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July 11, 2008

Zoriah and the Golden Rule

Zoriah's unauthorized appropriation of the photo of a dead Marine (and no, I refuse to link to him directly, nor will I view the image out of respect for the privacy of Marine in question and his family) raises some interesting moral questions.

When my sons went off to college, I advised them both that whatever else they did during their four year sojourn, they should be certain to take an ethics class. One of the functions of a college education is to broaden the mind. In many ways, college is a bit like a kaleidoscope. If the education process is successful, we gain the ability to look at our experiences, upbringing, and moral teachings in a variety of different ways; very much like one can twist the end of a kaleidoscope and see something different each time.

The blog princess had a nonstandard education, interrupted by an early marriage, two bouncing baby boys and years of rapid-fire moving from state to state (which is an education of an entirely different sort). She started off at one of the Ivies, but quickly realized that partying 5-6 days a week, while highly amusing, was a waste of her time and her parents' hard earned money. She didn't return to college until her early thirties.

As a returning adult, I took an ethics class as an elective. It was to prove one of the best courses I ever took. It was also one of the most disturbing. Sandwiched in between Plato and Nietschze were discussions on situational ethics. I found these particularly interesting since I was constantly talking with my sons about the importance of personal integrity and doing the right thing in a world where these qualities are not always rewarded. As one of a very few adults in the class, I was intensely interested in hearing how other young people would react to hypothetical ethical dilemmas.

The most memorable of these questions was posed one day in class: "If you could climb a watchtower with a high powered rifle and shoot people - with total impunity - (no one would ever know that it was you) would you do it?".

To me, the answer was crystal clear: of course not. **Murder is always wrong. It does not matter whether anyone sees you or not. It does not matter whether you get caught. Those are irrelevancies.

As it turned out, I was in the minority in the class that day. I was one of the few people in the class who thought such an act unequivocally wrong. I found that simply appalling, and I have never forgotten it. But what came out of that class is that I believe that while there are many moral grey areas, I also believe there are certain things which stand out in black and white: that certain acts are wrong or right no matter who performs them, and no matter what the circumstances. These actions may be quite limited. I am not a moral absolutist. But I do believe they exist.

I found out that a great many of my fellow human beings see the world very differently. They see the world as a canvas in which acts are right or wrong depending upon whether they (or someone who they are in sympathy with) perform them.

This poses a great many interesting ethical problems in an increasingly multicultural world where collectivism and identity politics are rapidly supplanting character and individual responsibility. We have already seen the effects in the economic arena: it is no longer considered a radical notion to assert the right of "underprivileged" citizens to help themselves to a generous portion of the earnings of their more productive fellow citizens, whose crime appears to be the ability to produce more money than they "need" (at least in the eyes of the arbiters of social justice). This sort of reasoning is artifically attractive in the aggregate. After all, who can argue against helping the poor, especially when the answer involves a transfer of "excess wealth" from those who don't need it to those who do?

This type of argument, however, becomes less attractive when the government shows up at your front door to figure out exactly how much of your hard-earned paycheck you don't "need". The problem with this kind of reasoning is that the real Enemy is not poverty, but inequality. The war, by definition, can never be won because there will always be those who earn more than others and so long as this is true, there will always be those who argue for the "right" to transfer the earnings of the more productive members of society to the least. As Christ remarked sardonically, the "poor" will always be with us.

That JesuChristo was one snarky dude. No wonder Dad called him home.

But that brings up another interesting facet of the morality debate: the rapid secularization of modern society. During a discussion with the spousal unit many moons ago over a frosty brewski or two, he said something that surprised me a bit. Any society, he opined, which abandons God and religion will inevitably lose its moral compass. This surprised me, for although we both believe in God, neither of us goes to church. Furthermore, we both believe it is quite possible for an atheist (or a non-Christian) to be a fully moral person. But I fully understood what he was trying to say, because I happen to share his concerns. I've written before of my concern about the diminishing influence of women as moral teachers and anchors in society. I think the two concepts are related.

Because I work in statistics, I have seen that people often conflate what happens on an individual level with behavior on the aggregate level, and there are important differences between the two. In trying to make an argument, many people will resort to anecdotal evidence (i.e., the individual case) to "prove" their case. And while the anecdotal does prove a certain phenomenon exists, it does not demonstrate that phenomenon applies to most of society, which is the population laws, rules, and institutions are intended to serve.

In my ethics class, it was disturbingly apparent that a whole generation of children have grown up without any real moral compass. Absent religion, there is no authoritative voice to settle questions of right and wrong. Everything is open to question, and so there was nothing to tell these kids that going up into a bell tower and shooting other human beings ought, objectively speaking, to be not only offensive, but morally wrong to any decent human being.

A Christian (or a practitioner of any of the world's great religions) could point to the prohibition against murder. Likewise, the laws of nearly every civilized nation forbid murder, yet interestingly, absent the prospect of punishment this did not seem to signify to these kids. But a more simple - and more intuitive - rule that should have kicked in is one that most toddlers easily learn, if their parents teach it.

It is the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is this moral precept that Zoriah violated when he published the photo of the dead Marine. The application is quite simple. To see it, one need only flip the situation on its face.

How would Zoriah feel, if he were killed while he is in Iraq, and a Marine published graphic photos of his dead body with its face blown off, on the Internet in a post that supported the war in Iraq?

Would he like his mother to see those photos? His father? If he had a wife, would he want her in the first shock of her grief to agonize over the thought that his image was being used in a way diametrically opposed to everything he stood for in life, but be unable to do a single thing to stop this obscene exploitation? If he had small children, would he like to think about them stumbling upon the image years later and having nightmares? Being teased about them in school? Being sent them by email? This kind of thing happens.

Would he want his likeness associated with a pro-war post when he is so clearly vehemently opposed to the war?

Lt. Nixon, in the comments of my previous post on this subject, makes a patently dishonest argument in defense of Zoriah:

There's actually a lot of precedence for showing dead bodies in the media. One interesting story is the 14 year old Emmett Till who was killed in the south for whistling at a white woman in the 50s. He was beaten to death and his mother insisted that the media photograph his badly beaten body. The picture of his body is on the Wiki, so don't click it if you're easily offended by history.

This example doesn't merely fail to support the rightness of Zoriah's actions. It isn't even analogous: an examination of the circumstances of publication clearly shows how Zoriah's use of the image differs dramatically from the media's publication of Emmet Till's photo:

...his mother insisted that the media photograph his badly beaten body.

One could argue, even then, that the deceased (Emmet Till) did not give permission. However, Till was no longer living. Arguably, his sensibilities could hardly be offended, though we cannot know whether such a publication would have been contrary to his wishes. But at least in that case a member of his family was asked, though perhaps other family members may have objected.

Zoriah knows full well that had this Marine been alive, he would not have been able to use his photo without his express permission. MaryAnn makes an excellent point over at Blackfive:

Had the photo in question been taken of a patient within a medical facility, it would almost certainly be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Any information pertaining to the disposition of a patient, which can be linked to a specific patient and thus enabling identification, communicated in any way (written, oral, email, photo, etc.), and without written permission of the patient or next of kin may result in disciplinary action against the individual (including termination), heavy fines against the facility, and possible litigation for damages.

A rather unclear issue is that of "identifiable". One could argue that a close relative will always be able to identify their loved one. If you've read the book Flags of our Fathers, you may remember that Harlon Block's mother was able to identify him immediately upon seeing the famous flag raising photo, although his face was not shown. Even her other son told her she was silly and that the photo showed nothing but "some Marine's butt" that could have been anyone. She replied she knew her own boy because she had put thousands of diapers on that butt.

It should be noted that under HIPAA service members in military medical facilites are provided with the same protection as civilians. That is, freedom of the press or the public's "need to know" does not override the right of the individual to privacy.

I'd like to see the rights of the deceased and their families protected in a similar way.

My husband's comments the other night mirrored MaryAnn's. Military people give up so many of their own civil rights - voluntarily - to serve and defend their fellow citizens. It is appalling that members of the media think they should have the "right" to photograph soldiers while they are severely wounded, rolling around in agony, drugged to the gills on morphine, or dead, just to tell us what anyone who has ever seen a single war movie made in Hollywood already knows: that war is horrible, people get their legs and arms blown off, they die, they scream, they cry like babies sometimes when they are hurt, and sometimes they don't.

This is not news to anyone over the age of four.

To see the hypocrisy inherent in the media's treatment of our soldiers and Marines, one need look no farther than the Jill Carroll media blackout story:

Sitting on newsworthy information is an unnatural act for most reporters—some would say unprofessional—and nobody can argue that the kidnapping of Jill Carroll isn't newsworthy. By effortlessly banding together across several time zones to squelch information in the name of protecting one colleague in Baghdad, American journalists placed themselves in a hypocritical position. Didn't their leading newspaper just publish national-security information over the objections of a White House that protests that the story endangers the lives of millions of Americans?

Ironically, I have absolutely no problem with what the media did to protect Carroll. I think they did the right thing in that instance, but consistently do the wrong thing when their own interests are not threatened. In that case, because a journalist was threatened, they were able to empathize, to put themselves in the shoes of another human being.

What a shame that Zoriah is not able to put himself in the shoes of this dead Marine's family; that in his quest to persuade the world that war is wrong/bad, a dead United States Marine and his grieving family stopped being human beings and became useful tools; the too-convenient means that justify an end. What he and so many other journalists will never understand is that this is why they are not allowed to photograph the coffins of dead U.S. service men and women, nor to make spectacles of their private family funerals.

