Would You Defend Your Partner If You Found Out They Were a Terrorist?

"My girl wouldn't be a terrorist, she'd be a freedom fighter or some shit."

Photo by Fredrik Rubensson

You know who never gets a mention in the world of terrorism? The loyal partners of those who decide to kill a bunch of people with bombs and guns. Just imagine how you'd react if you found out your childhood sweetheart had massacred a building full of innocents. Would you be upset? Would it attract you to them even more in that kind of "going for the bad-boy" way, before realising that slaughtering people is less bad boy and more "senseless and evil"? 

The Guardian recently ran a feature about the wife of a suspected al-Qaida terrorist, so there's a bit of insight there. But you know what's a far better alternative? Asking random people in the street who are likely to never be in that situation how they'd react to their partner being uncovered as a terrorist. So that's what we did. London, would you defend your partner if you found out they were a terrorist?  

Neil, lawyer and estate agent: It depends on what her cause was, I think. It would very much depend on what she was fighting for.

VICE: Do you have any causes you feel are worth fighting for in the same way a terrorist might?
Probably not to a violent degree. It depends how extreme the situation is; sometimes violence does help to solve problems. But if a situation can be resolved without violence then I'd do that – something like defending people in a situation where they were being persecuted for their beliefs, which were – in my opinion – correct.   

So violence can work?
I don't think violence is the way forward and it's not something I'd act on in the first instance, but if it comes down to it and you're in a life or death case – well, it's survival of the fittest, you know? Also, the terrorist thing is tricky, because, depending on what part of the world you're in, the definition of "terrorist" changes. It's all very subjective.

That it is, Neil.

Onoecatporno, artist: Yeah, if I loved them already then of course.

What if they blew up, like, 500 people?
It depends what the circumstances are. I’m not all for killing, by the way – it depends what your definition of everything is, like terrorism, or whatever. Like, if I was with a girl who turned out to be some sort of terrorist, she would be fucking cool from the beginning. She wouldn’t be, like, an evil terrorist, she'd be a freedom fighter or some shit.

What's the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist?
Probably very little, to be honest. The people in this country who class others as terrorists wouldn’t class themselves as terrorists, they'd probably class themselves as freedom fighters. I really doubt there are a lot of people out there who are like, "Yeah, let's  go and fuck shit up just 'cause everyone is a fucking dickhead." There are often religious reasons and even though a lot of them are probably warped, that’s just what they believe. It's fucked up shit, man.

Jack, teacher: Ah, if they were a terrorist? Well, I don’t think you can just turn off love that quickly, so I'd still love them, but to defend them would be a lot harder.

How would you tell your friends, family and children that your partner was a terrorist?
I've got no idea. I mean, how do you know until you're in that situation? I don’t think there's an easy way. Maybe Facebook? Twitter? Hashtag she’s a terrorist bitch?

How would you punish her?
I haven’t got a clue. Prison? I mean, it's not always someone’s decision. Often terrorism just comes down to brainwashing, so how do you punish someone for that?

Do you believe in capital punishment?
I think it does potentially have a place, but I don’t think there's a model I can say yes or no to. But yeah, it does have a place.

Lauren, shop assistant: Oh, that’s really tricky. I don’t think so. I mean, I know it sounds really horrible, but I don’t think I could. Like, I know they would be taking other people’s lives and I don’t think one life isn’t worth, say, 30 lives.

Could you easily let that love go then? Would the crime override everything?
I don’t know. I think my love for them would just go as soon as I found out because I would that what they were doing was wrong.

What if you had children with them?
I'd just take the children away from him, for their sake. They could then turn on me, you know, be like, "Why did you take us away?" But I think if I did leave them that they'd turn against me anyway.

If you could choose a punishment for your partner, what would it be?
Personally, I think they should bring back the chair in England. It's just my personal opinion, because like I don’t think rapists and paedophiles should be able to get away with what they're doing. So yeah, I think they should bring back the chair. Send my husband to the chair!

Sarah, financier: Yeah, I'd probably still love them but try not to love them because they're a terrorist. I mean, you'd fall in love with them before you knew they were a terrorist, right?  

Do you think you'd pick up on it if your partner was a terrorist?
I guess there would be signs of terrorist activity I'd notice, yeah – if they were doing it in the house or leaving for extended periods of time. He would be like Superman and Clark Kent, you know? Clark Kent is never around when Superman is around.

What if he was the father of your children – would you tell them?
Probably when they reached a certain age, yeah. "FYI, dad’s not around because he’s in prison for trying to blow himself up."

Yeah, that's a nice, sensitive way to put it.

Previously - Where's the Weirdest Place You've Whacked It?