatherman is what applies. Those standards are reasonable. Oh, and I did not exhibit any sarcasm in my comment. I repeat: There are reliable sources that they targeted civilians. Reliable sources call them terrorists. Are you going to go through all 50 or so sources and tell us why each is unreliable? -- Noroton (talk) 00:00, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
The sarcasm is patronizing and unduly contentious. You are the one proposing to add a terrorism label and category so it's up to you to demonstrate that they apply. The criteria are from the category you yourself are proposing. They are not mine. You cite a category that has standards of inclusion that you have tried to meet only with unreliable sources and argumentation. The majority of reliable sources do not say they are terrorist so you cannot get there directly. None of the reliable sources you have proposed says they targeted civilians, one of the criteria of the category, so you cannot get there by meeting all the criteria of the category. Again, you have made your point. I find it weak and unconvincing and I do not agree. This has been argued to death. Please accept that I remain among the majority of editors here who do not support calling the Weathermen terrorists directly, assigning categories that claim they are terrorists, or putting the derogation in the lead.Wikidemon (talk) 00:13, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose re: the lead, support the section. Terminology and labels should not be discussed in the lead of any interesting article. If this was not controversial, I wouldn't oppose it, but WikiDemon is right: mentioning this in the lead is drawing attention to a perjorative label that some have chosen to use. And once again, I point out that examples of the use of the term mean very little. I think the paragraph is okay but would prefer it be integrated as I had proposed earlier.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Mangojuice (talkcontribs)
  • Oppose inclusion in lead section. Introductions should not include disputed or controversial characterizations. -- Scjessey (talk) 11:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose terrorist-related categories. Again, disputed characterizations should not form the basis for categorizing subjects. -- Scjessey (talk) 11:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Partial support for the section. Let me first say that this is an extremely well-written section, and that is to be commended. I have only a single issue with this section, and it is more about an omission than a problem with what is there. It is my understanding (and I have done no specific research to support this) that the "terrorist" designation is something that has been used in recent history, but was rarely used during the '60s and '70s - particularly with what we might now describe as "domestic terrorism". It is already well understood that the organization did not set out to commit acts of violence against people, but sought to draw attention to failings in government - there was no "terroristic" intent. Indeed, if the group had intended to be terrorists then they were spectacular failures at it. I think it is okay to say something along the lines that although not described as such at the time, modern scholars and news organizations often, but not universally, now refer to the group as terrorists. Some consideration of how to incorporate this concept into the text proposed would be needed before I could give more support. -- Scjessey (talk) 11:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
    • comment - I think that it is reasonable to read an intent to terrorize the government and government workers in the Weathermen's oft stated 'bring the war home' language. What else could bringing the war home by bombings mean but a terror campaign? TMLutas (talk) 19:03, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Someone's words tend to reveal their beliefs and basic inclinations and the Weathermen's were all about an advocacy of terror and violence, plain and simple. (And if one believed the times warranted such serious and immediate action, such a belief would be applauded, NOT held in disparagement.) The '69 "War Council" in Flint, Mich., is famous for La Senorita Generalissima's advocacy of raising the cost to the Establishment for its continuing, imperialistic wars.....and her calling for helter-skelter chaos and destruction while she led those in attendance in a three-fingered fork salute, in an allusion to the then-recent Manson cult murders. She said, "First they killed those pigs, then they[...]even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach!": the simplest reading of which is that potential Unibomber-type anarchists were vibing on the placidity of their comrade counter-cultural soldiers as these cultists had slashed Yuppie pigs. However, Ms. Dohrn came to explain a few years ago that her allusion was "mocking violence in America." (...You know, sort of like Gandhi! -- who also advocated radical revolution, after all. Yet, come to think of it, did Gandhi applaud and advocate terrorist incidents against the British? Incidentally, the Manson cultists felt their actions would foment mass, politicized terror. Manson's album, released in 1969, was entitled "Lie: The Love and Terror Cult" -- its cover identical with the cover on a then-recent Life Magazine, except with the capital "E" removed from its Life logo.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:21, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Such analysis on the rhetoric of violence, radicalism, and terror is very interesting and probably encyclopedic, in its own article. But if the outcome is a few words or sentence simply describing whether the organization is fairly characterized by the word "terrorist" all of that nuance is necessarily lost and we're left with the more basic question of whether the term in its common usage actually means something or whether it's simply an invective to express disapproval on an already disreputable group of radicals.Wikidemon (talk) 20:40, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
The solution to the lack of nuance is to make the larger article, provide the shortened ref in the several existing articles where it would apply, and then link back to the main article with something like main article see xxxx. Lots of things get this sort of treatment throughout Wikipedia. TMLutas (talk) 00:56, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
Hey, we agree! Mostly, anyway.... Happy Friday. Wikidemon (talk) 01:26, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Well sourced, neutral, relevant. 76.252.54.211 (talk) 19:36, 22 September 2008 (UTC) Bonewah (talk) 19:37, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with a caveat. Given the controversy, it seems a reasonable compromise to leave the terrorism issue out of the lede. But it definitely needs to be in the article.Verklempt (talk) 00:20, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I don't think any of us really know whether there even is a controversy. Ayers himself and another author I found dispute that "terrorism" should apply to Ayers and Weatherman. Who else objects? I've just posted, above, a list of 103 biography articles (mostly BLPs) in which Wikipedia says the subject has been called terrorist (here [135]), so it's a pretty common practice on Wikipedia to do this even on biography articles, where we are supposed to be even more careful about this. -- Noroton (talk) 03:13, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • SUPPORT, with Verklempt's caveat.   Justmeherenow (  ) 01:08, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support CENSEI (talk) 15:35, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with Verklempt's caveat. PubliusFL (talk) 17:36, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - Although, I would recommend that this section explicitly reference the bombing death of the policeman in SF and the three deaths in the Brinks Bank job. The bombings were terrorist acts. But the Weathermen cannot claimed that they did not kill anyone. They killed at least four people.ITBlair (talk) 02:37, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. An overwhelming number of sources show that this group was known best for its terrorist activities. We must follow the WEIGHT of reliable sources, and this lede salutes BLP by noting the dispute. Well done. Cool Hand Luke 01:17, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - It's a reasonable, balanced approach. TMLutas (talk) 19:03, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Edits to weathermen article[edit]

I just reverted this edit by an anonymous IP[136] that gives more detail to the Weatherman article lead, and in so doing tends to downplay the violence of the bombings by saying they were only "several", and done to "unoccupied institutional buildings". I figured that any change to the characterization of the group in the lead would likely be superseded by the results of this discussion so as a process matter we shouldn't have a separate consensus process going on in the article space about it. I hope that was the right thing to do. If anyone thinks that was wrong I'll revert it back or they can go ahead. Thanks, Wikidemon (talk) 19:50, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

A remark from someone not a party to the dispute[edit]

I'm not a party to this RfC and have merely skimmed the above, but I'd like to put in my two cents, take it or leave it.