We do not exist to allow them to persuade America to leave Iraq and Afghanistan. We are human beings. Leave us some dignity, and the space and privacy to mourn our dead.

Have some elemental human respect for our opinions, even if you do not share them. Your "right" to oppose the war does not outweigh our right to support it, nor the other fundamental rights other Americans take for granted every single day. An American citizen should not forfeit his dignity, nor your respect, simply because he wears the uniform of his country. And more fundamentally no human being: be he or she Iraqi, Afghani, American, insurgent or coalition member in this war should have to worry about having a surviving family member stumble upon graphic images of his corpse upon the Internet simply because some adherent of the pro- or anti-war movement lacks the words to make a compelling, coherent and rational argument in support of their position. If you have an argument to make, do so in words, and under your own name. Back it up with logic and facts rather than relying upon fear and shock to override the cerebral cortexes of your carefully chosen victims. Don't draft the dead and their grieving families as unwilling conscripts in your obscene little information war.

As the great man once said, have some decency. And some taste.

**Thanks to Grim for catching my error - see coments.

Posted by Cassandra at July 11, 2008 06:04 AM

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Educators have succeeded in divorcing the concept of moral absolutes from their "ethics" classes.

These days, I would be considered immoral if I hopped into the sack with someone else's wife but I'd only be considered unethical if I did it on company time...

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 09:08 AM

Only if you used that red miniskirt of yours to lure her into the sack, Billmon :p

Posted by: Casserole at July 11, 2008 09:17 AM

Killing people is always wrong. It does not matter whether anyone sees you or not. It does not matter whether you get caught. Those are irrelevancies.

One minor quibble: as an ethical principle, what is always wrong is murder. That's not just "killing people," but "the intentional killing of the innocent." That is always wrong.

Your example is about killing of that type, so I don't disagree with you -- but universal ethical principles need to be formulated precisely. Killing people, even in secret, is not always wrong: we train Marine Corps Scout Snipers to do just this kind of thing. They aren't, however, killing the innocent.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 09:19 AM

You're absolutely correct, Grim. Poor choice of words there. As you know, I tend to post quickly - I should have caught that one, though.


Posted by: Casserole at July 11, 2008 09:23 AM

Which is precisely why you can't separate morality from ethics.

Uhhhh -- what's with "Billmon" -- is this some new and esoteric connection of which I have been hitherto blissfully ignorant?

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 09:30 AM

Very, very nicely said Milady.

"In my ethics class, it was disturbingly apparent that a whole generation of children have grown up without any real moral compass."
And I will continue to say that your writings would be just the right bromide for young minds. I know having raised two among the larger herd of children in our area. Mine would often hit us with something along the lines of X's parents are allowing their kids to blah, blah, blah... The times I wanted to call X's parents and ask them to please render a satisfactory answer to our WTF!

Oh yeah, one additional quibble... Please have mercy! Enough with the red mini on BillT (nothing personal there Bill) but having to go outside and move mulch to clear my pointy little head of such disturbing imagery - a guy approximately my age in a fling-wing and a red mini- is very unsettling on this old guy. Please... I'm begging ya... =;^}

Posted by: bt_mulchin'thegardensboss_hun at July 11, 2008 09:42 AM

Well, in fairness, if you put people into an ethics class, you are asking them to try using their minds to challenge ethical teachings. The concept is to reaffirm ethics by teaching them not just what is wrong, but why it is wrong.

That means they have to pose challenges to the principles. You're supposed to try to see if there are ways around the principle at work: then, if there aren't, you've found something solid.

A lot of students grasp that they're supposed to try to challenge the principles -- that's the point of the class -- but lack the background or understanding to pose a real challenge. They end up sounding like idiots, but they really are doing what students are supposed to do.

This is the work of philosophy, though, which can lead you to refine what you had thought was a precisely formulated ethical principle. For example, the prohibition against 'the intentional killing of the innocent' -- how does it relate to abortion? If that is always wrong, how is abortion ever justified? Is it not killing? Or is the unborn child not innocent?

One ethics class I took demonstrated that there can be a case in which the unborn child is "not innocent" -- if it embeds itself in the wrong place in its mother's body, it will kill her as it grows. Abortion can be the only way to save her life; whereas the baby cannot be saved, as it will kill its mother at an earlier stage than it could survive without her. As a consequence, though innocent in a moral sense, there can be a way in which the baby is not innocent in a practical sense. In that one example, abortion can be fully justified in spite of the prohibition on intentionally killing the innocent.

The refinement is worth something, but we wouldn't have gotten there if people hadn't been willing to challenge the principles. Students of very firm ethical upbringing were something of a challenge to the class, because they wanted to stop with, "No, it's wrong, period." It's fine to believe that -- and you may be 100% correct! -- but the point of the class is to think it through. To develop the firmest understanding, someone has to challenge the principle. Someone must be the Devil's advocate.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 09:54 AM

...a guy approximately my age in a fling-wing and a red mini- is very unsettling on this old guy.

Just don't look up through the chin bubble...

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 10:06 AM

Powerful post. Thanks.

Posted by: Carol at July 11, 2008 10:08 AM

"Just don't look up through the chin bubble..."
Head down, fork mulch, pitch, repeat...

Posted by: bt_mulchin'thegardensboss_hun at July 11, 2008 10:11 AM

bthun, you just need to do what I do. Kill your imagination pre-emptively. I recommend a good whiskey if at home, or about 8 cups of coffee at work. They seem to have the same ultimate effect.

Posted by: MikeD at July 11, 2008 10:25 AM

bthun -- relax.

I don't wear either thongs or red minis.

Electric blue, though...

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 11:32 AM

People who say "everything isn't black and white" often fail to see that there are many different shades of gray as well.

Posted by: V the K at July 11, 2008 12:28 PM

I had a heated argument with somebody years back where I said it was criminal that we did not teach ethics in schools. My interlocutor triumphantly responded "teach whose ethics?" as if she'd driven a Mack truck right through the gaping hole in my argument.

She was so smug in her demolition of my obviously untenable position that she had no response when I said "For a start, that murder is wrong, that you don't lie, cheat, and steal, that you do not abuse a trust, that you do not abuse another person, that you protect the helpless - how are these restrictive to one culture or faith?"

Myself, I was, and still am, appalled that a supposedly educated and mature person could think basic good behavior was some sort of cultural artifact or religious relic. In retrospect, perhaps I ought to have slugged her as hard as I could and as she lay gasping on the ground asked "Now, can you give me any reasons why I should not have done that?" That would have violated my own peculiar and idiosyncratic sense of ethics, however.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 11, 2008 12:33 PM

Ethics can easily be taught without reference to any specific religion or creed, simply by saying 'Christians believe... Nietschze wrote... Plato taught... etc'.

That is the point of an ethics class: to examine various beliefs, and (I think) the value. A while back there was a wonderful article in USA today of all places about how just teaching comparative religion in public schools actually INCREASED religious tolerance. Go figure! Students loved it - they love learning what the various religions believe, and it doesn't faze them a bit learning that Muslims believe x and Jews believe y and Hindus believe z. They don't get into fights over it like adults do, for the most part.

We are the morons about this stuff - they are usually not that invested. They are curious and want to learn. I don't see this as a bad thing at all. What they actually found was that there is a large intersection between the faiths - far larger than anyone had thought. Also, some very basic differences. But they came out with an increased respect for the right of all humans to worship freely.

How can this be bad?

Posted by: Casserole at July 11, 2008 12:58 PM

"...murder is wrong, that you don't lie, cheat, and steal, that you do not abuse a trust, that you do not abuse another person, that you protect the helpless - how are these restrictive to one culture or faith?"

She would have castigated you for being a Wahabiphobe...

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 01:02 PM

"She would have castigated you for being a Wahabiphobe..."
Caustic chemical castigation, no doubt.

Posted by: bthun at July 11, 2008 01:13 PM

Fantastic post! You say,

They see the world as a canvas in which acts are right or wrong depending upon whether they (or someone who they are in sympathy with) perform them.

I totally agree. When someone's ethical boundries are fluid and their perception of right and wrong depends on whether, or not, someone could see them act or who's performing an act, we all lose. There should still be some ground-truths out there. Unfortunately, I agree with you that we seem to have lost definition of those ground-truths when we lost the moral compass that helps us navigate the decisions between right and wrong.

Posted by: lela at July 11, 2008 02:51 PM

That's covered under "...don't lye..."

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 02:52 PM

It's interesting- I want to pick up the idea Steve advanced about teaching ethics in school. It's related to what my husband said about any society that abandons God and religion eventually foundering on the shoals of moral relativism.

Some people are quick to pounce on that as advancing the notion that only religious people can be moral. But I disagree (and so would my husband). It's always interesting in an argument to hear people reject what they call the appeal to authority argument as invalid on its face. IOW, things are right or wrong because God said so, end of argument.

But that isn't necessarily an argument for throwing the baby out with the bath water, as my husband was saying. We don't have always have to go to the logical (or illogical, depending on your outlook) extreme. The ethical systems taught by the major religions are still not a bad place to start. I don't know too many churchgoing people who adopt every single tenet or custom of their church wholesale, frankly.

