Monday, March 12, 2012

Debunking lies about the military

In the name of science a friend recently pointed me to an article in the New York Times in an effort to discover if blood could indeed boil. 

It's not my intention to belabor the topic of sexual assault in the military so I'll try not to beat this horse into the ground. If you don't think I take the subject seriously feel free to read my other posts on the subject.

The article starts off claiming sexual assault in the military is intolerably high. Can't argue with that. One assault is intolerable in my eyes. What the article fails to do is compare numbers with institutions outside the military, say college campuses, or the regular workforce. The author doesn't do this because then he wouldn't be able to insinuate your military is comprised of sex crazed savages moments away from raping their next victim. Sure would suck to accidentally dispel a myth by using hard facts. 


What, you say? The article clearly states: "...an estimated 17 percent of women in the general population become victims at some point in their lives..." This is erroneous. Data out of Central Michigan University estimates 56% of all women will be confronted or hurt sexually. This would indicate to me sexual assault in the military is far lower than the average. Again, those hard facts sure do ruin wishful thinking.

 The article goes on to say there aren't enough prosecutions within military courts either. Perhaps the idea is to insinuate the military as an institution is complicit in sexual assault because of this fact. Thing is, as I understand it, prosecutors nation wide have a hard time prosecuting these cases. According to Stephen Thompson they are the weakest link in the system actually.  Notice again this is in society at large not just in the military. But hey, it's easier to turn a blind eye to a societal issue by claiming it's solely a military one.

As much as I was disappointed in the article I was amazed at some of the comments and the ignorance displayed therein. I quote some below:

"In the moral stasis in which soldiers place themselves to kill, not to mention the extreme agitation that combat produces, it's hardly surprising that (mostly) women might be attacked (mostly) by men." Moral stasis? Seriously? If anything moral values are stressed more than in regular society.  And since when does having been in combat cause an inability to know right from wrong? Here's a clue, it doesn't. What this person is really trying to say is:  "I'm not surprised because you have to be a morally corrupt individual to be in the military in the first place."  Folks, combat does not turn you into a monster. I know some of you really wish it did but I'm here to tell you it is simply not true. Sorry.  I also doubt that a willingness to risk your own life to confront the enemies of your nation is somehow a sign of evil intent. Despite recent events, those in the service who conduct themselves less than honorably and without compassion are an aberration not the norm.

"Our volunteer army collects too many from the bottom of the class, too many seeking employment, too many losers. And it is not democratic." Bottom class? I guess it gives them an excuse to look down their nose at us if they assume we are socially beneath the average citizen to begin with. Every Marine I know would invite you to the parking lot to discuss which of you is the loser. By the way, last time I checked, having a job makes you NOT a loser. 

Perhaps you are unconvinced your military isn't comprised of low brow groundlings incapable of critical thinking. There are studies which showed post 9-11 war time recruits were in fact better educated than their civilian counterparts. Heresy I say! It also dispels a few other myths and is worth a look.

Not democratic? Combat is not a democratic process.  I can see it now: "Marines, by general consensus we have voted against conducting a bayonet assault today. All in favor of smoking dope in the barracks instead, say 'aye'. " We'd have never made it past the revolution that way.

"Soldiers must be obliged to fight, not chosen from those so desperate they enlist." I have NEVER met a Marine who joined up because they had no other choice. By the way, the article I link to above also notes most recruits are wealthier than their civilian peers. 

"All things equal, the armed forces, with its very low pay and job requirement to go and do violence, is not a preferred career choice, on average, for anybody who is pacific or is better educated... don't you think?" I think if you actually believe this statement you are an uninformed bigot.  Yes you are.  Funny how on one hand we are low paid thugs on one hand yet on the other completely overpaid and need our funding cut. Please make up your mind. Compared to the civilian sector we actually get paid a little more if I am not mistaken.  As concerns education I have met a number of enlisted types with masters degrees. Many Marines earn a degree while serving in the military. Imagine that! Working your way through school! I know, you'd rather take out a bunch of loans then demand the government wipe out your debt and hand you a job.

"I think we need to understand that in the present context, there will be more sexual violence (than in the greater society) in the armed forces." Based on what evidence may I ask? This lie is predicated on the lies that military members are less educated and inherently more violent than the more educated, classier, enlightened citizens they protect. Also, the numbers aren't necessarily greater in the military. The service actually has more avenues to report sexual assault than in regular society. 

