Friday, December 12, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Corporeal Punishment: Where do you fall?



Corporeal Punishment: Where do you fall?

Does it have anything to do with freedom? Society? Value? Virtue? 

Robert Heinlein described & stated it better than any other I am aware. It's a long read, but I am placing an excerpt from Starship Troopers that sums up my views on the subject (and of necessity a few others).

"I found myself mulling over a discussion in our class in History and Moral Philosophy. Mr. Dubois was talking about the disorders that preceded the breakup of the North American republic, back in the 20th century. According to him, there was a time just before they went down the drain when such crimes as murder were as common as dogfights. The Terror had not been just in North America -- Russia and the British Isles had it, too, as well as other places. Nevertheless, it reached its peak in North America shortly before things went to pieces.

"Law-abiding people," Dubois had told us, "hardly dared go into a public park at night. To do so was to risk attack by wolf packs of children, armed with chains, knives, home-made guns, bludgeons ... to be hurt at least, robbed most certainly, injured for life probably -- or even killed. This went on for years, right up to the war between the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance and the Chinese Hegemony. Murder, drug addiction, larceny, assault, and vandalism were commonplace. Nor were parks the only places -- these things happened also on the streets in daylight, on school grounds, even inside school buildings. But parks were so notoriously unsafe that honest people stayed clear of them after dark."

I had tried to imagine such things happening in our schools, I simply could not. Nor in our parks. A park was a place for fun, not for getting hurt. As for being killed in one --

"Mr. Dubois, didn't they have police? Or courts?"

"They had many more police than we have. In addition, more courts. All overworked."

"I guess I don't get it." If a boy in our city had done anything half that bad ... well, he and his father would have been flogged side by side. But such things just did not happen.

Mr. Dubois then demanded of me, "Define a 'juvenile delinquent.'"

"Uh, one of those kids -- the ones who used to beat up people."

"Wrong."

"Huh? But the book said -- "

"My apologies. Your textbook does so state. But calling a tail a leg does not make the name fit. 'Juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms, one that gives a clue to their problem and their failure to solve it. Have you ever raised a puppy?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you housebreak him?"

"Err ... yes, sir. Eventually." My slowness in this caused my mother to rule that dogs must stay out of the house.

"Ah, yes. When your puppy made mistakes, were you angry?"

"What? Why, he didn't know any better; he was just a puppy."

"What did you do?"

"Why, I scolded him and rubbed his nose in it and paddled him."

"Surely he could not understand your words?"

"No, but he could tell I was sore at him!"

"But you just said that you were not angry."

Mr. Dubois had an infuriating way of getting a person mixed up, "No, but I had to make him think I was. He had to learn, didn't he?"

"Conceded. But, having made it clear to him that you disapproved, how could you be so cruel as to spank him as well? You said the poor beastie did not know that he was doing wrong. Yet you inflicted pain. Justify yourself! Or are you a sadist?"

I did not then know what a sadist was -- but I know pups. "Mr. Dubois, you have to! You scold him so that he knows he is in trouble, you rub his nose in it so that he will know what trouble you mean, you paddle him so that he darn well will not do it again -- and you have to do it right away! It does not do a bit of good to punish him later; you will just confuse him. Even so, he will not learn from one lesson, so you watch and catch him again and paddle him still harder. Soon he learns. But it's a waste of breath just to scold him." Then I added, "I guess you've never raised pups."

"Many. I am raising a dachshund now -- by your methods. Let us get back to those juvenile criminals. The most vicious averaged somewhat younger than you here in this class ...and they often started their lawless careers much younger. Let us never forget that puppy. These children were often caught; police arrested batches each day. Were they scolded? Yes, often scathingly. Were their noses rubbed in it? Rarely. Newspapers and officials usually kept their names secret -- in many places, this was the law for criminals under eighteen. Were they spanked? Indeed not! Many had never been spanked even as small children; there was a widespread belief that spanking, or any punishment involving pain, did a child permanent psychic damage."

(I had reflected that my father must never have heard of that theory.)

"Corporal punishment in schools was forbidden by law," he had gone on. "Flogging was lawful as sentence of court only in one small province, Delaware, and there only for a few crimes and was rarely invoked; it was regarded as 'cruel and unusual punishment.'" Dubois had mused aloud, "I do not understand objections to 'cruel and unusual' punishment. While a judge should be benevolent in purpose, his awards should cause the criminal to suffer, else there is no punishment -- and pain is the basic mechanism built into us by millions of years of evolution, which safeguards us by warning when something threatens our survival. Why should society refuse to use such a highly perfected survival mechanism? However, that period was loaded with pre-scientific pseudo-psychological nonsense.