Maybe they should. But they don't. Almost every Catholic I know (and most of my friends happen to be Catholic or Jewish) uses birth control and limits their family size at some point. Many of my Jewish friends eat bacon. Baptists often drink or play cards. Pick at my examples, but you get the larger point ;p

There is value in having been taught a consistent system of ethics and morality. We know from experience that if a broad spectrum of people are exposed to the same teachings, not everyone will accept them uncritically and there will be debate over the proper application of theory to real world conditions. The answer is not to throw up your hands and say, "How can we know right from wrong?", or to stop asking questions for fear of spanking someone's inner Frenchman.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 11, 2008 03:08 PM

"spanking someone's inner Frenchman"
Bravo! And I am at your service Madame! Just as soon as I can determine where I am, what I am doing, and why I am doing it, wherever I am...

Posted by: Jean-Paul Sartre at July 11, 2008 03:29 PM

Wait, Cass is spanking Frenchmen? I thought this was a family friendly blog!

Posted by: MikeD at July 11, 2008 04:36 PM

It is.

Just ask Gomez and Morticia...

Posted by: BillT at July 11, 2008 04:41 PM

"I thought this was a family friendly blog!"
Indeed. M'lady -along the editorial staff- surely should be rated Five Stars as a Purveyor of Fine Food for Thought...

And the villainous company supplies the entertaining floor shows along with snarktillery and now, spanked Frenchmen!

What more could anyone possibly want? =;^}

Posted by: bthun at July 11, 2008 05:12 PM

"Just ask Gomez and Morticia..."

We prefer to play with knives and swords.

Posted by: Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress at July 11, 2008 06:00 PM

A few years ago, I sat in on part of a philosophy course at a well-known university. The professor developed a very interesting and well-reasoned attack on strong-form cultural relativism, pointing out the dreadful behavior it excuses and the contradictions to which it must inescapably lead. What was interesting was the reaction of the students. Most of them had evidently absorbed cultural relativism so strongly that they had never considered any alternative ethical systems, and appeared to be somewhat disoriented by the arguments the professor was making.

Posted by: david foster at July 11, 2008 06:20 PM

Cass has coined a new term which leads to "spanking the frog."

Posted by: Mark at July 11, 2008 06:54 PM

To clarify, the Emmett Till comment was more signifying the power of media. That picture helped spur the civil rights movement and was a wake up call to many.

Posted by: LT Nixon at July 11, 2008 06:59 PM

OK. I'll buy off on that one :p

It was just unpersuasive in the context I took it. As a parallel to the Zoriah use of images of dead bodies, which also happens to be the way it was introduced, it just doesn't hold up. But if you just didn't phrase your comment that carefully - and I do that all the time - then that is a differnt matter.

Also I don't have my reading glasses on so I have no idea if any of this makes any sense.


Posted by: Cassandra at July 11, 2008 07:16 PM

"spanking the frog."


Posted by: Kermitthefrog at July 11, 2008 08:02 PM

But if you just didn't phrase your comment that carefully - and I do that all the time - then that is a differnt matter.

If you didn't understand the context, I must have framed it improperly.

You're ethical argument about not publishing certain information brings into question what else shouldn't be published...and who should decide. Should dead pictures of the enemy not be published? Michael Yon recently published pictures of Burma's dead from their latest humanitarian disaster. I found the post powerful, but is it too offensive to the senses or tasteless? Do our lives mean more than theirs? That's a difficult question to answer, and I wouldn't want to say one way or another.

Posted by: LT Nixon at July 11, 2008 08:39 PM

If I may enter the discussion, Article 13 of the Geneva Conventions holds that prisoners of war:

"... must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

As you know, the Conventions were meant to apply to uniformed soldiers of signatory nations. They are meant to provide for standards of decent treatment that all such soldiers deserve even if they surrender.

We might debate whether or not such protections should be extended to terrorists who wear no uniform, sign no treaty, and follow no standards. However, they plainly do belong to our own soldiers, and to none of them more than the ones who have died on the battlefield.

Anything that they or their families would consider undue exposure to "insult" or "public curiousity" is surely improper by this standard. If we will apply that standard to protect honorable prisoners -- and might apply it to protect dishonorable prisoners -- we surely ought to offer that standard to our own honored dead.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 09:01 PM

"If we will apply that standard to protect honorable prisoners -- and might apply it to protect dishonorable prisoners -- we surely ought to offer that standard to our own honored dead."
One could hope.

Posted by: bthun at July 11, 2008 10:39 PM

No: we can do more than hope. I think we can insist.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 10:45 PM

It depends upon whether there is any reasonable chance - even a remote one - that they are individually identifiable. Didn't see Yon's post.

If they were, it wasn't right. Grim's standard strikes me as about right, and I personally don't think it matters whether it is our dead or theirs. It is a matter of human decency, and of respect for the surviving family members.

Even in war, we must remember that there will one day be peace. Leaving photos of individual dead on the Internet outrages the sensibilities. This is the kind of stuff that launched ancient feuds whic have lasted hundreds of years.

There is no good reason to do it and many good reasons not to. There is really no decision to be made here. You just apply the same standard: treat people decently. If a family member could ever, in any way, identify the body, you don't publish. Period.

It is really quite simple. Because it would be agonizing for them to know with any certainty that a particular photo was of their loved one, especially if it is a closeup and particularly if it is being used for partisan or propaganda purposes, as Zoriah is using this dead Marine's photo.

He doesn't give a rat's ass about that man or his family. He only cares about using a photo to score political points, and it's a cheap ploy. Let him get permission if he wishes to do this sort of thing. Otherwise he is just a vulture.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 11, 2008 10:47 PM

FWIW I'm all for insisting. Maybe I'm a bit too full of vino after a little dinner party, since mellow and benignly hopeful is not a customary trait of mine... That being very likely the case, I'll ask, as a practical matter, how does our insistence bring this sort of exploitation to an end?

Would not this insistence have to come down from the CinC and have some large degree of vocal public support if not Congressional support to have the teeth required to stop the publication of images of the dead and/or mutilated? At least to stop the embeds from publishing such without permission of next of kin.

Posted by: bthun at July 11, 2008 11:08 PM

I would say you start by writing your Congressman, and explaining the standard as described above.

What follows after we shall see. But I am prepared to insist.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 11:12 PM

Yes, I can do that.

Given how often I express myself to those folks, one more item could not hurt. But I find myself growing ever more cynical when I think of how often I am compelled to write to these folks to cite an existing law, a precedence, a traditional norm, this, that, or the other...

Before the vino speaks again and I find that black Crown Vic parked once more Chez Hun's Hovel, I'll end this comment here.

Best regards,

Posted by: bt_B&C-curmudgeon_hun at July 11, 2008 11:34 PM

I understand.

Posted by: Grim at July 11, 2008 11:39 PM

People lose their way when they refuse to accept the simple fact that Evil does exist in the world and that Evil (or at least the fact of it) is an absolute.

One can argue that there may be minor differences between two people's definition of Right and Wrong, but if one of those people can not accept the concept of Evil at all, then that person is lost and without a working moral compass.

I do not think of myself as a religious man--and certainly am not a practicing church attending Christian or anything else for that matter. But ultimately whether it is some other being or simply my own conscience in looking back at my life, I'll be held accountable for the good, and the bad, that I've done.

Posted by: Mike Myers at July 12, 2008 12:04 AM

There has always existed a human sickness that drives some to seek profit from the misery of others. I got it. Not the sickness, just the concept.
But ethics and morality act only as restraints on human behavior, not cures. I dare say that I am of the camp that pre-supposes the worst in man, and that ethics and morality are not common virtues among our race, but rather(like good manners)the exception to the rule -and ones that need to be constantly and consistently taught as a hedge against the prevalent self-absorbed and self-destructive nature lurking in the lot of us.

The simple question posed to Cass' class was: Would you do something you knew was "wrong" if you also knew you wouldn't suffer any consequences? While our hostess appears shocked at her classmates' response, I am precisely not.

I took a course back in college that focused on the literary history of penal systems. The regimen required that we study various texts and novels from the early 16th through the mid-twentieth century. Very shortly I found myself confined between the twin rocks of "confinement" and "rehabilitation." I was thoroughly confused (ambivalent?) about the benefits and detriments of both approaches, as neither seemed to adequately resolve, well, anything.

The breakthrough moment of my social education, and perhaps my downfall, came when I asked the elderly lecturer - a long-time prison warden and historian (and a great story teller that, maybe, someday, I ought to record)- why only "punishment" and "rehabilitation" were options for the last four hundred years, rather than "deterrence" as that term is popularly used today.
I swear, that old man stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, while the whole room was deathly silent out of respect for my own death sentence.

And then he said this: "Deterrence doesn't work, son, because nobody believes that they'll ever get caught. If they did, well, then they wouldn't do it, would they?"

Eleventy-seven years of Catholic School training was shot to hell in less than a minute by some eighty-odd year-old pragmatist. There isn't a moment that I crest a hill doing 65 in a 45 that I don't remember that sublime calculation, and whistle.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 12, 2008 02:46 AM

"Deterrence doesn't work, son, because nobody believes that they'll ever get caught."

Some forms of deterrence work.

"Locks keep honest people honest" is still a valid observation and crime rates are, interestingly enough, low in communities where citizens are known to be armed -- so, the possibility of the death penalty, immediately applied by an intended victim, would appear to be a fairly effective deterrent.

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2008 04:35 AM

While our hostess appears shocked at her classmates' response, I am precisely not.

spd, I don't have a different view of basic human nature than you do. At least I don't think I do.

Though by temperment, I may be inclined to believe the best of people, by policy I am inclined to believe the worst of them. In raising my sons, the two books I made sure they read (and read more than once) were Wm. Golding's Lord of the Flies and Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. Those two books had a huge influence on me as a young girl. They shaped my view of human nature, because before I read them, I think my basic view of people was that they were inherently good. Reading those two novels changed the way I viewed the world, because they rang true.

