Excellent point; these terms are all pretty much propaganda terms, not descriptive ones. However, you'll notice that I did
include groups historically referred to as either guerrillas and/or 'freedom fighters' (a term I really would
argue is meaningless - just about all 'terrorists' and 'guerrillas' see themselves as fighting for their freedom, regardless of their cause).
The main practical difference is the target - guerrillas are mostly fighting a military campaign, whereas 'terrorists' mostly target civilians, and more importantly, targetting popular opinion. Interestingly, by that
definition, the attacks going on in Iraq right now are not
terrorism, a meme which TPTB would definitely not
want spread - nor, for that matter, would the guerrillas in question themselves, I suspect - because that would involve acknowledging that this is a war
, not an 'uprising'. Conversely, this definition would 're-imagine' a lot of groups that US official position currently views favorably as terrorists, including, as you pointed out, the US Founding Fathers.
However, the real point of most of these factoids was to point out that many of the things currently mooted as crucial issues are, in fact, of very little real importance - most of them have hardly any real impact on the majority of peoples' lives, except
for the public scares they inspire. This isn't to diminish the impact they have on those who are
affected, but really, when the realistic risks are as low as they are for most of these things, you would be better off worrying about more serious dangers - like the chances of drowning in the tub, or being struck by lightning
The main reason that these problems get the attention they do is because they are a) dramatic, b) out of human control, and c) unfamiliar enough that they seem uniquely threatening.
It's like the commonly noted observation that, despite the fact that nuclear power is, overall, safer and less envronmentally damaging than fossil fuels (even factoring in major radiation releases like Chernobyl and Chelobinsk-40, and the problem of long term waste storage), most people are far more afraid of nuclear power. Why? Well, partly it's because the worst-case
accident for nuclear power (massive, continued radiation release from amelted down reactor; weaponizing of civilian power resources) is far worse than that for fossil fuel (massive oil spills; refinery explosions; cola mine collapses); and partly because the risks involved in fossil fuels are familiar ones, where as radiation seems exotic and unnatural (despite that fact that there has always been background radiation, and the fact that in most places in the world people get more ionizing-radiation exposure stepping out into bright sunlight than they do from all the nuclear tests and radiation releases combined). Again, the dangers from nuclear power are real; much of central Europe and the Middle East have drastically increased background radiation levels today due to the two accidents mentioned above. But for most people, the actual risk (the chances of being harmed weighted by the severity of each possible danger, as opposed to threat, which is the combination of all possible ways that something can cause harm) in nulcear power is less than that from fossil fuels.
So what am I getting at? That most of the things I listed - terrorism, gun rights/control, illegal immigration, air crashes, etc - are non-issues
. The import which they are given far outweighs their real impact. In most of these cases, both
sides in the argument are all wet - they might as well be arguing of which end of an egg to crack. These non-issues remain in the public eye, however, because it is easier (and more profitable for the media and the politicians) to focus on distant, but frightening-seeming, intractable problems than addressing those which actually impact peoples lives.
This cuts both ways: people don't notice when things are going well, but are very quick to complain when they go wrong (or even just seem to have), so a successful administrator is always at a disadvantage when compared to someone whose main skill is at whipping up a public panic. People look to 'leadership', despite the fact that you only really need a 'strong leader' in a crisis - most of the time, you need a steady
managerial type, who can compromise and get things accomplished, rather than a dynamic hard-head who bulls his way forward without considering the consequences. This isn't to say that innovative or even radical approaches are wrong - I've always been in favor of trying unconventional solutions to long-term problems - but rather that the goal should be to 'promote the general welfare', preferably by leveraging existing resources, rather than score short-term publicity points.
But then, what do I know about competent leadership? There hasn't been any in the US in my lifetime.