"As for 'unusual,' punishment must be unusual or it serves no purpose." He then pointed his stump at another boy. "What would happen if a puppy were spanked every hour?"

"Uh ... probably drive him crazy!"

"Probably. It certainly will not teach him anything. How long has it been since the principal of this school last had to switch a pupil?"

"Uh, I'm not sure. About two years. The kid that swiped --"

"Never mind. Long enough. It means that such punishment is so unusual as to be significant, to deter, and to instruct. Back to these young criminals -- They probably were not spanked as babies; they certainly were not flogged for their crimes. The usual sentence was for a first offence, a warning -- a scolding, often without trial. After several offenses, a sentence of confinement but with sentence suspended and the youngster placed on probation. A boy might be arrested may times and convicted several times before he was punished -- and then it would be merely confinement, with others like him from whom he learned habits that are still more criminal. If he kept out of major trouble while confined, he could usually evade most of even that mild punishment, be given probation -- 'paroled' in the jargon of the times.

"This incredible sequence could go on for years while his crimes increased in frequency and viciousness, with no punishment whatever save rare dull-but-comfortable confinements. Then suddenly, usually by law on his eighteenth birthday, this so-called 'juvenile delinquent' becomes an adult criminal -- and sometimes wound up in only weeks or months in a death cell awaiting execution for murder."

He had singled me out again. "Suppose you merely scolded your puppy, never punished him, let him go on making messes in the house ... and occasionally locked him up in an outbuilding but soon let him back into the house with a warning not to do it again. Then one day you notice that he is now a grown dog and still not housebroken -- whereupon you whip out a gun and shoot him dead. Comment, please?"

"Why ... that's the craziest way to raise a dog I ever heard of!"

"I agree. On the other hand, a child. Whose fault would it be?"

"Uh ... why, mine, I guess."

"Again I agree. But I'm not guessing."

"Mr. Dubois," a girl blurted out, "but why? Why didn't they spank little kids when they needed it and use a good dose of the strap on any older ones who deserved it -- the sort of lesson they would not forget! I mean ones who did things really bad. Why not?"

"I don't know," he had answered grimly, "except that the time-tested method of instilling social virtue and respect for law in the minds of the young did not appeal to a pre-scientific pseudo-professional class who called themselves 'social workers' or sometimes 'child psychologists.' It was too simple for them, apparently, since anybody could do it, using only the patience and firmness needed in training a puppy. I have sometimes wondered if they cherished a vested interest in disorder -- but that is unlikely; adults almost always act from conscious 'highest motives' no matter what their behavior."

"But -- good heavens!" the girl answered. "I didn't like being spanked any more than any kid does, but when I needed it, my mama delivered. The only time I ever got a switching in school I got another one when I got home -- and that was years and years ago. I do not ever expect to be hauled up in front of a judge and sentenced to a flogging; you behave yourself and such things do not happen. I don't see anything wrong with our system; it's a lot better than not being able to walk outdoors for fear of your life -- why that's horrible!"

"I agree. Young lady, the tragic wrongness of what those well-meaning people did, contrasted with what they thought they were doing, goes very deep. They had no scientific theory of morals. They did have a theory of morals and they tried to live by it (I should not have sneered at their motives), but their theory was wrong -- half of it fuzzyheaded wishful thinking, half of it rationalized charlatanry. The more earnest they were, the farther it led them astray. You see, they assumed that Man had a moral instinct."

"Sir? I thought -- But he does! I have."

"No, my dear, you have a cultivated conscience, a most carefully trained one. Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not -- and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind. These unfortunate juvenile criminals were born with none, even as you and I, and they had no chance to acquire any; their experiences did not permit it. What is 'moral sense'? It is an elaboration of the instinct to survive. The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts eventually to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations. This truth is mathematically demonstrable, everywhere verifiable; it is the single eternal imperative controlling everything we do.

"But the instinct to survive," he had gone on, "can be cultivated into motivations more subtle and much more complex than the blind, brute urge of the individual to stay alive. Young lady, what you miscalled your 'moral instinct' was the instilling in you by your elders of the truth that survival could have stronger imperatives than that of your own personal survival. Survival of your family, for example. Of your children, when you have them. Of your nation, if you struggle that high up the scale. And so on up. A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual's instinct to survive -- and nowhere else! -- And must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts.

"We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race -- we are even developing an exact ethic for extra-human relations. But all moral problems can be illustrated by one misquotation: 'Greater love hath no man than a mother cat dying to defend her kittens.' Once you understand the problem facing that cat and how she solved it, you will then be ready to examine yourself and learn how high up the moral ladder you are capable of climbing.