They helped me form my ideas about morality and the role of society, rules, and conscience as buffers against our basic tendency to be self-interested. But I do think deterrence works to some extent. If it didn't, societies, rules and laws wouldn't work.

Shame is a deterrent. Negative consequences in general act as deterrents. The thought that if we do X and people find out, they will disapprove of us causes us to think twice about any number of actions we might otherwise have no objection to performing. You see this when people get out of the military and let themselves go - they didn't like to exercise and cut their hair. They do these things because if they don't do them, there will be negative consequences which outweigh the negative consequences of having to do what they are told.

The key with deterrence is simple: immediacy. This happens with kids. If they are SURE they will get caught and hammered, deterrence works like a charm. On the otter heiny, if parents are always threatening, but the promised negative consequences never materialize, (or kids get caught and put on restriction, but are let off the hook after a day or so), there is no real disincentive.

The death penalty is largely ineffective because of the lengthy appeals process.

If executions were swift and inexorable, I'll bet it would be a fairly effective deterrent for all but the most hardened criminals and those instances where crimes are committed in the heat of passion (i.e., someone just loses their head - the jealous spouse finds their husband/wife in bed with a lover, etc.). But when the act is so far divorced from the consequence, the causal connection is broken.

Also there is a cost-benefit calculation that goes on in people's minds. "What are the odds that I'll get caught, and if I do, what is the worst that can happen?"

For speeding, the odds of getting caught just aren't that great, and if you do the punishment isn't that bad. So in that risk calculation, the perceived benefit will almost always outweigh the perceived risk. Especially if, like certain blog princesses who shall remain nameless, one enjoys pushing the envelope a bit in a fairly harmless way :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2008 10:29 AM

Of course. Even the most dumbass criminal probably runs the risk calculations through his head (Um....razor wire... big dog ... could be painful ...try next door.) But what was going through Eliot Spitzer's fine mind when he decided to become Client Number 9? "Gee, I could lose everything" or "They'll never catch me"? I'm placing my bet on the latter.

Lord of the Flies was seminal moment in this boy's life as well.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 12, 2008 11:05 AM

I agree with you on that one :p

I think that powerful men (and women too) have a different risk calculation, though. It is probably a combination of being more of a risk taker in the first place and the perception of invulnerability that being in that position confers on you.

There have been a lot of articles lately about women (older women [wince! my age]) who are traveling to 3rd world countries for what essentially amounts to sex tourism. It's not with kids, which tends to be what men do, but with young men. This is a function of the increased earning power of women in the workplace.

The world is a bizarre place, spd :p

And all part of the "what would you do if you didn't think you would get caught" mentality.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2008 11:51 AM

err... wouldn't :)

Got Freud?

Posted by: Ve Haf Vays... at July 12, 2008 11:55 AM

There have been a lot of articles lately about women ... traveling to 3rd world countries for what essentially amounts to sex tourism.

You 'af maybe ze need of my sair-vaises, cherie?

*whap* Owwww!

Ummmmm -- as *tour guide*, naturellemently.

No extra charge for ze mini rouge, hien?

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2008 01:15 PM

What occurs to me when I read that stuff, Bill, is that all those feminists who are always spouting off nonsense about how the world would be such a wondrous place if women ran it are about to get their comeuppance :p

Posted by: Ve Haf Vays... at July 12, 2008 01:32 PM

It also tells me that all those men who keep telling me that women are wired not to like sex need to rethink their biases. Maybe sexual behavior has less to do with biology and more to do with social pressures and upbringing than we like to think it does. Not to say there is no link between biology and behavior, but maybe people need to be a bit more open-minded in light of recent evidence.

Posted by: Ve Haf Vays... at July 12, 2008 01:37 PM

...all those men who keep telling me that women are wired not to like sex...

Heh. More likely they're wired not to like sex with the kind of men who think that way...

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2008 02:30 PM

Re: BillT's comment

Heehee. I tend to think the same thing when I hear/read comments like that.

And along those lines... I heard the coolest thing pointed out the other day: For a man to procreate, he needs to have an orgasm. A woman requires no orgasm herself in order to procreate. So, why are women orgasmic? As one woman put it, we're built for pleasure (both ours and his).

Fold that into a Christian/creationist perspective and it's downright profound.

Posted by: FbL at July 12, 2008 03:35 PM

Well, and have you ever noticed when you are making love that men get so much more excited when the woman they are making love to is obviously enjoying what they are doing to her?

IOW, they really want you to enjoy it, too, in order to really get the most out of it. I just think that is so cool. Who said men are selfish?


Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2008 03:48 PM


Only at VC :p


I blame an uncaring Bush administration and Dick Cheney's enormous schlong.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 12, 2008 03:50 PM

It's spelled with a "th," not an "schl" ...

Posted by: BillT at July 12, 2008 04:08 PM

Enormous doesn't count unless your partner's willing.
I'm speaking about foreign policy, of course.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 12, 2008 08:25 PM

Because I work in statistics

I guess all your uses of charts and number crunching should have given me a hint, but I never suspected you focused on statistics at any point in your career.

In my ethics class, it was disturbingly apparent that a whole generation of children have grown up without any real moral compass.

My moral compass comes from the meta-golden circle, which relates to God but not directly. Meaning I am not afraid God will punish me, for various reasons. But I do act as if there is a more powerful and omnipotent presence above me that is judging my actions. I just don't see it in the same light as Christians do.

Religion have many differences, but the one similarity they do have is the rewards and punishment dished out to believers.

The rewards are either material or non-material. The punishment is either as well.

They have to be both, since a religion that only promises surfeit and prosperity in the next life, if only you will bear with your suffering now, is not a particularly useful religion and it's also not very immune to corruption from inside.

But in the end, religion modifies people's behavior by saying "do this or don't do this because there's a higher power in existence looking over your actions". When you transcend punishment and rewards in deciding right from wrong, you start on the road of good ethical theory, meaning you have integrated certain values or behaviors into your very personality. They are now a part of you and you now behave in a certain fashion not because you fear punishment, but because your mental state requires it. You would no longer be who you are, personality wise, if you deviated from the course. Stay the course is now your motto, not "it depends on how much money I am getting to perform this action".

Now people get to such a state by various routes. Religion, fear of god, fear of more powerful people, belief in reincarnation, etc. After awhile, faith and belief sinks into the marrow of your bones.

I believe the world has consequences for actions. And these consequences exist regardless of whether you think an action is good for you in the short term. Humans are flawed, and your short term decisions are also flawed because they rely upon faulty and incomplete data and various other things like time compression.

Ethical theory allows a person to choose to behave in a certain way from day one, in order to get results that is beneficial or right to that person. That's very subjective, of course, but what people believe in are not. Either people will believe in things that turn out to be right, or they will believe in things that turn out to be wrong. The third neutral choice is "people won't believe at all, and still be wrong".

Humans are hierarchical creatures so it makes perfect sense that we would order our actions based upon a hierarchy of power and status. We look up at those above us and we look down at those below us. That is our society, that is what we see from day one, for most of human beings. But some people wanted more than hierarchy. They wanted truth, they weren't satisfied with just "if it benefits me now, it's good" philosophy. They wanted the big picture.

And in getting that big picture, they often took actions that did not benefit them in the short term, in order to gain immense benefits in the long term.

Ironically, I have absolutely no problem with what the media did to protect Carroll. I think they did the right thing in that instance, but consistently do the wrong thing when their own interests are not threatened.

Then the obvious response is that we must make the media's action pay, if we are correct about the negative consequences of their actions. Like Newton's physics says, actions have consequences, and if we are right in the media's consequences, why then are the media not suffering negative consequences? That wouldn't work in a Newtonian world, but then again, we're not in a Newtonian world, we're in an Einsteinian "everything is relative to me" world.

But just cause everything is relative to a particular frame of reference, does not mean ethics, the hierarchy of strength and power, or basic underlying objective reality does not exist".

"In my ethics class, it was disturbingly apparent that a whole generation of children have grown up without any real moral compass."

If you ask me, Cass, this is due to the fact that in this protected world that America has created, many young Americans do not recognize that the real world has strong people and weak people, and that the natural order of things is for the strong to prey upon the weak. Because these Americans are protected from the predators, criminals or villains, stronger than they, these AMericans believes that there is nothing wrong in mistreating people so long as you don't get caught. And they think this is a policy that will net them good stuff because they believe America will always be around to protect them from their victims, whether it is courts, politicians, or the US military.

And that is a cancer that is a little bit too extreme even for Constitutional protections to maintain. The Constitution maintained the enforcement of many rights and included several that were not original, over the centuries. It is not strong enough, however, to protect the "right" to loot people weaker than you and yet also be protected from those stronger than you.

That is part of the Circle of Justice, the meta-golden rule, or any hierarchy of strength and weakness. They are all an objective reality that exists independent of people's strength or whims. (If you try to Google Circle of Justice, you won't get the ancient Iranian subject to come up"

There's a lot of explanations for the boomerang effect of people's personal actions, including Newton's action-reaction law of physics, but at the base, there are actions and then there are consequences to those actions, good and bad. Many theories explain how and why that happens, but it is a fact that it happens, period. There is no question of if, except amongst Leftists or nihilists. On to the example.

