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What Times Are These? The Unruly Tyranny Of Mobs

Bertolt Brecht wrote, “what times are these/when a poem about trees is almost a crime/because it contains silence/against so many outrages.”

The same can be said for a post about negotiation strategy and tactics.

My friend and colleague, mediator and AAA arbitrator Deborah Rothman just returned from a very short vacation to Paris and the view from Europe is one of fear and growing alarm about the manner in which our political process has degenerated into hate-filled cries from the crowds at Republican rallies (see Rage Rising on the McCain Campaign Trail).

A waiter at a small bistro near the Champs-Élysées confided his fear that the  “nuclear code” could fall into the hands of a short-tempered or vindictive occupant of the Oval Office, a concern that I admit had been absent from my own consciousness before that moment.  Other Europeans with whom we spoke were mystified that more Americans did not exercise the right to vote, particularly in an election as important to the future of the world economy as this one is.

I returned from Europe more worried more about unruly mobs fueled by anger and fear than about the “smears” on Obama (against which you can take action here if you’re so inclined – Truth Fights Back).

If the 20th Century taught us anything, it is this: we are all capable of genocide, and its lesser form, hate crime.

The Holocaust of European Jews

The Armenian Genocide

Lynching in the United States

Ethiopia’s Genocide of the Anuak (21st century)

The Genocide of Native Americans in the United States (17th-19th Century)

The Cambodian Genocide

The Rawandan Genocide

The My Lai Massacre (Viet Nam War)

Bosnia-Herzegovina “Ethnic Cleansing”

The “Arab”/”African” Violence in Darfur

. . . . too many more to catalogue


The Stanley Milgram Experiments (response to authority)

The Stanford Prison Experiment (“guards” abusing “prisoners”)


See The War Against Despair is Up to You New Media at Awaken Your Superhero thanks to Susan Carter Liebel on Twitter here.

(right:  my own blurry iPhone St. Chapelle photo where we heard a string sextet play Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart  this past week – sublime) 

Theodore Roosevelt on Mob Violence, Campaign Speech and the Rule of Law (9/28/1900 NYTimes report of “Governor” Roosevelt’s response to mob violence in Roosevelt-Bryan campaign)

Tips on Avoiding Inflammatory Language from

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide here

Genocide Prevention Task Force (U.S. Institute of Peace)

United Nations Action Plan to Prevent Genocide

Genocide Prevention (U.K.)

Hate Crime Prevention Tips

The Nature of Hate (.pdf excerpt here) or buy the book here

Constructive responses to extremism from

Mediating Evil, War and Terrorism:  The Politics of Conflict (by Ken Cloke)

Conflict Revolution by Ken Cloke and my review here

Constructive responses to terrorism from

Hate Crimes Research Network



Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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