"These juvenile criminals hit a low level. Born with only the instinct for survival, the highest morality they achieved was a shaky loyalty to a peer group, a street gang. But the do-gooders attempted to 'appeal to their better natures,' to 'reach them,' to 'spark their moral sense.' Tosh! They had no 'better natures'; experience taught them that what they were doing was the way to survive. The puppy never got his spanking; therefore, what he did with pleasure and success must be 'moral.'

"The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual. Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand -- that is, with a spanking. But the society they were in told them endlessly about their 'rights.'

"The results should have been predictable, since a human being has no natural rights of any nature."

Mr. Dubois had paused. Somebody took the bait. "Sir? How about 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'?"

"Ah, yes, the 'unalienable rights.' Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry. Life? What 'right' to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken his cries. What 'right' to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If the chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of 'right'? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man is right is 'unalienable'? In addition, is it 'right'? As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is the least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

"The third 'right' -- the 'pursuit of happiness'? It is indeed unalienable but it is not a right; it is simply a universal condition, which tyrants cannot take away, nor patriots restore. Cast me into a dungeon, burn me at the stake, crown me king of kings, I can 'pursue happiness' as long as my brain lives -- but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can insure that I will catch it."

Mr. Dubois then turned to me. "I told you that 'juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms. ’Delinquent' means 'failing in duty.' But duty is an adult virtue -- indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires a knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be, a 'juvenile delinquent.' But for every juvenile criminal there do always one or more adult delinquents -- people of mature years, who do not know either their duty, or who do know it and fail.

"And that was the soft spot which destroyed what was in many ways an admirable culture. The junior hoodlums who roamed their streets were symptoms of a greater sickness; their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights' ... and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure
."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I was a soldier; I am a veteran



I Was a Soldier; I Am a Veteran

By Colonel Daniel K. Cedusky, USA, Retired 

I was a Soldier or I am a Veteran: That is the way it is, what we were and certainly WHAT we ARE.

We put it, simply, without any swagger, without any brag, in those four plain words.
We speak them softly, just to ourselves. Others may have forgotten they are a manifesto to humankind; speak those four words anywhere in the world, anywhere, and many who hear will recognize their meaning.

They are a pledge. A pledge that stems from a document that said, “I solemnly swear”, “to protect and defend” and goes on from there, and from a Flag called “Old Glory”.
Listen, and you can hear the voices echoing through them, words that sprang white-hot from bloody lips, shouts of “medic&#8 221; whispers of “Oh God!” forceful words of “Follow Me”. If you cannot hear them, you were not, if you can you are.

“Don’t give up the ship! Fight her until she dies… Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead! . . . Do you want to live forever? . . . Don’t cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying.”
Laughing words, and words cold as January ice, words that when spoken, were meant, “Wait till you see the whites of their eyes”. The echoes of I was a Soldier. Say what you mean & mean what you say!


You can hear the slow cadences at Gettysburg, or Arlington honoring not a man, but a Soldier, perhaps forgotten by his nation, his family…Oh! Those Broken Promises, VA claims, Homelessness, Divorces. You can hear those echoes as you have a beer at the “Post”, walk in a parade, go to The Wall, visit a VA hospital, hear the mournful sounds of Taps, or gaze upon the white crosses, or tall white stones, row upon row. However, they are not just words; they are a way of life, a pattern of living, or a way of dying.

They made the evening, with another day’s work done - supper with the wife and kids. A Beer with friends; and no Gestapo snooping at the door and threatening to kick your teeth in. They gave you the right to choose who shall run our government for us, the right to a secret vote that counts just as much as the next fellow is in the final tally. In addition, the obligation to use that right, and guard it and keep it clean. They prove the right to hope, to dream, to pray, and the obligation to serve. These are just some of the meanings of those four words, meanings we do not often stop to tally up or even list.

Only in the stillness of a moonless night or in the quiet of a Sunday afternoon, or in the thin dawn of a new day, when our world is close about us, Do they rise up in our memories and stir in our sentient hearts. In addition, we are remembering family & battle buddies, who were at Iwo Jima, Wake Island, and Bataan, Inchon, and Chu Lai, Knox and Benning, Great Lakes and Paris Island, Travis and Chanute, Bagdad, Kabul, Kuwait City, and many other places long forgotten by our civilian friends.

They are plain words, those four. Simple words. You could carve them on stone; you could carve them on the mountain ranges. You could sing them, to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” However, you need not. You need not do any of those things, for those words are graven in the hearts of Veterans, they are familiar to 24,000,000 tongues, every sound and every syllable. If you must write them, put them on my Stone.