If a King kills all his followers and subjects, from whom will he then entertain an army from? From whom will he acquire the food and money to pay for that army? And without an army, how will that King deserve the loyalty and obedience of his followers and subjects? So should the King only refrain from killing his own subjects because it would inconvenience him personally, and a King should be okay in discarding his subjects, only if it does not impact the military or the Kingdom's security? No, that's not right. And the reason that is not right is because the King occupies a position of power because of the existence of his followers. Without people, the Kingdom dies. Without a King, the Kingdom can still go on. Thus the King is expendable, while the subjects of that kingdom are not expendable solely to protect the King.

These are complex subjects and could take awhile to go through all the permutations, but suffice it to say that a King's position and power derives not from his own strength but the strength of the people. In killing his own people, he inevitably weakens his own power base. He is in a sense, declaring to everybody stronger than him, that this King is not worthy of his position and voluntarily wishes to lose it. Voluntarily I say, cause nobody made the King execute a bunch of women and children for sadistic kicks, after all. That was not to protect the Kingdom, that was not to feed the army, that was not to sacrifice a few to save a critical many. That was just somebody who wanted to committ suicide by Meta-Golden Rule; which says that the way you treat people inferior and weaker than you are, is the way people superior and stronger than you, should treat you. And it has no relation to your claims that you had the "Right to execute" these people. Your actions declared your intent to those stronger than you and they will remove you from the face of existence both because they wish it, and because you wished it. You wished it when you ordered those people killed. Actions with consequences. If you don't want the consequences... don't do the action. Cannot a six year understand that?

If a person believes that nobody is stronger than them, not God or anybody else, then they will fear no punishment. They will believe that their actions will NEVER have negative consequences. WHy? Becaus There's nobody stronger than them to tell them otherwise or to make them pay for their actions. There's, thus, no "reaction" to the King's sadistic actions.

And if that is true, if a person will never be punished for such actions, then why would it be wrong? There's no ironclad way to justify why something is wrong, if a person is not harmed by it. Ethics is not, after all, a self-destructive plan or suicide pact. It is not a plan of convenience, either.
The Golden Rule has a couple of weaknesses. By that rule, with its loopholes, you could mistreat prisoners if you are a masochist. You may not want to, but nonetheless the GOlden Rule would justify such actions. Or if a person that believes in zero sum exploits and mistreats those weaker than they, because they expect the same from others, then the Golden Rule vindicates that person's actions because that person is acting in a way to others that he expects and wants others to act towards him. The Golden Rule works best when there's a Golden Age. WHen the Age of Anarchy comes, oooo, then it's best not to live by the Golden Rule.

Strength and the position on the hierarchy of power is much more objective and certain a standard to judge people's actions by than simply a person's "wishes and whims" in my view.

Strength is objective. We can duly say who is stronger in one subject or another compared to others. Wishes and whims and what not are too subjective, and thus prey to subjective tinkering and sabotage.

As for Zor-man and his pics, see my comment here at Blackfive that sums things up. Link

All anybody has to know concerning why Zor was wrong can be looked up in my post concerning the actions of an American journalist in snapping photos of people suffering the exisgencies of war. He did the same thing as Zor did, although not for the same reasons. And that changed everything people. Look it up yourself if you wish.

I don't use the argument of family permission or respect for the dead because it is relative. Relative to who you are talking to, that is. I don't like using such extremely subjective criteria for the ethical standards of why Zor did was wrong or right.

For example, if Zor got family permission and what not and his photos did not harmed anyone in the slightest or insulted anybody's dignity, it would still have been wrong.

It is wrong to use the results of murderers to help them murder more people. It is wrong to use the deaths caused by murderers to give satisfaction to more murderers and suicide bombers. It is wrong to glory yourself in the process in seeking the protection of the victims of terrorists, thus putting the victims into even greater danger, while at the same time exploiting the victim's pain and misfortune for your own personal selfish benefit. (Zor says he is ignorant of many things concerning war, yet feels no guilt about interfering and propagandizing to influence people's actions on a policy level. I'm pretty sure this means Zor would like surgeons to operate on him that are ignorant in certain surgical and sanitary procedures. That is the Meta-Golden Rule after all. And like legal contracts, you can't back out of them just cause you said you made a mistake. Can you go back in time and unmistake the mistake of killing children and women? If not, then you can't back out of this one under the Meta-Golden Rule)

All of that is wrong regardless of what the family says, thinks, does, or feels. And it is not wrong because of the Golden Rule. It would not be right if Zor expected other people to treat his body the same way or his family the same way. It would not be right if Zor was prepared to sacrifice his own family or himself for the "cause" because he believed pics of dead Marines would stop the American military from killing the killers of women, children, and US Marines.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 12, 2008 10:50 PM

Here's my answer to the ethical dilemma of "if I could shoot people in a watchtower and not get caught, would I do it".

The answer is, it depends. It depends on whether I can choose who the targets will be. If they are murderers and rapists, then I'll certainly feel uncertainty and regret and probably will want to interview them and check their court records before shooting them.

If the ethical dilemma demands that I not be able to decide whom I shall kill, then obviously I will have to refuse.

What is the point to a person skilled in mayhem and violence in killing that can't defend themselves? There's no honor in that and thus no personal benefit, other than entertainment and one can get better entertainment than that at other locales.

Then we come to the question of "why does honor actually matter". If you don't actually get punished for killing people weaker than you are with a gun, why should it matter to you whether you kill them or not. It matters to me because I'm not going to waste my time killing innocent men, women, and children. I'd prefer to kill serial killers and what not cause they might actually put up a good fight and it'd be most satisfactory in the end.

Then we come to the question of "why would killing serial killers, who can fight back and be more likely to kill you than civilians cruising the highway, be of more benefit to you". And the answer would be "because killing certain types of people when they are weak, guarantees that they will never become stronger than you or get into a situation where they are stronger than you and can give or withdraw their mercy towards me".

Then the question comes "but how do you know what will happen in the future". And the answer is I do not know what will happen in the future. But I do know what can happen in the future and what is most likely to happen in the future. If there is any possible chance that a person, sometime in the future, will be in a position where their personality and intent will allow them to harm me or somebody I care about, then it pays for me to ensure that this possibility ends, now, in a situation and time frame where I have the strength to decide one way or another.

Ah, but the question is now "but so killing people is justified if it benefits you personally sometime latter, as opposed to an action that guarantees immediate immunity from punishment right now, right". No, killing people is not justified simply because it might benefit you at sometime in the future. I wouldn't have to eliminate serial killers if they hadn't become serial killers in the first place. They, by their actions towards those weaker than they, have made them my enemies, because I prefer to live in a civilizaton that does not have to exploit the weak simply to make one's life more tolerable under the bootheel of those stronger than me. And who abuse me the same as I abuse those weaker than me. That is not a world, a society, or a civilization that I believe benefits me the most in the short or long term. They, by choosing their path, have given me permission, for I am on a path that intersects with them and is mutually exclusive. If our paths cross, it is unlikely that both of us will live to tell the tale. That is the reality. That is the reality and the consequences created by their actions as well as mine.

After all, serial killers and various other criminals may be seen to be "wrong" only because the law says so. But the real reason why they are wrong is because they do not accept the rightness and justice of their victims in seeking the criminals' deaths and misfortunes. Criminals always say "the system made me do it" or "I'm innocent of the crime because society owes me the benefits of money and free women". They simply do not recognize that by choosing to become a predator in our civilization, you are essentially giving free warrant to anyone stronger than you to eliminate you from the face of the Earth. How can you claim protection and due rights from the law, when you have chosen to violate the law? That's not right.

This kind of double standard only ever works because of the strong. The government, occupying the position of great strength concerning the criminal, refrains from treating the criminal the way they treated those weaker than they. But the criminal has no right, justice, or worth in asking for or demanding that the government, who is stronger than the criminal, treat the criminal with mercy when the criminal did not do the same to a person weaker than the criminal.

Mercy is the gift of the strong, not of the weak.

So in the end, killing serial killers is justified because that is what their actions have told us how they would like to be treated. We can only ever gift them with their greatest desire. It is not "ethical" because we say it is. It is ethical because we are doing as they demand, as they view reality, as they have done themselves. Are we right to try to hold the serial killer to a higher standard of ethics, like our own, and be correct in doing so? No. Everyone has to choose their own brand of ethics, for free will must be preserved and it is only by free will that people can choose to do the things that benefit them the most. I cannot say to a serial killer that "we are now killing you cause my free will has decided so, and we don't particularly care about your beliefs that say our actions are wrong". By the serial killer's behavior and ethics, our actions are totally right. By our own ethics, our actions are totally right. There's no disagreement, there's no disharmony. Even if the serial killer now says "but I don't want to die, and you don't have the right to execute me". We have the right to kill cause we're stronger than you are at this moment in time and space. Just as you had the right to kill because of the same thing. We say you don't have the right to kill because of our strength. If you were as strong as the United States, then you could probably enforce as many "rights" as you wanted to. Like the right to own slaves and harems. But you're not that strong, we are.

Serial Killer: Oh, so the government slash society is no better than I am. Just another killer when it suits your purposes.

Oh, on the contrary. We recognize the source of power and the consequences of exercising it. If we ever execute an innocent man, then we open ourselves to being killed by those stronger than us simply because we were charged falsely in the same fashion. (and that's true. A jury that convicts a man guilty based upon circumstantial evidence and bad defense lawyers, can also be convicted of a crime because their lawyers were crap and their jury was stupid as well. The same dished out to others can be dished out to you, and justice is in recognizing and spreading this fact.) The difference between us and you is that we recognize this facet of life, we recognize that our actions have such consequences. You do not. We are a nation of laws, and laws don't give special dispensation just cause you think it is convenient for yourself to do so at this time.

