Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our military needs to break out the guillotine.

Rape in the U.S. military is an ongoing, systemic problem.,0,6394967.story?page=1

Some have blamed this on gender integration, but that is wrong because (among other reasons) about half of the victims are men.

'"It is only natural for commanders to want to believe that a crime did not happen," he said. "Making it disappear entails less risk for their careers. And not pursuing prosecution is much less disruptive for their units."
After his commanders learned of the attack, he was misdiagnosed, he said, with personality disorder and given a general discharge instead of an honorable discharge.'

Let me attempt to explain how broken that is from a military perspective.  A commander is responsible for everything that happens under their command.  Everything.  No, seriously.  All of it.  There is no plausible deniability, because you should have known.  There is no "the person that works for me fucked this up." because it is your job to make sure that they don't.  As we said, "Authority can be delegated, but the responsibility remains yours."  If the training, the procedures, the culture, or the people under your command are not tuned to create success, then that is your personal failure.

The incident that most drove this home for me was the sinking of the Ehime Maru.  You can read about it here  but basically a U.S. submarine accidentally crashed into and sunk a Japanese civilian vessel, thereby killing some people, including students.  In the aftermath, my captain personally conducted training for our whole crew, and gave us a message that you won't read in that wiki article. (paraphrased from memory)

The Greenville sunk that Japanese ship because the captain had fostered an image of himself as infallible and not to be questioned.  Multiple people in Control [a location the ship is driven from] had concerns about how dense the civilians were in Control and that this was interfering with their jobs.  The Firecontrol Tech in sonar, Seacrest, had indication that the Ehime Maru was too close, but doubted himself because this contradicted the captain's assessment.  The captain had created a culture that was not conducive to the concerns of the crew being presented to the chain of command, and this set the command up for failure.  Those people died because that captain's crew was reluctant to tell him he had gotten something wrong.  And that... that is the captain's fault.  He is responsible for creating that culture.

And so, our captain said, I do not want you to be afraid to tell me when I'm getting something wrong.  If you think there is a problem, if you think there might be a problem, any one of you can say "Wait. Stop.  This doesn't seem right." and we'll stop, and we'll look at it, reassess, and move on from there.

Culture matters, and the command is responsible for the culture.  In this case, our military's culture is leaving rape victims to the wolves.  It's unacceptable.  It's bad for morale.  It's bad for recruitment.  It hurts readiness and unit cohesion.  It's absolutely wrong, and if covering up a rape isn't conduct un-fucking-becoming, I don't know what is.  Has no one stopped to wonder what else these commanders are willing to cover up?  How can you occupy a position that requires good judgment and high trust if you will not face the difficult problems?  A commander that covered up an operational incident would be Fucking Fired (different from regular fired), and this should be no different.  A military, particularly a volunteer military, cannot achieve excellence under these conditions.  These commanders, all of them, have a responsibility to create an environment which prevents rape, advocates for the victims, and delivers justice.

Heads need to roll, and it starts at the top.  President Obama, you are the Commander in Chief. This is your military.  Fix it.  Now.

Media: I want to be hearing as much about this as I did about Catholic priests.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Red Right Ankle

"This is the story of your red right ankle,
And how it came to meet your leg,
And how the muscle, bone, and sinews tangled,
And how the skin was softly shed.

And how it whispered,
'Oh, adhere to me!',
For we are bound by symmetry.
And whatever differences our lives have been,

We together make a limb."

And I have begun to love you as myself,
to give consideration jealously reserved.
And to wonder what witchcraft
has brought you past the briars and walls,
and disposed my armaments.

All my life I have mistaken,
these inward lies for honesty.
But the real truth flushes pink
with shame and uncertainty,
leaves me naked and seeking mercy.

Yours is the courage, lent to me,
that brings me back to this place again,
trembling, and resolved.

Vulnerability is the price we pay,
and the gift we receive,
and is precious as each.

Ours is a story
of broken toys in love.
Playing, mending, creaking.
I could not do this with someone else.

"Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart."

Sometimes when I feel loved by you,

it is beautiful and unbearable all at once.
I slip away to cry tears of joy
splashed with agony,
or the other way.

It is recognition that I cannot bear for this to end
and that we are mortal, still.

It is knowing I am not worthy of you loving me,
and seeing you continue, undeterred.

It's feeling grateful and small,
or nourished,
or infinite.

It's the ultimate trust-fall,
and I believe in you.

I decided,
on a day that was yesterday and a lifetime ago,
that I would never be this vulnerable again.
But you've disarmed that lie, too.

I love you more than I was supposed to.

Points of no return are defined
by anxiety on one side
and liberation on the other.

Let us journey, then, you and I.
You are irreplaceable in my heart.