Thursday, February 02, 2012

Arbitrary and Capricious

From Military.com:

The Air Force has reprimanded a group of Airmen who photographed themselves posing in and around a coffin last year. None of the Airmen was found to have committed any crime, but the photo did result in administrative discipline that may have career consequences.

"I heard and read the public's reaction to this photograph. I shared their concern and immediately took steps to prevent this sort of behavior and these unfortunate outcomes," said Col. Eric Axelbank, commander of the 37th Training Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.<\

So, basically, a group of enlisted men engaged in some mordant humor (an entirely rational response to the possibility of dying in a pointless, dead-end war fought solely to advance Petraeus' and Obama's political careers) in a way that didn't break any rules. But . . . a journalist wrote something bad about it, so . . . .

The thing is, the punishment only "prevents this sort of behavior" if it is a predictable consequence. In other words, the behavior should have been specifically proscribed (it wasn't) or easily inferred as such (I'm not seeing this either).

But with fallen troops still returning in flag-draped coffins at Dover AFB, Del., many did not see the humor or intended message of the photo. The photo seemed "to slight our fallen heroes," the Air Force statement said.

I'm feeling your concern for our "fallen heros".

"While the members involved were expressing their creativity by taking a candid class photo, they lost sight of our core values and the messages they would broadcast while in uniform," Axelbank said. "The photo was in poor judgment and it did not reflect the high standards and professionalism of the United States Air Force."

I've heard the word "professionalism" slung around for 20 years now. It means exactly what those in power want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less.

On the other hand, these a$$holes should have known better.

1 comment:

samsonsjawbone said...

I've heard the word "professionalism" slung around for 20 years now. It means exactly what those in power want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less.

Yep, it’s a bludgeon to beat people who might otherwise consider themselves free.

As for the photo affair, it reminds me of the theory that since basically everything is illegal nowadays, we are all pretty much breaking the law all the time. We are all vulnerable to prosecution, all the time, if we offend the wrong person, and the only thing that can get us off, if someone with power decides to prosecute us, is intense media pressure. Ergo, there’s a sense in which the media runs the justice system.

Overly cynical? Maybe.