The law of the Meta-Golden Rule cannot be violated solely because you want to live now, when you are no longer capable of killing anyone, except yourself.

So, no, I will not go up to a tower and indiscriminately shoot and kill people I can see and target. Why? Because I will never allow my own actions to justify my own death simply because some maniac decided to go on a killing spree. I value my a life a bit higher than that. Besides, there's no benefit to such an act, even if you were promised full immunity.

You aren't immune from those stronger than you. You aren't immune to bullets from the enemies you have made when you killed a bunch of women and children. You aren't immune to the consequences of your actions. We are mortal and we should act like it.

Those little tin pot gods in your ethics class, Cassandra, seem to think they are invulnerable. They seem to think that if they are promised rewards now, that they should do something stupid solely because it is convenient and good "now". These are the people that won't know the ethical justifications they have given to people stronger, crueler, more ruthless, and more powerful than they. They won't recognize it. They won't recognize it because they never thought that they could ever be held to account for their actions. Nature might just ignore such things, but human beings are given the choice not to. And even if all do not exercise this choice, many do and that is enough.

Zero is still zero. Just cause they said "no negatives" doesn't mean there are any positives either. If you are so slack jacked and low on self-esteem that you need to get your kicks in killing people that can't fight back, then you'd better kill yourself soon after cause we're going to get you sooner or later.

Would you do something you knew was "wrong" if you also knew you wouldn't suffer any consequences?

To that question, I'd answer "am I so stupid that I could be convinced to kill simply because somebody promised me that I would not suffer the consequences of my actions"? Somebody THAT dumb and naive needs to be thrown under the bus, which he will be after he tries to make the kill. The moment he comes back after killing those people, his boss will go to the police and say "police, this is the man who killed my political opponent, totally without my sanction or pardon". Then his boss will tell him the police are on to him and he should run to this safe house. This safe house being the location where another assassin will take care of the useless tool now that he has served his purpose.

To live is to suffer the consequences of your own actions as well as the actions of others. When someone says "you won't have to suffer the consequences of your own actions", that means he is saying you are going to die.

And then he said this: "Deterrence doesn't work, son, because nobody believes that they'll ever get caught. If they did, well, then they wouldn't do it, would they?"

Deterrence works based upon the scale of the punishment and the chances of having to suffer those consequences. A 0% certainty in suffering the death penalty is no deterence. A 5% chance of suffering crucifixion and impalement through the anus and being left on the cross/stick for days until death, serves more as a deterence than oftentimes a 80% chance of a quick, painless, execution via the DP.

Deterrence always works based upon the calculations of success percentages and punishment scales. Those that think deterrence doesn't work, either can't catch criminals or they think criminals don't factor in their chances for success or risk vs rewards.

Robbers get caught ALL the time. WHy do they still do it? Cause the money they get now is worth 5-10 years in jail or what not. Would it be worth it if that 5% chance of what I refered to was in the mix? How about 5% plus 100% execution for their families if they are caught? Then would they still do it for 500 bucks in a robbery? No, they wouldn't, would they.

Old story about thieves in Britain being executed or their hands chopped off. What were they stealing? Food. Why? Cause they were starving. When the reward is life and the risk is death, you might as well choose life since starving to death is certain. Getting caught isn't.

Same for speeding. If the punishment for speeding was to hack off a finger, if you go above more than 10 mph, would it be worth it to you even if you knew that there was only a 5-10% chance of being caught?

I only got 10 fingers, I'm not sure a 10% chance of losing one of them is worth getting a few mph higher.

Same reason why cars slow down when they see a police car or think there is one nearby. They decrease their speed because the chances of getting caught is now MUCH higher. It's not worth it any longer.

I agree with you on that one :p

Spitzer upped his career by prosecuting prostitute rings. I'm sure he deluded himself into thinking that cause he was the prosecutor in these things, he could also bypass the methods he himself used to catch the prostitutes. Well, it turned out he got above himself a little. I'm sure Spitzer did decrease his chances for getting caught, but it was his pimp that got caught. You see, his pimp didn't know all these things to avoid detection, so they were talking about Spitzer over a tapped line. Funny.

Also a reason why Democrats don't like NSA wiretaps. Their phone conversations are too sensitive for a brutish organization like the NSA or Bush to acquire.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 12, 2008 11:48 PM

PS. Addendum.

While criminals do crime because they believe they won't be caught, it is the same thought process as people going into combat thinking they won't die.

The fact is, the probability of dying is NEVER 100%, even in cases of suicide (unless you blow yourself up with a nuke or fall from 50 stories). Because it is never certain, the human capacity for self-delusion starts working. And boy, does it work.

It's not entirely a bad thing either. After all, when we're running from a predator and we're feeling like we're going to collapse, why don't we just stop sooner and end the misery? Because a certain part of us is telling us that "we have a chance to live, take it". But what if our brains tell us we don't got a chance?

We're still going to take the chance, cause you won't know until you try. And life is important enough to try.

Yet, criminals will do crime anyways even if they knew they were going to be caught. Just as a soldier will fight even if they know they will die.

Criminals do it because of fear, cowardice, and greed while soldiers do it for honor, discipline, and loyalty. But the result is the same. Even 100% certainty in punishment won't deterence someone from their actions.

That's because deterrence does NOT depend solely on % of punishment or scale of punishment. It needs both.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2008 12:03 AM

Here's a little reminder on the consequences of being weak.


Zoroastrianism was a much better religion than Islam, in my view. Yet Zoroastrianism is no longer a religion, for the most part. It has been destroyed. All the truth and tenets it taught? Gone. Why? Cause Islam was better at killing people.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2008 12:13 AM

"Locks keep honest people honest." Hogwash. Locks keep would-be thieves from succeeding; honest people don't try to open doors that aren't theirs.*

I would know that I'd been shooting people from the tower. If I wouldn't know, I'd hope I wouldn't anyway.

The thing to do with the unmentionable person is ... ignore him, pretend he isn't there.

*Noting that I grew up in a culture where remote cabins were stocked against sudden bad weather and the doors latched against the critters. Honest folk used the supplies and replaced them.

Posted by: htom at July 13, 2008 01:25 AM

Ymar -- Couple of thoughts:

...we are right in the media's consequences, why then are the media not suffering negative consequences?

Checked the NYT's stock value and circulation numbers lately?

...the Golden Rule vindicates that person's actions because that person is acting in a way to others that he expects and wants others to act towards him.

Try "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them." Works on most people except for solipsists, but they don't really believe you exist, anyway.

...it is the same thought process as people going into combat thinking they won't die.

Which is not the same thing as saying, "All people who go into combat believe they won't get killed in combat." At one time or another, I fully-expected to take one -- with superb reasons for that expectation -- and discovered that the mental numbness after it was over was partially due to a stunned disbelief that I'd survived.

Posted by: BillT at July 13, 2008 02:46 AM

I'm speaking about foreign policy, of course.

Soooooooo dead... :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2008 08:32 AM

I prefer Rule 13: "Do unto others."

Posted by: Grim at July 13, 2008 09:38 AM

"I prefer Rule 13: "Do unto others.""
As long as you are also committed to Rule # 37:
There is no "overkill". There is only "open fire" and "I need to reload".

Posted by: bthun at July 13, 2008 10:31 AM

"Do unto others."

Then split.

Posted by: BillT at July 13, 2008 11:48 AM

Comment deleted by author.

What a mess.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 13, 2008 07:12 PM

Checked the NYT's stock value and circulation numbers lately?

Yet the New York Times is still the leading paper and thus the "occupier" of a certain level of power and authority which impacts our lives and projects.

They have not lost. They have suffered minor negative setbacks as a cause of their actions, but obviously they think the cause is worth it if they give ads to MoveOn's attack on Petraeus at a fraction of the cost it would have taken Starbucks to get an equal position ad.

Obviously any negative consequences they suffer are Not Enough, Bill, to affect their decision making capabilities. And if negative consequences don't affect your risk vs rewards calculations, then are they really negative consequences or are they just consequences you accepted or wanted?

"Do unto others as they would have you do unto them."

A criminal wouldn't want you to punish them for their crimes, so do I have to do unto the criminal as they would have me do unto them?

Or do you mean Do unto others what they would do unto you, and do it furst?

In those cases though, that means murdering murderers and raping rapists or dismembering and eating cannibals. I don't tend to think that standard is particularly useful for US civilization all in all.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2008 11:32 PM

The primary reason why I prefer the Meta-Golden Rule is because of the issue of free will. Many other ethical systems devote more priority on duty and principles, which can be twisted or manipulated depending on what you owe duty towards.

Duty and loyalty, after all, not always going to lead to the good. Duty and loyalty provided to evil men and nations that allows the death and destruction of good people is not a virtue.

I wanted a system that could not be manipulated by others or by yourself. Something as iron bound as duty and principle, yet flexible enough to take in and accept the decisions of a person's free will.

Many ethical rules override a person's free will and say that no matter what you want, it is wrong.

But is that a system that is full proof or at least anti-tamper proof? A system that allows other people to override people's greatest wishes and desires, simply to apply your system to their actions?

Let's take tribalism vs American ethics. We could, as one method, use our ethics and just tell them what they need to do this anti-corruption whatever a certain way and that'd be it. But that doesn't work, and I think the primary reason why it doesn't work is because tribes don't see any benefit to it. They don't see the "ethics" of it, they don't see why it would be right to do such things in such a way.