Even if we do choose to say in an article on Ayers that he is a former Weatherman and that the Weathermen used tactics widely considered to be terrorist, there is an enormous difference between the the impression we leave by different ways that we can say this. It seems to me that we should avoid saying anything that amounts to a syllogism tying Barack Obama to terrorism. The links are tenuous, and the conclusion tendentious. It seems to me that the thread runs roughly:

  • The Weather Underground used violent tactics
  • Therefore, it is appropriate to characterize the Weather Underground as terrorist.
  • Therefore, it is appropriate to characterize Ayers at that time as a terrorist. (this particular particular step is not a stretch)
  • 30+ years later, with no involvement in similar activities, and regardless of what he's done since, he should still be characterized as a terrorist (as against, for example, a person who was involved when young in a group that used violent tactics, but who has since had a career in academia). Oh, and apparently turning himself in and serving time counts for nothing. Also, the entire highly confrontational and violent tone of so much of American society in the period in question counts for nothing.
  • Because Ayers is still a terrorist (dammit), anyone who associates with him should be suspected of being soft on terrorism
  • So, obviously B. Joseph White (president of the University of Chicago) is really not a good patriotic American. Ditto his editor at Beacon Press, who published Fugitive Days. Oh, excuse me, that wasn't the argument being made. It's Barack Obama who clearly must really not be a good patriotic American.

That is not an encyclopedic approach. That is political polemic. - Jmabel | Talk 07:22, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Jmabel, I agree with your basic sentiment regarding the last tenuous link of the chain, yet some oberservers are so concerned about this chain of linkage that it causes them to travel up the chain and pry apart other links of this chain more than they rightly should (believing the Weathermen to be run-of-the-mill radicals, whereas news reports and scholars of the time viewed them as being on the violent fringe. Oh, and incidentally, White is the president of the University of Illinois system; and existing charges against Ayers were dropped due to Fed misconduct, resulting in his never having been convicted of anything, nor, obviously, serving time.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 16:41, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, sorry, I'm not at all expert on Ayers, just looking at the logic. And University of Chicago was a late night typo (or brain-o), that is of course not the institution with which Ayers is associated
I think two other links in the chain are also weak. While I don't think anyone in their right mind would object to calling the Weather Underground (or Ayers at that time) "violent", since 9/11, terrorist has become a particularly loaded word, and these days it conjures a level of violence far beyond what the Weather Underground ever did (although perhaps not beyond anything they ever contemplated). The other weak link is to say the implication that someone's past is such a determinant of their present. Many of the leaders of Israel in the late 20th century participated in comparably violent acts in the 1940s, but we don't usually focus on them being "ex-terrorists" unless the topic at hand is the individual, or terror; indeed, as far as I know we usually avoid the term "terror" in that context, are very careful to deploy "ex", "former", or some equivalent; and certainly don't mention it in terms of talking about a generation-younger associate who was uninvolved in that violence. I hope this isn't just because they won. - Jmabel | Talk 17:04, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

From Begin's Wikipedia biography:

Begin quickly made a name for himself as a fierce critic of mainstream Zionist leadership as being too cooperative with British ‘colonialism’, and as a proponent of guerrilla tactics.....In 1942 he joined the Irgun (Etzel), an underground militant Zionist group.... Soon after he assumed command, a formal 'Declaration of Revolt' was publicized.... ...from 1944–48 the Irgun launched an all-out armed rebellion, perpetrating hundreds of attacks against British installations and posts. Begin financed these operations by extorting money from Zionist businessmen, and running bogus robbery scams in the local diamond industry, which enabled the victims to get back their losses from insurance companies. ...the Irgun’s bombing of the British administrative headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people, including British officers and troops as well as Arab and Jewish civilians. The Irgun under Begin’s leadership continued to carry out operations such as the break in to Acre Prison, and the hanging of two British sergeants.... MI5 placed a 'dead-or-alive' bounty of £10,000 on his head after Irgun threatened 'a campaign of terror against British officials', saying they would kill Sir John Shaw, Britain's Chief Secretary in Palestine. An MI5 agent codenamed Snuffbox also warned that Irgun had sleeper cells in London trying to kill members of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee's Cabinet. The Jewish Agency, headed by David Ben-Gurion, opposed the Irgun’s independent agenda, which it saw as a challenge to its authority as the representative body of the Jewish community in Palestine. Ben-Gurion openly denounced the Irgun as the “enemy of the Jewish People”, accusing it of sabotaging the political campaign for independence. ... ... ...In November 1948, Begin visited the US on a campaigning trip. During his visit, a letter signed by Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook, Hannah Arendt, and other prominent Americans and several rabbis was published which described Begin's Herut party as similar in significant ways to Nazi and Fascist parties.

Which part of this informatoin should have been suppressed?   Justmeherenow (  ) 17:47, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

None of it. It's quite substantive (and easily cited for). Note, please, that the only use of the word "terror" in that is in a quotation, which is as it should be. And that it is in the biographical piece on Begin, not in a piece on any of his associates.
It would be better, by the way, if it were clear who is being quoted using that term. It appears that the term was being used by the Irgun themselves, which is likely to be the case, and would make the word completely unproblematic, though it would still be better to write our passage unambiguously on this point (e.g. "a self-declared 'campaign of terror against British officials'.") If it was being used by the British to characterize the Irgun, then this sentence is very poorly written and should certainly be reworded, but what it means to say is unproblematic. - Jmabel | Talk 01:10, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
Jmabel, no one is tying Obama with terrorism, that I know of anyway. If we stick to the facts, we (Wikipedia, that is) maintain as much authority as we can get (for an encyclopedia that can be edited by anybody). We say in the artices that Weatherman was defunct by 1977 or so, (when Obama was a teenager). I don't want the encyclopedia censored in order to protect a public figure, either Ayers, Dohrn or Obama or anyone else. It isn't proposed that Wikipedia call anyone a terrorist or former terrorist, but that we note that others have done so. I don't want the encyclopedia to call Ayers a terrorist or former terrorist. I want no POV. You say,
he should still be characterized as a terrorist (as against, for example, a person who was involved when young in a group that used violent tactics, but who has since had a career in academia). Oh, and apparently turning himself in and serving time counts for nothing. Also, the entire highly confrontational and violent tone of so much of American society in the period in question counts for nothing.
That's not quite what I've been reading. I think people who write about Ayers characterize him as a former terrorist. They also characterize him as unrepentant, which he is, based on what he himself has said. He's very slippery about it, but he makes a point of not saying he regrets setting bombs -- sometimes he says he does not regret setting bombs. And there's a lot that he leaves unsaid about those years. He did not serve any time, by the way -- extensive indictments against him were dropped because of government misconduct. By the time he turned himself in, the major case had already been dropped, and I don't think he faced any charges at all. I think the point about the highly confrontational and violent tone of society at that time is something worth mentioning in the article, and it's something he's mentioned himself (violence in Vietnam, violence in America, police violence; the fact that there were many hundreds of bombings at that time and the Weatherman was involved in a tiny fraction of them -- all worth mentioning in the articles about Weatherman and to an extent the ones on Ayers and Dohrn). But Weatherman was perhaps the most prominent group of its time, and Ayers and Dohrn among the handful of most prominent Weathermen. And Ayers and Dohrn were both quite prominent advocates of violence, as the news articles show. I don't think there's some kind of miscarriage of some kind of justice in Wikipedia putting out the facts, and nothing wrong with putting some context in the articles either. You write,
Oh, excuse me, that wasn't the argument being made. It's Barack Obama who clearly must really not be a good patriotic American.
That's not the criticism of Obama in the media, although it may be in some blogs or elsewhere on the Internet (I haven't checked, but I feel safe in assuming it's so). If so, so what? Nasty slander is going to exist no matter what we do. We're not here to censor ourselves because someone might use what we say to combine the facts we report with nasty slander. But if Wikipedia doesn't display all the relevant facts in its articles (or, worse, refuses to do so when the subject comes up), then the nasty slanderers will use that to say, "well, so what if Wikipedia didn't mention it, you can see from such-and-such evidence that Weatherman was called terrorist at the time, so Wikipedia is simply protecting Obama" -- that's a net gain for the slanderers because they win points by being more honest on one non-slanderous part of what they say while Wikipedia looks worse. The information I've cited at the top of this is all out there in published books and on the Internet. It can't be bottled up anyway. I think everybody's better off if we stick to NPOV treatment of everything. -- Noroton (talk) 03:25, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
After edit conflict. So, Jmabel, are you saying WP should only cite sources' opinion of the WU as terrorists, when it's noteworthy? My statement ( → here: where I try and show how the term terror certainly was thought to apply to WU revolutionaries), doesn't say to do other than what you suggest. And even Flatterworld has said s/he would accept documenting the FBI's designation of the group. So maybe we're not essentially all that far apart in this regard, after all.   Justmeherenow (  ) 03:35, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
As I said in my previous edit summary, it doesn't sound like you and I are particularly disagreeing. - Jmabel | Talk 06:35, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
Arendt, Einstein and Hook had more cajones than Wikipedia does, since their letter mentioned Igun's Deir Yassin massacre, whereas Begin's Wikibiographers shrink from doing so. Einstein/Arendt/Hook:

"[...T]errorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants -- 240 men, women, and children -- and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan."

  Justmeherenow (  ) 20:37, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
P.S. If we must discuss "Obama-Ayers," here's a quote from Sam Smith (in his Progressive Review):

[... ...] The caution of Obama's personal response has obscured a key point: if you're involved in urban politics, you're going to find yourself mixed up with the Bill Ayers of the world. Hell, if I were held personally responsible for every political crook or scoundrel I ever had in my house, met over lunch, or served on a board with, I couldn't get into a Starbucks, let alone public office. ¶ This is a strange concept for those Americans who live in far less polyglot places and have no sense of what the diversity of urban politics is like. ¶ Obama has handled the problem the way he does so many that make him uncomfortable - with attorney like parsimonious parsing that comes off as evasive and unresponsive. It isn't that he's really done anything wrong; he just makes it sound that way. ¶ The best way to handle the truth is to tell it. And then explain it.
[... ...]
Obama has created another problem. Instead of coming up with a reasonable explanation of his relationship with Ayers, he has sent his troops out to intimidate media outlets that offer their own. As with the Kerry affair, some of these alternative stories are wrong but presumably being wrong will still be a protected right under an Obama administration.
[...]
Next to evangelical Christians, evangelical liberals are among the nation's most intolerant constituencies. ¶ Besides it's stupid. I listened to a portion of the Kurtz interview and while I think he could make much better and more honest use of his time on this earth, there was nothing so astounding or outrageous as to have deserved the tactics of the Obama campaign, which, as Rosenberg noted, he hasn't seen in three decades on the air. [...]

I ♥ Sam Smith!!   Justmeherenow (  ) 22:31, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
That's getting a little obscure. Obama has no significant relationship with Ayers, per the reliable sources. In any event Wikipedia is not a good place to be reprinting partisans' WP:COATRACK attempts to smear presidential candidates by falsely associating them with terrorism. It may be notable to the mechanics of political campaigning in America, and perhaps to individual campaigns (though covering every campaign smear turns us into something of a tabloid). It is usually not notable to the party being disparaged for purposes of guilt by association. That people will connect the dots to associate Obama with terrorism is not a hypothetical concern or an attempt to protect anyone. Some editors here want those dots connected in the Obama-Ayers article, and even in Barack Obama's biography. The connection is tenuous and often POV at every link in the process. We cannot call Weathermen terrorists, only say that some people do it. We cannot say that Obama and Ayers had a relationship, only that some people are making false claims in that regard. We cannot report that associating with Ayers was considered improper, only that some tried to paint it that way beginning this past February. In this article we're considering something more specific, though. Do we use the designation "terrorism" in articles about people who deny it and are on no official lists - and if so, how, where, and in which articles? Wikidemon (talk) 03:26, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
While myself and the Greens' Sam Smith defend B.O., we disagree with the tactic of failing to explain the context of his degree of connection with B.A. But who knows. Maybe B. knows better than us (who've never successfully run for anything, whereas B, after all, is doing just fine!)   Justmeherenow (  ) 11:40, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Considering what the lead paragraph currently says, all of you have made it abundantly clear you have absolutely no interest in even pretending to be encyclopedic. I don't know what all of you expected to achieve by such a ridiculous lead-in (have you never heard the phrase overegg the pudding?) but this article is now an official laughingstock of the internet. You must be very proud to have dragged Wikipedia's reputation through the mud. Congratulations to all of you - brilliant start. Are you sure you can't manage to work in the word violent a few more times? How about a few dozen times? You could add all caps and a bunch of explanation points, which you're at it - would that make you happy? And why stop at that association with Obama? Surely people with your imaginations should be able to connect him with a lot of other people and organizations. Six degrees of separation is all it takes, right? Go for it! The bloggers are watching your every move - purely for the amusement value, but you do have an audience. Flatterworld (talk) 03:58, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Above, I presume you mean cojones ("balls") not cajones ("boxes").

