Thursday, June 12, 2008

What is it that offends us about this?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not on this guy's side. But let's not delude ourselves: throwing a puppy over a cliff is probably neither the worst thing he's ever done, nor is it likely to be the worst abuse inflicted on an animal in this war or any other.

To be honest, I don't see what reason, besides negative publicity, this guy's getting kicked out. Under most circumstances, I would think this might be a minor or even ignored offense.

It was seen, though, and there are legitimate concerns for Armed Services who are likedly not to popular as it is at the moment. To put it plainly, the callous nature of the act is what's giving it the most condemnation.

Psychologists following sociopaths list this kind of callousness towards human and animal life as one of the major signs of the disorder, a hallmark of an evil attitude in general. As appealing as it might be to watch folks become heroic killing meachines in movies, the reality of that rightly scares us.

We think, when we see a guy calmly and callously chuck the dog off the cliff, we have to wonder, is he going to gravitate as callously towards people?

Now I know, logically speaking, that some will make the point that soldiers are supposed to be like that. That, though, is a problematic point if you depart from the notion that the ideal for a soldier is to be mindless killer.

Soldiers kill by the very nature of their profession, but they are supposed to know the sharks from the guppies and act accordingly. In a war like this, where such fish don't exactly swim separately, some suggest that a callous disregard for innocent life is a necessity. However, given the damage this attitude does and has done to our strategic aims in Iraq and elsewhere, we have to ask whether such cold-bloodedness is really what we want.

Undoubtedly for many soldiers, the killing of others will break down certain normal inhibitions, and certain actions that would be difficult for a civilian will become easier, less thought upon. Nonetheless, we hope and pray, and usually see our soldiers come back having resisted the temptations of needless infliction of pain and suffering, rather than given in to it.

Point is, when we see some guy throw a puppy off a cliff, we worry that this person has gone over the edge, or has already or maybe even always been over that edge. We don't want to entertain the notion that in fighting to defend ourselves or our principles, that we've turned ourselves into folks little better than the badguys.

That's why this guy's getting sent home: not political correctness, but distinctly scary, callous behaviors.

No comments: