Sunday, October 02, 2011


I  have read that a theatre academic somewhere in the rebel colonies put the poster on the right up on his door, and the university administrators sent people to take it down because it was an incitement to violence. Now, probably in the small print of his contract there is a statement that says they can do this. And maybe the academic in question is some sort of a psychopath, but has another clause in his contract saying he can't be sacked unless he actually shoots someone, and the university PR people have just done a crummy job selling the story. But I suspect not.
What struck me painfully, this being the week it is, was how diametrically opposed Captain Reynolds' stated philosophy is from the current practice of the rebel colonists in carrying out their overseas contingency operations. When the unmanned drone crashes through the roof and blows you into small pieces, you will be asleep and unarmed, and your attacker will be hundreds or thousands of miles away. This is doubtless much more practical than Captain Reynolds. But the rebel colonists are much less likely to end up with an enemy that respects them. And the world will hear only hypocrisy when they make impassioned speeches after their enemies kill their people when they are unarmed and sleeping.
The reference to 'this being the week it is' refers to another thing I read this week, that the rebel colonists are now doing this sort of thing to their own citizens without going through the forms of sentencing them to death in absentia. This is one further little step down a road whose destination, I think, is bad. And it disturbs me much more than the Andrew Bolt thing that I was going on about earlier.


Marco said...

I am not sure why, but I am more relieved than disturbed in this case. For a start, it has an air of being an exception rather than being a slippery slope down the road you are talking about. I believe in this kind of operation more than the acceptance of huge amounts of collateral deaths fighting a vague enemy. The more sure that the US is of a person being central to an enemies' operation, the more they are fair game. All the more if they are a US citizen.

Lexifab said...

This whole story annoyed me because that particular Mal Reynolds quote is one of my favourites, being a superb encapsulation of the character. It's a subtextual bonus that the line is also an indictment of a peculiarly American quality - now lost forever, if it ever existed outside the mythology of the old west - of cool self-confidence tempered by respect for the dignity of an enemy.

In other news, drone assassinations are such a bullshit way to go about things.

Marco said...

I think this issue is about "honour in conflict". In conflicts past, honour is observed in some, and not in others. Where one side starts to choose to act dishonourably in an act of war, they gain a distinct advantage if the other side had been acting honourably and was expected to continue to do so. Once both sides lose the presumption of honour, the default "rules of war" become active- ie. all is fair in love or war.

In the wild west most killings actually happened in cold blood, while movies glorify the ideal that killings only happened in "fair fight" situations.

As far as modern warfare goes, I cannot think of a current conflict which embodies the ideal, even though it is a good ideal.

Marco said...

I think 9/11 closed the door on the expectation of the US acting honourably against Al Queda "key personell"