"I would imagine that if our troops feel free to assault other troops, the freedom they feel to assault civilians in the countries they are stationed is high as well."  Your imagination sucks. This is just another lie based on a lie. We have what are called Rules Of Engagement. This means we have to follow rules in combat that the enemy doesn't. So we are not "free to assault other troops"  at our pleasure nor do your Marines blatantly assault civilians without consequences. Many times we are the ones preventing the civilians from assaulting each other for heaven's sake.

Do people in America really think this way about us? Seriously? It disappoints me to see a society supposedly open minded and dead set against prejudices, stereotypes, and such would cling to such misinformation. Of course, if you point your finger at someone else and scream loud enough, maybe no one will see how screwed up you are.


In the end my blood was only left simmering. I'll leave it to you folks at home to blow your tops. 


Semper Fidelis!
America's 1stSgt

20 comments:

CI-Roller Dude said...

Top, I'm going to tell you this makes my blood boil. Some of the smartest folks I ever ran into were in the US MILITARY in Iraq. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force--- and they followed the rules and always tried to do the correct thing.
Of course, when you put young males and females in close quarters, the horemones kick it... but 99% of the time I saw them treat each other like brother and sister (in my case I treated most of the females like my daughters).
The Military is drawn from society ... we don't find troops under rocks...they come from high schools, some have college, many scored very high in the entry test and all who joined after 9/11/01 knew they might go to a war...and they joined anyway. I even knew some who left very good civilian jobs to serve.
I can think of dozens I met in the service that I would want to come to my home and be a friend for the rest of my life....I can't say that about many civilians.
Top, Don't forget, often the media writes about something because they have an agenda...the problem is, the rest of America reads that crap and thinks it's all true.

Erika said...

I expect nothing less than misinformation from Hell's Bible, so I am not shocked. It's frustrating, but I am glad that we have people like you and CI-Roller to debunk crap like this. Our enemy is indeed the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

I recently read about an in-depth statistical analysis performed on AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT of data concerning prison populations. And the upshot was that military alumni represent a statistically significantly SMALLER percentage of inmates than would be expected if they had the same sort of criminal bent as the general non-military population. Basically, the conclusion was to the effect that if you expect military personnel to be at least as criminal as non, you would be seeing higher numbers. (I hope I was clear with that. Basically, there are statistically significantly fewer criminals in the military-or former military-- than in the population as a whole.)

Which to me, makes perfect sense. My understanding is that the military tries to inculcate members with the ideas of duty and honor, very moral concepts. Sure, in any group of people you get bad apples. But no ones thinks that because of one George Huguely, that all college lacrosse players are crazy jealous murderous thugs.

Thanks to Oliver Stone and the NYT, people are left with the Hollywood idea of crazed soldiers, fragging dudes they don't like on the battlefield, one heartbeat away from climbing the clock tower with a high powered rifle.

And the comment, "Our volunteer army collects too many from the bottom of the class, too many seeking employment, too many losers. And it is not democratic."--Insulting to so many people on so many levels. I grew up in a part of the country where there were a lot of very poor people and not a lot of opportunity. The military provided a job, an education, a way out, a chance for improvement. People I know who volunteered were all hard-working, honest, honorable people who fared much better than their counterparts which stayed at home. And this was back when we were not involved in any conflicts, and none were on the horizon. People who volunteer now, during war, are to me even more impressive, because these are people who are clearly willing to lay their lives on the line for our country. (Not like that wasn't true of my contemporaries; it just wasn't quite as obvious that they would have to be prepared to do so at that time.)

Anonymous said...

Of course, maybe the other reason these idiots posting those unbelievably stupid comments do so is that they are jealous--they wish they had been in the military but were too ---- to do so (wimpy, "cool-for-school," distracted, other adjective), and to make themselves feel better about it, they have to contrive some way to be "smugly superior."

It must hurt their very best feelings-you got some clown, born in with a silver spoon in their mouth, went to the "right" day care to go on the track for the "right" college--Stanford, Harvard, wherever. Trips to Europe, fancy summer camps. And some shmo from the wrong side of the tracks joins the military and has a waaaaaaay more interesting life and does waaaaaaay cooler stuff...

Lin Barker said...

All of the above, same here

Saker said...

I don't even get mad anymore. Some people just don't get it, and they never will. I've stopped trying to explain that as a female soldier I've never had any problems like this.

Anybody else wish they'd just portray us as normal people? Not monsters, but not perfect heroes, either.

Anonymous said...

And there are apparently people out there who would like to see justice within the military become the travesty it is on college campuses, where in some instances, even less than "a preponderance of evidence" can be used to ruin a young man's life.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903596904576516232905230642.html

http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/race-and-gender/in-making-campuses-safe-for-women-a-travesty-of-justice-for-men/

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_campus_rape.html

Ally said...

