My first thought was, "Son a bitch, son, you can't say shit like that at church!!!"
How I wish I could speak the truth.
Freedom isn't free...
It's highly regulated. Posted this notion on my Facebook page and got into a cyber shouting match with a friend of mine. Some conditioning is very hard to overcome (for both of us).
To me, it seems patently obvious that we are not truly free in the U.S., despite claims to the contrary. I understand that power of conditioning, but this seems like a fairly mundane observation. We cannot do “as we please” in this country (or any other for that matter). Of course, we can do some things, but if freedom means the ability to engage in behavior without consequences or fear of consequences, then no one is free. The physical environment limits our freedom...I am “free” to walk through a wall, but I will be stopped as soon as my body makes contact with it. People don't seem to have a problem understanding this one.
What is more intriguing and apparently much harder to see, is how we are regulated by our social environment, too. Funny thing...many people claim to dislike the federal government and all of the regulations on our lives (I being one of them), but we gladly regulate each other (“Hey, cover your mouth when you sneeze!”). Prime example is our wearing of clothes. I don't know the history of clothing, but I suspect that it originally was borne out of body decoration and/or necessity for protection against the elements. Either way, today it is a requirement, not an option, when we are out in public. Today, it seems the reason we are required to wear clothes has nothing to do with either decoration, nor protection, but to cover up our “privates;” (after all, there are laws against going nude in public) again, absurd...who has never seen him or herself without clothes on? Are we unaware of what we look like nude? Similarly, I would suspect that at a fairly early age (especially if one has siblings) one sees a person of another gender nude. So, really, is there a need to cover our “privates” when a) we all have them and b) everyone has seen at least their own and in all likelihood, someone else's too? Sure, there are situations in which nudity is “legal” (truly an odd idea...our bodies being, “legal”), but we learn at an early age that we “...have to put on [your] clothes before leaving the house.”
Of course, the prime irony is that we have made the culture that we live in. We may have little control over who gets elected to write our laws (We don't get to “choose” our candidates, they are chosen for us and we get to vote for whomever is left after the weeding out process), but we sure do like to vote for regulatory legislation. To be sure, not all regulation is bad, and some of it makes sense in terms of protecting ourselves and each other; but to claim that we are free or that we are the “free-est” country on earth (whatever that means) is at best inaccurate and at worst a nice tool to get people to act against their own best interests.
Update (today)...Let's see...why the f*ck does James Cameron have to make a g-d cruel, exploitive fantasy when it is playing out before our very own eyes, again? Oh, that's right, fantasy makes money and reality...makes people wonder...can't have that, right?
Why free markets are neither
We'll start with the easy one...the idea of there being such things as “markets.” There are not, nor have there ever been any such things known as “markets” – there are people, period. A person is not a market, nor is a gaggle, nor a murder, nor a herd of people a market. There is a simple proof of this...if a “market” was a real thing, it would have, in the very least, observable properties (like people do), it does not. Subject it to this simple test; ask yourself if you can do any or all of the following to something called, a “market”: See it? Touch it? Taste it? Smell it? Hear it? If you think you can do any one or all of these things to something called a “market” you either need medication or you are an idiot – your choice.
"Murder" in? A response
I, like many others, became aware of the military gunship video of the shooting of journalists, other civilians, and children in Iraq, released by Wiki-leaks earlier this week . I, too, was moved and horrified by the audio and video of the incident. I would hope that anyone with a conscience would have a similar response.
I differ with others, however, by characterizing this event as "murder" and by placing the blame for this incident solely on the shoulders of the men in the gunship and their superiors. Normally not one to buy the rhetoric of "it was taken out of context," I think this clearly applies in this instance. To be sure, people were killed who shouldn't have been and this is, of course, tragic. The issue of why they were killed can only be understood by orienting the actions of those who engaged in the killing within the proper context, however. Note that I am not attempting to deny the fact that the killings occurred, nor that someone should not be held accountable. Rather, I am saying that there should be someone (or rather some "ones") held accountable, but unfortunately, many are misidentifying who those are. My reasons for this claim follow.
First, it should be remembered that our soldiers are trained to successfully kill whomever has been identified as the enemy. Since the Vietnam war, they have been trained much more effectively to kill than ever before. This should come as no surprise to anyone as presumably, we have the armed forces to protect us and they do this by ensuring that when called upon, the threat is eradicated as efficiently and completely as possible. Put simply, they do this by being very good at killing. They are not more bloodthirsty than anyone else, they are better trained. As repugnant as this may sound, this is what we expect from our soldiers; we want them to be able to kill others at a higher rate than they are killed.
Second, they are trained to discriminate between the enemy and civilians, but since Vietnam, clear discrimination about who the enemy is has proven to be much more difficult. Why? Because many times the enemy does not wear a uniform. We are all familiar with the evidence that in most armed conflicts of recent memory, "the enemy," oftentimes are regular people who wear regular clothes. This is perhaps especially true in our conflicts in both Iraq and . Does incorrect discrimination occur, then? Absolutely. Should we simply accept that it does? That it is part of of war? No. We should continue to improve our soldiers' ability to discriminate. Easy to say, not easy to do. We should also, however, appreciate the tenuous situation that we place our soldiers in when we ask them to fight an enemy that is not easily identified.
Third, our soldiers are getting killed...daily. I have never been in an armed conflict, nor have I ever been in the military. I have read numerous accounts of those who have and as such, I understand that despite the fact that they have been trained to kill others, they are still human. They still feel fear, terror, frustration, powerlessness. They still experience these feelings (at rates and intensity levels most of us have never known) and yet they continue to do what we have asked them to do. To say we put our "troops in harms way" is nonsense. Our troops are commanded to fight and they are expected to continue to fight until they are ordered otherwise. And in addition to our expecting them to successfully dispatch the enemy, we expect our troops to die for us. We expect them to expose themselves to daily attempts to be killed. We expect them to witness the horrible destruction of their friends.
We expect them to do all of these things, while feeling fear, terror, frustration, powerlessness at levels that most of us could not withstand for a few moments, let alone for days on end, and then we hold them to a higher standard when they err. Of course the error is tragic; how can it not be given the situation? But are the women and men who make the error solely to blame for it? I don't think so, because they are not in control of the situation; they are only responding to the situation as they assess it (initial reports stated that the civilians had no weapons; more recent reports stated that several of the citizens were carrying AK-47's) and as they have been trained to respond...which is no different than anyone of us.
While it seems that some soldiers in the gunship were callous and devoid of empathy, I would suggest that really what occurred was that they simply had put their humanity on hold (In fact, I would argue that part of their training on how to effectively kill others required that they put their humanity on hold). I would suspect that when they return to civilian life, many of them will desperately regret this and perhaps other behavior they exhibited while on the battlefield. I have heard from many returning soldiers that they regret their mistakes, but they have to live with them, just like most of us do. Most of us, however, are fortunate enough to not have to make mistakes in such a hellish arena where the consequences are irrevocable, chilling, and tragic.
So, who is ultimately responsible for this? I strongly suggest it is the leaders who sent our troops to Iraq in the first place; the Bush administration and the feckless members of Congress who failed to stop them. They are the ones who commanded our troops to engage in this action, they are the ones who are responsible for all of the death in Iraq and they are the ones who will undoubtedly escape any consequence for any of it. Prosecuting the soldiers on the gunship for murder only serves to provide those whom are truly guilty more reason to sleep easier at night as they are not the ones who have to be held to account for their actions before the world.