We see it as right, because it's right for ours. But why is it right for us? Because we have democracy and institutions that people paid blood to support and maintain and grow. That's why it works for us. The reality of the consequences of voting, peace, stability, and non-violent transfer of power allows us to do the right things.

Remember when a bunch of people started repeating the Democrat propaganda line about "if Iraqis wanted freedom so much, let them fight for it like Americans did"?

People of a certain ethical system naturally attempts to apply their values when seeing alien organisms and cultures. Even the Left, with their vaunted multiculturalism, does not accept the superiority of Islam's culture, they accept only the superiority of multiculturalism, which says Islam is just as good as the West, if not better.

I wanted a system that could link values and ethics across cultures and standards. That could consistently apply to tribes, democracies, kingdoms, and any other human hierarchy in existence. Something that is global, if not universal. I don't want to base things on the 10 Commandments, a God, a religion, a civil authority, the existence of the US military, or any element that does not automatically transfer over to other people and climes.

Justice as a practical concept was always elusive. For if justice is giving someone what they deserve, how the heck do you decide what someone deserves then? How do you then give it to them so that he doesn't get more or less than he deserves?

I say look at that person's actions towards those lives that he has the power to destroy or dominate.

If you apply it to the Palestinians and Israelis, you get a very simple thing, totally independent of human rights, NGOs, treaties, or etc.

What you get is this. If Palestinians are as weak and oppressed as they say they are, then let us look at the actions of the Palestinians towards those weaker than even the Palestinians, like say the women and children of Israel.

Did Palestinian death squads treat Israeli women and children in the various decades that they have been fighting, any better than Israel has treated the Palestinians? No.

But have the Israelis, when they held the power of life and death over Palestinians, showed mercy and restraint? Yes. So how does the Palestinians say that their actions toward the weak is justified by the "oppression" of the strong over Palestine?

By the Meta-Golden Rule, you demanded to be treated the same as you treat those weaker than you, the moment you went and looked for Israeli houses with women and children to kill. When you demand, of your own free will, to be treated as an animal to be exterminated for the good of humanity, then how can you say afterwards that you "deserve" something better? You don't deserve something better. Not because I say so, but because you yourself have set yourself on the path of your own choosing, not mine.

I don't decide these issues of right and wrong, you do. However, if I am in the position of strength to your position of weakness, then it will be by my free will on how you will be treated. I don't necessarily have to treat Palestinians like they have treated their own women and children and the women and children of their mortal enemies. What it means is that after being given permission by the Palestinian death squads, I can now make my own choices of my own free will based upon their demands and requests, since it is I that is now exercising power. The Palestinians gave no mercy or clemency to the weak, and they shall be given none by me. But as for the particular methods and targets involved, that will be of course, left to my discretion.

Anyone using their own power should be held to account for their own actions. You cannot just say "I did it cause they deserved it". Even if they deserve it, you are the one wielding the axe.

Concerning the Geneva Conventions, Bush has decided to give people more than they deserve in GitMo. That's the definition of injustice in my view, but then again a lot of things are unjust by that standard. But still, it is Bush's choice, and not the choice or obligation owed to those at GitMo. It is not their choice and it should never be their choice.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 13, 2008 11:57 PM

Also, this was a military individual who volunteered to go (as you stated re: giving up so many rights to fight for us). For some reason, many can't get the concept of sacrifice.
That's also why they can't see September 11th.
The height of selfishness, laziness and need from the sixties till now (helped along by a few marxist teachers and the education of equal/multiculti/debauchery, anything but actual history, citizenship, critical thought, etc), the nanny state and a loss of conscience.

Dennis Prager had an interesting show months back on the greatest generation and what happened with their children. Many called in to add WWII put women in the work place (hence those trusted teachers and clergy were more depended on), the boom of television, TV dinners, the beginnings of the attack on faith, sex in the schools, etc. That was December of last year.

I'm sure you read his Baby Boomer Apologizes column


Recently he did a show on Betancourt and the left's inability to see evil.

Posted by: Candy at July 14, 2008 12:32 AM

I suppose the Baby Boomers would have been living in luxury without any worries, as is true for any Golden Age generation, had it not been for the fact that the barbarians were really at the gates during the same time period.

Usually civilizations have a Golden Age cause they have taken care of most external and internal enemies and thus can devote more resources to internal economic development and prosperity (like road security).

But America was living the life of luxury and decadence even as the Soviet Union threatened to overwhelm the world in misery, nuclear winter, and gross negligence of the economic kind.

That wouldn't have been possible for any other civilization. But it was for America. Thus you got something special out of the mix.

You got the Golden Age and you got the Fall of Rome happening at the same time, to the same generation. That's bound to cause problems.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2008 12:54 AM

...are they really negative consequences or are they just consequences you accepted or wanted?

They're negative. There's a difference between accepting a risk and it's consequences if the end is achieved, i.e., an "acceptable risk," and maintaining the course when the accumulated effects not only show you haven't achieved your objective but you're suffering unplanned losses to boot.

Presently, the NYT editorial staff is in the same position as the commander of a squadron of horse cavalry in the Battle of the Marne who insists that just one more thundering sabre charge through the shell craters, barbed wire, trenchlines, bunkers and machinegun nests will overrun the enemy's headquarters group ...

Posted by: BillT at July 14, 2008 01:55 AM


Well, do me a favor :p

Head on over to Lt. Nixon's. Because several of the commenters over there are of the opinion (if I take their position correctly) that none of us in the military have any right to object if photos of our husband's dead and mutilated bodies are appropriated without our permission and used to try and convince people that [gasp!] War is a Bad Thing!

Because you see, without this allowing them to do this, no one would ever realize this shocking fact. Apparently, it has been one of the world's best-kept secrets until this point.

I suppose we should be happy. This means that if by chance one of their loved ones is killed, they'll be perfectly happy to see their bloody photo splattered all over the pages of the NY Times, or perhaps on the Internet. It won't matter one bit to them who sees it - their children, or their mother. Because the problem is, once you allow one person to do this, how are you going to start setting any limits at all? You can't. As a matter of fact, how the commanders on the field attempt to substitute their judgment for the expert judgment of the good folks in their Barcoloungers here in the States? I mean, what the helk are they thinking?

Who is running this war anyway?

And their reasoning is so durned irrefutable: Hey! It's been done before!

Hard to argue with that one. I seem to remember my little boys trying that one out on me years ago: "Mom! Why can't I get away with x, y, or z? Everyone else does it!"

Compelling argument, that one.

A stuffed marmoset to whoever guesses the right answer.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 14, 2008 02:08 AM

Well if "War is a Bad Thing" then obviously they would refuse us authorization to declare war. And since they are going to refuse us anyway, why don't we just go ahead and do it and ask forgiveness later after we have a fait accompli victory in Iraq?

This means that if by chance one of their loved ones is killed, they'll be perfectly happy to see their bloody photo splattered all over the pages of the NY Times, or perhaps on the Internet.

So long as it serves their interest, why not given the state of ethics today? The dead have no use for their bodies, so why shouldn't it be of use to those still living?

(Maybe cause the living have the power to do so and shouldn't abuse that power, in case somebody with more power than them will use that justification to abuse them...)

A stuffed marmoset to whoever guesses the right answer.

Well, everyone's going to die sooner or later as well, so does that mean you want to die now?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2008 03:29 AM

There's a difference between accepting a risk and it's consequences if the end is achieved, i.e., an "acceptable risk," and maintaining the course when the accumulated effects not only show you haven't achieved your objective but you're suffering unplanned losses to boot.

Well, obviously the New York Times thinks it has convinced the majority of Americans that Iraq is a foolish disaster cum mistake in the making. So until the final toll is said and done with, I don't think whether we can really say the NYTimes has been taking acceptable risks or not in staying the course.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2008 03:31 AM

...obviously the New York Times thinks it has convinced the majority of Americans that Iraq is a foolish disaster...

And I obviously think I'm still twenty-four years old.

In the case of the NYT, plummeting circulation numbers are evidence to the contrary. The editorial board just refuses to accept that they've dragged the paper's credibility down to a par with that of a supermarket tabloid.

In my case, having knees that sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies™ when I walk is evidence to the contrary. I just think it helps add to the absurdity factor of my usual comments...

Posted by: BillT at July 14, 2008 03:57 AM

A stuffed marmoset to whoever guesses the right answer.


Make sure you specify FOB Warrior on the package or the marmoset will *never* get here...

Posted by: BillT at July 14, 2008 04:00 AM

"men get so much more excited when the woman they are making love to is obviously enjoying what they are doing"...very true. Sex is far better when the woman is really enjoying it.

Which makes you wonder about cultures that practice female genital mutilation, which usually makes it impossible for a woman to enjoy sex. I guess most men in these culture go through there entire lives without ever knowing what it's like to be with a sexually responsive woman.

Serves them right.

OTOH, they may enjoy a much less wholesome sort of pleasure. Women who have been subjected to FGM often find sex actually painful, and there may well be an element of sadism in the sex lives of many men in such places.

Posted by: jeff at July 14, 2008 12:17 PM

I do not think some men think of women as people at all, but merely as ornaments. You don't expect a response from a pretty picture or a vase. You just want it to look good and stay where you put it.

I doubt they even bother to think about whether it hurts or not.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 14, 2008 03:59 PM

In the Islamic word, the sort of soft standards and chauvism, aka chivalry, reserved for women being put on pedestals or treated as fine china, does not exist.