Arendt et. al. were not subject to Wikipedia's policy of a neutral point of view. Writing under your own name, in a signed article elsewhere, you are all entitled to call anyone anything. You can call Obama a bomb-throwing Muslim, Bush a genocidal Nazi, whatever floats your boat. The issue is what Wikipedia should say. And, yes, I believe that the words "terror" and "terrorist" are sufficiently loaded that we should use them only in quotations or with clear attribution (e.g. some particular organization's list of terrorist groups). - Jmabel | Talk 16:41, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Jmabel, do you disagree with WP:TERRORIST? No one but TMLutas is proposing that Wikipedia itself call them 'terrorist'. That's just not going to happen. The question is whether or not we can cite and quote others calling them terrorist. I think censoring that from the encyclopedia is POV. We don't protect McCain or Bush or anyone else from being the subject of loaded criticism. We quote the criticism. I think for a public official running for office, we try to fairly represent what important things are said against someone, present what that public official (or other well-known person) says in their defense and let the readers decide what to believe. If we were to remove "terrorist" from articles not even about Obama, then are we going to start bending over backward to protect other politicians as well? I think we just note and quote what others say and let public figures defend themselves. Sound fair? -- Noroton (talk) 17:09, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
After edit conflict.Well, what I ♥ about Flatterworld is hi/r seemingly clear-throated, stentorian-toned pronouncements, that appear to say, "Trust...me. 'Cause...I...know...what...I'm...talking...about."
Uh OK, let's see.
  1. According to Flatterworld, the vaunted journalists at the British Broadcasting Company have THE best policy re use of the terrorism label, being extraordinarily discriminating in its use. I can certainly believe that. The BBC is certainly a highly prestigious news gathering and reporting organisation. But, also,
  2. according to Flatterworld, the Weatherman group is never called terrorist. Huh? Therefore,
  3. according to Flatterworld, it only stands to reason (albeit s/he of course neglects to provide any citations of this) that the BBC must avoid calling the Weatherman group terrorists.
So...I go to the BBC site. And, I type in Weatherman and then terrorist into their search bubble. And what comes up? Beaucoup hits. Such as,
  • "... It tells the story of the American terrorist group Weather Underground. ... The film has been deservedly nominated for an Oscar this year." (See here.)
  • "Director interview. (16 February 2004) S[am] G[reen]: "... I hadn't known a lot about Fred Hampton. But in talking to people I was trying to figure out what became the million dollar question: how did sheltered middle-class kids become "terrorists". These people weren't crazy so there had to be reasons why this transformation took place. I was struck that almost everybody pointed out the murder of Fred Hampton as a pivotal moment. ..." (See here.)
Seems reasonable! So, for extra credit I now I type into the BBC site's bubble Begin.
  • Profiles. (April 21, 1998.) "... Under Begin's command, the underground terrorist group Irgun carried out numerous acts of violence. ¶ In 1946 Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people. In 1948 it took part in the massacre of Arabs in the town of Deir Yassin - an incident that accelerated the Arab exodus from Palestine on the eve of the founding of Israel. ..." (See here.)
I've read some about both Irgun and Weathermen, and what the editors of the BBC allow to be written about either group is as an informed person would expect of a journalistic organisation. They fail to blanch.
Meanwhile, here on Wikipedia, Noroton whips up a veritable frothy sea of sources on the WU and the label terror -- yet some Wikicontributors cannot be bothered to become informed on the subject and instead of forming some intelligible counter-argument, simply opine that since Noroton is obviously part of some vast, right-wing conspiracy, s/he and like-minded Wikicontributors should be banned from editing on the subject of the WU.   Justmeherenow (  ) 18:07, 29 September 2008 (UTC)


I think Wikipedia should never directly call anyone a terrorist without attribution. I think Wikipedia should cite credible sources calling the Weather Underground "terrorist" and that these belong in the Weather Underground article. Similarly, credible sources calling Ayers a "terrorist" (and perhaps most especially those calling him an "unrepentant terrorist") belong in the article on him, as do credible sources speaking admiringly of his clearly non-terroristic activism post-Weather Underground. I don't think any of this belongs in an article on Obama; the only place I can think of where any tie is at all legitimate is that the article on Ayers should, of course, mention his connections to Obama. Given Obama's prominence, these are a significant fact about Ayers; they are not a particularly significant fact about Obama.
By way of parallel, Scooter Libby's name barely shows up in the article on Bush, and Libby (like the other malefactors in Plamegate) performed his illegal and probably deadly acts as part of Bush's own administration. Conspiracy theories about September 11 are (fortunately) not mentioned in the article on Bush, nor even in Criticism of George W. Bush. And, as far as I know, there is nothing we have tying him like some are proposing to the equally unrepentant terrorists who have carried out violent acts against the Castro regime in Cuba, some of whom have played roles in his campaigns. Nor do I think there should be: any prominent and successful politician will occasionally shake some unclean hands. This is encyclopedic only when (as, for example, in the case of Jesse Helms) it is a characteristic pattern. - Jmabel | Talk 18:22, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) to Justmeherenow: Perhaps you could plainly state your opinion and, where reasonable, respond briefly to other people's arguments. Noroton has made his agenda here clear. The problem about the "frothy sea", as you put it, is that it's selective and does not prove anything other than that a number of sources used the word "terrorism." It does not explain why or what the term means, nor does it account for the far greater number of sources that choose not to use the word. Your pronouncements about the reasonableness, care, and intentions about other editors are not productive. I'm not sure who the straw man is you are mocking, but there have been some real ongoing concerns not only for content but for Wikipedia's other policies and guidelines.Wikidemon (talk) 18:39, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) (response to Jmabel) No reliable sources have been proposed to call Ayers an "unrepentant terrorist". There are various respectable people and publications, mostly in op/ed, partisan, and blogging mode (and thus not reliable for the purpose), many but not all arising out of the current election cycle, that do call him some kind of former terrorist or his actions terrorist. Far more, a sizable minority, use the word "terorrist" in reference to the Weathermen, mostly as a pejorative characterization or else in a matter-of-fact way, generally without explaining what they mean by the term. The Ayers article already mentions terrorism in the context of his discussion of the word and his past acts. It also mentions his connection to Obama and the controversy over that. In Ayers' case the question is whether we repeat other people's statements that he was a terrorist when he denies it. And, as some propose, do we describe it in the lead and add a separate header and several paragraphs in his biography to discuss his being called a terrorist. Not every opinion is encyclopedic in nature or worth repeating in depth in a biography. Many people, for example, consider Ted Kennedy a murderer over a far better publicized incident and more complete criminal investigation than Ayers' participation in the Weathermen. We do not say "often considered a murderer" or add a heading "accusations of murder" in his bio. There are all kinds of policy and sourcing concerns why judgmental characterizations, and unproven allegations, are not encyclopedic.Wikidemon (talk) 18:39, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikidemon: "No reliable sources have been proposed to call Ayers an 'unrepentant terrorist.'
You're kidding, right? (How's that for short!)
Here's my fellow left-winger Michael Kinsely in Time Magazine (last May 29th):

"... Ayers and Dohrn spent 11 years setting off bombs and putting out statements threatening violent revolution. They promised to kill innocent Americans and praised the lunatic murderer Charles Manson. In 1981 two policemen and a security guard were killed in the botched holdup of a Brinks truck. Fake IDs used to rent getaway cars in an earlier robbery had been traced to a store where Dohrn worked. A grand jury wanted her testimony. She refused. [...] Dohrn and Ayers[...]remain spectacularly unrepentant[...].

Not reliable as a source of current, mainstream opinion?
As for my "agenda," it's to contribute neutral content to Wikipedia, when possible; and as for what editorial regime I find reasonble, Jmabel's suggestions (in a statement just above) seem eminently reasonable to follow.   Justmeherenow (  ) 19:07, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
No, the Time piece is not a reliable source - it's an editorial, and it includes a lot of inaccuracies, hyperbole, and opinions (e.g. Ayers and Dohrn are "friends" of Obama, they are "asinine" and "despicable", anti-Obama accusations are "absurd", etc). Wikidemon (talk) 19:57, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
What I'm saying is that while the designations unrepentant or terrorist must always be presented by Wikipedia as opinion, the opinion (eg of Kinsley's) that Ayers & Dohrn are unrepentant from their having been on the violent, left fringe can easily be demonstrated to be a mainstream, which warrants its encyclopedic mention.   Justmeherenow (  ) 20:17, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, so we mostly agree. I grant that a significant number of mainstream people and publications, whose works are generally reliable when they talk about facts, publish opinions that the Weathermen are terrorists. However, I disagree that the fact of a mainstream person holding an opinion makes that opinion worth including (or even allowable to include in some cases per WP:BLP). The Time piece also calls them "despicable." That doesn't mean we have headers, sections, and paragraphs devoted to "Ayers described as 'despicable'". The issue is only partly a question of how prominent, common, or mainstream the people are who hold the opinion. It's also whether the opinion has any encyclopedic value. Logging who calls who a terrorist really doesn't add anything to the encyclopedia. Wikidemon (talk) 20:33, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Justmeherenow is not only factually incorrect, but willfully so. iow, a liar. First, "No reliable sources have been proposed to call Ayers an "unrepentant terrorist". is a true statement, as I've explained in Wikipedia articles and talk pages innumerable times with plenty of footnotes. Second, anyone who actually looked to find the BBC policy would easily find:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/edguide/war/mandatoryreferr.shtml
—Preceding unsigned comment added by Flatterworld (talkcontribs)

long cut-and-paste redacted for copyright and readability reasons - it's at the end of the above link. Also suggest above commentator consider self-redacting accusation of lying - Wikidemon (talk) 20:02, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly endores the sentiment that 'The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding.' - Jmabel | Talk 19:39, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not saying I don't agree with BBC's intelligent policy, I'm saying an insistence Wikepedia not use the term, even as sourced to those who apply it, simply is not in accord with the BBC's actual policy.   Justmeherenow (  ) 19:45, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Rubbish. First off, there were two (2) links. The second one was
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/dec/16/terrorism.broadcasting
Googling BBC terrorist would have brought up those two articles right at the top, along with
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1693876.stm
which is also about using the t-words. Justmeherenow deliberately, and with malice aforethought, pretended he/she could only find some articles in the BBC which didn't follow the policy when he/she googled - now he/she is making excuses. This is why I am sick and tired of his/her pretending to operate in good faith when it's clear he/she is doing the exact opposite. I am not going to hang around the class bully and pretend that if only we're a bit nicer to him, and explain things for the hundredth time, he's actually see the light. He/she has his eyes wide shut. I'm a realist, and I'm not the one who's lying here. Flatterworld (talk) 00:10, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
The BBC. Quote: We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them. We should not adopt other people's language as our own. [...] This is an issue of judgement ... If you do decide to use the word 'terrorist' do so sparingly, having considered what is said above, and take advice from senior editors. -- Unquote. And, "the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, dismissed claims that the BBC banned the use of the word "terrorist" in its news coverage."
An instance I quoted from the BBC website is a conversation with Academy Award nominated director Sam Green. Green, who of course, has extensively studied and interviewed many Weatherpeople, off-handedly using the word terrorists. And, the BBC website prints this usage from the interview with the word even in inner-quotation marks, you'll recall. So, my first question is, How would this be a violation of the BBC's policy? And, for my follow up, How would the suggested policy that Jmabel proposes above, and that I agree with, be something in violation of the self-same principles espoused by the BBC?
As for your statement immediately above, you apparently believe that I had indicated that the BBC didn't have the policy. You are mistaken in your reading of me, as I not only acknowledged the likelihood of their having one, but also expressed my faith that it was no doubt a good one. (What I'd said, verbatim, just above had been, Quote, The vaunted journalists at the British Broadcasting Company have THE best policy re use of the "terrorism" label, being extraordinarily discriminating in its use: I can certainly believe that. The BBC is certainly a highly prestigious news gathering and reporting organisation. Unquote.)

Flatterworld, this Discussion page section (here) was my first brush with you. In it, it seemed you didn't even read what I'd written in response to your statements. (Namely, (1) you'd stated that you believe (uh, that is, except you'd stating it as a incontrovertible fact) that the expression "Obama-Ayers" is improper usage. (2) Then I'd referenced Wikipedia's in-house style manual and a number of instances of such expressions from pretigious sources in the main-stream media. (3) And thereafter you'd continued with your belief (expressed as a fact) that the usage is not proper -- but without your even responding to my references let alone refuting my argument.) Hello?! Whatever.

That's a small matter. The problem is the same modus operandi is replicated elsewhere: You seemingly don't actually read others' posts, comprehendingly anyway, perhaps your just skimming them, with an assumption that the person can't possibly know what they're talking about. Rinse and repeat. (1. You state something as irrefutable. 2. Others weigh in. 3. You act like what they've said was gibberish. Start again at step #1. Making for a measure of frustration on the part of the person you're having the discussion with, I'll admit.) And, with this analysis, your statement immediately above is understandable.
Since you've no idea what I've actually said (since you're not really paying attention to it), you allow yourself to assume me to have made some ridiculous claim I never made. (In this case: that I'd claimed the BBC doesn't have "a policy." When, in actual fact, not only had I admitted of the likelihood the BBC has such a policy, but I also expressed my belief that the BBC policy was for their reporters to only use the term terrorist advisedly -- that is, as a characterisation arising from a particular source and not as arising from the BBC.)   Justmeherenow (  ) 01:24, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • From that BBC guideline that Flatterworld is caterwauling about: We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them. We are, after all, discussiong whether we should let other people characterise. Should I call Flatterworld a deliberate liar for not noticing in that short, short BBC webpage that their policy is essentially what's being proposed here? No, because I'm not a troll. Flatterworld, why don't you apologize to Justmeherenow for your trollish comments? And Justmeherenow, do you really think that replying to Flatterworld is productive, or are you just wasting time feeding a troll? -- Noroton (talk) 23:02, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
The bottom line is that BBC avoids calling people terrorists. That weights as a showing that reliable sources avoid the term.Wikidemon (talk) 23:20, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
Despite claims hereabouts to the contrary, the BBC disclaims ever having any blanket policy to avoid use of the term terrorist, whereas the BBC acknowledges having a policy to avoid the term's use without providing its attribution.   Justmeherenow (  ) 00:45, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
There appears to be a policy not to call people terrorists. Hence, we can report that the BBC chooses not to call people terrorists, and we cannot report that BBC calls people terrorists. The attribution question is a red herring - the question is whether a particular reliable source refers to the Weathermen as terrorists, not whether and how it covers other people calling each other terrorists.01:10, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
To say Wikipedia should not use the word terrorist -- as some kind of cant, necessarily euphemized as The T-Word -- is the red herring. (Eg the use of the term by The Weather Underground director Sam Green, within context, provides understanding and thus is appropriately newsworthy -- again: within context -- as part of his media interview, for publication by the BBC; which does not, in this instance, mean that the BBC calls the Weathermen terrorists. Of course!) And how Wikipedia uses the term as an attributed opinion depends on whether its use provides understanding, whether proper context is provided, and whether the instance merits encyclopedic mention.   Justmeherenow (  ) 01:34, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
We have gone around and around in that circle. It is what this RfC is about. Do we or do we not repeat other people's harsh judgments and if so, how and where? Wikipedia's attributing pejorative opinions to people is done in an encyclopedic context; BBC's is done mostly in a journalistic tontext. Very different. Many things are fit for radio that are not fit for an encyclopedia, and vice-versa. Wikidemon (talk) 03:44, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Then the next logical step would be to look at what other encyclopedias do -- say, Encyclopedia Britannica or Encarta. Golly, what do you suppose they do? Anyway, this is a discussion without a point. No one's mind is being changed and we have consensus on using the term. -- Noroton (talk) 20:13, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
There seems to be consensus to mention the term in the Weatherman article, but probably not the others. We still have not settled exactly on how and where in that article. We have already discussed other encyclopedias several times - at least six discussions on this page. While not binding they are instructive. Encarta's is a shoddy example and not much help. Encyclopedia Britannica had a passing mention of the term - far less than is proposed here - in the article on SDS. Columbia appears to be the most solid of the encyclopedias but there too is only a short comment, this time as one among a list of organizations for whom terrorism has "been associated". All in all the encyclopedias are interesting but not terribly useful. Unlike the BBC, where we have a glimpse into their editorial thinking, we do not know why other encyclopedias did or did not use the term or what the significance is of their using it as far as guidance in our own encyclopedia-writing.Wikidemon (talk) 21:19, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
One comment that Flatterworld made (above somewhere) that I agree with is that the issue of whether the WU has been termed "terrorist" by media, historians, etc., could perhaps better be discussed at some central forum. And I would suggest the one at Talk:Domestic terrorism in the United States. (And as for the media's and academics' oft use of the term for the WU, historicially, my personal opinion is that its use has derived in pretty straightforward fashion from the term's common meaning):