However, when you speak them, speak them softly, proudly, I will hear you, for I too, I was a Soldier, I AM A VETERAN.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What are the chances of a second revolution/civil war in America?



What are the chances of a second revolution/civil war in America? Could things like The Occupy Movement, The Tea Party Movement, and other movements of this type lead to a second revolution/civil war in the United States?
Examine the last 4-5 years in Bosnia: it is possible.

The Bosnian war happened because the Yugoslavian Army became predominantly a single ethnicity. When that ethnicity came to power, it brought together the perfect storm: corrupt government + willing military = genocide. I would argue that if the military unified around a single issue & the government opposed that issue, the military would refuse to back the government. Government program/policy - willing military = civil war.

We have seen this play out in the Middle East where the commanding general of the military ends up opposed to the sitting ruler. The General then attempts to wrest power from the government or the military declares military rule. It is a mistake to believe that the population needs to mobilize in any kind of a large scale. In most Civil Wars, including our own right through what is happening right now in Syria, much of the population is passive and is herded around or used for human shields. Yugoslavia was a well-off, modern nation before the war. In 1984, they hosted the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Fast-forward 8 years later, Sarajevo was under siege.

There is a tremendous amount of rhetoric bantered about in our country full of utterly false analogies and hyperbolic claims that seem intended less to promote educated debate than to elicit anger and distrust. We are the most connected generation ever, but it seems instead of people using that to gather information, individuals use it to spread propaganda. The type of propaganda that claims those who disagree are "un-American" or worse, less than human. This happens from all sides, all ideologies and the vitriol is increasing. Considering all of this, I am not able to rule out that Civil War is impossible here.

I do not think our divide would be ethnic, but potentially & most likely cultural. When you really look closely, often Civil Wars erupt over "way of life" issues. Most religious wars fundamentally break down to - I do not want to live the way you want to tell me to live, I would rather choose my own path.

I am reluctant to give this example because I sense it will avulse the discussion off topic, but gun rights are a potential powder keg. The Pro-Gun lobby says that you should fight gun registration because "the government" will use the registry to round up all of the guns. Well, who is tasked to round up the guns? Even if somehow congress managed to change the Constitution to make it legal, that act alone would be the break point for a number of States and I venture to believe the mass majority of States if not EVERY State would pitch a fit. Would the federal government continue to press the policy? How? Quite literally, and with what Army?

Many people believe that State's rights have been trampled, if not bulldozed and the federal government has become bloated, too large and omnipotent. Some people believe that if government attempts to round up personal weapons that would be the Stamp Act of our modern times, maybe not sufficient in and of itself, but more of a "last straw."

One of the primary catalysts to the Revolutionary war, and a contributing factor in the Civil War, was taxes. With the ever increasing tax burden being placed on the populace, and the loopholes that the wealthy and corporations are able to exploit to avoid paying taxes, you have to wonder at what point will the citizens decide that enough is enough.

You also have to take into account the political environment right now. Our elected representatives are becoming more out of touch with their constituents, and the lives that they lead. One case in point, a recent interview with Hillary Clinton, where she revealed she has not driven a car since 1996. That is extremely unusual for the average citizen unless there is a mitigating medical condition that prevents driving. Politicians are now more concerned with making risk averse decisions that will ensure their reelection, rather than make the tougher choices to better serve the country as a whole. Our current Commander in Chief flaunts the fact that he has, and will continue to circumvent the legislative process by signing Executive Orders, changing laws without congressional approval. Of course, we have to add in the numerous wealthy individuals who believe they can purchase legislature, and influence the government by promising or denying "donations".

Lastly, there are constant assaults to the Constitutional rights of the average citizen. No longer do we have a reasonable expectation of privacy; nearly all of our electronic communications are intercepted, including our web usage statistics, and at times even our telephone conversations as evidenced by the recent NSA scandal. Freedom from illegal search and seizure is blown out of the water by ‘law enforcement’ departments on a daily basis that most often ends with a very bad outcome for someone. In addition, there is everyone's favorite hot topic of the moment, the right to keep and bear arms. California has already begun confiscation efforts, passed laws that make it near impossible for a law-abiding citizen to own a firearm, and that is just one example.

Thomas Jefferson stated, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". This particular saying is becoming a battle cry of sorts to those who desire change, as much as the Gadsden Flag is becoming their banner. With everything that we are forced to endure as citizens, we have to wonder how much more will go unopposed before someone makes that first move toward a new civil war. All it will sadly take is one voice, screaming loud enough, to start the ball in motion.