What does exist is this unwholesome fear of women as being the source of all evil, temptation, and weakness. They are not to be protected because they will usher in the new generation or heirs to the throne, no they must be locked down and controlled because their power is more of a threat to Islam's laws than almost anything else.

Thus FGM is a way to get them while they are young and ensure that women can't make decisions of their own free will concerning sex, for that would only tempt more men into damnation and the clutches of women.

Why exactly is this such a problem child for Islam? My educated guess is that women are naturally protective of their children and don't particularly like violence or the hoary going on about blood, death, mutilation, and executions. Some do, but most have an innate dislike for such things on a visual level. Then again, most American civilized sheep have the same reaction, but that's beside the point.

Islam will have a far harder time creating martyrs and suicide cannon fodder if the women get in the way and say "no". If the women are thinking of future generations, and they mostly are and should be, then they will usually not decide to sacrifice their children simply because the political patriarchs say that this is a convenient way to win more power for the patriarchy. FGM ensures that there is a culture and a tradition of women abusing other women, thus making the abuse of fathers on their children more culturally and psychologically acceptable. It also inculcates into the generations the idea that it is okay to inflict pain on your own child because society and the patriarchy says it is okay. And if you refuse, then you are a pariah and excommunicated or executed by stonning, and nobody wants that.

So refusing to hurt and mutilate your child is a sin but making your child suffer for your own benefit and the benefit of male dominance power structures is a good thing. After several million re-iterations of this cultural ritual, Cass, it gets implanted into the cultural background matrix and thus it becomes much, much easier to produce suicide cannon fodder and the eternal justification that the Palestinians have for killing other people's children.

They can kill their own children, so why can't they kill other people's children, Cass? The basic underlying morality and consistency permeates the entire culture and involves every one of its practices.

There are various other "checks" concerning FGM and Islam's Shariah practices, but those are secondary contributing factors in my view. Like say, if greater society says your girl child will be punished by rape or stonning if you don't agree to do FGM on her in collusion with the rest of the women, then the additional "check" to ensure such things sustains itself involves the use of a mother's protection instinct towards her child. By turning that protective instinct into the pride of a mother of a suicide bomber, you get a even more reinforced cultural template.

In the case of the NYT, plummeting circulation numbers are evidence to the contrary.

On another note, the NYT would say the same thing about the attraction of Al Qaeda and terrorists to Iraq. They would say that this is a negative consequence of our policies and the war we are supporting. But we disagree. We don't go so far as to say it is a positive thing that they are killing people in Iraq, but we do see it as an opportunity to achieve a lasting victory and peace. The fact that the consequence to allowing us this opportunity is a negative event in the short term, is just something we accept as a prerequisite for a long lasting future victory.

And this, in my view, is the same type of calculation made by the New York Times and all their allies in the game.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2008 02:35 PM

In the end, whether you did things right or you made mistakes, depends on whether you win or not.

The New York Times recognize this implicitly, which is why they know that for them to live and continue to exist, Iraq and all her allies must die.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2008 02:38 PM

On another note, the NYT would say the same thing about the attraction of Al Qaeda and terrorists to Iraq.

And by doing so, it ignores the reality that it's easier to kill and capture them in a land where they can't operate as true guerrillas. Al-Q's recruits have been defecting in small, but significant, numbers because they were recruited to fight the Great Satan and discovered that their assigned targets were fellow Muslims.

The mistake the NYT makes is that it originally overestimated its influence on its readership and continues to do so, despite all evidence to the contrary. Its circulation is plummeting because its hypocrisy has become so blatant, only the most insular of its readers still believe that it is reporting the news rather than inventing it.

Posted by: BillT at July 15, 2008 03:02 PM

The NYT would be having a difficult time even without the political bias. Disruptive technologies usually cripple or destroy companies based on the older technology, unless these compaies are led by exceptionally brilliant and visionary executives. Personally, I've seen no evidence that Mr Sulzberger fall into this category.

The political bias has turned what would *already* be a serious problem into an even worse problem. I wonder if at some point a large shareholder, or group of shareholders, will argue that NYT has violated its fiduciary responsibility to shareholders by putting an excessive influence on the propagation of personal political views.

Posted by: david foster at July 15, 2008 04:34 PM

And by doing so, it ignores the reality that it's easier to kill and capture them in a land where they can't operate as true guerrillas.

But that's the same with what you see as the NYT's negative consequences in terms of decreasing advertisement and what not.

If the New York Times refused to try to sabotage Iraq and tried to support America's fight there, their stock would rise and their subscribers would climb and their advertisers would boom. But the New York Times would defeat their own purpose by doing so, so they lose in the end anyways.

So the only way the NYTimes can win is by doing exactly as they have been doing.

And by doing so, it ignores the reality that it's easier to kill and capture them in a land where they can't operate as true guerrillas. Al-Q's recruits have been defecting in small, but significant, numbers because they were recruited to fight the Great Satan and discovered that their assigned targets were fellow Muslims.

Even that is the same with the New York Times. If they can prove Iraq to be a failure, if they can prove themselves to b right, if they can destroy what they seek to destroy, then the forces that compete against them would lose heart and the "prestige" of the NewYorkTimes will gain ascendant in international, if not local, climes.

The mistake the NYT makes is that it originally overestimated its influence on its readership and continues to do so, despite all evidence to the contrary.

But that's not the primary method it uses to seek to destroy Iraq and her allies. The primary method they use is to spread news stories in hopes that it will be repeated by their fellow journalist allies, in order to paint the picture of Iraq into a certain, consistent and methodical fashion, to the people of America. It is not to primarily just program people that read the New York Times. If that was all they did, regular people would not hold to certain views about Iraq or WMDs.

Its circulation is plummeting because its hypocrisy has become so blatant, only the most insular of its readers still believe that it is reporting the news rather than inventing it.

Half of America's percentages that say they distrust the media are doing so because they believe the media is controlled by the corporations, which are aided and funded and helped by Bush and Cheney through the Iraq War.

You may not hear such things in Iraq/Afghanistan, but I hear it all the time here in the States, from people my age group as well as older.

Conservatives or Republicans may disbelieve the media because they see a Leftist totalitarian bias in it, but that's not true for the fake liberals that see a Fox News conservative bias as being the primary obstacle to their ascension to power.

For one thing, this matters because if people believe the media is putting out propaganda, they will tend to believe they are immune to that propaganda. But the Leftists and anti-Iraq proponents are NOT immune to the New Yrok Times or AP or Al Reuters propaganda. In fact, they got most of their views over the economy and foreign policy FROM the mirrored stories that came from AP or NYTimes. Yet these fake liberals believe AP or NYTimes are corporate controlled.

Regardless of the details, the ramifications is that so long as the New York Times', the AP's, Google and wherever they get their news from (which would be AP and Reuters and NYTimes), does not have their influence and prestige damaged, then they can still fight even as they are losing subscribers or advertisers or what not.

It does not particularly matter if Google takes up the void left by the New York Times, if Google uses the SAME news sources as the NYTimes did, such as AP's terrorist allies and stringers.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2008 04:55 PM

A real ethical dilemma would be if the prof asked the same "tower" question except the target would be this woman.


We'll see how students handle anti-DP and what not in their "ethical dilemma" then. For that will be a TRUE dilemma, now won't it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2008 05:00 PM

I have served with those men whose photographs were depicted. I emailed Zoriah directly, and pointed out a number of fallacies in his argument. I wondered why, if his goal was to help understand and prevent conflict, he was taking pictures rather than helping the scores of wounded. He told me had there been anyone there he could have helped, he would have, being trained in emergency medical care. I asked him what about Sgt, ------, a man who is now going to lose both his legs.Then he told me it was his job to take pictures.

I had asked him what he would do, had he taken someone into his home, fed them, sheltered them, and in a tragedy his son was killed, this person then took pictures of him and then had the gall to be outraged when expelled from his home.

He then told me when he dies he wants people to see his dead body, and talked to a lot of Marines that would like the same. I know these men, none of them would want that.

He goes on to tell me that individual Marines need to know reporters rights and freedoms, and wondered why they didn't answer his request to radio higher headquarters to get him his freedom. He is too selfish of a man to realize that in a mass casualty situation, there can be no worrying about journalistic freedom.

The mission of the Marine Corps is to fight and win wars. Period. As an infantryman, my job was mission accomplishment and troop welfare. In that order. Any Marine on the ground who feels that he was obstructing the mission is required by his duty to remove him.

He has told me higher commands and public affairs offices have said he did nothing wrong, although he admitted that he knew Marines would not like him photographing their dead friends. Yet he did it anyways.

The Marine Corps stood by the judgement of the on scene leader, and has barred him from embedding with any Marine Corps units, and in fact going onto Marine Corps installations anywhere in the world. Semper Fi.

It is absolutely atrocious to take pictures like these, under the guise of humanitarianism. He says that he wants the world to see these horrors in the hope that someone will see them and be forced to take action. Wouldn't it be great if there was an organization dedicated to fighting for the freedom of not only their own people, but the freedom of others? An organization whose members were willing to sacrifice their own lives bringing these freedoms to people less fortunate. Oh, that's right, it's called the United States Marine Corps. Not to discount the other services who are also willing to do the same, we also have the US NAvy, Army, and Air Force.

And while preaching his change the world rhetoric, he sells these pictures to periodicals, news papers, and news organizations.

Posted by: Mark at July 31, 2008 12:41 PM