Wednesday, March 15, 2017

people get broken

People get broken. [Here, apparently, is a partial video taping of one such event.]
True, people can also lie like rugs and be self-centered, devious scum bags of the first order.
But people get broken and the ones who laid the groundwork for the breaking are too infrequently called to account.
Is it any wonder that there are conspiracy theories and wide-net rages labeled liberal bullshit and fascist and unpatriotic?

People get broken, but the houses in Scarsdale, Conn., Howard, Md., and Fairfax Va., are well-kept by owners who seldom have "whitewall" haircuts. The lawns are well-kept and people get broken. In Belgravia -- the terrain oh-so-close to Buckingham Palace in London -- there are English accents to boot. My, how cultured ... but people get broken.
Alexander Blackman became the first member of the UK armed forces in recent history to be convicted of murder while on an overseas tour and has been serving a life sentence in a civilian prison since 2013.
Blackman, who was not at the Royal Courts of Justice to hear the decision [Wednesday], remains in prison for the moment but will be re-sentenced within the next couple of weeks and at that point could be released.
Broken. Who, in what state of mind, walks into his own house and then trashes it ... breaks everything within reach and then walks away with less than s/he came in with? Hell, even a bull in a china shop isn't that stupid.

“There is no such thing as a Rambo type, an Arnold Schwarzenegger soldier, who can face all sorts of stresses and appear to be invulnerable,” he said. “That sort of person only exists in the cinema,”  [Neil Greenberg, a psychiatrist, told the court.]
An MoD spokesperson said: “We have fully cooperated with each stage of Sgt Blackman’s case, which has now involved a criminal investigation, a court martial and the appeal process, and will continue to provide personal support to the family, as we have done since charges were first brought. We respect the court’s decision and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on it.”
Inappropriate to comment in England.
Inappropriate for the public to view the bodies of service members arriving home in Dover, Del.,  from war zones ... it's a matter of appropriateness ... NOT. Both are instances of the political and moral fallout from commenting further, from slipping from the patriotic heights to the dubious depths of the places in which people are broken.

How could the lawns be so neat or the real estate prices so rosy if suddenly speaking of the dead and how they got that way were somehow "appropriate?"

Am I whining?

You bet your ass I am!


  1. Sometimes it feels that all the violence and fear boils down to actively breaking people; if the meek will inherit the earth, then people must be made meek first, i.e. broken.

    Horses get broken too...

    How to break a horse (with pictures):

    It's only bizarre that breaking people should become an extremely more violent and fear-based process than breaking horses...

    Guess violent and fear-based means - whether physical, religious political, financial or whatever - are easier to implement when dealing with groups of individuals.

    Is it effective in the long run, though? Dunno, but with horses, at least, it's considered to be a no-go.

    Horses may not be able to think about conspiracy theories, but - like people - they too have the basic ability to trust... and distrust.

  2. Breaking a horse used to be a much more brutal process, a process some still use. Even though "gentling" a horse is more common now, it's still often referred to as breaking.

    We've all heard of the experiment where college kids were led to push the pain button on command. They were only following orders. What degree of separation is needful to escape responsibility likely depends on the individual. But the offering and grooming of that is certainly fluid.

    Businesses incorporate to avoid liability/responsibility. Governments groom information for the same purpose. We're all nice people. We're not killing anybody. We just pay our taxes and follow orders. You can't blame anyone for that.

  3. Hate to bring the theme but the "just following orders" reminded me of Hannah Arendt's views on Nazi officials statements during the Nuremberg trials. They also used the argument they were merely following orders.

    The US marine above wasn't though, as far as we know at least. The order came from within. He was even aware of the Geneva convention. But I guess conventions are made by bureaucrats in nice and comfortable offices, not in the field of battle where reality bites.
    Horses were and are still also broken using violent means and so are soldiers broken to follow orders and so they don't break down in action. Sometimes though, it seems that the breaking kills the decent side along with the soft and leaves the hard and nastier ones alive. Not the "nasty one that kills" but the one that kills a wounded man like one puts out a horse with a broken leg, finding whatever excuse to do what in the end he appears to simly feel like doing.

    My guess is that this is a result of the method of breaking. Soldiers are often treated like vermin during training. I've always wondered why the hardest training must be humiliating as well, instead of hard as possible but honourable or decent. Is there actually a solid reason behind it or is it just an inbred culture, humiliation out of raw pleasure or even vindication for having been humiliated in the past?

    You were in the army Adam, right? What was your experience like?

  4. Charlie, have to say that the marine's story reminded me more of the Stamford Prison experiment, than the student's you mentioned...

  5. Tiago -- FWIW, and it doesn't much matter, the Marine in the story was/is a Brit.

    But your querying brought up conflicting stuff for me. On the one hand, learning to follow orders in the military has some valid and effective results. With any luck, you're following someone who knows his/her ass from his/her elbow and when you're an amateur, such direction is useful for staying alive. But right around the corner from following instruction is herd-think ... the social oil that persists with or without the military: if 'everyone' says so, then one thing or another is true. Money, for example, is worth something on that basis. Owning stuff can be credited. Even love can take on a glow.

    Further, my military experience included learning a language which most definitely involved being broken and broken and broken ... right back to childhood, assuming you were going to be any good at the language. It was one of the most harrowing learning experiences I ever went through and brought me, on at least one occasion to the very edge of the world -- a place where I seriously, viscerally contemplated the way or ways in which I might kill my instructor. At the last minute, the thought left me when a calm, assured voice within said simply, "not in public." In that small passage of time, I knew for certain I was a killer, someone willing to give everything I credited myself with being, everything decent I was or might be ... nothing held back and the devil take the hindmost.

  6. The "not in public" made me laugh.

    Sorry, I did take notice the brit accent but forgot when writing about it and just associated to your nationality.

    I can understand that "merely following instructions" can be a big plus in a situation where experience or even knowledge is lacking, especially when your life is at risk. That is where trust comes into play. The dark side of it Arendt pointed out; the absence of conscientious decisions at the individual level.

    As for your breaking experience, I can only (hardly) imagine.

    As for realising you were a killer, well... aren't we all in potential? Ok, so the situation you described was somewhat extreme, you were pushed to the edge, which in my mind makes sense in the military, considering that it's either being tested to the edge during training or being tested on the field and potentially failing and placing not only your life but even the whole platoons' life at risk. I just wonder if humiliation is really a necessary test to a "strong warrior" or whether there might be other - perhaps even more appropriate - ways of pushing to the edge, without taking out the decency.

    Personally, and from a mere bystander's point of view, since I'm talking without any similar experience, I wouldn't necessarily equate killing with giving up everything decent one might be. If some psycho was about to kill a child of mine and the only chance I had to avoid it was by killing him first, I don't think I would hesitate much and I don't think I would feel like I would have to give up any decency to do it. That doesn't mean I would enjoy doing it either.

    My feeling is that the decency is lost when the killing is unnecessary or becomes something like a sport or particularly cruel.

    If the brit had killed a severely wounded soldier out of compassion, ok, but from the comments in the video his basic reasoning seems to be the presumption that the victim "would do the same" if the roles were reversed, when he couldn't know that for a fact. Had he said that leaving him alive might pose a risk of him being treated of his injuries and returning to battle, I might feel somewhat less comfortable in judging the killing.

    Still, I rather leave the judgment of what happened to a military court, though I suspect that - if wasn't for the video having leaked - his superiors might choose to let it go.

    Especially if it there is a ruling dehumanising culture and by saying that I'm considering that killing is not necessarily an inhuman act, though I might say it's pushing it to a razor blade edge.