Um, I'm so glad I live where i am free to express my opinions even if they are not worth the air I use to expell them. But, I am rather ashamed to admit I live in the same place as some who are too free with their's, lol.

Kelsey said...

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I just thought I should point out that what you referenced is an editorial, not an article. As in, it is one person's opinion as expressed by that person, not claiming to be unbiased fact like a normal article should be.

America's 1st Sgt. said...

Kelsey, no worries, I'm not mad at ya'. Even though it is an opinion piece it ususes numbers and figures to justify that opinion. When those figures are untrue then it is up to us to run up the BS flag. I agree sexual assault is an issue. I have written the the subject a number of times and probably will again. My focus on this post had more to do with statements made in the comments of the piece in question.

Lil' Chantilly said...

After 22 years, (all the way back to the Tailhook years in the Navy) and I have to tell you I have been treated with nothing but respect the entire time. Sometimes treated like a sister, always like a friend, in more recent times like a mother figure. I honestly can say I have never been afraid of my Shipmates, (be they Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, etc.) I actually feel MUCH safer around my military friends than I do in a 100% civilian setting. Something about knowing we all "have each other's back" brings that comfort - and that feeling is something that those who have never served are sadly missing.

Anonymous said...

A1stSGT,

Just for the record, studies have shown that commenters on news articles are, on average, 78% less rational and 37% less human than actual people off the internet.

Note that I'm using the same methodology as those types of news articles.

(pulling numbers out of my posterior and saying they're a problem)

-MA

Anonymous said...

America's 1stSgt:

Think of Kipling's "Tommy". This sort of thing has been going on for a long time.

Paul L. Quandt

Anonymous said...

1st Sgt,

I find all of this talk absolutely ironic.

I am a Marine Corps prosecutor and I have found that commands have a (sometimes) over the top desire to press forward on any suspicion of a sexual assault.

While there always will be unreported sexual violence (in both the civilian world and the military), the military, through its restricted or unrestricted reporting, does just about all it can to encourage victims to report the case and seek help (even if they don't want a prosecution).

From my "real world" perspective, the Marine Corps is at the forefront (as always) of the fight against sexual assault and takes the cases deadly serious.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

A1SG

Just thought I would chime in here from an “outsiders” perspective of someone who is not in the military, (and doesn’t know of any friends/family members etc who have served in the military either). I agree with all your points in your post above and do find it a shame that at times the media portrays the military in such as negative light. (However, you might be hard pressed to find any organization or group that the media consistently portrays in a positive light).

I would guess that most people like myself don’t read blogs like yours (at least most of the people I know), so we tend to get our information from what we were taught and the mainstream media. Therefore, if you are really upset about this and would like to set the record straight, then perhaps you should write a rebuttal to the NYT stating your facts and just what you wrote in your post. I know it’s not your job to write a rebuttal and educate us “outsiders” about these things, and it must be extremely frustrating to have to do so when you are already doing your job of serving our country. Yet,if I had never read a few of the books (written by those people who served in the military)which exposed me to another point of view, (which in turn then led me to blogs like yours), I might have been inclined to agree somewhat with the original author based on how I saw the world and what I was exposed to.

I could be wrong, but from my limited perspective, you are “preaching to the choir” in your blog. Therefore, your message might be better served by illuminating the minds of those of us who don’t often get exposed to your point of view. Perhaps by responding to the article, you can persuade some people to re-examine their point of view.

~S

Anonymous said...

Please don't think that everyone thinks badly of our military. Absolutely untrue. Only the Lefties who can't see past their feelings about themselves would ever go there. There are many Americans who respect you all and are grateful every single second that you are all brave enough to sign up or accept a commission.

The NYT is garbage anyway. Don't bother reading it. Cut it up and use it in the outhouse, yes. Read it, no way.

Dave Coyle said...

One thing should be added to this great article. To the claim that a volunteer military trolling the economic bottom for its recruits. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/08/who-serves-in-the-us-military-the-demographics-of-enlisted-troops-and-officers

We in the military tend to recruit higher income people both as officers and enlisted than are represented by the general population. The same can be said for education.

Shay said...

Do people in America really think this way about us

Only the ones who write letters to the NY Times.

NavyOne said...

Great post. I have heard many of the same comments from my shipmates, that the females feel safer around military. . .

Kristina Divine said...

I have felt safer around military men than I have civilian men. I'll even take a room full of armed Veterans with PTSD over a room full of civilians. There are bad apples in every bunch, but I get tired of all the lies, manipulation of information, and spurred myth as fact. You did a good job of using facts to extinguish the lies and myths.