John M. Murtagh: I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother’s pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn’t leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: FREE THE PANTHER 21; THE VIET CONG HAVE WON; KILL THE PIGS.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: 4th Ed. (2000): ter·ror NOUN: 1. Intense, overpowering fear. See synonyms at fear. 2. One that instills intense fear: a rabid dog that became the terror of the neighborhood. 3. The ability to instill intense fear: the terror of jackboots pounding down the street. 4. Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes. 5. Informal An annoying or intolerable pest: that little terror of a child.

  Justmeherenow (  ) 02:37, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Justmeherenow's response[edit]

Perhaps it is that I have been too unclear in my arguments, so I will repeat them again now in a nutshell: Flatterworld will make untrue statements, in reaction to which I will cite examples of instances showing them to be untrue. In reaction to which Flatterworld will decline to acknowledge let alone explain these examples and instead will offer non sequiturs. In reaction to which I'll reiterate my claims. For example:
1A. Usage of hyphenated expression Obama-Ayers. At 14:59, 2 June 2008 at the Talk:Obama–Ayers controversy page Flatterworld wrote, "The longest I could consider would be Barack Obama and Bill Ayers controversy (we don't use hyphens to connect names unless the hyphen is actually part of someone's legal name)."
1B. Alleged BBC ban of the term terrorist. And on 02:28, 6 September 2008 at this RfC Flatterworld wrote, "There's a reason the BBC does not use the word 'terrorist'."
2A. Usage of hyphenated expression Obama-Ayers. After researching the question, coming across proof that the usage of hyphenated expressions such as Obama-Ayers is common, at 17:07, 2 June 2008 I responded at the Talk:Obama–Ayers controversy page, "[...A]s to[...]an en-dash -- the house Manual of Style does specify them as appropriate as an occasionally-necessary joiner of proper nouns in titles: "Taft–Hartley Act." To which I followed up on 15:47, 8 June 2008, "From a current David Broder column, 'The country was captivated by the Kennedy-Nixon encounters.' Then, an unrelated news headline reads 'Obama-McCain battle to focus on swing states'; and this from the Pittsburg Post Gazette: 'Some 83 days passed between the two most recent Bush-McCain meetings.' So the house style manual's advice re connecting proper nouns via (hyphen/)endash seems to be the proper way to punctuate[...]."
2B. Alleged BBC ban of the term terrorist. And after researching the question, at 18:07, 29 September 2008 I wrote at this RfC, "[...A]ccording to Flatterworld, it only stands to reason (albeit s/he of course neglects to provide any citations of this) that the BBC must avoid calling the Weatherman group terrorists. So I go to the BBC site. And, I type in Weatherman and then terrorist into their search bubble. And what comes up? Beaucoup hits."
3A. Usage of hyphenated expression Obama-Ayers. At 17:58, 27 July 2008 at the Talk:Obama–Ayers controversy page, Flatterworld completely ignored the examples I provided of the common usage of compound hypenation of separate individuals' distinct names, and instead Flatterworld non sequitured, "Two last names with just a dash between is suitable only for hyphenated British last names such as Antony Armstrong-Jones (and those married women who choose to hyphenate their 'two last names'), imo. Is there a guideline on this?"
3B. Alleged BBC ban of the term terrorist. And at 00:10, 30 September 2008 at this RfC Flatterworld got angry that I'd shown hi/r alleged BBC "ban" on use of the term terrorist not to exist, and instead of acknowleding this or attempting to refute the evidence I'd cited, Flatterworld non sequitured, "Justmeherenow deliberately, and with malice aforethought, pretended he/she could only find some articles in the BBC which didn't follow the policy when he/she googled - now he/she is making excuses. This is why I am sick and tired of his/her pretending to operate in good faith when it's clear he/she is doing the exact opposite. I am not going to hang around the class bully and pretend that if only we're a bit nicer to him, and explain things for the hundredth time, he's actually see the light. He/she has his eyes wide shut. I'm a realist, and I'm not the one who's lying here."
4A. Usage of hyphenated expression Obama-Ayers. At 18:24, 27 July 2008 at the Talk:Obama–Ayers controversy page, I repeated myself and wrote, "[...T]he in-house style manual[...]for our usage[...]suggests just a bare endash: 'En dashes[...]substitute for some uses of and, to or versus for marking a relationship involving independent elements in certain compound expressions (Canada–US border, blood–brain barrier, time–altitude graph, 4–3 win in the opening game, male–female ratio, 3–2 majority verdict, Lincoln–Douglas debate, Michelson–Morley experiment, diode–transistor logic[...]'."
4B. Alleged BBC ban of the term terrorist. At 01:24, 30 September 2008 at this RfC I repeated myself and wrote, "Quote: '[...T]he BBC director general, Mark Thompson, dismissed claims that the BBC banned the use of the word "terrorist" in its news coverage.'"   Justmeherenow (  ) 11:45, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Survey of current press mentions[edit]

Last eight Yahoo News Obama-Ayers mentions[edit]

  • As perhaps a side note, Would it be informative for our purposes to amass a list of every MSM article on Obama-Ayers or Weathermen that has appeared in the last week and assign each into one of three columns, the first two for articles mentioning w/ and then w/o attribution terror/terrorist and the third for those that don't?   Justmeherenow (  ) 15:17, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

What follows is the first eight Yahoo News hits mentioning Obama and Ayers:

  1. Today, AP 6-sentence story, "McCain raises Ayers in anti-Obama ad": No mention
  2. Today, Int'l Herald Trib, "McCain links Obama to '60s radical Ayers": No mention, but says, "Most of the bombings attributed to the Weathermen were meant to damage only property, but a 1970 pipe bombing in San Francisco attributed to the group killed a police officer and severely hurt another."
  3. Today, AP, "Trailing in polls, McCain hammers Obama in sharply worded ad over his links to 1960s radical": "...sharply worded TV ad that said: 'When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers....'"
  4. Yesterday, Fox News, "Questions Linger Over When Obama Learned of Ayers' History: Barack Obama's campaign is trying to fend off a withering attack from his opponents surrounding the Democratic candidate's relationship with former domestic terrorist William Ayers...."
  5. Today, Editor & Publisher, "In Letter to 'NYT,' Man Who Prosecuted Weather Underground Hits Linking Ayers to Obama": A news report about letter to editor of the NYT (in support of Obama against McCain smears, from former 70s prosecutor of the Weathermen). Letter says, "...William Ayers’s terrorist activities..."
  6. Yesterday, Fox News, "Weather Underground Victim Says Obama Should Have Known of Ayers' Past": says in lede, "...says Barack Obama should know better than to associate with the domestic terror group's co-founder, Bill Ayers."
  7. Today, NY Observer, "Does McCain Really Expect Voters to Buy the Obama-Terrorist Line?": "It’s no coincidence that the McCain campaign insists on referring to Ayers as a “terrorist” (as opposed to, say, an “aging ‘60s radical”)...."
  8. Yesterday, Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News, "Michael Smerconish: Obama & Ayers: Guilt by association?" (Opinion piece criticizing smear of Obama. 1st graf after lede): "...Ayers is the onetime leader of the Weather Underground, a 1970s domestic terrorist organization...."
  • Contributor Wikidemon's editorial judgement aligns NOT with the MSM in general, but only with the most partisan left of these hits above. Whereas,
  1. the NYT's piece "Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths" from one week ago said,
    (1)(lede): "At a tumultuous meeting of anti-Vietnam War militants at the Chicago Coliseum in 1969, Bill Ayers helped found the radical Weathermen, launching a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and United States Capitol."
    (2) (farther down): "Steve Chapman, a columnist for The Chicago Tribune, defended Mr. Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his longtime pastor, whose black liberation theology and “God damn America” sermon became notorious last spring. But he denounced Mr. Obama for associating with Mr. Ayers, whom he said the University of Illinois should never have hired. “I don’t think there’s a statute of limitations on terrorist bombings,” Mr. Chapman said in an interview, speaking not of the law but of political and moral implications."
    (3) (towards end of piece) "Most of the bombs the Weathermen were blamed for had been placed to do only property damage, a fact Mr. Ayers emphasizes in his memoir. But a 1970 pipe bomb in San Francisco attributed to the group killed one police officer and severely hurt another. An accidental 1970 explosion in a Greenwich Village town house basement killed three radicals; survivors later said they had been making nail bombs to detonate at a military dance at Fort Dix in New Jersey. And in 1981, in an armed robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Nanuet, N.Y., that involved Weather Underground members including Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two police officers and a Brinks guard were killed. ¶ In his memoir, Mr. Ayers was evasive as to which bombings he had a hand in, writing that “some details cannot be told.”"
  2. Wikipedia's own current article "Domestic terrorism in the United States" has a section covering the Weathermen.
  3. Britannica, Encarta, and Columbia encyclopedias each designate Weathermen as engaging in terrorism.

I'm an Obama supporter but agree with a principle taught by attorney Gerry Spence: It only makes a defender look bad to try and hide the obvious and a good advocate admits what the jury is going to figure out anyway, up front.   Justmeherenow (  ) 16:51, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

What are you getting at with this list of mostly impertinent references, some mysterious dig at me, rehash of some of the disputed claims from the past month, and then a conclusion that doesn't follow from anything? The RfC has wound down and is inconclusive on specifically how we cover in the Weathermen article the statements by some that the Weathermen were terrorists. The only obvious thing about recent references is that some partisans are calling the Weathermen terrorists as part of a convoluted attempt to discredit Obama during the election.
No dig. Just a straight up comparison between your allegation (that "some partisans are calling the Weathermen terrorists") and the eight most-recently-posted Yahoo News hits, which demonstrate that most of the MSM (which hits also admittedly include a report about a letter to the editor of the NYT by the prosecutor of the Weathermen who nonetheless disagrees with the smearing Obama, and an opinion piece in the Philly Daily News by conservative pundit Smerconish, who nonetheless disagrees with smearing Obama) don't shy away from mentioning the label. The point is that a random sample of news stories, whether they're from 70s or the most recent week in 2008, likely contain a substantial percentage mentioning the words "terror" or "terrorist."   Justmeherenow (  ) 17:40, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm right that most relevant publications out there do not call the Weathermen terrorists, and your scattershot list of sources backs me up. Three of your eight new sources do - a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial, a Fox News editorial, and a Fox News editorial piece that's written to look like news. But we're not considering adding the sentence "partisan sources, in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, called the Weathermen a terrorist by way of criticizing Barack Obama". Such a claim is pertinent to the Obama-Ayers controversy article, but not here. Rather, we are considering the narrow question whether relevant sources seriously discussing the Weathermen call the "terrorists" or not. Is it "some", "most", "all"? Almost certainly the answer is "some." But I don't have to single you or anyone else out as wrong and in line with the most right-wing sources every time I point that out. You're turning it into a Wikidemon versus the sources issue, when it's really a slightly larger consensus versus a slightly smaller consensus among a few dozen editors. The best place to have that discussion, if anyone is unhappy with mentioning the subject in a simple neutral way, is on the Weathermen talk page, because this RfC is pretty done and the only thing left to do here is glean what consensus exists.Wikidemon (talk) 19:19, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Even though the survey is variably interpretable it would seem, still it makes for a quick and useful addendum to the RfC, I think.

Recent "prestige" Obama-Ayers news mentions[edit]

  1. Yesterday's NYT, "McCain Joins Attacks on Obama Over Radical": No mention but says, "Most of the bombings attributed to the Weathermen were meant to damage only property, but a 1970 pipe bombing in San Francisco attributed to the group killed a police officer and severely hurt another. ¶ Mr. Ayers is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lives in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood. He was named citizen of the year in Chicago in 1997, has worked with Mr. Obama on a schools project and a charitable board, and gave a house party when Mr. Obama was running for the State Senate."
  2. From a report yesterday in the BBC, "McCain ad says Obama 'too risky'" (lede): "...Bill Ayers, an ex-member of former militant group, the Weathermen." (Farther down): "The Weathermen, or Weather Underground, waged a violent campaign against the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s, when Mr Obama was a child. ...¶¶ Mr Obama has repeatedly denied close ties to Mr Ayers, now a university professor in Chicago - a claim supported by independent observers, the AFP reports. ¶"The notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that he - I've been 'palling around with a terrorist', all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points," he said on Wednesday."
  3. Today's Newsweek, "Assessing Ayers: Innuendo vs. Information" (lede): "John McCain is asking a lot of questions about William Ayers. But that doesn't mean he's actually looking for answers. ¶ After a week or so of letting running mate Sarah Palin obsess on the campaign trail over the meaning of Barack Obama's "association" with the unrepentant Weather Underground founder...."
  4. Today's WaPo, "McCain Pushes Guilt-by-Association Tie Between Ayers and Obama": "By accusing Obama of 'bad judgment,' the senator from Arizona is trying to meld doubts about his opponent's Democratic allies and a Chicago acquaintance who engaged in terrorism nearly 40 years ago."
  5. Today's WSJ, "McCain Campaign Is at Odds Over Negative Attacks' Scope: Senator Says Faith Issue Puts Obama's Former Pastor off Limits": no mention of terrorist, but contains, "The McCain campaign released a new video attacking Sen. Obama for his contacts with Williams Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, a radical group tied to bombings during the Vietnam War era. Mr. Ayers is now a professor and a figure in mainstream Chicago politics."

  Justmeherenow (  ) 03:19, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Closure[edit]

This RfC was just auto-closed by the bot,[137] a few days after the normal 30 day period (it was opened on September 5). It was duly noticed to 30-40 editors and a number of articles and notice boards, and 20 or more editors have contributed. There have been no new contributions for almost six days, and little movement in the weight of discussion (see below) since an earlier tally I completed on September 12.

To help assess where consensus does and does not lie, here is a tally of people who have weighed in based on their statements of support and opposition, and their comments in discussion. It may be off by one or two but the tred is pretty clear.

Where to mention terrorism in connection to Weathermen:

  • Nowhere or Weatherman (organization) article only:(11 editors)
    • Wikidemon, Erik the Red 2, Flatterworld, Verklempt (split), ScJessey, JamesMLane, David Oliver, Mangojuice, Arjuna808 - See Sept. 12 tally above. Verklempt's position split in light of subsequent statements.Justmeherenow given half a vote; s/he believes it can be mentioned elsewhere, when appropriate.)[   Justmeherenow (  )]
    • Jmabel (inferred from 27 September 2008 comment)
    • Grsz, (from 21:50, 24 September 2008 comment)
  • Weathermen and other articles: (10 editors)
    • CENSEI, Noroton, TMLutas, Phil Sandifer, Bonewah
    • WorkerBee74 (inferred from 11:28, 17 September 2008 comment)
    • Hobartimus (from 02:55, 22 September 2008 comment)
    • PubliusFL (17:30, 23 September 2008 comment)
    • Cool Hand Luke (01:22, 25 September 2008)
    • Verklempt (split) (00:18, 23 September 2008 comment)
    • Justmeherenow (§ Per above)[   Justmeherenow (  )]

How to mention terrorism.

  • Were terrorists or generally/properly described as such: (10 editors)
    • TMLutas, CENSEI, Noroton, Scjessey (split), Justmeherenow, Verklemt, Erik the Red 2 (split), Boneway See September 12 tally above. Scjessey's position split in light of subsequent statements
    • WorkerBee74 (inferred from 11:28, 17 September 2008 comment)
    • Hobartimus (02:59, 22 September 2008 comment)
    • Snapcount (from 13:08, 22 September 2008)
  • Not at all, or were occasionally / controversially / etc. called terrorists. (12.5 editors)
    • Wikidemon, Mangojuice, Hurmata, Brothejr, Phil Sandifer, Flatterworld, David Oliver
    • JamesMLane (inferred from 11:43, 9 September 2008, 03:10, 22 September 2008
    • Erik the Red 2 (split) (18:23, 21 September 2008)
    • Scjessey (split) (22:12, 22 September 2008)
    • Jmabel (from 27 September 2008 comment)

As when I made the first tally, I am not addressing the merits of each argument. With one or two exceptions each editor stated their reasons in enough detail to explain their position, and the people who took part are not SPAs, IPs, or the like. One known sockpuppet did participate, and their comments were stricken. Without a closing administrator, an attempt to discount or weigh arguments would simply amount to an editor arguing a position. The RfC is closed so it is time to assess consensus, not repeat arguments.

If it were a close case we should err on the side of conservatism and caution: not include new or disputed material when the dispute is over the application of fundamental policies like NPOV and BLP. However, we need not face the question of exactly where the line is because a majority oppose bringing the terrorism discussion to any article beyond Weatherman (organization), and a majority also oppose treating the characterization of the Weathermen as terrorists as a normal, appropriate, majority, etc., opinion. The only premise is that when a majority of established editors addressing a serious content question in detail oppose a disputed proposal, there is no consensus for it.

There is no clear consensus on exactly what to say in the Weathermen article but there are some general trends: we should say that the term was used, we should not approve, disapprove, or endorse but simply state that some did so and give sources as well as any counter-sources or crucial counterarguments. The material's length and prominence should be of due weight - which I believe means avoiding discussion in the lead or via an entire section in the article.

I will seek to certify this discussion if there is such a mechanism, and edit the articles appropriately. Thanks all for your participation. Wikidemon (talk) 14:47, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

It would behoove us to note that the current issue of Time Magazine (the one dated 7 October 2008, the same day as Wikidemon's above post) reiterates the very claim that has been under dispute by this RfC. Quote, "Subsequent bombings of government buildings, banks and police departments lead the FBI to declare the Weathermen a domestic terrorist group." And I believe Wikipedians should emulate the reliable sourcing of the Time magazine's researchers and editors through our refraining from labeling the Weathermen terrorists without attribution, while we relate in NPOV fashion that the FBI had labeled the group as such.   Justmeherenow (  ) 06:20, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it seems likely that any version of the Weathermen article will mention that the FBI called them terrorists on its website, and we normally use less active words like "described", "said", "called", "termed," and so on. It is interesting that Time uses the word "declared", which suggests an official designation. Do they know something we do not, or do they just like active verbs? It is interesting to note that Time does not pass judgment one way or another as to whether they were or were not terrorists.Wikidemon (talk) 06:34, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. :^)   Justmeherenow (  )
  • I disagree with this throw-every-comment-in way of coming up with what the consensus has been in this RfC. At some time well after the RfC started, I made proposals for changes in three articles, contacted every single editor who had already contributed to this page and canvassed other editors under the requirements of WP:CANVASS. That resulted in consensus on including discussion of the connection with terrorism on not only the Weatherman (organization) article]] but also in the Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn articles, with 2:1 support. I believe there is a consensus on including this in all but the leads of the "Bill Ayers" and "Bernardine Dohrn" articles. This is what should be implemented. Counting editors who commented only before I added extensive sourcing on this question is problematic and would not be accepted in Articles for Deletion discussons, which are the most similar types of consensus-building forums to this on WP. -- Noroton (talk) 23:31, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
We had a discussion. Most people oppose calling them terrorists. Simple. The attempt to canvass editors to overturn the ongoing consensus failed. So now we're simply going to throw out everyone's opinion who didn't get or didn't respond to the canvass? Why should the outcome get re-set every time someone wants to canvass users to support a proposal? You don't get to call a re-vote just because you don't like the results. Noroton's so-called new proposal was nothing he has not been proposing for months, and did not add anything to the argument. If he wanted to make his case he should have made it as he could. If fewer people paid attention because he waited until the RfC was two weeks old, that does not mean he gets to restart everything from the beginning. As it is his extensive canvassing got a few incremental responses but the bulk of the discussion had already happened. Most people who did respond simply restated their opinions, which suggests that the newly made argument did not convince anyone, and only a single editor changed his position in response. This is a clear case of Wikipedians wishing not to describing accusations of terrorism within the BLPs. Wikidemon (talk) 01:18, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
    • ^ No byline, UPI wire story, "Weathermen Got Name From Song: Groups Latest Designation Is Weather Underground", as published in The New York Times, January 30, 1975; "On Jan. 19, 1971, Bernardine Dohrn, a leading Weatherperson who has never been caught, issued a statement from hiding suggesting that the group was considering tactics other than bombing and terrorism.""[3]
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference dtct091601 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Ayers, Bill, letter to the editor, Chicago Tribune, September 23, 2001, retrieved June 8, 2008
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference rcabc830 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference Smith was invoked but never defined (see the help page).